My Favorites to Pack for the Beach:
Summer is here! Yippee! How many of you are heading to the beach with kids this summer? Have you thought about what to pack? Today I’ll share with you the things I find most useful to pack for the beach with kids. What are your top things to pack for the beach? Are your essentials listed here? If I missed your most useful beach items, I’d love for you to add it in the comments section at the end of this post! Also don’t forget to come back next Tuesday, when I’ll talk about What to Do When Your Child Hates the Beach (coming 6/28/16).
*TRAVEL TIP: When flying to a beach destination, always pack swimsuits, hats, swim diapers (if needed) and a small bottle of sunscreen (3.4 oz./100mL or less to meet TSA restrictions) just in case the airline loses your checked bags. Then you can still head to the beach while waiting for your luggage to be delivered.
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I fell madly in love with Puddle Jumpers when my daughter Ella was three years old (you can see my mini-review here). These Coast Guard approved life vests allow freedom of movement so your child can practice a full swim stroke while still receiving full floatation aide. Puddle Jumpers are more comfortable to wear than a standard life vest when just playing at the beach, so we were able to keep Ella wearing the Puddle Jumpers even when she was just playing in the sand. It also allowed her more freedom when we were wading, as I could hold her Puddle Jumpers life vest instead of carrying her, allowing her to feel the water more. I was a little disappointed last year, when my then 2.5 year old son, John weighed enough to wear the Puddle Jumpers life vest. This life vest doesn’t roll you to your back, as a standard life vest does. He couldn’t figure that out last year, so we had to go to a standard life vest. I’m hoping the Puddle Jumpers work for him this year! Even if your child knows how to swim, if they are under five years old, it is said that they would not remember the life saving skills if in a panic. For children under 5 I like to play it safe and have them use flotation devices around the water unless I am holding them.
Did you know that most popular sunscreens today have oxybenzone, a known endocrine disruptor in them? Read about it here. I have been looking for effective sunscreens that do not contain oxybenzone. So far we have found success with the following brands:
Kiss My Face SPF30 Cool Sport
This sunscreen has absolutely no scent, which is great for my hypersensitive daughter. It rubs in easily and seems to offer great protection from sunburn. I have yet to use it in the water. I’ll update once we try it at the beach.
Babyganics broad spectrum SPF50+
This rubs in almost as easily as sunscreens that don’t contain zinc oxide (which is known for it’s pasty white appearance). It protects my super-sensitive daughter, Ella, even when I apply it before she goes to school then is outside several hours later. It seems to continue working after she gets wet in the sprinkler. Beach camp starts next week, so the true test will be how well it works there. I will update this post after her first week of using this at the beach.
Beyond Coastal Active SPF34
My husband races sailboats for a living, so sun protection is extremely important for him. He is out on the boat for up to twelve hours some days, sweating and being splashed by salt water. If he is able to reapply sunscreen it is usually only once in the day, so his sunscreen has to be really water resistant. Also it can’t sting his eyes when sweat is dripping down his face. He started using this year and is really liking it.
For a list of safer sunscreen, check out this list from EWG.org.
The best way to get sand off your skin is by brushing it off with baby powder. For me baby powder is a beach essential. Inhaling the baby powder can cause damage to the lungs, especially for the younger children, so a powder mitt is a good way to go to avoid the powder flying through the air. This mitt is pre-filled with baby powder and you just put it on your hand and brush the sand off. If you have a child in diapers then you do not want to go to the beach without baby powder. Getting the sand off of their damp tushy is impossible without powder, no many how many baby wipes you use.
When we go on a beach vacation I really don’t want to fill our bags with sand toys. Most of the time you can get sand toys at your destination, but I have found that they are usually overpriced. I hate packing extra things, but I also hate paying more that I should for cheap toys. We have a mini sand castle mold, shovel, and rake that I pack for any beach vacation. Then if we don’t have access to anything else at least there is something for the kids to dig and play with. This is not an essential item, but has come in handy many times. At home I keep it in the car for spur of the moment trips to the beach.
Summertime means my phone lives in a waterproof case. I love the Otterbox series for great protection. I am using the OtterBox Defender for my iphone 5s. Otterbox doesn’t seem to have a waterproof case for the iPhone 6. I would try LifeProof if I had the iPhone 6. Here is a link to more waterproof options for your phone.
These cups are just the right size for a snack on the beach. Your child can sit on a beach chair, kick back, and have both snack and drink right in front of them. The one thing you need to be aware of is that they do drip out of the straw hole if turned over. Make sure they stay upright in your bag and in the sand.
It’s smart to bring a small bottle of vinegar with you to the beach to use in case of jellyfish stings. You can read about treating jellyfish stings in my post here about one of our Beach Days in St. Thomas. I recommend using a refillable container to just bring a few ounces of white vinegar with you. I have tried probably fifty different brands of refillable containers over the years, and I am usually disappointed with them leaking after several flights. This set of refillable containers, however, has not disappointed me. I have been using these containers for about five years now and have never had a leak yet.
Hooded Towel Cover Up
This reminds me that I haven’t bought these yet this year. For young kids I really love having a hooded towel cover up. When they are wet and shivering, you can go ahead and remove their swimsuits so they will dry faster and put the hooded towel cover up on them to keep them dry and warm. Even if they want to walk around a bit, they stay covered and dry. We usually buy these cover ups from Lands End. You can find something similar on Amazon here.
I LOVE aqua socks for the beach. Sand doesn’t get in them and they protect your child’s feet from rocks or coral. It also protects the tops of their feet from sunburn. I just ordered this pair for my daughter who is attending six weeks of beach camp this summer.
Other things in my beach bag:
- Swim Diapers
- Diaper Wipes
- Ziploc Bags (for trash, shell collecting, to keep things dry)
- Snacks (avoid chocolate or things that will melt in the heat)
- Water Bottles
- Sun Hats (be sure to have hats with a chin strap or you may lose them in the breeze)
- Insect Repellent (Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent performs even better than DEET products according to this study by the Journal of Insect Science, as reported by NPR in this article.)
- Waterproof Band-Aids
- Tissues (store in Ziploc bag so they don’t get wet)
What did I miss? Are there better items out there that I don’t know about yet? What do you pack for the beach with kids? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll check them out!