I had no idea what constituted beach essentials for toddlers before embarking on my first beach holiday with my 16 month old.
As someone who was used to grabbing a swimsuit, flip flops and a good book before heading to the sea, I found myself in a whole new world of lists and overwhelm when it came to planning a beach trip with my daughter.
However, having now navigated a few of these occasions thanks to a recent holiday to Sicily, I thought I’d share what I think you definitely need if you’re going to the beach with a toddler.
Including basics such as a rash vest and waterproof hat, to more ingenious inventions such a pop up beach tent complete with paddling pool, all of the products below made our first beach holiday with a toddler much (much) easier.
1. Izipizi Kids Sunglasses
I was reluctant to invest in a pair of sunglasses for my toddler. With visions of them being thrown to the ground within seconds, I didn’t see the point in attempting to wrangle a pair onto my spirited 16 month old.
Surely it would only end in tears – for both of us.
Much to my surprise, Olive tolerated the sunglasses incredibly well and the strap behind the head meant she couldn’t immediately rip them off. It took her a few minutes to get used to them, but once she realised she could play on the beach squint-free, she soon forgot about the foreign object attached to her face.
IZIPIZI sunglasses are definitely more expensive than other kids’ sunglasses, but are well worth the investment.
I hope Olive will get good use from these for years to come.
2. Rash Vest
Prior to having Olive, I had no idea what to dress a toddler in on the beach. Growing up in the 1980s, Laura and I enjoyed summers entirely naked, when sun protection was an after thought – coming second to getting a ‘healthy’ tan.
Fortunately, things are very different now and there are a huge number of options when it comes to protective sun wear for your baby. After a lot of research, I decided to invest in a few rash vests, to save having to continually slather a wriggling toddler in sun block. I then paired the rash vests with a water nappy and matching swimsuit bottoms.
It was much easier to apply sunblock to just her legs and the long sleeved rash vests kept her top half completely protected.
I bought a few rash vests from:
3. Beach and Pool Shoes
To stop your toddler burning their feet on hot sand, it’s a good idea to invest in some quality beach and pool side shoes. Designed to protect their little feet from the heat and to prevent slip around the pool, these were soon high on my list for beach essentials for toddlers.
I would say these were actually the most used item on our summer holiday; they dried incredibly quickly and Olive could get in and out of the pool (or sea) without having to remove her shoes.
I invested in some Slipfree Anti-Slip Swim shoes from JoJo Maman Bébé.
5. Towelling Onesie
Another item to add to your list for beach essentials for toddlers is a towelling onesie.
Trying to dry a slippery, wiggling toddler is near impossible on the beach and it’s far simpler to throw a towelling onesie on them and let them dry off in their own time.
A onesie also allows you to travel back from the beach without having to face the difficult task of changing a hyper toddler on the hot, sticky sand.
I bought a very cute towelling onesie from Boden.
6. Waterproof Hat with Neck Coverage
A waterproof hat with a neck flap for full sun protection is another beach essential for your toddler. Olive didn’t seem to mind wearing these hats at all, which was a relief as it was important to protect her little scalp from the strong Sicilian sunshine.
Tip: invest in a few of these hates; we managed to lose two on holiday, somewhere between the sea, beach and car.
7. Fan Attachment for Stroller
This little gadget was incredibly handy to use on holiday with Olive. Easy to attach to the stroller, it was surprisingly strong and kept her nice and cool walking to and from the beach.
8. Happy Nappies
Although there are plenty of waterproof swim nappies on the market, we found that these were a bit flimsy when it came to the beach. With sand and water flowing freely through them, we felt on edge about the possible consequences of not having a seal tight nappy around our toddler’s bottom.
We invested in some Happy Nappy shorts before we went on holiday, which we found ideal for the beach. Creating a strong seal around the water nappy, we felt far more confident that there would be no ‘accidents’, and they also kept Olive’s private regions sand and irritation free.
10. Pop Up Beach Tent and Pool
Scrolling Instagram early one morning, I came across a reel for the most ingenius invention I’ve ever come across – a pop-up beach tent for toddlers, that comes complete with a tiny splash pool inside.
I was thoroughly influenced and immediately purchased one from Amazon.
I had planned to buy Olive a pop-up tent anyway, but knowing this had the added option of a pool to keep her entertained was even better. The tent was incredibly easy to erect and we simply dug a small hole in the sand where the pool would be.
Olive loved this and could spend time playing in the sea water with her toys, without being under the glare of the sun.
11. Toddler Hand Sanitiser
Trying to clean your toddler’s sticky, sandy hands on the beach is a task and a half.
I bought the spray hand sanitiser from Toddler, which was incredibly easy to use and Olive seemed to enjoy the spraying sensation on her hands. It also comes with a handy case you can attach to the side of your bag.
12. Wet Dry Bag
A wet dry bag is incredibly useful when it comes to beach essentials for toddlers.
Being able to chuck Olive’s wet nappies, swimsuits and anything else that needed washing into a wet dry bag, made packing up after a beach trip a lot easier. It also made washing her things after the beach far easier, as you can simply throw the bags into the washing machine.
13. Beach Sheet
During my adult-only trips to the beach, a towel or a sun lounger was all I needed. A visit to the beach with a toddler, however, is a whole other kettle of fish. A beach sheet for them to play, roll around on and eat on is therefore absolutely essential.
Toddlers have a great ability to spread sand absolutely everywhere, particularly when they’re eating. Feeding them on a beach sheet, away from the sand is therefore a life-saver when it comes to stopping them shoving their sand covered hands in their mouth.
14. Cool Bag
If your toddler is anything like mine, packing plenty of snacks for a trip to the beach is an absolute necessity. Keeping your demanding toddler’s snack collection cool is therefore pretty important and a cool bag is a great item to bring on your holiday.
It also kept the snacks clean and organised, away from clingy, wet sand.
15. Water Bottle
Finally, a cool water flask (with straw) that’ll keep your child’s drink nice and cold is an essential for a beach trip with a toddler.
We forgot to bring one on our first trip to the beach and Olive refused to drink from her very warm water bottle. On our next visit to the beach, however, we brought her cool flask and she drank far more; putting my mind at rest that she was staying hydrated while on a very warm beach.