Going to the Beach with Kids: Mom Tips & Hacks


boy playing on beach Providence Moms Blog

With the nickname the Ocean State, most Rhode Islanders like to spend a healthy amount of their summertime ‘down’ at the ocean. But going to the beach with kids? Just like everything else, having kids complicates a good beach trip. They have so much gear and so many needs. What’s a mom to do?! Never fear: PMB is here for you with our contributors’ best tips and hacks for a low-stress day at the beach with the kiddos!

Before You Go

To cut down on packing time, keep a prepacked beach bag ready to go throughout the summer. Towels and sunscreen are a definite, but depending on your kids’ ages you might also include sand toys, boogie boards, or even (gasp!) a book for you. Then when it’s time to head for the beach, grab some snacks and your bag and hit the road. As soon as those towels come out of the dryer or a sunscreen bottle empties out, restock so you’ve always ready to go. If you’ve got a blue IKEA bag hanging around, they’re perfect for this!

If you’re worried about leaving your valuables on the beach, throw your wallet and phone in a waterproof bag. You can easily take them with you on the 8 million trips to the bathroom you’ll probably be taking your kids on, and you won’t have to worry about them getting damaged by wet towels and other items.

Think about your timing. An evening trip to the beach can be just as fun as a trip during the day. Less sunshine, fewer people, and you can either feed your littles before you go or stop for dinner (or ice cream!) on the way home.

Consider beaches that are close to you, even if they aren’t necessarily the ocean. They can be smaller and easier to navigate, and sometimes town beaches admit non-residents too!

Before you even get your kids’ bathing suits on, slather sunscreen on them naked. This way you know you got a good, thorough layer on them without having to deal with them wanting to run all over the beach. Bonus that the sunscreen has time to start working before you get to the beach (which is a thing, apparently).


boy sitting on beach Providence Moms BlogPractically Speaking

But how are you going to get all that jazz to the beach with you? PMB recommends a wagon when going to the beach with kids because not only can you carry stuff in it — you can carry kids in it!

Baby getting sleepy? Try taking them for a stroller ride on the smooth, wet sand of the beach to inspire some zzzs.

If you have a mesh baby bathing seat, bring it and let baby sit in it near the surf so they can experience a taste of the ocean but leave your hands free.

When you’ve got a large group of adults and children, it’s easy to feel like all the adults are watching all the kids. That’s great for supervising behavior, but in terms of safety, try assigning each child to an adult that is responsible for being able to see them at all times. This can be done super casually and you can swap any time you need to, but you’re next to a large body of water and this way each child is always accounted for. The key is to verbalize who’s watching who so no one assumes that someone else has eyes on a child.

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Photo by Kori Nori on Unsplash

Sun Protection

Just one more thing you barely gave half a thought to before you were a parent: finding the right sunscreen. If you want to know more about what’s in your sunscreen and the best ones to pick for your child, check out the Environmental Wellness Group’s yearly sunscreen guide here.

Remember that you can’t put sunscreen on brand new babies. Ask your pediatrician how old your little should be before using it, and keep your tiny baby out of the sun with:

  • Umbrella or tent
  • Play yard with a sheet clipped over it (they also make a specific indoor/outdoor play yard)
  • That wagon you used to haul your stuff with a swaddle blanket over part of it to create some shade
  • Make a fort out of towels and chairs
  • Stroller

Whatever you do, just make sure your baby has plenty of space to breathe.

Feeding the Troops

If you’re going to the beach with kids, you need food. Aim for healthy snacks that are minimal work to take for multiple kids. This way you don’t have to make each kid a sandwich or ‘main meal’ (which they won’t eat anyways because they’re having too much fun) but you still know they’re getting some nutrition!

Some ideas for great beach snacks are:

  • Fruit that you can just wash and take, like Mandarin oranges, blueberries, or bananas
  • String cheese
  • A bag of baby carrots and a container of hummus
  • Veggie muffins
  • Yogurt pouches
  • Peanut butter and pre-cut apples
  • Bag of deli ham and cheese to make roll-ups
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • A jar of peanut butter or sun butter (stop for bagels on the way)

If you really want to bring leftovers or some other main meal, bring a large container and some plates instead of packing individual servings, or bring sandwich ingredients and make them there.

Buy a gallon of bottled water at the beginning of the summer. Before every beach trip, fill it with 3/4 ice and 1/4 water. You’ll have nice cold water all day and – bonus – it keeps your food cold!

Heading Home

Everyone knows sand is a part of the experience at the beach, but no one wants to bring it home with them. Try sticking your sand toys in a large mesh laundry bag so you can dunk them in the water and clean them out before you head home!

To get that sand off the little one without a full shower, bring a bottle of baby powder and a washcloth. Sprinkle some baby powder on sandy skin, gently rub with a washcloth, and sand comes off like magic.

To rinse sandy feet, fill an empty gallon water bottle with tap water and leave it in your car for the day. Then you have nice warm water to pour over little toes before the ride home.

Make sure to bring at least one snack that works for the car. Kids are always starving on the ride home!

Readers, what are your best tips for going to the beach with kids?