We hold these truths to be self-evident: that no kid in his right mind will keep a sun hat on, that applying sunscreen to a toddler can make her scream for no discernable reason, and that battling the sun’s harmful rays while trying to have an enjoyable family trip to the beach (darn it!) is a time-honored tradition best met with tenacity and creativity.
Here is some of our favorite beach gear for toddlers, who make trips to the beach somehow as magical and memorable as they are exhausting. May the sand be squishy, the bugs be minimal and the wind be forever at your back.
Written by Cynthia J. Drake
Nantucket Spider Camp Bug Spray
Bugs are an unfortunate downside of the beach at times, so it's best to come prepared. Nantucket Spider Camp Bug Spray offers an essential oil-based DEET-free option that has a light minty scent.Approximate Price:
$13Buy It Now
Bare Republic SPF 50 Mineral Baby Stick
Sunscreen is recommended for babies starting at age six months to help guard against sun damage. Many parents forego spray sunscreen for young children to avoid the possibility of inhalation. Creams and sticks are both a great option when it comes to beach gear for toddlers. Try one formulated especially for sensitive skin, such as Bare Republic SPF 50 Mineral Baby Stick, which combines zinc oxide with avocado oil, coconut oil and shea butter.Approximate Price:
$10Buy It NowRelated: Best Sunscreens for Babies and Toddlers - As Recommended by a Pediatric Dermatologist
Mesh Tote Bag
Sand can become the souvenir that keeps giving long after you leave the warmth of the beach. To help ward it off as much as possible, bring along a mesh tote bag for all your child's sand toys and beach treasures, like seashells and that random piece of prized seaweed. It's big enough to throw in your towels and a small beach blanket, too.Approximate Price:
$9Buy It Now
Johnson's Baby Powder
Toddlers can be very peculiar creatures. One minute, they are rolling in the sand delightedly getting granules in every imaginable crevice, and the next they are shrieking about the sand between their toes.
Here's a mom-tested beach-hack: towel your little one off as best as possible and sprinkle some Johnson's Baby Powder over the remaining sticky sand on those little arms, legs and feet. The powder will absorb the moisture and help the sand slide off more easily. Plus, there's that irresistible baby powder fresh scent.
Looking for a more natural alternative? Corn starch or bentonite clay do the same thing.Approximate Price:
$5 to $10Buy It Now
Waffle Weave Bath Towels
All towels are not created equal when it comes to toddler beach gear. Run-of-the-mill terry cloth towels can take forever to dry, and they also seem to be magnets for sand.
When it comes to beach gear for toddlers, invest in a set of 100-percent cotton waffle weave bath towels, which have a honeycomb design that helps them to absorb water while drying faster than other towels. They are also very light. With a little shake, you can get rid of the sand quickly.Approximate Price:
$50 for a set of twoBuy It Now
i play. Baby & Toddler One Piece Swim Sunsuit
Let's just get this out of the way first: when it comes to toddler beach gear, your little one can rock a swimsuit like no one else. Those chubby tummies and thighs! Those baggy little diaper butts! You could throw a sack on a toddler and she would still inspire "oohs" and "ahhs" from everyone on the beach.
Moving on to more practical matters, chiefly: sun protection and diaper access. Fortunately, you have several options for rash guards and body suits. The i play. Baby & Toddler One Piece Swim Sunsuit (for boys or girls) is simply adorable-a bit reminiscent of the old timey bathing suits of the 1900s, and always gets plenty of compliments. There are also snaps at the crotch for easy diaper changes.Approximate Price:
$25Buy It Now
Chaco Z1 Ecotread Kids Sandal
Don't overlook those little piggies on the hot sand or sharp rocks or stones! Chaco makes the Z1 Ecotread, a comfortable and stylish kids' sandal with an adjustable strap that makes getting shoes on and off a bit less of a pain.Approximate Price:
$18Buy It Now
CIOR Water Shoes
For shoes that can be worn in the water, check out CIOR Water Shoes, which fit snug on your little one's feet and helps protect against rocky surfaces (also good for wearing in waterparks).Approximate Price:
$50Buy It Now
You might have a little luck getting your little guy or girl to keep some sunglasses on-they're always stealing yours, after all, right? Real Shades are 100-percent UV protective and the soft rubbery material and round-the-head strap makes them less likely to fall off. They come in both baby and toddler sizes.Approximate Price:
$30Buy It NowRelated: Best Baby and Toddler Sunglasses
Frogg Toggs Cooling Towel
Several moms swear by Frogg Toggs Cooling Towel for beach use, or for when your toddler just needs a quick cool-down.
When your kiddos need a little rest from the hot sun, make sure they stay hydrated with their favorite water bottle and then wrap one of these babies around their neck or their forehead to cool them down. You just have to get the towel wet and it will provide instant cooling relief. It's like magic.Approximate Price:
$13Buy It Now
Picnic Time Collapsible Adventure Wagon
If there's one thing a toddler loves, it's a wagon. Fortunately, a wagon is a great investment for hauling not only said toddler, but it's also roomy enough for all the supplies your little one requires, too. This Picnic Time Collapsible Adventure Wagon is big enough to fit all your gear, but also folds up for easy stowing in your trunk. The larger wheels can handle going over a variety of terrain, so you can use it at home, as well as the beach.Approximate Price:
$150Buy It Now
Cutter All Family Mosquito Wipes
Cutter All Family Mosquito Wipes are another great beach item for toddlers, especially for parents concerned about spraying squirmy young children and accidentally getting their eyes, nose or mouth in the process.Approximate Price:
$4Buy It Now
Our team of parents and travel experts chooses each product and service we recommend. Anything you purchase through links on our site may earn us a commission.