Summer = going to the beach. I grew up in New Jersey and a trip to "the shore " was always a favorite summer activity! Now I live in northern California and I LOVE going to the beach with my kiddos all year round! We are always learning new tips and tricks to make the experience enjoyable for our whole family.
The beach is THE perfect play land for toddlers. It is one giant sensory bin and is filled with opportunities for creative active play. Today I'm partnering with CAPRI SUN Organic to share some of our favorite tips for taking a toddler to the beach.
Anytime we go on an adventure with kids we like to prepare ahead of time so that we have a lot of fun.
1. Before heading to the beach I try and make sure that my kids are well rested, hydrated, and have eaten something substantial.
One of the best recipes for a toddler meltdown is an overtired, thirsty, hungry kid. By feeding and hydrating kids ahead of time we are able to get out and go have fun right when we get to the beach. Sometimes we have to walk for a little bit to get there or drive around for awhile to find parking, so I keep snacks in the car so that kids get energized before we descend on the sand.
2. One of the most important things to remember when taking toddlers to the beach is that it might be overwhelming for them.
Just because they liked the beach a month or two ago, doesn't mean they are going to love it the same the next time. Toddlers can get overwhelmed by the whole sensory experience at the beach, especially the irregularity and loudness of the waves and sometimes even the roughness of the sand. I like to spend a lot of time talking about the beach ahead of time with my kids, showing them photos from trips, and talking with them about some of our favorite beach activities.
3. Sand toys are one of my favorite things to lug to the beach.
Often my toddlers have HATED the waves and the water at the beach. We sometimes spend an entire beach trip just playing in the sand. One of the ways that I have helped my kids get acclimated to the ocean water is by filling up large buckets of water for them to play with up further away from the ocean. After we dig holes and bury our feet in the sand and dump out the water we always have the dilemma that we need more water. Usually my kids don't want to go near the water at first, but they will come with me and help fill up a bucket and race it back up to the sand. Over time they get more and more comfortable with the water as they fill up their buckets and race away... and then eventually I can't get them out of the water.
Another fun idea that several friends have suggested is to bring a baby pool to the beach and fill it up with ocean water for little toddlers to play in. I think I may try this on our upcoming trip to Hawaii.
Basic sand toys like buckets, shovels, and other cool molds are always a hit. I also love funnels and other simple fine motor tools like scoops and tweezers and sifters. Putting everything in a mesh bag makes it easy to carry and as the toys dry the sand just falls out on the way back to the car. We typically try and bring a few of each type of item so that everyone can get involved and play together. We especially love digging big holes to climb in and castles with moats around them. We don't go overboard with toys though because the kids typically find shells, crabs, sticks, and rocks that are more fun to build and dig with than our sand toys!
We also love bring boogie boards to use for body surfing.
4. Another lesson I learn every time that we go to the beach is to bring less than I think I will need.
My motto is "be prepared"... but sometimes I am over prepared and then I just suffer having to carry way too much stuff across the hot sand. Typically I end up going to the beach alone with my kids. Sometimes we'll meet up with friends once we get there. Usually I drag everything from the car and back by myself and sometimes my 8-year-old helps too. I have an awesome beach blanket with a strap that is easy to wear and we usually bring a towel or two to the beach and leave the rest in the car where they won't get sandy. We also leave our clothes in the car along with some water bottles for washing kids off. Instead of changing in the wet changing rooms afterwards we usually just head back to our car and rinse off there and get dressed. Once kids are changed I can strap them into carseats instead of having them goofing off in the bathroom.
The next time I go to the beach I am going to bring some baby powder and use it after the beach. I've heard that baby powder works wonders with getting sand off. Has anyone tried it?
5. Don't forget lots of sunscreen and stay hydrated and fed!
I love to lotion my kids up by the car before we walk to the sand and then I try and remember to lotion them again after an hour or two. I also like to bring a bunch of water with us along with other yummy drinks and snacks.
Some of our favorite items to bring along to the beach include fruit, single serving baggies of crackers, granola bars, cut up veggies, fruit squeezers, and Capri Sun juice drinks. We are super excited about the new CAPRI SUN Organic available in stores now!
I like that CAPRI SUN Organic contain no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives and are sweetened only with fruit juice. My kids love the familiar taste and look of the Capri Sun brand and I like that there is no added sugar. It's a win-win!
Capri Sun juice drinks are so easy to freeze and then pop in my cooler bag. They work well to help keep our other fruits and veggies cold as well. After a fun day of beach play my kids love to have a nice cold fruity drink in addition to water bottles.
Do you have any other favorite drinks/snacks that you like to bring with you?
6. Bring some shade and a few non-beachy activities!
Some kids just don't like the sand, water, smells, etc. at the beach. If you still want to have a fun time and not leave right away, bring a few additional items with you to help yourself out if your toddler isn't digging the beach.
A few well-worn board books, stickers, or some mess-free Color Wonder books or Water Wow activity books can keep kids occupied for awhile. If kids get exhausted or too hot then having a cozy blanket or sheet set up under an umbrella or inside a 1/2 tent can make a world of difference. After about an hour in the sun I am usually ready for some shade myself, so a 1/2 tent or an umbrella is where I like to be.
7. Lastly, get out and play with your toddler!
As a mom of four little kids I've finally accepted the fact that going to the beach is not going to involve me relaxing on a towel watching the kids splash in the ocean. When my husband joins us then sometimes that actually happens, but usually I am out catching crabs, digging holes, and running in and out of the waves with my kids.
The beach is such a magical place to play and connect with kids. Because it is such an intense sensory experience I feel like it is such a great place to get to know my kids better and learn a bit more about their personalities. I love watching as they create with sand and seeing how excited they get when they make new discoveries or finally decide that they love jumping and splashing in the water.
What other tips would you add? What did we miss?
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Capri Sun Organic. All opinions are mine.