Nothing makes my preschooler happier than a trip to the beach. However, I know from experience that a day at the beach with a preschooler is not nearly as enjoyable if certain items are left at home. As such, I always prepare a master list prior to packing for a day of fun in the sun. Remembering the essentials: towel, swimsuit and sunscreen is easy. It’s the rest of these items that seem to get lost in the shuffle, and are typically the ones your preschooler will be moaning for as soon as you hit the sand:
Sand toys (pail, shovel, cups, rake)
Personal water flotation devices for children (water wings, floaties, swimmies)
Set of dry clothes
Cooler with snacks and drinks (Note: Most beaches prohibit alcohol, instead opt for bottled water and juice boxes. Also, remember to pack food snugly and in layers–heavy things on the bottom, soft things on top of those. Pre-chill food and drinks and wrap them well in foil to protect from melting ice and condensation.)
Hand sanitizers (Anti-bacterial gel or Wet Ones)
Plastic garbage bag (To avoid constant trips to the trash can, bring your own bag, fill it periodically, and at the end of the day dispose of it in one trip.)
I’ve also seen some people bring pillows, hand-held televisions, and needlepoint projects to the beach, but they usually don’t have a kid in tow.
In regards to hauling the aforementioned items to the sand, consider the following:
Laundry baskets: This is an affordable means of toting toys, towels, and sandals to and from the car. Laundry baskets are sturdy, durable and give kids easy access to their beach gear. In addition, they now come in a variety of vibrant colors.
Mesh totes: I am a big fan of mesh bags. I use them for wet clothes, toys and scuba gear. Since they are so well ventilated, wet items dry faster. The bags also come in a variety of sizes. I have one large enough to accommodate all of my daughter’s beach toys. Plus, it has padded shoulder straps and is machine washable.