Beach Essentials with Little Ones


a photo of beach essentials for those with young children. This photo includes images of the products featured in this post including a cooler, water bottle, backpack, goggles, flippers, wagon, towel, sand toys, sunscreen, baby powder and a Bluetooth speaker

The beach with little ones can seem like a daunting adventure. I am sharing four key tips and tricks, along with the beach essentials needed to make your trip enjoyable and stress-free.

As a Pensacola native, I have grown up enjoying our white-sand beaches. Whether you are the lounging beach-goer, water-sport adventurer, seashell-hunting stroller, or a mix of all three – our picturesque beaches offer something for all coastal lovers.  It wasn’t until I had little ones that I realized just how LUCKY we are to live near something so beautiful.

A dad and his son wading in the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico
Some of my favorite beach views are watching my family together in the crystal clear, teal water.

The memories my family and I have created, I will keep for a lifetime. We have found an easier way to bring our little ones to the beach (ages 4.5 and 2), and there has been one trick that is a GAME CHANGER.

Tip #1: Go AFTER nap time and during the late afternoon.

There is nothing worse than trying to soothe an over-tired, hot, sandy toddler while you are also tired, hot, sandy, and trying to pack your things up for the car. We have all been there. A rested little one makes all the difference in how your experience will go, and arriving at the beach when it is cooler with the sun setting makes everyone more comfortable. (not to mention you don’t have to reapply sunscreen all day) We often arrive at the beach between 3:30-4PM which is also during the off-peak hours, so there is less traffic and parking spots available.

a young boy in swimming trunks laying on his stomach on a sandy beach.
There is nothing sweeter than a happy and rested toddler.

Tip #2: Simplify what you bring.

While we want to be prepared with all the things our toddlers COULD need or want, there is a way to simplify all.the.things.

We purchased a Beach Wagon with heavy-duty wheels that makes traveling from the car to our spot on the sand SO MUCH EASIER. The tires make the difference, so look for ones that are large to tread efficiently over the sand.

a beach wagon filled with beach chairs and boogie boards
MacSports brand on Amazon

We pack buckets and shovels for seashell hunting and castle building, bodyboards to ride waves, portable speakers, goggles, sunscreen, 3-4 towels, and easy-to-store snacks.

Individual buckets and shovels make building sandcastles or hunting for seashells so much fun!
a little boy lounging in a beach chair drinking a juice box and having a snack.
Snacks, snacks, snacks! Make it easy in separate bags or small items they can hold.
a father and son body surfing in the Gulf of Mexico
Our oldest learned to use his bodyboard this summer, and it has been a blast!

I also pack necessities, including extra diapers/wipes and vinegar-water spray for jelly stings. Another perk to arriving later at the beach is not having to pack an umbrella or tent!

Tip #3: Pack a dry bag to leave in the car.

This bag should include a change of clothes, diapers (if needed), a dry towel, and the best-beach-hack…. baby powder! Simply apply baby powder to the body where areas of sand are and wipe away the sand and powder with a dry towel. The sand comes RIGHT off! Changing into dry clothes for the way home is key, and baby powder is the secret!

Mom and son standing knee-deep in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico
Pack goggles to help them see the fish and seashells in the water.

Tip #4: Stay until sunset and plan dinner ahead of time.

This time of day has allowed us to bring some yummy dinner picnics and take advantage of a no-clean-up dinner with a fantastic view. We have also planned ahead and made dinner plans in the crockpot, which makes it easy to just walk in after returning home to dinner. Simple meals like make-ahead chicken salad, deli sandwiches, or even reheating leftovers work too! Then it is time for showers and bedtime with a little one that is worn out from a fun afternoon in the sand and water.

a little boy standing on the beaching looking at the water.

Our beach evenings have been some of the most enjoyable family moments, and I look forward to sharing many more. These tips have made our experience stress-free and close to vacation-like even though we travel home afterward.

I hope these beach hacks will allow you to embrace more coastal family moments!

All products featured are specifically selected by our team. When you purchase something through our retail links, Pensacola Mom Collective may earn an affiliate commission.
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Miranda Cauldwell
A Pensacola native, Miranda enjoys raising her two young sons in her hometown with her husband, Paul. She graduated with a degree in Exercise Science from the University of West Florida, which ignited a passion for adopting a lifestyle around health and wellness. With a large extended family stretching from New England, Colorado, and California, Miranda has loved to travel and crisscross the country visiting and exploring new cities with her family. When Miranda is not playing with her sons- Cohen (5) and Miller (3), she is finding a new home project to start, researching a new recipe, enjoying quality time with friends and family, or finally sitting down watching The Office with her husband and a nice glass of Pinot. She is excited to combine her love of all things Pensacola, the adventures of motherhood/sisterhood of mothers, and writing with Pensacola Mom Collective!



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