4 Tips That Will Make Your Life Easier At The Beach With Toddlers

While beach life is the arguably the best life, beaching it with toddlers can sometimes take a turn for the worse. But this doesn’t have to be your experience at all! We here at Great Escapes know how to prepare to enjoy the beach in all circumstances, including those days with your pint-sized prince or princess.

If you plan to hit the Outer Banks with a toddler in tow, keep reading here for tips to make your life easier. You’ll be glad you did!

blue cart for of beach supplies in the sand | Great Escapes OBX


Hauling All The Stuff

With babies, you can generally get away with leaving the house with just a well-stocked diaper bag, but when kids are within that 1 to 3 year age range, the amount of  “stuff” required to address their needs seems to explode. After all, this is when they can be the pickiest eaters, need the most consistency within their schedules, and may become inconsolable without their favorite stuffed creature.

But how can you accomplish hauling all the stuff back and forth without feeling like a vertitable pack mule?


If it’s within the scope of your vacation budget, we recommend renting or even purchasing a beach cart or wagon. These handy buggies will pay for themselves time and time again in terms of the ease of movement and other general convenience that they will introduce into your beach movements. You can just load the heavy and/or bulky items onto the cart and pull it along, thereby freeing up enough of your attention to wrangle your tot. In fact, the larger wagons may even be capable of transporting your toddler as well.

Just make sure that your equipment has the larger wheels capable of navigating sandy areas. The absolute last thing you want is to get stuck on the beach with a cart full of stuff, halfway between your vehicle and your waterfront destination.

If a beach cart is not within the scope of your budget, we recommend distributing your beach haul as best you can across all members of your beach party. Toddlers can wear backpacks containing light-weight items such as heat-tolerant snack items and sunscreen. They can also carry their own beach buckets containing shovels and plastic cookie cutters for creating sand shapes.


Sand-Free Space

fitted sheet beach hack | Great Escapes OBXToddlers are notorious for giving parents the slip when our attention wanders for even a moment. In addition, our small sweeties may at some point decide that they no longer want to have any skin contact with the sand (a tough objective to meet while on the beach!) and/or they may still require a short nap while the rest of the family continues their day on the coast.

If any of these scenarios sound like something you may need to address, we have a couple of options to help you manage.

First, if you have one, consider bringing along your travel pack and play. These handy items are lighter than ever and they are really the best option for reliable and sand-free child containment while on the beach. They are also easy to rinse off and dry quickly once you’re returned to your Great Escapes OBX vacation rental.

If you don’t have a travel pack and play, or if you’d just prefer not to use yours on the beach, another great way to designate a toddler-specific beach space is using a fitted bed sheet. The basic steps for this great beach hack are:


  1. Bring along a fitted bed sheet, full size or larger
  2. Lay sheet out on the sand, pocket sides facing up
  3. Spread sheet out, anchoring to ground by tucking heavier items (coolers, beach bags) into pockets
  4. Enjoy!

Either of these options will result in a visually-defined space that you can use as a sand-free toddler area.


tic tac toe in the sand | Great Escapes OBX

Beach Entertainment

Hell hath no fury like a toddler with nothing to do. Although there are lots of toddler-friendly beach activities such as hunting for sea shells and building sand castles, there may come a time in your day when your darling tot decides that none of those options are suitably entertaining. If and when that happens, you’ll want to make sure that you’re prepared with alternative entertainment ideas.

  • Easy games such as tic-tac-toe and hop scotch are perfect for the beach.
  • Silly faces is a fun game to play too! Simply draw silly faces in the sand and then stand over them, positioning your shadow so that the sand face becomes your own. This game always results in rounds of giggles.
  • If your toddler doesn’t mind getting super sandy, you can also make sand angels (like snow angels, but at the beach!) and create toddler sculptures (ex. heap sand across legs and torso and turn your tot into a turtle!)



Keep It Cool

mother and child under an umbrella at the OBX | Great Escapes OBXA hot toddler is often a hot mess, so it’s absolutely in your best interest to plan to keep them cool during your day at the beach!

Your first line of defense against heat-induced issues is providing a shaded area to relax and escape the sun. Again, you may choose to rent or purchase a beach umbrella or pop-up sun tent. You could also create a cute DIY beach tent with an extra towel or beach sheet like the one shown here.


The other trick to keeping cool on the beach works from the inside out. You’ll want to make sure that you have plenty of cool, refreshing treats in your cooler in order to keep the heat complaints at bay. Grapes are the one of the best beach cooler snacks around. If your little love doesn’t enjoy grapes straight off the bunch, you can even dress them up ahead of time! Try this jell-o grape recipe or these sugar grapes.

Other easy, keep cool beach treats include frozen tubes of yogurt and any of these chillable, easy-to-hold snack balls. You can also flavor their water with single-serve flavor packets, which will both keep them hydrated and satisfy their sweet teeth!

Don’t miss our helpful post on the best way to pack your cooler!

We are confident that these four tips will help make your beach day with your toddler an enjoyable one!