A trip to the beach while you're babysitting is a fun day for everyone. Proper planning, however, will help prevent sunburn, meltdowns, and accidents.
What kind of things should you keep in mind about babysitting at the beach? You don't want to pack too heavy, but be sure to bring essentials like sunscreen, towels, water bottles, food, and some toys. Have a list of activities like building a sandcastle, flying a kite, and doing a scavenger hunt.
In this article, I'll let you know what you should pack for the beach, what kinds of fun seaside activities you can do, as well as some safety tips to keep in mind.
Download our beach checklist to keep in your babysitting binder.
Packing For The Beach – What To Bring
This beach checklist will help you to remember what you need to bring, saving you time and hassle instead of having to remember each time. Feel free to refer back to it whenever you are planning a beach trip!
Generally, I would recommend taking only the essentials to the beach. Having less things to keep track of and bring back home again will make things easier and more enjoyable for you. You don't necessarily need to bring every item on this list. Look at your personal situation and see which you consider must-haves to keep the day running smoothly.
Since you're a babysitter, parents should be providing a lot of these supplies for you. Check in advance to see if they already have a beach bag of their own, but if not, it's good to have some of your own supplies ready as well.
My article Babysitting at the Pool (What to Bring, Games to Play & Water Safety Tips) also contains a lot of items that will also apply to the seaside as well!
A Bag To Hold Everything
Having a large beach tote bag makes it easy to carry all of the supplies you'll need to bring to the beach. Try to get one with inner pockets where you can stash your phone, keys, and wallet for the day.
Towels are bulky so you may want a second tote just to carry them. I find it's easiest to just have the children carry their towels from the car to the beach around their neck. On the way home, they'll usually be wrapped in their towels anyway.
However, I do make sure to pack extra plastic bags for trash and wet items. Most beaches don't have garbage cans in convenient locations if they have them at all, so usually, you'll need to pack up wrappers and trash from any food you bring and take it home afterward.
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Sunscreen is one of the most important items that you need to pack. Parents might not forgive you if they have to deal with sunburnt children after your trip.You want a waterproof sunscreen that is at least 30 SPF or higher. 50 SPF would be better. Sunscreen sticks make applying easier than using liquid goop and reduce the risk of children rubbing sunscreen into their eyes.
It is best to apply sunscreen before you leave for the beach as this will allow enough time for it to absorb fully into the skin. If you apply sunscreen right before going in the water, it will be washed off straight away and you will end up with a sunburnt child.
Bring at least one towel per person for drying off at the end of the day. Towels can also double as a place to sit if you don't want to bring chairs or a beach towel. Having children sit on their towels on the ride home will also prevent your car seats from getting wet.
Lots of Water
When you're at the beach, you can still become dehydrated, even while you're swimming. Make sure to pack enough water for everyone to stay hydrated for the entire trip. You can pack individual water bottles, or bring a larger jug of water for everyone and plastic cups. On really hot days, I like to freeze water bottles in advance. As the day progresses, they'll start to melt but still be icy cold to drink.
Food / Snacks
While you're babysitting at the beach, children will be far more active than if they were just playing at home. You will need to pack plenty of snacks. Try to opt for healthy snacks like fruit instead of candy. Bring a cooler bag to keep everything cold, especially if it's sitting out in the hot sun for a few hours.
If you're spending most of the day at the beach, you'll want to pack lunch too and have a little picnic. Even if there's somewhere nearby to eat, it's a lot easier to just eat on the beach instead of packing everything up.
Do you provide food, or should the parents? Find out from my article Do Babysitters Provide Food? (What Parents May Expect From You)
For young children that aren't potty trained yet, you'll need to pack some disposable swim pants or waterproof diapers. Save the disposable swim pants to put on right before they enter the water. Swim pants aren’t designed to hold and absorb liquid - so if the toddler is wearing them in the car and they wet themselves, it will end up all through the car seat.
Any blanket will do, although preferably one that you don't mind getting sandy.
You could pack a beach umbrella, tent, and chairs. But I find that's far more hassle than it's worth to transport to and from the beach. For me, I just like to bring a simple beach blanket. Ideally, pick a place to set up where you can move into the shade for a bit if needed.
A Change of Clothes
You don’t necessarily need to bring a change of clothes. If it's a long drive back home you might want to consider it. I have always found it very easy to just dry myself and the kids off as best I can, and bring them home in their bathing suits.
A lot of beaches don't have public bathrooms or change rooms, so getting changed after a day at the beach can be difficult. Plus the children will still be all sandy at the end of the day, so it's often best to let them dry off on the ride home before getting changed.
You should definitely bring each child a hat, and possibly sunglasses if they own them.
This is a really neat trick that I wish I learned about much sooner! If you dust baby powder on your feet and legs at the end of the day, it will remove the sand really easily. That way you don't have to wait around for everybody to dry off before leaving, and it will keep your car from getting sandy.
You don't need to bring a ton of toys with you. A few beach basics like an inflatable ball and a pail and shovel for each child is probably more than enough. Let children pick one of each of their favorite beach toys and bring just those, instead of carrying all different types. They can always share and take turns with different toys throughout the day.
Puddle jumpers (also known as water wings) are worth bringing along too. These inflatable toys provide a bit more reassurance than simply giving children blow-up tubes or other toys they can let go of. I list them here as a toy since technically they aren't a lifejacket or life preserver, so while they make it a little easier to supervise children at the beach and keep them safe, don't rely on them as a water safety device.
Try These 21 Fun Seaside Activities For Children
There shouldn't ever be a dull moment at the beach! Children will often be able to come up with their own fun ideas to keep themselves occupied for hours. But just in case, here are some ideas if they start to get bored.
1. Explore A Tide Pool
If you're at the seaside, there are likely starfish, crabs, shellfish, and other creatures to find. Take the children on a walk down the beach to look under piers at low tide or other places where animals might be found. See how many different beach animals you can find! You can turn a trip to the beach into a bit of a biology lesson.
2. See Who Can Dig The Deepest!
If you want to keep children occupied for a while, have them see who can dig the deepest hole in the sand. See if they can dig a hole deep enough to fit you in it, or try to go deep enough to reach the water.
Just be sure to fill in any holes afterward for the safety of other beachgoers, so nobody trips and falls.
3. Play Frisbee or With A Beach Ball
Children can play frisbee or catch at the beach since there is lots of open space. I recommend using inflatable balls in case they end up in the water. You can also play frisbee golf by setting up sticks, towels, or other targets to aim for.
For older children, they can try to play a more formal game of volleyball. You can bring a net, or create a makeshift one using towels.
4. Go Kite Flying
The wind tends to be faster near bodies of open water compared to further inland, so along the beach is a great place to fly a kite. Even on days that aren't very windy, kids can run along the beach with the kite behind them. You can make a homemade kite as a craft before heading off to the beach, or pick a pre-made one up from the dollar store in advance.
5. Build A Sandman
If you're bored with regular castles, you can try to build a person out of the sand. This is particularly good if you live somewhere that doesn't get snow around the holidays. You can make it just like a snowman, but using sand instead. If you struggle to make one standing up, make one lying down instead. Use rocks or shells for eyes and buttons, driftwood sticks for arms, and throw a towel around it as a scarf. Get creative and see how detailed the kids can make it.
6. Blow Some Bubbles
That wind you can use for kite flying is also great for taking bubbles high up in the air too. You can make some bubble liquid at home using dishwashing soap and some other common ingredients, or buy a container from a shop. Your actual bubble blowers can be bought or made at home using pipe cleaners as well. The benefit of making your own bubble blowers is that you can make them larger for some really huge bubbles!
7. Run Relay Races
Children love to race. Running in sand adds a bit of extra difficulty to things. If you're babysitting two or more children, you can have them run a relay race and hand off a stick or rock from the beach to each other. Or for some added difficulty, have them run while holding a bucket or plastic cup full of water and try not to spill it.
8. Play Tug of War
Draw a line in the sand (literally!) Then have one child stand on each side and grab the end of a towel or skipping rope, and see who can pull the other across the line first. You can also play tug of war with the kids against you as the babysitter and see if they're stronger than you when they work together.
9. Have A Scavenger Hunt
Give the children a list of common beach items to collect like a shell, a piece of driftwood, a feather, a rock with sparkles in it, something red, and other items and send them off on a search. Or for younger ones, you'll probably want to accompany them and help them out a bit. Just don't let them get too far away or out of your line of sight while they're exploring for treasures.
10. Draw A Sand Drawing
Using a stick, children can draw pictures and words in the sand. Or you can lay out rocks in a pattern to make a shape. You can add a little bit of education to your day at the beach by getting them to write their names in the sand. It's best if there's a hill or dock nearby where they can get a view of their work from above after it's done.
You can also play a game of Xs and Os or other basic games that you'd normally play on paper too.
11. Read A Book
Children should take a bit of a break after they eat their lunch or snack before getting back into the water. So while they're waiting, it's a great time to all sit together on a beach blanket and read a book together.
12. Do Some Yoga
If you know some yoga poses that are good for children, why not try some yoga poses on the beach together? Use it as a way to get in some stretching before any running on the beach or other more strenuous activities.
13. Play "I Spy"
Take turns picking an item from the beach scenery and then having someone else guess what the person is looking at, based on the clues that they give. To make it even more challenging, you can use a pair of binoculars so everybody is able to see further.
14. Throw Skipping Stones
Have children collect flat rocks, and then teach them how to skip them along the surface of the water. See who can get the most skips! I think the best I've ever done was 5 or 6. Just be sure to do it in a more secluded area of the beach where nobody is swimming and you won't hit any wildlife.
If you don't want to throw stones, you can collect smooth rocks to use for future crafts and paint them when you get home instead.
15. Get Buried Alive
You can help bury the children, or you can have them try to bury you. See if they can bury your hands, feet, body, and everything except your head in the sand! Just make sure you only do this in dry sand.
16. Watch The Sunset
If you're going to the beach in the evening, watching the sunset can be a great way to end your trip. For children that live in more built-up areas of the city, it might be the first chance they've ever got to see a sunset at the beach.
17. Listen To The Ocean
If you're able to find any big shells along the beach, have children hold them up to their ears and see if they can hear the ocean. Just make sure there are no critters still inside first. Even if you can't find any shells, you can still sit and appreciate the sound of the ocean and just take a few minutes to watch the waves go in and out.
18. Pick Up Trash
Going to the beach and picking up trash can be a great way to teach children about caring for the environment and conservation. See if you can get a whole bag full! Another great learning lesson to incorporate into your beach trip.
19. Go Treasure Hunting
If you know someone with a metal detector, see if you can borrow it for the day. Have children search around for lost treasure on the beach. They might just find scrap pieces of metal like pop cans. But there's a chance they could find coins, rings, and other dropped objects too.
20. Go Swimming
Going in the water seems like the obvious thing to do at the beach. Children can paddle around, bob underwater, do handstands in the water, and other fun activities. For older ones, you can bring goggles or snorkels to let them explore underwater as well.
Children normally can't stay in the water all day without getting tired or cold, so keep an eye on them and be sure to have them come out for breaks.
21. Make A Sandcastle
If you brought buckets and toy shovels to the beach, the most natural on-land activity to do is making a sandcastle. For younger children who can't get the hang of mixing the right proportions of water and sand or lifting heavy buckets, even digging a hole or moat can be a fun activity.
For even more fun activities, you should read my article Fun things to do when Babysitting (206 Kids Games, Activities & Entertainment Ideas)
Beach Safety and Extra Tips
- Keep children at arm's length in the water. You should be able to reach a child and pull them out of the water within a few seconds if they slip under.
- Don't take your eyes off children around water. Even if they're playing in the sand right now, it only takes a few seconds for them to wander off into the water.
- Watch for storms and lightning. Being in or around the water during a thunderstorm is dangerous, so you'll want to cut your beach day short if the weather gets bad.
- Be sure to reapply sunscreen. Most sunscreen needs to be reapplied every few hours at least, even the waterproof kinds. Set a timer on your phone or something to remind you.
- Pay attention to water quality postings. If there are signs saying to stay out of the water because of high bacteria levels, strong currents, or other problems, take heed!
- Go to the beach early or late. In the middle of the day, the sun's UV rays are at their strongest, and the beach will also be busiest. Try to go in the late morning and leave at lunch, or later in the afternoon.
- Scope out a bathroom in advance. If you're at the beach for more than a couple of hours, chances are that the children will need to use the bathroom, so find the closest bathroom before you set up at the beach, so you aren't scrambling once somebody needs to go.
- Pick a landmark to sit near, like a lifeguard stand or a large sign. That way it will be easy for both you and the children to remember where you left your belongings.
- Ensure that all children stay together at all times to make supervision easier. It becomes too hard to safely monitor everyone if one child is in the water, one child is at the seashore and the other is up in the sand dunes.
Check out my other articles 21 Bath Time Tips for Babysitters and Kids Water Safety for additional water safety tips that also apply at the beach.
Beach Babysitting (Checklist)
Print out our handy beach babysitting checklist to keep in your babysitting binder so you always have this information at your finger tips.
Also, see our other babysitting checklists.
Going to the beach is something you'd probably be willing to do yourself in your off-time. So getting paid to take children to the beach while babysitting can be a bit like a dream job. Children love going to the beach too, and the trip just might be the highlight of their time off from school.
A little bit of planning and gathering up the supplies you need for your beach day can save a lot of headaches and problems. Sunscreen, towels, snacks, and a few toys are a must.
Being at the seaside isn't just splashing around and making sandcastles either. Try out some of the activities I've included above to spice up your day at the beach.
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