A simple trip to the beach can be hard work when you're not only lugging beach chairs but toddlers, as well. In fact, finding ways to lighten the load is one of the biggest challenges for a day at the beach with tots, according to CafeMoms who sounded off in a survey.
Moms tote about 20 pounds on average! It's such a pain (literally) that nearly 80 percent of beach-going mothers say they make everyone carry something. I've tried that -- it only takes an extra hour or so to actually get where you want to go. Sigh.
With this and other issues in mind, the Daily Buzz Bloggers searched, played with, and tested the best beach gear to make a mom's life easier within a budget she can afford.
Here, the Daily Buzz's Top 10 Beach Gear Picks for taking toddlers to the shore:
1. Disposable swim diapers The overwhelming choice for most moms -- preferred way more than cloth, regular, or reusable swim diapers. About $10 per dozen.
Alphabet and Number Sand Molds; $222. SPF clothing Slathering sunscreen was the other big beach complaint of CafeMoms -- they want stuff that's long lasting and easy to apply. To cut down on the chore, many are dressing their kids in sun-protected suits, hats and cover-ups, like those from Cabana Life ($20-$50), with a built-in SPF 50.
Or, for the pint-sized superheroes out there, there's also the Superman-style one-piece suit for boys and girls made by SunSmart ($35)
3. Water shoes "Mom! The sand is too hot!" "Eww, Mom, the seaweed is touching me!" Mamas love lightweight, flexible, non-slip shoes by One Step Ahead ($13) and other makers for these among other reasons.
For a lighter alternative, try non-slip, SPF 50 surf socks, also available at One Step Ahead ($10)
4. Play tents Meltdowns during a day of fun and sun are common. Some toddlers need to nap, and they can snooze safely in a cabana like the SPF 30 Moon Beam Lil Nursery Tent ($40).
Max Liquidator; $135. Squirt toys Splashing in the waves, getting soaked, playing in the sand -- all toddlers' favorite things to do at the beach. Squirt toys are huge, but almost half of all moms prefer non-pistol shaped toys. My own tots love the Max Liquidator ($7-13 depending on size) -- a pool noodle fashioned as a suction device that shoots water.
6. Sand molds An old bucket and garden trowel is sufficient to spark the imagination for hours, but if you want to get a bit more educational try Alphabet and Number Sand Molds, $22 for three sets (upper and lower case letters and numbers).
7. Wagons These are on the pricier side, but if you usually walk to the beach or have room in the car and can afford one, moms swear by big-wheeled sand-gliders like the Radio Flyer All Terrain Wagon ($140-$160).
Another option -- a beach cart. This version by Wheeleez ($99) folds up to fit in your trunk when space is tight.
8. Chairs CafeMoms typically bring two adult chairs and one child chair, and they don't want anything fancy -- just something lightweight and easy to carry. Brookstone sells two lightweight, quick drying mesh chairs that each folds up into a shoulder carrying bag for $50.
Sand Away Beach Bag; $159. Sand-proof bag The Sand Away Beach Bag ($15) stashes all your towels and toys, including a security pocket for your wallet and keys. At the end of the day, effortlessly shake the sand out and fold into a pocket-size pouch.
10. Cooler/tote bag Toddlers expend a ton of energy beach-side, so mom needs triple the amount of juice boxes, goldfish, cheese sticks, and yogurts to keep that sugar on an even keel. The soft-sided River Cooler ($39) lets you hold all that and is easy to clean, waterproof, and well-insulated to make sure all those snacks stay nice and cool during your day in the sun.
Do you have older kids? In need of some fun beach entertainment? Check out the Daily Buzz's 8 Great Fun in the Sun ideas for taking older children to the beach.
What's your top essential for a day in the waves with your tot?
Written by Cynthia Dermody for CafeMom's Toddler Buzz