Ideas for toddler at the beach?
September 14, 2008 9:26 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone suggest some great things for my 16 month old to do while at the beach for the first time.

My wife and I are taking our 16 month old boy to Mexico next month. He loves water and will thoroughly enjoy swimming, chasing waves etc., but like many other toddlers, he is always on the go. So, rather than wing it, I would like to come up with a few activities, games etc that we can do/play over the course of our week long vacation. I am not looking for places to go, but things to do while on the beach itself. Thanks for any help!
posted by pazoozoo to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's not super-creative, but seashell- and driftwood-collecting walks up and down the beach are generally popular with the younger set-- certainly a favorite of mine when I was small. If the pickings are slim, you can always buy a cheapo souvenir pack of exotic shells and covertly "supplement" nature's existing offerings, making it kind of like an easter-egg hunt (not 'til I was 10 or 12 did it occur to me to question how the East Indian sand dollars found their way over to that NJ beach). Plus, it's a great way to start learning the names of various sea-flora and fauna.
posted by Bardolph at 10:02 AM on September 14, 2008

Again, not super-creative, but you can't beat building sandcastles. Big ones, near the shore, with a moat!
posted by afx237vi at 10:12 AM on September 14, 2008

I'd bet that the sand is going to be enough to keep him busy for a long time. Collecting rocks is always good too. Be sure to put plenty of sun screen on. Have fun.
posted by crios at 10:19 AM on September 14, 2008

I currently live on the North Olympic coast in Washington state and we take our son to the beach 3-5 times a week (since he was a week old)--he's 17 months now. Here are his favorite activities (in no particular order):

*eating sand (salty, crunchy--I wouldn't encourage this, but they find a way)
*making rock and seashell piles
*digging a pit and watching it fill with water, dumping your rock/seashell pile into the pit one by one
*putting big clumps of seaweed on your head to make 'hair' (be prepared to have to model his 'wig')
*chasing sea birds
*loves to watch dad fly a kite--dad lets him hold the slack end that won't suddenly burn through little fingers
*make prints in wet sand with sticks, shells, rocks, driftwood
*carry around a small bucket of seawater, dump it out, watch it sink in the sand, repeat
*make sand angels
*walking around with big pieces of driftwood and poking it into the water

I've had just one of the activities last hours. The only toy we ever bring is a little spade and a tiny bucket (and many times not even that). There isn't anything sophisticated you have to "do" at this age at the beach, or outside. Just being there and being aloud to get dirty and explore seems like plenty. We call the drive home from the beach 'the beach coma' as he always, even after a relatively quick hour trip, conks out in the carseat--sand everywhere.
posted by rumposinc at 10:41 AM on September 14, 2008 [3 favorites]

Yeah.. it's a kid, it's a beach. He'll largely entertain himself. A bucket is a good idea though.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:04 PM on September 14, 2008

As long as you have some sand toys, I bet he'll dig, bury, dig, bury, dig till you drag him in for meals. Buckets, trowels, and the very important tiny watering can entertain a kid on the beach for hours.
posted by agentwills at 12:26 PM on September 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

My dad used to dig out a sand boat on the beach, and I've been doing the same for my girls. He might like drawing shapes on the sand with a spade / stick, or digging up buried "treasure" with a big X on it.
posted by crocomancer at 12:36 PM on September 14, 2008

Stale bread + seagulls = huge fun for a toddler, as well as a good picture-taking opportunity.
posted by TedW at 12:43 PM on September 14, 2008

We take our son to the [Northern California] beaches all the time. He's 22 months old now, and we've been going since he was about a year old. He, and most other kids we know that are his age, will entertain themselves for HOURS just running around, playing in the sand, and looking at things. We bring shovels and buckets, and sometimes I'll fill a bucket with water and let them pour sand into it (or dump the bucket all over themselves). We make giant piles of sand and decorate them with kelp, sea shells, etc. We dig big holes that the kids jump and play in. And, of course, we run and splash in the frigid water.

No matter how much time we spend at the beach, he always cries when it's time to leave.
posted by hammurderer at 4:51 PM on September 14, 2008

My son is 15 months old now, and we took him to Florida to visit relatives a month ago. He is used to swimming in pools, but had never seen the ocean before. the ocean FREAKED HIM OUT. It took him 3 days before he could stand on the beach near the waves without screaming.

After we found that the ocean was made of scare, we went to an inlet that didn't have many waves at all, but still had a beach. this got him used to walking up to the water, and being held in the water without freaking out.

A toy bucket and shovel provided a way for him to play in the water and drop found shells/stones/sticks in it. The shovel was used for poking at the water. This Is Important Stuff. We ended up calling it his security shovel, because he wouldn't go in the water without it.

after a few days of this, we then started to visit the ocean at low tide, as the tidal pools are not scary like waves and provide an endless number of things to poke with a shovel.

and of course, sunblock and hydration, lots of both.

on preview, make sure that the bread for the seagulls isn't too stale, my son prefers to eat it himself than to share it with the birds.
posted by jrishel at 6:18 AM on September 15, 2008

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