Parents will never forget the range of emotions involved in planning a young child’s first vacation. We feel everything from happiness to fear as we go through the process of picking a destination, vetting family-friendly resorts and, of course, adding a new piece of luggage. Not to mention wondering how the child will react to his or her first time on an airplane, or hours spent driving.
One of the easiest ways to cut down on stress is creating a packing checklist for your child, just as you probably (or should) do for yourself. Toddlers are peculiar so it’s crucial to include toys and fun, familiar items, as well as the basics for safety.
Here are some gear recommendations for your toddler’s first tropical voyage.
Simple Joys by Carter’s Baby and Toddler Boys’ 2-Piece Swimsuit Trunk and Rashguard
From a surfing dinosaur to a friendly shark, the design selection on these rashguards and swimsuits are as cute as the outfits are durable and affordable. You’ll probably see a lot of the Simple Joys by Carter’s line at the pool and beach because parents are fiercely loyal to the brand, and kids flat out love the looks.
OshKosh B’Gosh Girls’ Two-Piece Swimwear
Another brand that parents can trust, OshKosh B’Gosh offers skin protection and style with this girls’ two-piece swimsuit and rashguard. Other styles are available without the rashguard or with short sleeves, so leave room in the luggage for extra sunscreen.
Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray
Pools, beaches, waterslides, splash pads, lazy rivers—your kid will spend most of your vacation soaked. Neutrogena’s Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray is designed for kids who never want to leave the water, and with Broad Spectrum SPF 70+ your child’s skin will be safe.
Speedo Skoogles Kids Swim Goggles
Keep the water out of your toddler’s eyes with the Speedo Skoogles Kids Swim Goggles, which are available in six different colors. These goggles are designed to be a comfortable fit for children ages 3 and up, with easily adjustable straps and a soft frame that won’t pinch the nose.
Added bonus: Use the goggles to inspire your child to try snorkeling on your next vacation.
Stearns Puddle Jumper Kids Life Jacket
When it comes to packing, floaties will take up precious luggage space, but they are a necessity. Resorts might offer them for rent or sale along with boogie boards and pool toys, but there’s added comfort in bringing this familiar safety item from home.
The Stearns Puddle Jumper Kids Life Jacket is Coast Guard approved, which gives parents peace of mind while the little ones kick their way around the kiddy pool.
TheCroco Premium Hooded Towel
A beach towel should have personality, but it also has to keep us dry. TheCroco’s premium hooded towel is “exceptionally large,” which is great for how much time your toddler will spend in the water. It is also thicker than the regular towel, so it’ll keep a child from getting cold when it’s time to leave the pool and eat lunch, or especially when you try (and pray) for a nap.
Native Unisex Kid’s Jefferson Slip-On Sneaker
Native’s Kid’s Jefferson Slip-ons are a best-seller for a reason: They’re cute, durable and easy to clean, which means they can be worn for any occasion. They’re also waterproof, which makes them perfect for wearing in or around the pool, and especially on the hot sand at the beach. All they’ll need is a quick spray at the shower and they’ll be ready to wear again.
A wide variety of colors is available, with sizes from toddler to “big kid” (8-12 years), so there’s a good chance Natives will be in your luggage for years to come. (The adult styles are great, too.)
Best First Sunglasses
Sunglasses seem like a simple purchase, but kids are the ultimate product testers and many pairs of sunglasses have lost their hinges, arms and lenses to curious and strong little fingers. Best First Sunglasses are built to withstand the bending and dropping these shades will experience, and this vintage style will look great in all of your poolside family photos.
Summer Infant Pop and Sit
Eating poolside or snacking on the beach can be a messy affair, and nobody wants to move to another pool chair because yours is covered in wet crackers or GoGo Squeez apple sauce. The Summer Infant Pop and Sit, or baby’s first tailgate chair, is like having a highchair on the go, and it keeps the mess in one spot for easy cleaning.
It’s built for kids as young as six months and up to 37 pounds, so it will get plenty of use even at home. It can also be strapped to a chair at the restaurant to serve as a highchair in case one isn’t available, or table space is limited.
Click N’ Play 18-piece Beach Sand Toy Set
When your biggest fear is your child running wild at the beach and getting into trouble, what do you do? No, the iPad stays in the pool bag. Bring this Click N’ Play Beach Sand Toy Set and put your future general contractor to work building the greatest sandcastle this world has ever seen. The bag also doubles as a backpack.
Sunba Youth Beach Tent
The mere thought of packing a tent seems ridiculous, but the Sunba Youth Beach Tent was designed to save skin and space. The circular storage bag has a diameter of less than 18 inches, and when removed the tent takes no more than three seconds to pop up, ready for use.
With a UV rating of UPF 50+ this tent will provide a nice break from the sun, with an interior pocket for books.
Dejaroo Mesh Beach Bag
You can never have too much space in a beach or pool bag, and the Dejaroo Mesh Beach Bag is all about maximizing space. The large main pocket is perfect for packing with the resort’s beach towels, while the other pockets will help keep everyone’s sunglasses, flip flops and room keys organized. The bag is constructed with durable, waterproof mesh so it won’t be one-and-done on your vacations.