It’s only May, but the heat is on: we’re expecting temperatures in the 80s this weekend here in Boston, and that means that many families will be hitting the beach for the first time in 2016. With many miles of sand and surf to choose from up here, it’s time for local families to stock up on the essentials! And if you’re not lucky enough to have some gorgeous coastline to enjoy, there’s still plenty of fun to be had in the great outdoors, whether you’re heading out to a pool, a lake, or just your own backyard.
These key accessories for summer playtime fall under two categories: toys for the kids, and essential gear to keep everyone safe and comfortable. Let’s start with the fun part, shall we?
BEACH TOYS & OTHER OUTDOOR TOYS
Packable Pails; $14.99
You probably didn’t realize you absolutely needed Packable Pails until just now, but you do: every beach trip with kids needs a pail, but regular pails take up way too much space in your beach bag. Not these guys: they have the same sturdy, square look as a regular beach pail, but they collapse flat so it’s incredibly easy to take them everywhere. BEAUTIFUL. (We also love using them as Easter baskets!)
Quut Alto Nesting Buckets; $19.99
…with that said, more traditional sand toys do have their merits, and the Alto Nesting Buckets are among the best. They were inspired by professional sand-builders, and enable kids to create some really cool structures on the beach with a minimum of effort – no need to thump out the sand from the inside of the molds, thus risking crumbling the entire sand structure. The three tools nest into each other to take up minimal space, too.
Geosafari Excavation Turtle Junior; $12.99
It’s time for some SCIENCE! Inside their turtle pal, kids will find a variety of tools for exploring their environment: the shell is a sifter, and the turtle’s legs include a mini-shovel, a brush, a 2x magnifier, and tweezers. Great for anywhere kids will want to gather and examine bugs, plants, shells, and so on.
Green Toys Watering Can; $17.99
Water real plants or pretend plants, in the backyard, at the beach, or in the bathtub. Green Toys are made in the USA with recycled plastic milk jugs, so they’re green on many levels!
Quut Scoppi Shovel and Sifter; $29.99
Two great sand toys in one! The “shovel” part is designed to encourage kids to use both their hands and feet to move large amounts of sand around – perfect for large-scale sandcastle projects, or burying a parent or sibling on the beach. The detachable sifter adds another element to playtime, letting kids investigate what other small items are hanging out on the beach.
Frogglez Goggles for Kids; $24.99
Nobody likes chlorine in their eyes (much less salt water – ow!), but your average goggles aren’t very comfortable or effective. Frogglez solve the problem with a unique neoprene headband that won’t pull your child’s hair, pinch their ears, or slide out of place while they’re underwater, and they’re highly leak-resistant, too. Terrific for any kid ages 3-9!
MD Moms Babysafe Sunscreen Towelettes – SPF 30; $19.99
The easiest way to get kids protected from the sun fast: each wipe has enough sunscreen in it to cover an entire baby from head to toe, and the formula is soothing, moisturizing, non-irritating, and dermatologist-approved for babies. The active ingredients are Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, which provide a physical barrier against the sun, and there’s lots of other nice stuff in there to nourish skin and make it smell nice, including Vitamins E and B5, Marine Silk Complex, aloe, and oat.
(As we’ve noted before, the experts are on the fence about whether sunscreen is safe for babies under 6 months of age, so we suggest getting your pediatrician’s opinion on the matter.)
Acure SPF 30 Sunscreen – Continuous Spray; $14.99
This top-quality sunscreen uses non-nano zinc oxide to provide a physical barrier against UV rays, and is hypoallergenic for sensitive skin. Reviewers say it doesn’t have that gross chemical smell and it doesn’t make your skin feel tacky, making it a lot more pleasant to apply and wear than your average sunscreen lotion. And it’s waterproof-tested up to 80 minutes!
While there are no worrisome ingredients in this sunscreen, spray-on sunscreen isn’t necessarily recommended for kids, so use your best judgment – you might want to spray this on your hand and then apply it to the kiddos. This is a good one to douse yourself with, though, and the spray-on action will help you get yourself sunscreened-up quick so you can turn your attention to the kids.
I Play Solid Brim Sun Protection Hat; $14.99
The easiest and safest way to protect kids from UV rays is with apparel, and this comfortable and adorable sunhat (from the makers of the absolute best swim diapers) gets the job done. We’ve got this hat in a variety of cute colors and sizes to fit everyone from infants to age 4, and it’s made from a lightweight UPF 50+ fabric with a wick-away microfiber on the inside to keep your baby cool.
Check out more great summer essentials for your baby from I Play here!
Skip Hop Outdoor Picnic Blanket; $44.99
Available in triangles or stylish grey chevron, this all-purpose blanket is great for any outdoor surface where your kid might be lounging or eating, from the beach to the backyard. It’s easy to fold flat, and comes with a zip-off insulated cooler bag for drinks and snacks. And the blanket wipes clean, and is thick and waterproof enough to keep little hineys from being dampened if they’re on wet grass.
If this blanket isn’t your style, the JJ Cole Essentials Blanket is another one of our top recommendations, with most of the same virtues (minus the cooler bag).