Hit the Beach

Everything your family needs for a perfect day of sun, swimming, and sand castles.

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Smart Mom's Beach Tips

Jon Ragel

Smart Mom's Beach Tips

  • A beach umbrella is a must -- it can provide some much-needed protection from the sun. This one's made from special sun-blocking fabric; Rio Brands, available at beachstore.com.
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Jon Ragel

  • Take extra towels so the kids always have dry ones to snuggle in when they get out of the water.
  • Pack a cosmetics brush and some baby powder, which make removing sand from kids' feet (and those chubby-baby skin folds) much easier.
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Jon Ragel

  • Getting all your stuff down to the beach is a cinch with a wagon. Buy one with wide, all-terrain wheels, then load it up with beach chairs, towels, sand toys, sunscreen, and a cooler filled with lunch and drinks.
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Jon Ragel

  • Make sure you reapply SPF 30 every two hours throughout the day and each time your kids come out of the water. You should do your first sunscreen application at home, before they put their suits on.
  • You probably won't be able to keep a hat on your kid for the whole day, but try to get her to wear it as much as possible. Broad-brimmed hats are better than baseball caps because they protect your child's ears and the back of her neck too.
  • Have kids drink enough water during the day so they don't get dehydrated. Freeze a few of your water bottles before you throw them into your cooler -- they'll keep your sandwiches fresh.
  • Store all your sunscreen in a zip-top bag. It'll be easier to find in your beach bag, and it won't get sandy.
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Jon Ragel

  • Kids can play in the sand for hours, so pack lots of durable sand toys.
  • Buy folding lounge chairs that have safety covers over the seat-back adjustment area (by the armrest) so that little fingers don't get caught.
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Castles Rock!

Jon Ragel

Castles Rock!

One of the best things about being at the beach is building an awesome sand castle with your kids. We asked Matt Long, a sand-sculpting expert and founder of Canyoudigit.com, for his top tips.

1. Take buckets, shovels, molds (one cheap option: empty food containers in different sizes), and straws for putting on the finishing touches.

2. Find a spot that's close to the water so the sand will be wet underneath (but don't get too close if the tide is coming in).

3. Soak your spot with water. Then create a large platform with the wet sand. Pack it firmly and use your straw to poke a few holes at the bottom so the water seeps through and keeps everything moist.

4. Create towers and spires using your molds, or just use your hands to build mounds of sand.

5. Decorate the castle with dribbles of wet sand, shells, and seaweed. Use straws to carefully carve out windows and stairs.

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