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7 Must-Have Swim Items for Pool or Beach

We spent the last four summers as members of a swim and tennis club. We also visit our Connecticut shoreline frequently as well. Over the years, I learned a thing or two about gearing up for swimming with the kids. Here’s a few must-have swim items to pack for the pool or beach this summer. 

A girl in a pool of water, text must haves for pool or beach

Must-Have Swim Items for Pool or Beach

Skin protection is a priority!

1. Swimwear and sun wear goes a long way

uvskinz kids sunwear

UVSkinz has been top of my list as a parent since we had kids. With UPF 50+ ratings, their high quality sun and swim wear blocks 98% of the sun’s harmful rays. Because the sun protection is built right into the fabric, it’s not a chemical on your child’s skin. And it doesn’t wash away in the water. 

The fun styles of swim tops, bottoms, as well as pants and hoodies is sized from baby to adult. So the whole family can be safe in the sun! My boys love to swim and play in their coordinating tops and swim trunks plus matching hats like this hot green shark set or fun stripey blue boys’ swim set. And I rest easy in the shade knowing they’re staying well-covered from the sun. Read more about why our family loves UVSkinz and also an important message about sun protection!

UVSkinz believes no child should ever know what a sunburn feels like. That’s why EVERY purchase in May, receives a FREE “My First Skinz” baby shirt.

Visit UVSkinz for kids’ swim and sunwear clothing and get a free tshirt (ends May 31).

2. Physical barrier Sunscreen takes care of the rest

CoTZ Sunscreen bottles

Chemical sunscreens have now been discovered to be not-so-great for you (really!?). Our family has always used a physical barrier sunscreen made with zinc and/or titanium oxide. Cotz Skincare offers a healthier sunscreen in their mineral formulation.

  • Cotz Baby is 20% zinc oxide with a soft, sheer cream that’s easy to apply. It’s water resistant up to 40 minutes, so you’ll want to reapply often.
  • Cotz Kids Pure Botanicals SPF 45 has a little titanium dioxide added and is also easy to apply (believe me, I know, my youngest does NOT like having sunscreen put on, so a smooth formula is helpful!). Thankfully, it’s water resistant for up to 80 minutes so I can go longer between applications. 
  • Cotz Face Prime & Protect is lightly tinted and has a higher level of titanium dioxide. At SPF 40, this provides broad spectrum UVA-UVB protection and is perfect for under makeup or alone. Plus it’s water resistant up to 80 minutes. must have swim items

Visit Cotz Skincare to see their full line of products. The Kids Pure Botanical Line will release May 27, 2019.

Plus, read these natural ways to protect skin from sun damage!

Water safety gear is another top must-have

3. Raise awareness of water safety with leveled swim floats

It’s hard keeping an eye on several swimmers in the water. And while a floatation device should NEVER take the place of a parent’s watchful gaze and a lifeguard on duty, providing the right level of swim support is helpful. Swimways celebrated International Learn to Swim Day on May 18 to raise awareness about water safety and the importance of teaching children to swim. Their Swim Steps program has products for all skill levels!

Swimways Swim Steps

  • Swim Step 1 is the Baby Spring Float Splash Station. With interactive water toys, babies will have fun and learn to enjoy water play. The inner spring provides security and stability. Parents can keep an light hand on the float, versus struggling to support their full body in the water (they are slippery little guys!). Plus the removable sun canopy offers UPF 50+ protection. 

Swimways Swim Steps

  • Swim Step 2 is the Swim Trainer Life Jacket. Featuring PAW Patrol, this U. S. Coast Guard approved floatation device gives your child mobility while supporting their arms and chest as they splash about and learn swim techniques. 

SwimWays Power SwimrSwimWays Power SwimrSwimWays Power SwimrSwimWays Power Swimr

  • Swim Step 3 is the Power Swimr. A graduated swim training vest lets you control the level of floatation support kids receive. Nine inner pads can be removed, one at a time, as your child grows their swimming ability. Three sizes allow for the perfect fit for children 2-9.

Find SwimWays Swim Steps on (click the photos above!) or at Target, Buy Buy Baby, and other retailers. 

More must-have swim items for comfort and fun!

4. Keep little feet happy with swim shoes

Navy and floral water shoes for toddlers, collage

Burning hot sand, sharp shells, or rough concrete pool decks can all conspire against a comfortable swim day. Bring a pair of Palm Beachies water shoes for kids, and protect their feet while they swim AND play. Yes! These swim shoes actually stay on your child’s feet in and out of the water. Non-slip soles provide traction on slippery beach rocks or pool decks. Plus with fun prints and colors, they add a splash of fashion to their swim outfit! Palm Beaches come in sizes 4-5 (Baby) to 13-1 Kid.

5. Sand-free blankets keep kids comfortable

Opt for a sand-free blanket or mat at the beach, where you can “brush” the sand through specially woven layers right back onto the beach (and it won’t come through the other direction). Or, choose a sand-proof blanket with a smooth or waterproof weave that sand doesn’t stick to, so it brushes off the side of the mat. Either way, these blankets are genius for a comfortable stay at the beach or on a picnic. Look for additional features like carry bags or anchor stakes so the blanket doesn’t fly away, and you’ve got a winner!

Get yours here:

ABETER Sand Free Beach Mat Blanket (79A group of people laying on a blanket at a beachDiagram, Waterproof blanket features


6. Pool toys promote constructive water play

Pool toys are a must, but don’t overpack. We allow our boys to take one pail full of sand toys and one water toy each to the beach. Here’s a few of our favorite by age: 

  • Toddlers will enjoy the Louie Lobster Claw Toy from Melissa & Doug. Perfect for catch and release play. 
  • New swimmers can practice their skills with Dolphin and Shark Kickboards. Or, play a game of catch with Spark Shark Net Game, which can be used both in and out of the water. 
  • Independent swimmers can play with dive toys, like Jolly Jellyfish Sinkers, which sink slowly, so kids can dive and catch before the toys hit bottom. 

Shop these pool toys here:

Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Louie Lobster Claw Catcher - Grab-and-Squeeze Pool ToyMelissa & Doug 16650 Shark KickboardMelissa & Doug Sunny Patch Dart Dolphin Kickboard - Learn-to-Swim Pool ToyMelissa & Doug Sunny Patch Jolly Jellyfish Sinkers - Water Toys for KidsMelissa & Doug Sunny Patch Spark Shark Toss and Catch Net Pool Game With 2 Balls


7. Blanket games are fun for a rest break

Kids need breaks from the sun and the water to avoid dehydration and heat stroke. Bring a deck of cards, especially waterproof ones like these UNO H2O, Spot it, and jumbo waterproof Checkers playing mats! A fun game at the beach or pool helps kids make new friends and spend quality time with family. Plus these are small and lightweight. 

Mattel Games UNO Splash Card GameSpot It! SplashWinning Moves Games Splash Cards: Splash JackPlastic Playing Cards, Waterproof Cards. Set of 2 Decks (1 Red and 1 Black) - By Home-XCheckers Board Game and Snakes & Ladders Game, Set of 2 Jumbo Size, Foldable, Waterproof Mats and Pieces, by Dimple


Going to the pool or beach is fun, but can become an overblown event. I try to keep our gear minimal so we can get out the door quickly. (Don’t forget you’ll have a cooler, chairs, and towels!). Next time you’re packing for the pool or beach, bring these must have swim items for fun in the summer sun! 

A person swimming in the water

Need more sun and fun ideas?

Check out last year’s favorite picks for the beach and pool!

Or see which activities are more fun outdoors.

Plus, don’t forget to get these 12 outdoor games for your next picnic!

WIN a pair of Palm Beachies!

One lucky reader will win a pair of Palm Beachies for their child! Enter in the form below by May 31, 2019!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to my sponsors who provided items and sometimes compensation to facilitate this post: SwimWays Palm Beachies, Cotz Skincare, and UVSkinz. All opinions are my own.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Trisha W.

Wednesday 22nd of May 2019

Those Palm Beachies water shoes look so easy to put on. I wish they sold them in my kids' size. I think I might like them too. =)