I've lived along the coast all my life. As much as I love frolicking on the beach, I've always been a little intimidated about packing for the beach. Growing up, my list of beach essentials was lengthy. We'd pack our suits, an extra pair of clothes, magazines, blow-up balls, drying towels, pop-up canopies, water shoes, CD players, soap, chairs, snacks and water. It was a veritable campground on the sand!

5 things that families should have at the beach (these are actually the ONLY things that we bring along with us)

After having kids of my own, though, I've decided that we're more likely to visit the beach if it's not a huge affair. My list of beach essentials now consists of just five things.

The Only Beach Essentials You Need to Pack

5 things that families should have at the beach (these are actually the ONLY things that we bring along with us)

Water. We eat right before we get to the beach, so it saves the need to bring along a bunch of food. Hydration, however, is a must.

5 things that families should have at the beach (these are actually the ONLY things that we bring along with us)

Sunscreen. The boys inevitably splash their way into the waves before I get a chance to apply sunscreen, so we use Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids sunscreen. After trying over a dozen different brands, this is the one I keep coming back to because it seriously just WORKS. We've been burned (literally) by too many weaker products in the past. The Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray Broad Spectrum SPF 70+ is awesome for getting the kids covered, and they even have it in the form of a stick (Wet Skin Kids Stick Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 70) that I can toss in my purse and use for getting around our eyes and other areas where spray isn't ideal.

5 things that families should have at the beach (these are actually the ONLY things that we bring along with us)

Cornstarch or baby powder. We don't bring a bunch of towels or soap with us. Instead, we dry out in the sun and then rub cornstarch or baby powder on our sandy skin. The sand brushes right off so we can make a quick change out of our wet suits and jump back into our coverups for the ride home.

5 things that families should have at the beach (these are actually the ONLY things that we bring along with us)

Umbrella. Offering a bit of shade for babies and sun-weary toddlers is a priority. We don't even bring extra diapers or wipes (swimsuits and a nearby shore make for easy rinse-offs in case anyone has an accident), but umbrellas make the cut.

5 things that families should have at the beach (these are actually the ONLY things that we bring along with us)

Blanket. One single, extra-large throw means that everyone has room to spread out together and there's no sand annoyingly creeping into the cracks between our collectively laid-out towels. As far as drying off after a dip in the ocean, we rely on the sun's rays to heat us up.

I throw most of this stuff in little backpacks and have the kids tote it all in while I carry the baby and the umbrella. I also let the boys each take whatever extras they can carry in their hands. They usually opt for a couple of toy bulldozers or a bucket which keeps them occupied, although they'd probably be just as happy frolicking in the waves!

What's on your family's list of beach essentials?