I don’t think that any new parent can possibly anticipate all of the gear that comes along with having a child. You think you know… But then double that. I expected a lot of the baby things and registered for many of them but I apparently didn’t think hard about the fact that with every age and stage, there is a whole new slew of products that make life easier.
It can be hard to sift through all of the ads and links for items you “need” for your toddler, so I rounded up a list of the ones we have been using the most lately including everything pictured above which are current favorites. Let me know if I missed anything!
Eating & Drinking
Booster seat (pictured above): Amalia still uses her OXO Tot Sprout high chair (full review here), but she also loves to sit at the counter. We bought this booster seat after using it at her friend’s house. It allows her to sit right with us if we’re eating at the counter, and it’s easy to clean. For $29, it’s a great deal too.
Educational placemats (pictured above): At that same playdate, we discovered Amalia’s love for learning while she eats! She’s a very curious little girl, and always wants to learn new words, numbers, letters, and colors. These placemats not only do that but also keep her occupied while I cook her meals. This is the exact set we have, and it’s great because she can grow with them. Right now we only use the letters and numbers mats, but we’ll move into the shapes soon.
Skiphop fork & spoon set: Amalia loves eating with utensils, and we have been using this fork and spoon set for months now. I have one set for her diaper bag and one for home. They’re a great size but the ends of them are actually metal so they’re also getting her ready for regular cutlery.
OXO Tot suction plate & bowl: When we got our highchair, we quickly learned that none of the suction plates actually stuck to it. Until we found these plates and bowls. We’ve been using them ever since. She can’t pick them up and throw them across the room which is a major plus.
*Transparency note: Oxo Tot paid me for a sponsored Instagram post earlier this week but we’ve been using the plates long before that and this post is not a part of that sponsorship.
Hydro Flask water bottle: I have searched far and wide for a cup we can use on-the-go that both keeps water cold (for beach days), has a straw, and doesn’t spill. I finally found it in this Hydroflask water bottle. She drinks a ton of water because of it, and it’s easy to clean. We’ve ended up using it at most meals too!
Mini popsicle molds (pictured above): My dad and his wife gave these to Amalia as a gift because she loved them so much at their house. These mini-molds are the perfect size for kiddos, and a great opportunity to get them nutrient-packed smoothies in a form that keeps them occupied for a while. Genius! I make her popsicles with coconut water, yogurt, frozen blueberries, banana, spinach, chia seeds, and collagen peptides. She loves them and asks for one for dessert after dinner every night! Little does she know she’s getting her greens at the same time.
Halo sleepsack: Amalia still sleeps in this sleepsack because it’s what she’s used to and I don’t want to mess with her sleep if I don’t have to, but I’m not sure at what point we’ll move her to a regular blanket. Maybe when she moves to a big girl bed? What worked for you guys?
Crane humidifier: We’ve been using this humidifier in colder months since Amalia’s been born, and it helps her from getting a dry throat at night. I probably shouldn’t have included this exact model on the list because it has been hard to clean, but having a humidifier, in general, has been important for her sleep. If you have a rec for a better brand, please let me know.
BlackoutEZ blackout shades: I’ve written about these blackout shades before but they deserve a second mention because they make her room a dark cave which, in turn, makes her sleep longer on bright mornings. The website and ordering process look a little sketchy, but I promise it’s legit!
Lectro Fan white noise machine: We’ve been using this small but mighty mini travel noise machine for over a year now because it’s so much better than any of the full sized ones I’ve tried. It has a nice-sounding white noise and can get really loud if you’re having people over or need to block out a specific noise.
Leapfrog Leaptop: Anel bought her this laptop toy for a long car ride in December and it has been a gem for us. She plays with it constantly and has learned multiple letters from it. I’ll tell her to press “D” or “F” and she’ll actually press it! Literally, this thing has made her a little genius (ok not literally) and she absolutely loves it.
Scout & Violet Words Book/Toy: This is right up there with the Leaptop for Amalia’s favorite toy. It has taught her multiple animals, colors, and foods. It is loud and annoying, but educational and makes her happy. Sometimes she changes it to the Spanish setting (on purpose) and will play with it that way for a few days. So maybe she’s learning some Spanish too, who knows!
Leapfrog Chat & Count Phone: This is Amalia’s go-to car toy. Every time we get in the car she asks for her phone. It teaches her numbers and can occupy her for up to 30 minutes at a time.
Floor mat: My in-laws bought her the famous FAO Schwartz floor piano mat and she loves to jump on it, dance on it, roll around on it, and throw her toys on it to make music. Sometimes when she wakes up, the first word she says is piano. She’s all about this thing right now. It definitely gets annoying with all the random notes (pretty sure she won’t be the next Mozart), but the joy she gets out of it makes that worth it.
Kitchen set: She got this Pottery Barn Kids kitchen for Christmas and let me tell you, the thing is nicer than most adult kitchens! It has brass hardware and provides endless fun. She likes to make me “soup” and clean dishes in her sink. I also found this one on Amazon for 1/4 of the price. I can’t speak to the quality of it in person but it has good reviews and looks cute.
*Transparency note: I am working with Pottery Barn Kids on an upcoming campaign that is unrelated to this product and this post.
Puzzles: She’s very much into puzzles right now, and I like them as a mom because they make her use her brain in a different way. Melissa & Doug makes our favorite ones including this and this. The key to puzzles is teaching your kids to clean them up when they’re done playing.
Anywhere Chair: My mom gave her this chair for her birthday last summer, and it’s remained a constant hit. She sits in it with a book and a blanket and “reads” to herself at least once a day. It’s adorable. She also refuses to let anyone else on the chair including her parents and her friends. We have the smaller size and she still fits into it, but if you are buying a new one, I’d suggest you size up so your kid can grow into it.
Step2 Shopping cart: We play a game called “CVS” because it’s Amalia’s favorite store and she talks about it all the time. It goes like this: she gets out her toy shopping cart and pushes it up and down the hall, picking up toys and putting them in along the way. It’s both active and imaginative. And adorable!
SmileFrida toothbrush: We’ve been brushing her teeth since she was 12 months old, and it’s now a part of her nighttime routine and she never fights it. I think she just loves the strawberry toothpaste we use, TBH. This toothbrush gets more angles at once and has served us well.
Kids potty seat: Amalia is super interested in the potty and often asks to sit on it for “pee pee” so we let her. Sometimes she does it and sometimes she doesn’t, but we’re not planning to officially potty train her until the summer. Having a seat that fits her little bum is necessary either way. She loves the process of putting it on, sitting on it, and flushing the toilet.
Step stool: I had one of these name puzzle stools growing up and I still remember using it for years. Jackson has one too and Amalia loves to sit and play with his so we decided to get her one of her own. We use it for brushing her teeth at night and for washing her hands. It also keeps her occupied in the kitchen while I’m cooking. I also love this stool from Pottery Barn Kids if you want something a little nicer looking in your home, but Amalia loves the puzzle aspect so we went with the Etsy option.
Skip Hop bath knee mat (for us): Anel bought this at Bed Bath & Beyond and I made so much fun of him at first. It felt like one of those totally unnecessary products marketed to parents to get them to spend more money. And guess what? It is! But it’s also awesome and I love it so don’t judge us for this ridiculous purchase. My knees were always so sore after bathtime (I’m old) and this has alleviated that. Do you need it? Probably not. But it does help. You could also fold up a towel, but it doesn’t have the same effect. Trust me, I’ve tried.
Hair ties: I get asked about Amalia’s hair ties every day. We use these from Amazon and they work well for us. They stay in her hair but don’t pull at it.
Nuna Rava convertible car seat (currently on major sale): When she grew out of her infant car seat, we upgraded to the Nuna Rava and I can’t say enough great things about it. First of all, it’s super safe and feels very sturdy which is the most important thing obviously. It’s also well-designed so that you can easily get your toddler in and out of it. And it has cupholders!
What are your favorite toddler products?
She’s the cutest thing! Her hair is always so adorable. Love the mini hydroflask!
Aww thanks Emily! Her hair is OOC, so we’re always trying something new.
Your post reminds me of some international students I know, who when pregnant did not feel like they needed a lot of gear. They even had a system of making a ‘crib’ of carefully arranged cushions and blankets instead of buying a crib or bassinet. I was stunned myself that they were ok with this, but it is how they grew up, and it was surprisingly effective and made out of things they already had. So, it is all really relative.
Oh man, they scared us so much at the hospital about having a crib with absolutely nothing soft in it! Maybe it’s a US thing but I left there terrified!
This was great! My daughter is of similar age to Amalia. Thank you for posting!
Oh yay! Let me know if you have any products on your list that we need 🙂
It’s so true, the amount of “stuff” is endless. I’m pretty sure we have toys in every room of our house, including the master bathroom! Have you heard anything about using or not using a booster seat on a counter-height stool? All of the boosters I’ve seen state on the packaging not to use it there (too high?) but we are doing it anyway. We don’t have a table in our kitchen, only an island, and aren’t ready to “take our meals” (my husband and I both laughed a lot when he said that, it sounded very Downton Abbey-esque) in the formal dining room so our toddler can sit with us at the table. And I’ve asked the same question about when to ditch the sleep sack. I’m trying to turn the crib into more like a bed (pillow, big blanket that I pull up over the sleep sack, since for the time being she kicks off the blanket) to make the transition to a bed easier, but I don’t know if there’s a better way!
Hahah I find a toy in my bathroom every day and wonder how it happened. I haven’t heard anything about it and didn’t see that on the packaging but it’s really tight on there and she’s strapped in so it doesn’t seem worrisome! Love the idea of making the crib more like a bed. What age did you start with that?
We just started turning the crib into a “bed” and she’s 21 months. My sister did the same thing with her son maybe when he was about 18 months. Then when he was closer to 2 they changed the side of the crib into the half-rail toddler bed (we didn’t buy that with ours and now our crib is discontinued). My nephew’s almost 2.5 now and has done a great job staying in bed until they come to get him, so they just ordered him a big boy twin bed!
these posts are so helpful! my twin girls are 10 months behind and i’m always consulting your motherhood posts to see what comes next. loved your monthly updates in the first year regarding her schedule. Re the Halo sleep sack, I’ve been advised by more experienced moms to use them as long as possible, even backwards if necessary (apparently some kids learn to unzip them) in order to keep them in the crib for as long as possible bc once they can climb out of bed themselves, apparently it is a game changer – not in the best way! we like sleep in our household 🙂
Oh really? That is so great to hear. We also like our sleep so I’m down to keep her in for as long as possible haha
Former preschool teacher with a tip! Mark the backside of puzzle pieces with a symbol, -use one symbol for each puzzle. That way you will always keep the correct pieces together. For example, letter b on the back of a school bus puzzle and its pieces, a red dot on the back of a different puzzle and its pieces. Helpful for that eventual day when the pieces get thrown together and need sorting
Ok that is genius!!!! Teacher tips FTW!
Love this post, thank you for sharing. My son is four months behind Amalia and I’m always leveraging your insights as I look ahead.
I love the Halo sleepsacks as well for a lighter blanket. For winter though we’re all about the Quilted Wearable Blanket by Hanna Andersson. We have two of them and they keep my son warm at night. Highly recommend.
I’ve heard those are great! Amalia gets really warm in her sleep (like me) so she needs something pretty lightweight but they look so cozy!
I’ve been considering the BlackoutEZ shades for months but I just can’t commit. Does it bother you that you have to take them off to get light in the room during the day? Do you just leave them up all the time or take them on and off every morning and night?
It’s kind of a pain but I just take them down halfway and put them back up at night. The pros definitely outweigh the cons for me though!
I’m about to pull the trigger on the blackout shades but I’m just wondering how much you can see the white velcro when the shades are down? I know you can see it but is it glaring?
thanks for all your great recommendations!
It’s not that glaring on mine because our window frames are white. I also have drapes on the window that hides most of it. These shades are not cute, I’m warning you. But game changers I swear!