Toddler Essentials

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This parenting gig is a changing game, yo! Every time you think you’ve got something nailed down, the rug gets pulled out from under ya. We’re now deep in toddler land, and we’re developing our arsenal of tools that keep ol’ Hank healthy, happy, and entertained. If you’ve got a toddler (or will have one soon, or need some good ideas for gifts, or are just the curious type!) read on for our tried and true baby gear ’round these parts.

Toddler Essentials
Not all products are pictured.

Food + Drink

Henry started wanting to feed himself pretty early on, and that meant lots of messes. He would somehow manage to grab and toss any suction plate we set in front of him until we found these ezpz Happy Mats (we have a couple of bowls too). They’re impossible to pull off the table. We’ve also started letting him experiment with toddler utensils, and we love these because of the curved grip.

For a little while, Henry couldn’t quite get the hang of drinking from a straw. He’d tilt a cup upside down like a bottle and it just wasn’t working for him. So we used a few transitional cups to help him get the hang of it. The Boon Snug Spout is brilliant because it’s just a lid that can stretch over the mouth of any cup. We take one out with us to restaurants and put it over a water cup for him. For learning to drink like a grownup, we’re fans of the Munchkin 360 trainer cup; they can sip out of any side, tipped any direction. And on-the-go, Henry’s a big fan of his Skip Hop bee bottle.

Our other secret weapon — a cheap pair of scissors! We got a compact pair from the Target dollar aisle and use them to cut food into little chunks. So much easier than a knife and a cutting board. One pair stays at home and one stays in my purse.

Play + Wear

These days, the little dude pretty much wants to play with whatever we have in our grownup hands. But there are a few tried-and-true things in his toybench that he loves, too. Melissa and Doug tends to be our go-to for toys that are cool, educational, and easy on the eyes. This wooden barn is his current fave — he loves anything with small moving pieces that he can manipulate. These are small enough for him to grab but not so small he can eat ’em, which is perfect. This thing has been hours of fun. (We actually installed a little latch on it so we can secure it shut if we’re traveling with it.

Books have always been a hit in our house at playtime, too. Henry still loves the BabyLit books, and now that he’s older we can delve into them in a different way, asking him to point out certain things or find his favorite page, etc. His other favorite book is Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. I kid you not, he’ll read it for almost an hour, just pointing out different things. It’s awesome because there is so much content and it’s very visually stimulating, but not overwhelming for kids. It’s also a good book for little girls, too; there are plenty of female characters and lots of visuals for both genders.

The dude has pretty much worn two styles of shoes thus far in his life — moccasins and the Toms Tiny Paseos. They’re the easiest on-and-off we’ve found, and they’re good for a kid with a high instep. As far as clothing, our go-to for boy clothes that are affordable but not cheesy is totally Old Navy! They have little guy stuff that’s fun, easy to wear, and pretty stylin’ too.

Travel + Health

We’re on the go lots with Henry and I love that he’s becoming a good little traveler. We did a baby travel post here, but these days our routine is adjusting and we have a few new faves. We take click-lock bowls with locking lids, along with a couple of suction cups. They transport food and then you can suction cup them to the table at a meal so they function as a plate or bowl, too. A good travel crib is key — for a long time we used our Pack ‘n Play, but it’s a little bulky. So recently we switched to this one, which is light and small and works like a charm. We always take his Sleep Sack with us, too; we use them as blankets whenever he sleeps or naps, and so when we’re on the road and put one on him he knows it’s time to rest.

Both on the road and at home, we keep a few specific items in stock in our medicine cabinet in case little dude catches a bug. I swear by the Nosefrida for stuffy noses, along with a good saline spray. If he’s stuffy, we put Baby Vicks on his feet and chest to help him breathe a little better. And I thought they were a gimmick until I tried them, but Boogie Wipes are the best for wiping runny noses without making them red and raw.

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