15 Little Things That Have Made Life With A Toddler Easier For Me
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Hey there! ? I’m Melissa, and I’ve got a tiny human who’s about to turn three.
So in the spirit of primetime toddlerhood, I wanted to put together a list of the small things that have made this ~stage~ a bit easier.
But first, a note: All toddlers are different, so these products aren’t the end-all, be-all. That said, they’re all things that either: 1) I personally wish I’d known about sooner, or 2) I landed on after trial and error with other stuff. All of them made my life easier in some small way, so I hope a few are helpful to you, too!
(*PS: Looking for products and tips to help with year one? Find those here.)
1.A toddler electric toothbrush (instead of a manual one) for easier bedtime brushing.
For the first few months of teaching my toddler how to brush her teeth, it was a struggle. But that all changed when I switched her from a manual toothbrush to an electric one. Suddenly, she went from not being into it — to loving the “game” of sweeping the spinning bristles over her teeth. She was also excited to match what mom and dad did: use toothbrushes that buzz.
It’s still not perfect (she’ll attempt her cleaning, then I’ll go in for the final), but since the bristles are always moving, it’s a much better clean than before. I also first ordered the $5 version because I wasn’t sure if she would take to it. Once she did, I upgraded to this $22 version, which has replaceable heads.
*Sidenote: These brushes are marketed for 3+ years, so I first checked with her dentist that it was OK for a 2.5-year-old. If you’re not sure, do the same!
Get it from Amazon for $5.88 or $22.99.
(Also if you’re in the starter brushing stages and your kid — like mine — goes crazy for Elmo, know that this how-to video exists!?)
View this video on YouTube
Although, fair warning, the song will get stuck in your head forever.
2.A tiny Wet brush for post-bath detanglement that won’t cause a fuss.
I love Wet brushes for my own hair, so it was an easy choice to get a two-pack combo and use the travel-sized one as a toddler brush. Admittedly, it’s 50/50 on whether she wants to use it as a brush or a microphone. BUT! Having two matching ones means she’ll sit still long enough for me to brush hers.
Get a pack of two on Amazon for $11.99.
3.A stretchable silicone lid and straw that turns just about any cup or glass into a toddler-friendly one.
These come in especially handy when you’re out for lunch or dinner and the restaurant doesn’t have kiddie cups. For younger ones, they also make one with a spout.
Get a pack of three with straws for $5.59, or with spouts for $7.99 from Amazon
4.These faucet extenders for washing little hands that can’t quite reach yet.
Pair it with an easy toddler-friendly step-stool and you’re well on your way to full independence from the awkward dance of lifting your kid in the general direction of the sink and hoping for the best. (At home, at least!)
Get a pack of three from Amazon for $8.99.
5.A pair of acupressure bracelets to help combat motion sickness.
A few months into toddler-dom, my kid started getting motionsick on long car trips. I tried all the tricks: opening the window, having her close her eyes, using a sun-shade, etc. Nothing worked — until a fellow parent tipped me off on sea bands. They’re acupressure bracelets that connect with a point on your wrist that’s supposedly tied to nausea. (You may already be familiar with the adult version — but they make a smaller, kid-friendly size too.)
Our success rate on these is about 80%. She’s definitely less likely to get sick with them on but it’s still happened a few times. So they’re not a total cure-all (at least for her!) but I think they’re 100% worth trying if you struggle with the same problem.
And for those times when they don’t work? I always have a stash of these (lol) leakproof and disposable puke bags in the car, too.
Get a pair from Amazon for $9.89.
6.For a free, fun and (loosely) educational YouTube channel that’s not terrible: Blippi.
For the uninitiated, Blippi is a YouTube personality that kids (including mine) are obsessed with — and he’s a got a video for just about everything. He’ll talk through parts of firetrucks or steam trains, explore the children’s museum or zoo, sing through a toothbrushing routine, and cycle through letters and numbers.
He takes a second to get used to at first, but TBH, I’ve come to appreciate him. He’s less annoying than most of the other kiddie YouTube channels, the videos are pretty well done, and I love that my kid has actually learned things from them. (There have been times where we’ve driven by construction sites and she’ll start pointing out and naming pieces of machinery — and that’s solely thanks to Blippi’s excavator song.) I know it’s not exactly Baby Einstein, but I’ll take it!
Find the Blippi channel on YouTube.
7.An inexpensive (yet extremely durable) set of plates and bowls that are safe for both the dishwasher and microwave.
These Pillowfort sets from Target are the best I’ve found for their price. They’re lightweight yet sturdy, break-resistant, and BPA-free. All of their plates, bowls, and cups are also slightly rimmed on top — meaning they stack cleanly and evenly in cabinets.
Get a pack of six bowls from Target for $2.99. or divided plates (available in six colors) for $0.59 each.
8.A duo of useful potty training books — one for you, one for them.
For when that inevitable time comes. (Also: You can do it! I promise.)
Get Oh Crap! Potty Training for $9.33, and Sesame Street’s ‘P’ Is For Potty for $5.99, both on Amazon.
9.The almighty Aquaphor for dry or irritated skin.
I wrote about how this stuff was like gold during my first year of parenthood. And TBH: it still is. I now keep the little travel tubes on hand for things like chapped toddler lips or scraped knees.
Get a pack of three from Amazon for $19.27.
10.My unsung hero of toddler travel: sticker books.
Anytime we traveled during toddler-dom, we always had a few of these in tow. Here’s why: When traveling, you’re in a confined space. You ideally need a toddler-friendly distraction that doesn’t (always) have a screen, breakable parts, batteries, or anything that makes noise or leaves stuff (ink, etc) behind. Enter: sticker books!
Any brand will work but I’m a fan of the Usborne ‘First Sticker Book’ series. Tons of themes available — from the zoo to the airport — and the stickers aren’t TOO sticky, which is key. They’ll stick to the book, but if they end up on a wall (or a plane armrest, or a random person), they peel off easily.
Get them from Amazon for $6.97+.
11.And a travel-friendly pair of tiny headphones for times when books won’t cut it — and you need an immediate, no-fail distraction.
These are a total lifesaver in situations where kids need to quietly ~occupy themselves~ while the parents deal with a million other things. (For us, that’s pre-flight at the airport!) And that’s where these soft, foldable and kid-sized headphones come in incredibly handy. She’ll plug in and zone out, allowing mom and dad to configure luggage, scarf down a snack, and figure out what happened to those boarding passes.
Get it from Amazon for $15.95 (available in five colors) or Target for $21.99.
12.A toddler friendly-SPF that absorbs well and isn’t greasy.
The world of kiddie sunscreens runs deep — and this one from Hello Bello is a great mineral-based tube option that’s actually affordable. Bonus: it smells good!
Get it at Walmart for $8.78.
13.And the pool trinity: a toddler swim vest (that works), water shoes (that don’t hurt), and sunglasses (that won’t break).
Fact: If there’s pool anywhere in sight, my kid will run toward it. And two of these items — the Puddle Jumper float jacket that wraps around her chest and arms, and the soft-yet-durable Osh Kosh water shoes — have been key to that water time.
These flexible toddler sunglasses are more just cute than necessity, but I love that they’re slightly bendy and don’t break easily.
Get the swim vest (in 16 designs) starting at $12.58, the water shoes (in 6 designs) starting at $19.99, and the sunglasses (in 4 designs) starting at $6.59, all on Amazon.
14.A functional tabletop paper roll — so they can draw and color as much as they want — without taking up the real estate of a bulky easel.
Main reason I love this thing? It can be as big or small as you want — and can set up anywhere. Just roll the paper out the length of whatever flat surface you’d like. (In my apartment, I turned this media console into a toddler table-and-storage combo.) I also find it’s easier for little hands to draw on these in general. They can use two hands, and since the paper lays flat — instead of at the easel angle — markers don’t run off. When you’re not using it, it’s easy to stash it away since it’s not obtrusive.
Get it on Amazon for $14.44.
15.For car soundtracks that aren’t Baby Shark on repeat: Raffi and Music Together.
As a kid raised on Raffi tunes myself, I’m happy to report that they still absolutely hold up! (And they’re all available on Spotify.) My kid also loves the Music Together playlist — they’re songs from the nationwide kids’ music class that you might already be familiar with locally.
Stream them on Spotify or download them (here and here) on Amazon.
What products or online resources did you find most useful during the toddler years? Let me know in the comments!
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