Having a toddler means you can finally ditch the bulky diaper bag. Toddlers don’t need two outfit changes, a stack of diapers, a teething toy, extra bottles, and formula. For the most part, you can leave the house with only your kid in tow. However, there are some items that can help make your life a little easier when it comes to raising a toddler.
Do you still need to buy baby wipes after your child is potty trained? Yes, yes you do. Toddlers seem to have no qualms about eating spaghetti with their fingers or letting popsicles drip all over them. You won’t always be able to control the messes, but you can, at least, keep a pack of wipes in every room of the house (and the car).
Whether it’s begging your toddler to pick up their toys or pleading with them to just eat two more bites of their dinner, bribes will always come in handy. In my house, for instance, eating two bites of hamburger means she can have one french fry. Cleaning up her toys means cuddling in front of the TV. Using the potty - a few M&Ms. Bribes can range from food (we like Swedish Fish, M&Ms, Dum Dums, and popsicles), to screen time (TV, tablet, or cell phone), or even activities. Toddlers love to help their parents, so letting my daughter help me sort clean laundry is a great bribe. Experiment with what works for your kid!
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” - Margaret Fuller
Most kids love books, even before they can read them. Not only is this a great time to bond with your little one, but you’re giving them skills to develop their speech, logic, and imagination. Great books for this age include rhyming, repetitive, interactive, and song/sound effects books.
Kids and toddlers especially love to express themselves creatively. Finger painting is a classic, but it will absolutely lead to a huge mess. Save that for the weekend or days off work. There are many options for encouraging artistic expression that makes no mess at all. Crayons and sidewalk chalk can provide plenty of entertainment with minimal cleanup. Check out the line of Water Wow books by Melissa and Doug or Color Wonder by Crayola which use water-based tools to keep hands, furniture, and vehicles free from messes.
Toilet training is one of the biggest milestones to come out of toddlerhood. Every kid trains differently, but it’s almost never an easy process. One of the hardest things to teach is timing. That’s where the Potty Watch comes in. It’s easy to set a timer on your phone for every 60 minutes, but when you use something like the Potty Watch, it gets your kid involved. This makes them more excited to give the toilet a try.
“Spill-proof” is the biggest lie in the sippy cup industry. Even if you buy the most expensive cups on the market (I have), you’ll be immediately disappointed. These ones by The First Years are the worst offenders if only because I had such high hopes for them since they look so sturdy. Even the pricey Munchkin trainer cups have let me down. I loved the spoutless design, but with my toddler leaving sippy cups laying on the couch or running around holding one upside down, I had to keep looking. Fortunately, I found a brand that doesn’t break the bank and doesn’t spill. Seriously. Re-Play is made of recycled milk jugs and come in dozens of colors.
Have you heard that screen time is bad for kids? The jury is still out on that one, but if used correctly, your cell phone can be your secret weapon. Need to entertain your toddler during the 30-minute wait at the restaurant before your food is delivered? Cell phone. Want to get through grocery shopping without a tantrum? Cell phone. Toddlers are naturally impatient - they can’t help it, time drags on and on for them. Having to sit quietly and behave for more than a half-hour without some sort of entertainment or distraction is tough for little minds. Just make sure to take some time to let them decompress after a lot of screen time.
Kids’ independence is a big deal at this age. It’s a beautiful thing, but it can also be so, so frustrating. They can brush their own hair. They can put on their own pants. It only takes 45 minutes longer than it needs to. To help your toddler hurry things along, invest in a pair of slide-on shoes. They’re cute, they’re functional, and best of all, they only require one step - no velcro, no laces.
If you’re going on a road trip, it’s a good idea to get a travel tray for your toddler. Anything over an hour definitely counts as a road trip when a toddler is involved. This tray by Kenley Kids attaches to a car seat (or stroller), is crash-tested, and has a deep pocket for sippy cups so they won’t fall out. This way, your kid can color, eat, and build Legos to their heart’s content.
None of the products above are necessary to raise a happy, healthy toddler, but they will definitely make your life simpler. And trust me, anything that can simplify your life with a toddler around is worth looking into. Happy parenting!
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