My Favourite Toddler Products (1-3yrs)
The products I discuss in this post have made life with toddlers so much easier. These aren't necessarily products I couldn't live without (see my "Top 5 Holy Grail Baby Products" post here), but certainly are products that have made the rigors of life with pint-sized people much more bearable. You will have to pry these products out of my cold dead hands because I certainly won't willingly let them go.
1. The GroClock
This product has hands-down given us the most bang for our buck. There is nothing I wouldn't pay for a good night's sleep. At 18 months old, Maelle decided that being able to climb out of her crib was a thing. Her mattress was already on the floor inside of her crib so there were no options other than a toddler bed at this point (which I didn't think she was ready for). At 20 months old we had a nap time that I will I never forget. Maelle literally threw herself out of her crib and every time I would simply put her back in. She would fall, she would cry, I would sweat, I would cry; basically, it was a cycle of crazy that I never want to experience again. To make a long, painful story short, we ended up purchasing a GroClock with high hopes. It is a clock that uses simple images and colours to indicate to your child when it is time to get up and when it is time to stay in bed. It has settings that can be programmed for naps and bedtime making it super easy to set daily. We read the story that accompanied the book and explained to Maelle the expectations. This kept her in her crib until the "sun" came up without complaint. If she woke early, she would just stay in her crib and if she ever woke too early I could just go in and manually change the clock to the sun to indicate to her that she could get up. This consistent routine and visual representation of our expectations worked perfectly and we will be introducing the clock to our second child shortly.
2. Ok To Wake Owl
Similar to the GroClock, this is a plush owl that has eyes that light up green to indicate when its time to wake up. If they wake before the set time, the Owl's eyes will not be lit. Before the designated wake up time, squeezing the Owl will cause its eyes to light up orange, signaling to your child to go back to sleep. Transitioning from the GroClock to the Ok to Wake Owl allowed Maelle to know if she should be sleeping when she wakes in the middle of the night. As an added bonus, the eyes provide her with some added light if needed to feel safe. She still uses the Owl every morning and bounds into our room at 7:20am on the dot. I also occasionally see her wake in the middle of the night and the first thing she does is squeeze her Owl for comfort, light, and probably a little hope that it is morning. It was the perfect balance between a dark room and a nightlight and provided us with the added benefit of still indicating to her when to wake up. The Owl also talks and sings lullabies but we have turned those features off.
3. Munchkin Weighted Straw Cup/Dr. Browns Weighted Straw Cup
Our kids never transitioned to a bottle or sippy cup. When we introduced water they took to a straw cup right away and we never looked back. Since the transition, we have probably used the Munchkin Weighted Straw Cup every single day. We have bought over 10 of them to replace old dirty ones or those that have been lost/broken along the way. We love these cups because your child can drink from any angle. The weight at the end of the straw means that it is always in the liquid regardless of if they are standing, lying down, or in some other awkward position that all toddlers seem to get in. Although a bit more expensive, the Dr. Brown's Weighted Straw Cup does exactly the same thing but with a larger capacity, which drove the decision to change brands. To prolong the product life, avoid directly heating in the microwave or washing in a dishwasher to prevent slight plastic warp that results in a leaking cup.
4. Sleep Sack
Specifically, during the warmer months, we have been using the Perlimpinpin Cotton Muslin Sleep Sack; but aside from the material and warmth factor, I'm not partial to any brand. I do recommend one that zips from top to bottom because Linden quickly figured out how to unsnap the kind that fastened at the shoulders and that turned into a fun game for him. I love our sleep sack but probably not for the reason you think. Besides the comfort of a blanket in the safety of regular pajamas, the real reason I love the sleep sack is that it prevents your child from hoisting their leg up over the crib. We had the climbing issues with Maelle and it was a battle I wanted to avoid with Linden. Although he is a climber and probably quite capable of making an escape, he physically can't. I won't be changing this any time soon!
5. Ikea Bowls, Plates, Cups, and Cutlery
I absolutely love IKEA's bowls, plates, cups, and cutlery for kids. Each item comes with 6-pieces and costs just $1.99. So for under 8 dollars, you have a complete set of dinnerware (36 pieces). You just can't beat that. They are durable, dishwasher safe, and microwave safe. Because they have none of the fancy dividers they are super easy to stack, taking up minimal space in our drawers. The only downside is the fighting over which colour the kids get but, at that price, you can just buy a full set for each kid!
6. Salt Water Sandals
I am obsessed with these sandals. They are definitely on the pricey side, but when it comes to children's footwear I'm willing to splurge (or just have their auntie buy them). These sandals are made from the highest quality leather and are manufactured to transition in and out of the water while keeping their shape, still looking fashionable, and having a supportive structure (unlike many water shoes/sandals). These sandals are perfect for summer and go with any outfit, from dresses to swimsuits, you can't go wrong. Bonus! They also come in adult sizes so you can match your child and are perfect to wade into creeks, lakes, and pools when you don't plan on getting fully drenched.
7. Built-in Toddler Toilet Seat
This is a potty training game changer. After just 2 weeks of having Maelle use a mini, plastic "go and dump" toilet or the seats you put onto the actual toilet I was absolutely fed up. I would have to sanitize the mini toilet every time she went to the bathroom not to mention the unpleasant process of cleaning up a number 2. I was finishing diapers in the hopes of making the potty process easier and less messy - not more. The removable potty lid was better but every time an adult used the toilet we would have to store it in the bathtub and clean the bathtub afterward. It was a massive inconvenience. I highly recommend putting on the built-in toilet seats. They are available at most hardware stores (we got ours at Home Depot), are easy to install, and relatively inexpensive. This product made the process of potty training much easier and also simplified the process of Maelle using the bathroom independently. Maelle was able to step up on a stool, pull down her seat, and sit without falling in all on her own within just a few months of starting the training process.
8. Contigo Water Bottles
The Contigo Water Bottles are hands down my favourite for all members of our family. They are spill proof and durable. They are easy for kids to open and close and the perfect size to carry around while still fitting enough water to sustain kids during those long, hot, summer days. They fit into all of our cupholders and they come in a variety of cute colours and patterns.
9. BONDS Wondersuit
If I was only allowed one item of clothing for my child for the entirety of their time as toddlers the BONDS Wondersuit would be my #1 choice, without a doubt. With Maelle, my sister-in-law who often visits Australia (where you can actually buy them), gifted us a few of them and I have never looked back. I forced her to send us a few with Linden and didn't even care if it was even a little bit rude to ask for them. I feel like the individual who designed these onesies thought of everything. They are made from a soft, durable, cotton that washes extremely well. The suits have a double zipper which makes diaper changes a breeze. They have the built-in hand covers which, during those early days where they can't control their reflexes, prevents inadvertent scratches parents hate and infants cry about. Not to mention, if you live in cold weather and want to quickly cover their hands on an outing, there is no need to put mittens on that take 20 minutes to get on correctly and all of 2 minutes for them to somehow get back off. Beyond that, they have convertible feet covers which makes the onesie go from a sleeper to an actual outfit instantly. Throw on a cute sweater and you never have to change your child out of what they slept in! This feature makes the product invaluable during the early walking days when having them walk in a onesie is a sure way to have them fall on their face. Just quickly convert the outfit and your barefoot baby can walk without the slip factor. The adorable colours, patterns, and prints are just the cherry on top of the perfect toddler clothing item.
10. L'Oreal Kids Hair Detangling Spray
My daughter loves baths and has always preferred them to a shower. But, having your child sit in a bath that contains "adult" product is not good for their skin, especially for a girl's private parts. Unfortunately, we learned this the hard way when we thought our daughter got a UTI but our doctor told us she was just irritated and advised us to go back to using baby soaps when she bathes. We listened but, with her long hair, we knew that we needed an alternative way to condition her hair because the baby products just weren't doing a good enough job. I was advised to avoid oils as it is not good for their skin and also too heavy for fine toddler hair. After trying a few different sprays, I always went back to the L'Oreal Kids Hair Detangling Spray. I spray it onto her wet hair and brush it through after the bath. It smells amazing and leaves her hair feeling soft but clean. There are other products that do the same thing but none for such a good price!