Earlier this year I posted our Top 10 Newborn Essentials, and now I’m going to hit you up with the top 10 things WE use to make life with a toddler easier.
1. Otterbox Defender iPhone Case– Our iPhones (a Newborn Essential, and everyday-can’t-live-without-it essential) are practically members of this family now. They go everywhere with us, and they’re great at entertaining a bored toddler. They’re also mega expensive and pretty easy to smash, especially when launched across a room after an out-of-nowhere tantrum.
The Otterbox Defender cases we have on both of our phones may turn them into a brick close to the size of Zack Morris’s cell phone, but they offer some serious protection. I have no problem giving my phone over to our 3 year old when it’s covered in one of these.
2. Talking Gina the Giraffe iPhone App– Keeping with the iPhone theme for a minute, this FREE app is a sanity saver around here. There’s just something about Gina that kids love. For Kendall, I think it’s that she repeats what he says in a silly voice. Sometimes they even get into funny arguments.
K: “I have a baby sister.”
G: “I have a baby sister.”
K: “No, I have a baby sister.”
G: “No, I have a baby sister.”
Kendall will take our (Otterbox defended) phones with Gina on and actually play with her. He’ll take her in his tent and out back while he plays in the yard. She’s practically a member of this family now, too.
3. DVD Player for the car – Oh yeah, totally. Those of you sitting there in judgement who’ve yet to raise a child to toddlerhood, I’m not going to say “just you wait,” but I will ask you to hold your judgement until your kid is 18 months old and you have to drive 15 hours across the country, m’kay?
4. Antibacterial Wipes- These little packs of single use antibacterial wipes are a diaper bag/purse staple when you’re out with a potty training toddler. They can’t understand why you wouldn’t want to run your hands all over a toilet seat while sitting on it, and toilet seat covers and the hover method are laughable at this age. So I just keep these with me and give the whole toilet a good wipe-down before he sits. They’re also good for cleaning hands after they try to pick up that piece of (previously chewed) gum in the parking lot.
5. Archer Farms Organic Fruit Strips– We go through 1-2 boxes of these every week. These are my go-to bribe when we’re out. I always have a handful of them in the diaper bag. Kendall loves them like they’re candy, but they’re made with organic fruit and no high fructose corn syrup, so that makes me feel a little better about bribing him.
6. Play Kitchen– It doesn’t matter what brand it is, new or old or re-purposed (did you know you can make a play kitchen from an old entertainment center?). A play kitchen is one of those toys that any toddler, boy or girl, will make use of. Ours is next to our actual kitchen, and Kendall likes to pretend he’s helping us cook dinner. He also “washes” Leyna’s pacifiers in his little sink, and “fills up” my coffee when I’m working. Basically, any toy that lets your toddler’s imagination do the talking, is going to be a winner.
7. Blocks- Big blocks, soft blocks, wooden blocks, whatever blocks you have, a toddler will make something out of them. And then they will knock it down. And then they will either laugh hysterically… or cry
(because OMGWHYWOULDTHEBLOCKSFALLDOWN??!!). Either way, they will build something else with them, and the blocks will provide hours of fun… and you never have to put a freaking battery in any of them. Win.
8. Goodbyn Lunch Box– I added this to the list after I recommended it to about 5 friends in the last few days. Kendall’s been going to a Mother’s Day Out program since he was 1, and started Pre-K today. This has been the best lunchbox we’ve tried. The food truly stays separate. There’s no leaking juices from one compartment to the next. There are only 2 pieces to wash (bottom and lid), not a million tiny plastic boxes. It came with stickers that we decorated it with, and they’ve stayed put after nearly 6 months.
9. Wii (with Wii Sports and Sports Resort)– I’ve said it once before, we owe a lot to the Wii this summer. The heat has been brutal. I’m content to just hang inside in the air conditioning the entire month of August, but my 3 year old was busting at the seams with all the energy he needed to burn off. He mastered a few of the basic games (like sword-fighting and baseball) on the Wii this summer. I feel better about him playing video games like this for an hour than vegging in front of a TV show. (Though, be sure there was plenty of that this summer, too.)
10. Crocs- There, I said it. This one-time hater of the ugliest shoes ever is now such a believer they made her top 10 list- her toddler list. It’s just that they’re durable, easy for the 3 year old to put on himself, easy to clean, and they’re one of the few brands that fit his extra wide Shrek feet.
Of course, as with any list of “must-haves,” what works for my family may not work for yours. What about you? Have a toddler? What’s something you can’t live without?
Kendall is 3 years and almost 4 months (and I think I’ll officially have to call him a preschooler now) and Leyna is nearly 8 months old
Disclosure- I’m a Nintendo Ambassador, and the only product on this list that was sent to me at no cost was the Wii. All opinions are my own.