I feel I’ve thoroughly canvassed the realm of baby gear (including, more recently, my list of purchases for baby two), but thought I’d share some of my favorite everyday items for mini. In general, toddlers need a lot less stuff than I expected. Mini’s absolute favorite pastimes are reading, playing with her Little People, and coloring. Beyond that, we’re out of the house or I preoccupy her with things like helping me clean and cook. But, below, some of my absolute favorite products for mini, who is now just over two:
+My mom had this stool made with mini’s name on it and it has come in handy countless times since she received it on her second birthday. We use it when she’s brushing her teeth, when she asks to use the toilet (she’s not yet toilet trained, but we have all the gear ready to go — and I especially like this Baby Bjorn toilet insert, which fits perfectly and makes it much easier and less intimidating for her to use the regular toilet), and when she wants to watch us cook in the kitchen. She also likes to sit on it when I’m getting ready in the morning in the bathroom — and is very interested in talking about the letters in her name.
+Mini treat cups and Aerin melamine appetizer plates. I love having these on hand for parceling out toddler-sized amounts of snacks. The treat cups can come in handy when we have other friends over for playdates or we’re out and about and I need something to hold her snacks in.
+Replay Sippy Cups. I love the simple, non-fussy design of these cups. Also, they never leak. For smoothies, I like to use these drink-in-a-box cups (the straw is sufficiently wide and it’s easy to pour a smoothie into the top), and for water, we use Camelbaks or Thinkbabies.
+Baby Cie plates. I love the whimsical designs of this brand. The only drawback is that they aren’t microwavable (but they are dishwasher-safe!)
+Stasher Reusable Snack Bags. I like these because you can wash them in the dishwasher (takes a little ingenuity to make sure they are open on the top rack and then to dry them, but worth it). Mr. Magpie and I started separating our plastic bags from the rest of our trash to recycle at our local Whole Foods and I was frankly astounded by how much clear plastic we go through — shopping bags, food wrapping, ziplocs, etc. These snack bags make me feel better. (Also, we started using these to stow produce and I bring them to the grocery store with me instead of using the plastic bags there.) I also like these bags vs. traditional snack cups because they take up less space in a diaper bag!
+Crayola Bath Dropz. These were a great tactic for luring her over to bathtime back when she resisted it now. Now she loves bath time and I have to beg her to get out of the tub! She loves “putting color” in the water by adding these bath drops. Don’t even try the other brands — Crayola is the best. (Though why they opted for a yellow-colored tablet is beyond me…it makes the water look like pee.) She also loves her bath crayons.
+Alaffia Bubble Bath. More recently, mini has been very into bringing her little people into the tub with her and playing with bubbles. I’ve tried a bunch of brands of bubble bath (sounds ridiculous), but find that this foams up the best, is beautifully scented, and is non-drying to her skin. Love. I even prefer it to Noodle & Boo’s bubble bath, which did not sud up particularly well — though I love ALL of their other products.
+Noodle & Boo shampoo, lotion, body wash, and conditioning hair polish. Great products. They have such a lovely scent and are very gentle. I like their products so much, I use their linen mist on the upholstered pieces in her nursery and her stroller.
+Ubbi Bath Toy Bin. This is so intelligently designed. You can use the top portion to scoop all the toys up in one motion and then place it on top of the bottom piece so that residual water will drip out and your toys won’t mold.
+Boon Bath Mat. Does anyone else’s toddler love to stomp around in the bath tub? This gives me peace of mind and has saved us from countless spills. (Meanwhile, this have saved my old, creaky knees at bath time.)
+Ubbi Diaper Bin. Bought this for her as an infant, still use it constantly. It contains the smell.
+Boon Drying Rack. Oh, we’ll never be out of the phase of using this…we still use it daily, over two years in, and, with micro on the way, have a long future of seeing it on our counter. But it does contain the mess and enable us to dry all the cups, bottles, etc. with ease. I personally prefer this style to the “tree” versions of drying racks because it has a lower profile and can be stowed on its side in a cabinet on the rare occasion nothing is drying on it.
At Home Activities.
+Melissa & Doug Stamp Set. She LOVES this set. The ink is washable and not too pigmented, so it wasn’t nearly as messy as I’d anticipated.
+Fisher Price Little People Dollhouse. The number of hours she has spent playing with this…countless.
+Counting Bears. I bought these for mini after noticing how much she enjoys organizing things — she likes sorting, placing items in rows, etc. She now enjoys playing with them in her dollhouse, too, but I’ve found that this was a great toy for beginning to talk about colors (and reinforcing the idea of “putting things away where they belong”).
+Melissa & Doug Magnetic Ariel Set. Mini is IN LOVE with dressing Ariel. We had to remove some of the super small pieces since she will occasionally put them in her mouth (no idea why — she doesn’t do this with anything else small in our house), but most of the pieces are big enough that they don’t pose a choking hazard.
+Coloring Books. Oh man — we go through SO many coloring books in our house. The minute she receives a new one, she’ll lay on her stomach and scribble on each and every page. Then she’ll go back and shade in pages for days on end. I keep a small amount of crayons in an accessible cup that she can get out for herself, and then, every two weeks or so, let her pick a new handful of crayons from a big pencil box full of them. This ensures we don’t have to play pick-up-34989834983498-crayons twenty-five times a day and she loves the novelty of picking out new crayons, too.
+Home Pod. This sounds nutty but we use the Home Pod to play mini’s favorite songs allllll day long. Some days I think I will spontaneously combust if I hear the Frozen soundtrack one more time, but then I remind myself how much better it is that we’re listening to music versus watching TV and let it gooooooo. I also love that I can ask Siri what time it is / what the forecast looks like / etc from wherever I am in the apartment without having to get up and check my phone or laptop. I can also tell her to turn off all of our apartment lights when we leave because she’s synced to our Hue lighbulbs, one of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE PRODUCTS EVER. Basically, she’s my handy little assistant and she enables me to accomplish many minor things and get minor pieces of information without moving or using my hands. Ha!
+PBK Sloan Play Table. I love this simple, unobtrusive little white table. Mini plays with her dolls/dollhouse on it, eats her meals on it, keeps her water cup on it, etc, etc, etc. It’s her space and she knows it. We also got her this adorable Kartell ghost chair in the pink color and she loves to sit in it while having her lunch.
+Toddler Cake Set. Mini has a few different food/cooking sets, but this is one of her favorites, and she loves to use these to “cook dinner” for myself and Mr. Magpie.
+Maileg Mice. She LOVES HER MAILEG MICE and has since she was itty bitty. I love their timeless styling and attention to detail and I think she just loves their proportions? I’m not sure what it is — but she’s been hooked on these since maybe seven or eight months of age!
+Corolle Stroller. Uses this constantly in our apartment.
On the Go Activities.
I almost always have some combination of these items in my bag when we’re out to lunch, at church, taking the subway somewhere, etc, and I try really hard not to let her have them in the apartment so that they always feel special/new when I need a distraction: t
+The Fisher-Price Doodle Pro. Loves sketching on this thing. WTTW: it can be kind of noisy for church…
+Church Magnet Book. This is a super intense Catholic toy — ha! But mini LOVES it. This keeps her busy for about fifteen minutes straight during Mass. And it’s quiet and, obviously, appropriate for the venue. (If you’re not Catholic, something like this or this would be similar and suitable.)
+Sidewalk Chalk. We keep this in her stroller and I swear she’s the most popular kid at the playground when she brings these out — which is, actually, a lovely thing, since it affords us many opportunities to talk about taking turns and sharing. I specifically like this set because the pieces of chalk are square — meaning that they don’t roll around, leaving you chasing stray chalk.
+Bubble Wands. We also always have one or two of these wands under our stroller. Mini loves bubbles!
+Bugaboo Snack Tray. A MUST HAVE. Use this constantly. It keeps her water/snacks in reach and is very easy to remove/move out of the way and also — surprisingly — to keep clean. There’s really no area where food can get trapped and nasty. I love the design.
+Bugaboo Wheeled Board. We recently gave mini this in anticipation of the arrival of micro, and she loves sitting on it and standing on it when she doesn’t feel like being strapped in. We haven’t had too much of an issue with her leaping off of it once she’s on it, but I will say that if she’s not in the mood to leave the park / playground / etc, not even this board will entice her to leave, so it’s not like a panacea to all urban transit woes. It takes a minute to get used to it when you’re pushing the stroller, too — you have to sort of walk on the side to avoid running into it — but it’s not too obtrusive.
What else do you love for your toddler?
Currently on my radar for her: an OK-to-wake clock, not so much for the intended purpose, though. We are running into issues with bedtime: she’s become highly resistant and stubborn about following the normal sequence of activities (bath, jammies, brush teeth, two books in our bed, hugs, one book in her bed, prayers, into crib). It feels as though we’re pulling teeth to get from one step to the next and the entire routine is suddenly punctuated by multiple trips to time out and moments of quiet exasperation on our end. This just happened all of the sudden and has caught us all by surprise. I know it’s partly the age and her desire to test our limits (and to stay awake and play!), but my mom suggested we might buy her her own clock and use it as a kind of tool — “Hey, is it bedtime yet? [Check her special clock together.] Oh, no! Not yet! Still ten minutes to play.” Etc. I personally like the idea of involving her in the notion of checking the time to see if it’s appropriate bed time, of giving her more of a heads up as to what’s coming, and — is this wrong of me? — to make us seem like less the bad guys enforcing some arbitrary bedtime. (“But the clock says…”) Also need to stock up on sunscreen for summer (have heard good things about this brand) and map out her school gear (still a few months out, but I like these Lunchbots aluminum bento boxes and these seersucker backpacks).
P.P.S. Don’t you grow up in a hurry.
P.P.P.S. What’s in my diaper bag.