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Now that Christmas is over, it's time for the more practical items! Here are some of my favorite toddler buys!
1. Stroller – Jogging strollers are the way to go in my book (I am NOT a jogger but they are so much easier to maneuver than conventional ones!) and with accessories like cup holders, adjustable seats and aux ports, it makes any outdoor activity so much more tolerable with little kids. Our double stroller is no longer available but the one shown above has most of the same features!
2. Lollacup – most newer cups claim to be leak-proof and while I don’t think these 100% are, they come pretty close, have a weighted straw to get every last drop and come in a bunch of different colors so each kid can have their own cup! They come with a handle, which is great for younger kids, but the handle can also be taken off so the cups fits in my standard sized cup holders. All of our kids have them and love them.
3. Stretchable sippy tops – I’ve gotten two different brands of these but am so much happier with the guarantee on this brand. If you don't like them or one gets a hole in it in the first year, they will replace/refund the lid! What makes the product great though is that these fit on almost any size cup!
4. Tula Baby Carrier – I actually recommend this for infancy, too but the Tula carrier has been a savior for me. In our standard Tula I can carry M on the front or E on my back and they are comfy and safe. They can be pricey so I actually got mine on a Tula BST Facebook group for $100 and it’s some of the best money I’ve ever spent. They are also on Amazon for the same price!
5. Frog potty – A potty training must. In their room at night-time and in the living room during the day. It’s a simple design with no bells and whistles but is a great price and an invaluable tool during the dreaded potty training days.
6. Huggies slip ons – Sticking with the potty training theme. I need to talk about the Huggies Slip-On diapers. After having so many kids we are strictly a Luvs family after size 1, except for potty training. Unlike pull ups, these diapers can be resealed if it turns out your kid didn’t pee in them like you thought or if while running around one of the sides rips. On Amazon they are only a few cents more per diaper and in my opinion, they are totally worth it.
It was at the end of a birthday party. He went upstairs and said he was going to the bathroom (to be clear, we don’t have a bathroom upstairs but we leave a frog potty upstairs to make midnight trips to the bathroom a little bit easier). There had been a lot of people in our house from the party and we just figured he needed some time alone.
What we didn’t expect was what he actually did up there. The potty that is normally used for pee, had a new element. AND we didn’t have any wipes upstairs…so what do you do when you need to clean up? Apparently, use the floor.
After the pure SHOCK of what had just happened, I knew it would have to be dealt with and quickly so it didn’t get worse or make his room smell for the rest of the week. Thankfully I had a friend who is so comfortable with my kids that she came in and started clean up.
As mortified as I was, I had to realize, if I made him feel bad about this, it was going to cause a huge reaction and he would feel so embarrassed and it would ruin his day. So instead of yelling or making a huge deal out of it, I decided calmer was better. I asked him what happened, he said he had to go and I told him that he did the right thing in going to the closest potty. We then, however, worked together to make sure he knew of the better way to handle that situation in the future… try to get downstairs or just ask for help.
TBH, this is not how I always react. When I am tired, cranky, busy or just not in the mood my reaction can be a. lot. different. But I write this here to remind moms, including myself:
The thing I’ve learned: Sometimes your kid poops on the carpet//you know you’re kid so consider the best way to approach the situation before reacting.
I knew he would react poorly so when I can take a step back from the situation for a minute, everyone will end up happier.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the free toothbrush, but we just end up with so many and for a toothbrush that is recommended by the dentist, they really aren’t that great. So what can you use these toothbrushes for besides brushing your teeth?
The thing I’ve learned: don’t get rid of the free toothbrush.
Cleaning: I use these when I keep my stove drip pans. Half baking soda, half dish soap mixture onto the drip pan and use the toothbrush to get along the inner rim.
Painting: Use it when your kids want to paint and you can’t find a paintbrush. Kids LOVE when they get to use unconventional materials. I’ve also used paintbrushes and food coloring to “paint” pieces of bread for the kids.
And last but certainly not least - actually the BEST - baby hair control: hairspray + free toothbrush = control of those pesky but totally worth it baby hairs. Spray the toothbrush with hairspray and use the brush to comb the hairs into the rest of your hair.
My kids have too many toys. I’d love to get rid of some of them, and we do occasionally fill a Goodwill bag of them, but since we still have small kids I am hesitant to get rid of too much. I remember being so excited to open gifts on Christmas or my birthday so I do love that my kids still get physical gifts to unwrap. But limiting the number of toys in favor of items they need and experience gifts I think will help us enjoy the season even more.
And I’ve learned there are loads of great non-toy options!! Like,
Children’s Museum *Pictures above of a 4, 6, 1, and 2 year old all enjoying the museum!* – Buying a gift card to a local museum is an awesome gift for kids! I usually try to buy tickets for the entire family if possible so none of them have to worry about the entrance fee. Involve the kid by letting them pick the day and if you end up with an extra ticket (because one of your kids is potty training and refuses to pee anywhere other than the kitchen floor), let them pick a friend to go with!
Movies – This is a great family outing on a rainy, cold or hot day. And if you go for a matinee you may just have a bit of money left over for some kiddie combos.
Theatre – I feel like kids don’t go to the theatre enough. One of my best friends takes her nieces every year to see a production. They get all dressed up, go out to dinner and then head to the show. What a special thing to do with kids of any age!
Highlights Magazine – I didn’t even realize these were still around until Andre’s grandpa bought them for L and R. They have a few different age categories and the kids LOVE them! A yearly subscription is really affordable and makes quiet time actually quiet! Plus, if they like them, just re-subscribe the next year.
Personalized books – With so many Etsy shops now, there are tons of people that will help personalize a book for any kiddo. Some with just a name and others tailored to the activities the child likes. Either way, it is sure to be a lifelong keepsake.
Clothes – I’ve never met a parent that didn’t appreciate their kids getting clothes for their birthday. They grow so dang fast that whether it’s a cute outfit from an online boutique or a few graphic tees from Target, it is always a sure fire winner!
Do you have any non-toy gifts that you have enjoyed gifting or receiving??
I have no idea what Andre and I did to have such a laid back and easy going first kid. She was sleeping through the night within just a few months, rarely cried and as she got older she LISTENED to us! As in, we told her she could not get out of bed until we woke her up and she did it. We never had a 4:30am wake-up with her standing next to our bed ready to play or crashing sounds in the monitor because she was taking apart her room. She was so happy and parenting was so easy which was amazing…
…until we had more kids. When R was born he was also pretty laid back. I think it took him maybe a few more weeks to sleep through the night but overall he was another happy baby. But then he started to not like refrigerated breastmilk (it was from me or formula and that was it), he drew on walls and we ultimately had to take out the bottom drawers of his dresser and tie his closet doors shut because in the morning, before we said it was time to wake up, he would pull EVERYTHING out of said drawers and closet. His room was so bare that I think my brother even bought him a poster to hang because his room was so bare.
We had never experienced these things with L so Andre and I were wracking our brains trying to figure out what we did with her that made her so much easier to parent!
The things I’ve learned: It can sometimes depend on your circumstances.
Looking back, the big differences I can see in the first few years of each of their lives comes from our circumstances. When L was born I was working full-time at Hy-Vee. It certainly wasn’t where I wanted to be but I LOVED getting off of work at 2 (or 1 if they let me come in early) to get the afternoon with her before Andre got home. We lived in an apartment for the first year and a half of her life so we also didn’t have so much stuff. When R was born I was working at the school, took 8 weeks off and then went back to 9 hour days 3 days a week. We also had a house which meant more room for toys and other distractions. He also had a sister so spending time just the two of us was reserved for when she slept.
Adding E, M and G was a bit more of the same. Older siblings, house (that feels like it’s getting smaller and smaller…), long work hours and while that has meant not as much time as I would like to have with each kid individually, it has also developed great bonds between the kids and even some good influences! With L and R sharing a room, and E across the hall, L is very good about keeping them all upstairs until we say, “Bom dia” indicating it’s time to get up. And when R is coloring a picture on paper, it reminds E that we only draw on paper.
So for right now, this is working for us. We still don’t know why L is so chill, but we’ve found over time that all of our kids’ personalities and strengths help balance out our family in amazing ways :)
Hi, I'm Rebecca
I’m a wife, mom to 5 kids, former choir teacher, Christian and advice giver? I can honestly say I never expected to be the one giving advice when I so frequently ask for it, but the advice I’ve received is so valuable and must be shared! Here are some of the things I’ve learned so far!