This list is by no means comprehensive, and I am always looking for new ideas. But, here are a few items that keep my toddler happy.
Snack Keepers and Sippy Cups
The commonly-used plastic snack keepers, that we purchased about a year and half ago when our son started on solid snack foods, have seen better days. They are starting to flake and show signs of wear. Additionally, we have been getting increasingly healthy with our product selections, so we recently switched to these stainless steel snack containers, which are available in multiple sizes. We like them for being BPA, lead, and phthalate free. For times when you’re packing more food, there are even several types of stainless steel divided snackboxes and stainless steel lunchboxes, that are gaining popularity. Or, equally as non-toxic, glass storage containers made for kids, such as these with a silicone sleeve.
We also made the switch several months ago to the 360-degree sippy cups that features a 360-degree drinking edge, and comes dentist-recommended for being spoutless. They allows kids to mimic the feel of drinking from a normal cup. You still get the benefit of them being (mostly) leak-proof, minus a few leaks we’ve had when the cups haven taken bigger falls. Our toddler wants to drink from a normal cup during mealtimes while sitting at the table. But, he still likes to tote around a drink when on-the-go and wants to lay in bed and drink his milk before bedtime, so this cup has served us well for those situations.
We love simple sandals, tough tennis shoes, and nicer dress-up shoes, but our everyday, go-to shoe has been an all-purpose shoe in these, after a friend recommended the brand. A shoe like this should stand up very well for you, too. Look for a pair that has the stability many look for, plus one that can breath is a playtime plus. If you can find some with a waterproof feature too, that is ideal, allowing your toddler to indulge in a water table or fountain, and waterproof usually means machine washable too. Whatever brand you like, it’s great to have some shoes that can hold up to all that comes your toddler’s way.
This one is a no-brainer. Toddlers love to explore and ask questions, and what better place to let them do that, than in a book. We have wonderful libraries in Fort Worth. We love to test run books before my son decides it’s a favorite and we should invest in our own copy. We love to get books a little more advanced than he is, just to expose him to longer stories. And, we love to continue to check-out the same lift-the-flap books he read as a baby, like Karen Katz’ Where Is Baby’s Pumpkin for example, which we have been known to check-out even in the spring, because it still makes him so happy. Story times are also a joy to participate in, and you will be greeted with such warmth by the library staff, no matter the branch.
As much as I hate to admit it, I know I need to have something stashed away in my purse for “one of those times.” Bribing is definitely not the best parenting strategy, and I can see us soon moving to another more logic-based scenario. I definitely don’t intend to bribe my child forever, or rely on items instead of words to assist him in a situation. But, for right now, “secret weapons” help us get out of a bind, whether it’s when we absolutely have to leave somewhere, or we definitely need to stay longer than he would like to, and anything in between. It’s best to have several different options, in case the surefire idea you thought you had fizzles out. Whether it’s the single serving peanut butter packets (which are surprisingly clean to eat), a new sticker book, or a delicious something they don’t get regularly. Fruit snacks usually work every time. (I look for the organic, somewhat healthier kind, without the high fructose corn syrup.) The trick here is for it to be new, interesting, or yummy.
What are some of your favorite toddler essentials?