Owen’s growing faster than we can fathom. He learns a new word or skill every day and I swear I can see his little body growing before my very eyes.
In the past few months, we’ve relied on several products that have been life-savers. There is no such thing as an easy baby, but thankfully, there are things that make life with a baby just a bit easier. Several of these items are toddler favorites, some of them are still going strong from the very beginning. What are a few things you can’t live without? I love reading what works for other mamas.
And, if you’re not a parent right now, this might come in handy for gift ideas…
Melissa & Doug push cart, aka the Gator cart
He has loved it from day one. Even though he can walk on his own, he still loves to push it back and forth in the hall. And he loves giving his favorite toys Gator cart rides.
I thought all the noise would bug the heck out of me, but seeing the joy on his face when he does his “shake-a-shake-a-shake-a” with his musical instruments melts me. He gets so excited that he can make so much noise. The link above is to the set we actually have from a toy store here but I’d love to get my hands on this one. He also enjoys a good jam sesh on his piano. And, of course, you can’t go wrong with the good ol’ fashion pot & pan drum set.
I’m not sure if these are a thing in the states? They don’t do carpet in homes here, we have tile throughout and some laminate wood. In case you didn’t know, tile is very unforgiving. These socks are especially fantastic for a 2 foot tall human who toddles around all day long.
It doesn’t matter what book it is, though he does have a few favorites (anything with animals, specifically a duck or a dog, and real-life pictures). He has a big basket of books in the play area, he’ll grab one and climb into your lap to have you read it to him. He also loves reading them on his own. There is no situation that can’t be solved by handing this Reading King a book.
Hanna Andersson one-piece
Technically they’re sleepers, but we love them for playtime. So comfy, so soft, breathable, movable, and easy for diaper changes. A little on the pricey side, but there are great sales and trust me, they’re worth every penny.
I mean, look at that tush. These Aladdin pants are the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Lightweight, have an extra wide waste band so nothing pinches, and very flexible for easy moving (which is important because Owen never stops moving). They are tight at the ankles so I bought a size too large and he can still wear them without them being too long. I love these pants, end of story.
Long-sleeved white onesies
I love long sleeved bodysuits. They’re soft, tagless, and work great for layering under short-sleeved tees when the weather is chilly. It’s nice to be able to winterize the warm weather tops that still fit in the cooler months (and it saves money!).
These are the best leather shoes. They’re reasonably priced, so we have several. But, sometimes I get them mixed up and he doesn’t always have matching shoes on. (See picture above.) They have a great no-slip sole, easy to put on, they fit nicely and grow with him, they’re easy for him to toddle around in, and they come in a ton of different colors/designs. He has “real” shoes, even baby Toms and Sperrys, but they’re clunky, heavy, don’t fit well, and he trips over them – not to mention how expensive they are. Hoeba shoes were great even before he was walking to keep his feet warm and get him used to the idea of shoes. Even at this age, we still prefer the leather walkers to actual shoes.
Nuk sippy cup
This was his first sippy cup and we still use it. The spout we use is different from the one it comes with – he chewed right through that one once he got teeth. I can’t seem to the find the spout on the US Amazon site, but this it it on Amazon.de. It’s tougher so he can bite on it without ripping it. We only use this cup for his milk before naps and bedtime. He gets a cup of warm milk before going to sleep. We do what works (see note on sleep in the following SLEEP section). This cup and spout is soothing to him. It has a slower flow so he can doze off to sleep without choking or spilling. He never took a bottle, but we basically use this cup as a bottle.
We’ve tried cup after cup after cup. They all leak, or break when he throws them from his high chair, or the lid falls off, or they are the wrong size for him, or…d) all of the above. I have zero complaints about this one.
Lollaland Lolla cup, aka the chicken cup
So far, this is the ONLY straw cup that doesn’t fling water everywhere when the lid is flipped open and it doesn’t leak. It’s easy for him to use thanks to its excellent design (he can even still drink when it’s tilted). Plus it’s super adorable because it’s a chicken.
Thin, waterproof but durable, easy to clean, catches food in the little pouch. While they don’t always have the cutest designs (aside from the Gator one), these are by far our favorite bibs. We own 4 (keep one in the diaper bag) and I won’t use anything else.
Owen is a choker. I’ve had to perform the heimlich on him more than once. He can, and probably will, choke on everything from Cheerios to pureed veggies. He just started working on his two year molars (seriously) so the fact that he has all these teeth to chomp up his food and still chokes is a bit ironic. He’s also not big on finger foods either, sparing a few exceptions. We rely heavily on purees. I use fresh produce when I can, but don’t even think twice about frozen. I mix the fruit with oatmeal or yogurt and the veggies with a pureed meat (lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, pork…all of which I keep on hand in the freezer) or quinoa, rice, lentils…or sometimes he’ll just eat it right from the pouch. The kid can down an entire 4 oz pouch of zucchini in under 60 seconds. They make for an easy, healthy meal. Since he eats at least 1-2 pouches a day, I keep somewhere around 20-30 fruit and vegetable pouches in the freezer. I grab one of each to thaw overnight before I go to bed and meals the next day couldn’t be easier. Also, they are incredibly convenient to travel with. It’s a great way to make sure he’s still getting his nutrients while we’re on the go. It’s cost-effective and I know exactly what is in his food. I will never, ever stop praising this product. It’s amazing. Look into it, I promise you’ll love it too.
A note about this section: These items are 100% tried and true. Owen is a classic high needs baby and is a sleep-resister (that’s a topic for another post). Just trust me when I say I’ve tried everything.
We love these pajamas. They are 100% cotton, fit snugly, and come in adorable patterns. No itchy tags, a zipper closure, and slip resistance built-in on the feet bottoms. He’s a little guy for his age (17th percentile for weight) and at 14 months, the 12-18 month size fit him with plenty of room to grow. I bought one to try and he slept one of the best nights he’d had in a long while in it, so I bought five more. Not necessarily the answer to a better night, but I do think they make him more comfortable.
Aden + Anais wearable blanket
These are a great weight for an extra layer over his pajamas, any time of the year. It does away with the need for a crib quilt or blanket to provide extra warmth at night, and they are just restrictive enough that he can’t climb out of his crib. We do use the Halo SleepSack because it’s just a bit thicker and works better on cooler nights, but the 100% cotton muslin one is our preferred sleeping bag.
I can’t access the actual Barefoot Dreams website right now, but WhatSheBuys.com is where I bought a second blanket when I thought we’d lost the first beloved blanket. We did find it so now we have a brand new one as backup. He has always cuddled with it while being put to sleep and once I felt comfortable enough putting it in the crib with him, around 12 months old, I let him sleep with it. He isn’t totally attached to it, but I honestly hope that he does become so. He isn’t attached to any item and he doesn’t suck his thumb (anymore) so right now, I am Owen’s security blanket. I don’t mind the snuggles, but I need him to find comfort in something that makes him feel safe and secure in his crib. We recently discovered that if we lay the blanket on the crib with the fuzzy side up and lay him on top of it, he doesn’t resist being put down as much and tends to sleep better that way too…again, not the solution to our sleep woes, but it helps.
Used daily since his first day home, this sheep is the best white noise soother. The mother’s heartbeat was great in the first few weeks, the ocean waves are our preferred sounds now. It has a 23 or 45 minute timer and we use it when we put him to sleep. We turn on the waves at the beginning of his nap/bedtime routine to indicate that it’s time to sleep soon.
Relax Melodies app on Google Play and Apple Store
You’ll find something on here that will be the magic sleeping potion for you or your kids. For Owen, it’s the butterfly tune. Over and over and over and over and over and over…do do do do do, do do do dee do, ding, do do do do do, do do, bum bum…
Disana wool overpants, aka Owen’s sleeping pants
He’s a super wetter and leaks out of his diaper often during the night. We use the Huggies Overnites and he still would wake up soaked. We tried cloth diapers at night, but they were just too bulky with the massive bamboo insert we had to use. So I bought these wool overpants and slip them on over his diaper at night. His pajamas fit over them just fine and they keep him nice and warm and dry. A leaky diaper is just one less thing to interfere with precious sleep.
I’m talking about a regular old exercise stability ball. It was great during the last week of pregnancy, but little did I know, it would be a lifesaver for a baby who prefers to be bounced rather than rocked or swayed. It saves my hips, knees, back, improves my posture and it helps put him to sleep.
When we travel, when I go to the store, when Owen’s being clingy – this thing swoops in and saves my sanity. Every time.
Travel Booster Seat
We have whatever version that I purchased at a German store, but any will do. Perfect for a quick meal in a hotel room, on a train, in an airport, when the restaurant doesn’t have a high chair, we never travel without it.
While I’m still head over heals in love with my Stevie bag, this bag is much more convenient for travel. It’s incredibly tiny (which I actually complain about) but it limits us to what we can pack and therefore we end up bringing just what we need and nothing more. Plus, Alex prefers to carry it over Kate Spade. And he looks so good doing so.
Not a necessity, but it’s so stinking cute. It’s Owen’s carry-on when we fly – he keeps his toys and books in it. He giggles and laughs at it every time he sees it.
Also, check out this post: baby must-haves.
What are your must have baby/toddler items?
Previous 10 things posts:
10+2 things: Memories from 2014
Owen’s 1st Birthday
2014 Holiday Gift Guide
our growin’ Owen is 10 months old!
reasons why I didn’t write a September 10 things post
homemade baby food