As a mom of two active toddlers, I’ve found that some items are absolutely crucial while others were unnecessary. I wish someone had given me this list of products before I was in the throngs of toddlerdom.
Here are my Must-Have Items For Active Toddlers:
Kitchen Helper Stool System – Guidecraft Kitchen Helper
I’ll never forget when my childcare provider told me that my son was the most “active” kid she’s ever had. What? This woman has run a daycare for 20 years! Needless to say, there’s not much “down time” in my house. From 11 months, he was running everywhere in our house. It was impossible to get him to sit still unless he was strapped in a car seat.
The Kitchen Helper changed that. It’s a learning tower that created a space in my home where he could stand/dance/wiggle but be contained. Since 18 months, the kitchen helper has been a staple at our counter. It’s a place to play with play dough, draw, help Mommy or Daddy, and sometimes eat a meal standing up! You’ve probably heard of standing desks for adults? This is that for kids. The kitchen helper has created a place where we can do “kitchen helper activities” and also confine certain messy activities (like slime and painting) to one place. I also love that the height has allowed him to be a part of the adult world. I check the mail, Dad cooks dinner, and our toddlers play with matchbox cars all at the center island.
Now that my youngest is 14 months old, she is able to use it as well because unlike some other tower systems, this one has a removable net barrier so she won’t fall out. It also folds up and slips into a closet or against a wall when we aren’t using it. This is my favorite toddler product in my home and it has made our lives so much better.
Balance Bike – Woom Bikes
When my son was around 18 months, I found a used budget-brand balance bike for him to try. It was cheap but heavy. My toddler couldn’t lift it when it fell and it was too high for him.
As summer approached (and my son approached 3 years old), I realized that if I wanted him to spend his summer active, outside, and with a little more independence, it was worth upgrading. After extensive research, I decided to get him the Woom 1 balance bike. It is AMAZING. My son immediately loved it and literally will choose it over any other activity (including TV). It’s light enough that he can lift it, toss it out of a ditch, or flip it around. It also has a hand break, which is not only a
great practice tool (and uncommon on a balance bike), but a great safety tool. Our street is on a hill and by the second use, he figured out he could control his speed without dragging his feet.
What’s more, the Woom 1 is geared toward young toddlers – age 18 mo – 2 years, so next year his sister will get it, and he will upgrade to either the Woom 2, larger balance bike or even a Woom pedal bike. The balance bike is a must have for enjoying the outdoors. As an avid hiker, I’ve been able to take my toddler to some flatter nature trails. He bikes and I walk. It’s my favorite outside product for toddlers.
Sun Protection – Floppy Hat and Sunglasses by Polarized MiniShades
Both my parents had melanoma so I’m pretty freaked out about skin protection. I also don’t love slathering myself or kids in chemicals. As my child’s pediatrician says, “I’m a fan of sunscreen…but I’m an even bigger fan of covering up.” Therefore, my first line of defense against the sun is sun hats and sunglasses. When it comes to a hat, the floppier the better – they shade more skin and easily crumple up into a purse or pocket. Make sure it has UV protection! I also prefer hats with chin straps – one more line of defense against the toddler ripping it off.
A recent study reported that eyelid skin is thin and most vulnerable to risk of UV damage, yet most people don’t put sunblock on the eyelids. “Sunglasses with UV filters can help protect the missed areas.” I recommend the brand MiniShades. These adorable sunglasses are specifically built for babies and toddlers and come in two sizes – 0-3 years and 3-7 years. The polarized lenses offer 100% UV protection, and before you worry about losing their nice new pair – each pair comes with their “Hide n’ Seek warranty” which protects you against lost or broken shades. My one year old and three year old both love these and will keep them on!
Potty Training – Oh Crap! book and Potty Seat by BabyBjorn
I was cocky going into potty training. After all, I’m a teacher. If I can teach nuclear fusion to middle schoolers, I can teach a two year-old to pee in the potty, right? Wrong. I finally enlisted help of a book – Oh Crap! Potty Training. I followed it to the letter including using author Jamie Glowacki’s non-sponsored suggestion of the BabyBjorn potty seat. Prior to reading the book, I had tried three different types of seat inserts and potties to no avail. Her method combined with the easy access of the BabyBjorn helped me be successful.
My (dare I say) genius move was to have one that lived in the back of my hatchback. When we are out and about, I don’t have to rely on finding a public restroom in a hurry. He just hops in the back, I close the hatch, and he pees! He’s used the potty in parking lots everywhere from the playground to the grocery store, and since it’s a hatchback, he has privacy when I close the back. The book and BabyBjorn potty chairs helped me potty train in less than a month!