This isn’t a “mom blog,” so I try not to talk about my son too often, but I also know that as parents we can use all the helpful tricks and tips we can get.
Now that my son has become a full-blown toddler, I wanted to quickly share a few of my favorite things we’ve been using lately. I hope it will help my readers who are fellow parents or parents-to-be! Many of these items are helpful for babies, too, so they’d make great gifts for anyone you might know with a baby on the way– they will be enjoyed for years!
1. Sound Machine. This one is must-have from the very beginning. Babies are used to sleeping in the womb, where it’s very noisy, so this sound machine keeps that familiar noise around them while also drowning out any other sounds in your house. We use the “white noise” setting the most often, though when he was really little he also liked the “heart beat” sound.
2. Big Exercise Ball. I got this ball when I was pregnant, as I heard that bouncing on it regularly might help my labor move along more quickly. I’m glad I did, because my labor and delivery did go about as smoothly as can be expected! But, this ball has been even more helpful since our baby arrived. Bouncing on this ball was an easy way for my husband to bond with our son in the beginning (when he only wanted me), and bouncing was also part of our son’s bedtime routine for the first 18 months of his life– it worked better for us than rocking him in our glider. And now that he’s a toddler, our son is also obsessed with rolling this ball around our house!
3. The softest crib sheet ever. My sister-in-law told me about these sheets, and they have made such a difference for our son! He used to fall asleep in our arms, and then we would gently transfer him to his crib… but sometimes that would startle him awake and we’d have to start the process all over. With these sheets, the transition is much easier because they don’t get cold the way other sheets do
4. Baby Video Monitor. We’ve used this Motorola video monitor since the very beginning and we LOVE it. The picture and sound are so clear, and I love how you can pan across the room, in case your child moves during the night. (Our son used to sleep in our bed, so this feature was really handy!) Now that our son is so mobile, I feel even better knowing I can always check to see if he’s learned how to climb out of his crib yet. (Crossing our fingers that he doesn’t.)
5. Luna Lullaby Pillow. This was another recommendation I received as a new mom, and I feel that it’s my duty to pass it along– it’s the BEST pillow to use when nursing a toddler! The size and shape are just perfect, and we’ve been using this one for over a year now. (The My Breast Friend Pillow is still my favorite for nursing a newborn, though.)
1. Baby Babble. We shielded our son from the TV for the first year of his life, but shortly after his first birthday he was introduced to a couple of age-appropriate shows by my mother while she was babysitting for us. The Baby Babble series is one of my favorite discoveries she made, because it was developed by two speech pathologists to help develop your child’s language skills. Our son’s language EXPLODED soon after he started watching these DVDs. They are filmed as if a speech therapist is working with your child, so I’m a big fan of all three shows in the series.
2. Baby Signing Time. This is another DVD that has greatly helped our son’s language development. Though he can’t say as many words as he’d like to yet, he can sign SO many words thanks to this DVD series. I’m convinced this has reduced his frustration and toddler tantrums, because he can clearly communicate with me! It’s important to watch this show with your child so you know what his unique signs look like– for example, our son’s sign for “banana” looks very similar to the one for “train.”
3. Books! His attention span can be pretty short these days, but my son’s favorite books right now are Goodnight Moon, Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, The Day The Crayons Quit, and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (my childhood favorite).
Squeasy Snacker. I’ve mentioned these reusable smoothie bottles several times on this blog, because I use them ALL the time! We currently own four of these 6-ounce bottles, so that I only have to make one big batch of smoothie each day for my son. Smoothies are my favorite way to sneak extra nutrition into his day, and these silicone bottles give him the independence he needs to feed himself without making a mess of my car and my home.
1. Balls. Like most toddlers, our son is OBSESSED with balls right now. His current favorites are these colorful balls, which we use to make a homemade “ball pit” in his pack-and-play, and this ball tower that we were given as a hand-me-down, and this ball popper.
2. Tunnel. Our son was gifted this collapsable tunnel from IKEA for his first birthday, and he enjoys it on a daily basis– both collapsed and expanded as a tunnel.
3. Cars. These are another favorite! We like to turn our couch cushions into a slide, and roll each car down them for an activity that keeps my son’s attention for more than three minutes. (Quite a feat!)
4. Musical Ride-On Car. This is a fun car to keep indoors to get my son’s energy out. I love that the seat lifts up to reveal a compartment where you can hide special toys!
5. Mega Bloks. Not only are these blocks fun for stacking, but we also love using them to discuss colors. My son got these for his first birthday, but now that he’s almost two he really loves building towers on his own!
6. Water Table. Now that it’s warmer outside, this water table is all my son wants to play with! It’s also great for indoor use, without the water inside.
I hope our favorite items help you and any parents you may know. Please feel free to share your baby and toddler favorites in the comments below!