1) Mr. Clean Magic Erasers-You may need this much earlier than when you have a toddler, but I list this first because this was the very product that inspired me to write a blog post on helpful things. I had never heard of this and my husband suggested buying them finally after I’d tried all kinds of things to get the stains from pureed baby food off the walls, etc. I assumed we would have to paint over it and were waiting until the time we could afford the time and money for paint. So there it sat (especially in one spot that was obvious and glaring and sat there for months, and yes people came over in that time period and saw it, no doubt.) I wish I had taken a before and after picture (I guess I can share an after.) Just imagine that it used to look like an abstract painting, basically! (only slightly exaggerating..it was messy.)
2) Large Playpen-We just have the regular kind that we use from time to time that is in a hexagonal shape (Toys R Us) and it comes with stakes that you can anchor it into the ground for backyard play. I’ve mostly used it for when I’m cooking, to keep him in one area at various ages from 1-3. My nephew has one with toys attached to it and its more colorful (don’t remember where it’s from, but some sort of containment larger than a Pack N Play is nice to have.) The first one folds up, but I think you have to take the second one apart.
3) DVDs (or something to watch) We like DVDs because Ethan does, basically. He likes to select the one he wants to watch by looking at the picture and font on the DVD case. That is also something I have found MOST useful when I’m cooking and need him to stay in one room. He also has learned a lot from his DVDs, just by hearing the singing and talking and some are more educational than others but either way he gets good language practice and dancing practice in.
4) Booster seat-The main benefit I can see from this is it saves space. That’s really important living in an apartment. Also maybe feeling even more part of the family meal as an older child by using the tabletop, which brings me to the next suggestion…
5) A clean enough to eat off of table each mealtime-Maybe you are one of those parents who refuses to let your kids eat off the table even from a very young age, but since trying new foods and eating has been such an issue at times, I still let my 3-year-old (a young 3-year-old) eat off the table if that is where it lands or he pours it. It is just inevitable in our home, so I just make sure the table is cleaned with soap some time before meals so it’s no ta big deal if he eats straight off the table. I think he sometimes does it because I put the food in a bowl when maybe he needed a plate, or even when on a plate he just feels its easier to get his utensils in the food straight off the table. I don’t know-but I’m a practical, bottom-line person and if he will eat something new, something with a veggie, or just SOMETHING, then he can eat anywhere off the table for now. Not to be bossy, but especially if your kid has delays in OT or anything regarding meal times, you may want to consider letting go of some of the strict rules go in order to get your kid to learn to eat well. Take that for what its worth; our firstborn is only 3, after all. He has made progress, though.
6) A tiny stool (got ours at Toys R Us)- This is good for the obvious; assisting to wash hands,etc. but you may just not think about it at first. If your toddler’s legs are long enough, maybe to be used alongside a potty seat ring like…
7)Cushie Tushie from Mommy’s Helper (sold at Walmart) We have tried a few different potty chairs (2 I guess) as well as had Ethan straddle the adult toilet, but the Cushie Tushie has been the best so far. He will sit there longer (because its more comfy, hence the name) and it is easier to clean than the “cushy” seat that was attached to a small potty chair on the ground. Again, this is space-saving and it comes with little hooks for the wall (also a ring so you can grab a part that does NOT have pee on it. (If you made it this far to having toddler though, having pee on your hands is probably no big deal to you anymore.)
8)Kids CDs -Since our kid is such a lover of music (especially the Wiggles!) having kids CDs in the car helps me to not have to listen to whining and makes for a more pleasant car ride-short or long. If my kid will listen to the radio, sounds good to me provided its clean music. As he got older, though, he grew more impatient and had to be in the car more often and longer to get to his developmental center. So Wiggles CD it is.