Toddler Stuffs

November 25, 2014

When you’re pregnant and anticipating a baby shower, you usually create a baby registry (or two). It’s a good way to figure out ALL the baby gear and other assorted crap you will need for your baby’s first 6 months of life. I wrote a post on this a couple years back. Unfortunately, most of it will only be useful for about that long – 6 months – before your baby outgrows it and you pack it away until the next baby comes along (or you sell it if you’re done with babies).

But then what? Now you have an older infant or a soon-to-be-new-toddler and what kind of gear/crap do they need? Thankfully, much less than newborns need but there are still quite a few things that are nice to have. Here is my run down of what we used and found useful for our kids. (Disclaimer: These are just the products that WE used and what we thought of them.)

All photos link back to their source.

Convertible Car Seat

Your infant will likely outgrow his/her infant seat in height long before they exceed the weight limit. More importantly, while you *technically* can put a 30 lb. baby in an infant seat, good luck lugging that thing around when they’re that big! It’s hard enough when they’re tiny!

So the next step is the Convertible Car Seat. We made this switch with our kids when they were around 7-8 months old. The AAP recommends that children ride rear-facing until at least age 2 so you will want to look for a seat that can be used rear-facing and then can later be turned forward-facing. Unlike infant seats with buckets that snap into bases, convertible seats are just one piece installed directly so you will need one for each car that the child will be riding in.

There are plenty of seats at all price points and they all meet the safety requirements by law, so it’s really a matter of budget and preference (and size as some seats fit better in some cars than others). We have 2 Britax Marathon 70’s – one for each of our cars. Our smaller car is a Toyota Corolla and this seat fits fine.

britax-marathon-70-33-f3f-l

Britax Marathon 70

 

Stroller

If you were using a Snap-N-Go type stroller with the infant seat, you will certainly need a new stroller. I must admit that I am not very knowledgeable on strollers. We have The First Years Jet umbrella stroller and it’s a decent stroller. We use the stroller very infrequently so it would not be worth it to us to invest in a more expensive stroller. We also have our Chicco Cortina travel system stroller. That’s a great stroller with a nice big basket but it’s big and heavy. A friend is giving me a hand-me-down Sit and Stand double stroller which I am very excited about even though, again, we will use it so rarely. There are TONS of strollers out there and the price range is huge ($20-$2000+). Chicco has a lightweight stroller (Liteway) that gets good reviews and is not as heavy as the Cortina.

Teething

This is a fun one. (not really) Teeth can start coming in as early as 3-4 months of age and continue to poke through for the next 2 years or so. Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to ease their pain during this time which, honestly, just sucks all the way around. But there are lots of things you can try and maybe you’ll get lucky!

There are teething toys that can be put into the freezer and then gnawed on by baby to soothe their gums. We also tried frozen wash cloths and frozen purees.

Bright Starts Chill and Teethe

Bright Starts Chill and Teethe

My kids used pacifiers a lot when they were teething.

NUK Classic Silicone BPA Free Fashion Pacifier

NUK Classic Silicone BPA Free Fashion Pacifier

When all else fails, and especially at night, we turned to acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is for babies 6 months or older. Check with your pediatrician for the correct dosage.

Pediacare Infants Acetaminophen

Pediacare Infants Acetaminophen

Motrin Pain Reliever/Fever Reducer Infants' Drops

Motrin Pain Reliever/Fever Reducer Infants’ Drops

Baby Food

There are lots of different approaches you can take to introducing your child to foods. We started out somewhat traditionally with cereals (rice and oatmeal) around 4-6 months. We then started trying purees. We started with vegetables, and then moved to fruits, trying each new food for 4 days to allow for any food allergies to show up. I didn’t make my own purees so I can’t comment on that process, but we fed our kids mostly Gerber foods.

Gerber Baby Food

Gerber Baby Food

Once my kids were a tiny bit older, we gave them these baby food pouches. They are perfect for throwing in the diaper bag, but honestly, Leah gets one for breakfast everyday. They are so easy and also a perfect way to make sure she is getting fruits and veggies. We use all different brands including Sprout, Gerber Organics, Beech Nut, Goya, and Plum Organics. Babies R Us sometimes has great sales on their store brand pouches so I try to stock up then.

Gerber Baby Food Pouch

Gerber Baby Food Pouch

Feeder Bibs

Once your baby starts eating food, it’s going to be messy. These feeder bibs are a must have! The pocket is great to catch dropped food and they are easy to wipe down or wash in the sink.

Bumkins Waterproof SuperBib

Bumkins Waterproof SuperBib

Sippy Cups

The First Years Color Change Insulated Sippy Cups are hands-down my favorite sippy cups. We also have the trainer cup version. They have just TWO PARTS (cup and lid), they’re EASY TO CLEAN, and they DON’T LEAK. They are also insulated and change color so you can tell if the drink is cold or not.

The

The First Years Insulated Sippy

With Caelan, we had better luck with straw cups at the beginning and these Munchkin ones were pretty good. But they had a lot of parts and they leaked some (as most straw cups do) so as soon as he could use a regular sippy, we switched.

Munchkin Click Lock Flip Straw Cup

Munchkin Click Lock Flip Straw Cup

Snack Cups

These snack cups are great for Cheerios, Goldfish, puffs, or any other small snack. They don’t 100% prevent a mess but it’s certainly far better than handing them an open bowl of snacks!

Munchkin Snack Catcher

Munchkin Snack Catcher

Booster Seat

We have one of these for each kid at each set of grandparents house. They are small, inexpensive (and frequently available second-hand), and perfect for travel or grandma’s house. We also had one at home and we started using that for Caelan instead of the high chair around 18 months or so.

Fisher-Price Booster Seat

Fisher-Price Booster Seat

Feeding

We use a lot of The First Years Take & Toss stuff. We use the sippy cups with lids (Caelan, at age 3, uses them without lids), we used the utensils, and I use the bowls with lids. We also use sectioned plates (any brand).

The First Years Take and Toss

The First Years Take and Toss

We have a few of these suction bowls. They sort of work. The kids can pull them off the table/tray so it won’t help you there, but it does give the bowl a little bit of stability.

Munchkin Stay Put Suction Bowls

Munchkin Stay Put Suction Bowls

For restaurant trips, we use these adhesive placemats. They are awesome. Babies will eat off the table for awhile until they are ready to use plates/bowls (without throwing them) so these placemats are perfect.

Neat Solutions Table Topper

Neat Solutions Table Topper

High Chair/Shopping Cart Cover

I’m including this because we used it and it worked well. However, we used it with Caelan and not with Leah, so what does that tell you? Kind of a first-time-Mom thing, in my opinion 🙂 Ours was this same brand but slightly different. The one I’m linking here is better than the one we used.

Bright Starts Shopping Cart Cover

Bright Starts Shopping Cart Cover

Baby Gates

What you need in the baby gate department really depends on your home. We have 5 gates – 4 different types – and they are all useful in different situations. We have also moved them around a fair amount as our needs changed.

This gate has been the most versatile.  It’s a pressure mounted gate but it has the option of installing it with brackets so that it can swing open like a door. We have used the gate both ways and I like it a lot.

Safety First Perfect Fit Gate

Safety First Perfect Fit Gate

We also have this gate which we use at the top of the stairs that lead to our basement. We need to let our cats have access to the basement and this is a great solution. This is a pressure mounted gate, but it has brackets that can be installed so that the gate can’t be pushed out of place. My daughter will grab the bars and shake the gate vigorously and it doesn’t budge! The only thing is, our kids could probably squeeze through that cat door if they really wanted to. They have not tried, but it’s technically possible so I wanted to mention it. We also have another gate very similar to this, but minus the cat door.

Carlson Extra-Tall Walk-Thru Gate with Pet Door

Carlson Extra-Tall Walk-Thru Gate with Pet Door

The last type of gate we have is a super yard style gate. It basically creates a space in which you can corral your child or it allows you to block off a large space. It has 6 panels that can be bent different ways (or removed) so that you can create whatever shape you need. We have used this to block off a fireplace, a TV cabinet, and currently we use it to block our wide staircase.

Northstate Superyard Playgate

Northstate Superyard Playgate

Cabinet/Door Locks

Like gates, your need for locks is going to vary depending on your home (and your comfort level). In our old house, we put locks on our “dangerous” kitchen cabinets (those containing cleaning products, knives, etc) but not on others.

We used the Safety 1st Magnetic Locking System locks in our kitchen. They open with a magnetic key so that they are not visible from the outside of the cabinet.

Safety 1st Magnetic Locking System Complete

Safety 1st Magnetic Locking System Complete

When it came to baby-proofing, we sort of waited to see what our kids were getting into before we decided what we should try to lock up. In addition to the magnetic locks, we’ve also used a variety of other types of locks including the following:

Safety 1st Adjustable Multi-Purpose Strap

Safety 1st Adjustable Multi-Purpose Strap

Mommy's Helper Slide-Lok Bi-Fold Door Lock

Mommy’s Helper Slide-Lok Bi-Fold Door Lock

Safety 1st Oven Front Lock

Safety 1st Oven Front Lock

Dreambaby Sliding Locks

Dreambaby Sliding Locks

Furniture Straps

We have used furniture straps to secure heavy furniture to the wall, including bookshelves and dressers. It’s hard to believe a toddler could topple a heavy piece of furniture, but they could. We used these for our furniture and they seem very sturdy.

Safety 1st Furniture Wall Straps

Safety 1st Furniture Wall Straps

Toys

An exersaucer or a jumperoo is a great thing to have for an older infant (age 4-10 months). It allows them to be upright so they can see their surroundings better and of course it lets them jump! It gives them a little bit of mobility before they really are mobile. We had the Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo and it was wildly popular with both of my kids (and now with my nephew). 2,400+ positive reviews on Amazon can’t be wrong 😉

Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo

Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo

An activity table was also a hit with my kids. We didn’t have this exact one, but a similar one. It’s great for the sitting and assisted-standing phase.

Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Fun with Friends Musical Table

Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Fun with Friends Musical Table

Toys that can be pushed around are also great for pre-walkers. We have this ride-on/push toy and both kids enjoy it.

Playskool Step Start Walk 'n Ride

Playskool Step Start Walk ‘n Ride

Other toys in the 6-12 month age range that were popular with my kids were things that could be put into and taken out of a container, anything with buttons, toy cell phones, toy remotes, etc.

Shoes

My kids were around 7-8 months old when we first started putting shoes on them. Part of that was due to the season (it was winter). They had Robeez. Robeez are soft-soled shoes that are perfect for crawlers and cruisers (and even before then). I found that they run big so my kids wore the 0-6 month size perfectly at 7-10 months.

Robeez

Robeez

 


Leah Caroline: Months 12-15

November 3, 2014

Leah has pretty much just jumped head first into being a toddler! It’s crazy how different she is now than she was just 3 months ago.

First of all, Miss Leah took her first steps at her 1 year doctor’s appointment which was just 3 days after her birthday. The doctor had already left the room, of course, so he didn’t get to witness her milestone. After that, it took her about 2 weeks to really start using walking as her primary mode of getting around. Just shy of 14 months, she started running. She had incentive, of course, in the form of Caelan running off with some toy or something else that Leah wants. She tries as hard as she can to keep up with him and that definitely requires running!

Walking

Walking

We went on a family beach trip to the Outer Banks a week after Leah’s birthday. It was her first trip to the beach and she seemed to have a great time. She did the traditional beach napping, plus she also seemed to enjoy playing in the sand and the surf. At this age, she was too young to be frightened by any of the above so it was great to see her having fun!

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Mixing it up

Playing in the surf

Playing in the surf

The other major milestone in the past 3 months has been her speech. By her first birthday, she had about 3 words that we recognized. Now at 15 months, she has 15: all done, uh oh, hi, up, Dada, again, Jake, more, bye bye, milk, all gone, Connor/Caelan, waffle, paci, and Mama. Notice that Mama was last 🙂 Caelan was the same way – he didn’t say Mama until 15 months as well! She also seems to understand quite a lot. She’s able to follow simple instructions (“sit down”, “come here”, “get your shoes”) and she understands some of the rules we have for her, even if she’s not great at following them. We haven’t really started time out with her yet, but at this point we are usually redirecting her or removing her from certain situations. For example, she loves climbing up onto the hearth, which we allow as long as she sits. If she stands up, she gets kicked off. I remember this phase with Caelan and it takes a loooooonnnngggg time for these rules and consequences to sink in, but they will eventually.

Leah will also mimic some of our behaviors including blowing kisses, giving kisses, waving “hello” and “good bye”, giving high fives and fist bumps, and I’ve even seen her grab a bag to put over her arm and then wave and say “bye bye” as if she’s leaving with her purse! She also dances. She LOVES to dance!

Cruising

Cruising

We’ve started looking at picture books with her and trying to teach her animal sounds. She can’t yet tell you what sound a kitty cat makes, but she’ll tell you that sharks growl and it’s hilarious 🙂

Leah’s personality is really coming out and she is such a ham. I don’t want to say that she’s “spirited” or “difficult” because I don’t think she is. She just has an older brother who was the poster baby for an easy going baby and compared to him, Leah is a little bit more animated. But she’s a decent sleeper, she plays independently, she is NOT a picky eater at all, and she’s been pretty go-with-the-flow with all the changes in the past few months. But she’s loud and she’s dramatic! If you take something away from her – omg – she will throw herself on the floor and wail. But if you just ignore her she’ll get over herself in a few seconds and go back to whatever she was doing.

Having a blast

Having a blast

Sleep habits are ever-changing. For the most part, Leah has been sleeping through the night about 9-10 hours. Occasionally she wakes up and cries but it’s usually just for a minute and then she’s back asleep. Now waking up in the morning has been the tricky part lately. In the past month or 2, she has decided that 5:30am is an awesome time to wake up. I pretty much hate it! For naps, she’s been transitioning (awkwardly) from 2 naps down to 1. About a month ago, we really tried to push her nap out to after lunch so that she’d be getting 1 substantial mid-day nap. For the most part it worked. She still takes 2 naps occasionally but we try to keep her on the new schedule. And it’s great to put both kids down for 1 nap at the same time. However…Leah is only sleeping about 1.5 hours and Caelan doesn’t sleep at all…Oh well, we’ll take whatever quiet time we can get.

Sleep

Sleep

It’s been a busy 3 months for teeth! When Leah turned 1 she had only 4 teeth, but now she has 12! They all, especially the molars, just seemed to come in all at once. Honestly, Leah wasn’t as much of a basketcase about the molars as I expected. I didn’t even notice they were coming in until I happened to check one day and 2 were already in! It seems to be those front teeth that really gave her trouble. The last one came in after the molars did and she was back to being a whiny mess for the few days before it came through.

Upside down Leah!

Upside down Leah!

Leah is still getting 1 very small bottle a day at bedtime but it’s whole milk, not formula. We phased out the formula somewhere between 13 and 14 months. We will probably drop the bedtime bottle in the next few weeks. For meals, Leah eats whatever we’re eating, usually. She’s not picky at all – she seems to love everything! She especially likes peas, grapes, pears, and of course macaroni and cheese. I started giving her a fork/spoon sometimes around 14 months. She had already been using them a bit at daycare and she’s actually not bad with them. But oh man, she’s a messy eater, even without the utensils. Food everywhere.

Eating with a fork

Eating with a fork

Now that Leah is a real toddler and she can run and play, she and Caelan are having a blast together. There are arguments (shrieking, mostly) over toys, but for the most part, they play well together. Since Leah is still little, we sometimes have to step in and make sure Caelan isn’t accidentally being too rough, but overall it’s really nice to just watch them play together. There are plenty of moments where I get to sit on the couch and watch them call for each other, squeal, run and play together and I think THIS makes it all worth it. There are plenty of hard parts to having 2 kids, but the good parts are just SO good. These kids have a live-in BFF, how cool is that?! Of course I expect them to fight and have all the normal sibling issues and who knows if they will remain BFF’s forever, but right now they are having a blast.

Siblings

Siblings

We are pretty firmly moving out of baby territory now. I’ve unloaded most of our baby gear and the kids’ outgrown clothes. We’ve left formula behind us with bottles to follow soon. Of course Leah will be in diapers awhile longer, but we’re definitely in toddler territory now. I love this age because it is fascinating and amazing and exciting to watch them learn – and so quickly!! They are little sponges, just soaking up everything around them. It’s also an exhausting age because Leah is old enough to be mobile and to play independently but she’s not old enough to understand limits or know what might be dangerous. We’ve blocked stairs and closed doors to rooms she shouldn’t be in, but otherwise she has free reign on the main level. We kept Caelan on a much tighter leash at this age and we also had a much smaller space. It’s something of a relief to just keep her in ear shot rather than following her every move, but we still have to be careful.

Caelan and Leah at 15 Months Old

Caelan and Leah at 15 Months Old

While Leah IS starting to talk and to be able to communicate with us, there is still a lot we don’t understand and that can be frustrating for both her and us. I’m eager to get to the point where I can really talk to her as a small child and not a baby, but we are a little ways off from that. And I don’t want to rush her either. I love that she does things her own way and in her own time. She’s sweet and funny and enthusiastic and really just such a joy. I’m excited to hear her made up words and funny expressions and to help her learn in the next few months (and forevermore, really!). 15-18 months is when Caelan really had a vocabulary explosion and started talking a lot and as much as I do try not to compare the kids, I am hoping her talking takes off too! Either way, I am excited! The holidays are coming up and this year Leah will at least have some idea about the festivities and that should be a great time 🙂

Happy 15 Months Bugs!

Happy 15 Months Bugs!

Leah’s 15 Month Stats

  • Wearing 12-18 month tops and bottoms, 18 month sleepers, size 5 shoes
  • Size 4 diapers
  • Weight: we’ll find out today!
  • Length: we’ll find out today!
  • Takes 1 bottle a day at bedtime (3 oz)
  • Loves macaroni and cheese, pacis 😦 , filling and emptying containers, retrieving shoes, playing in blankets, taking off her socks, and as always her brother ❤