28 Toddler Essentials: Must haves for parents  In 2023

Toddler Essentials

Are you feeling excited and yet absolutely terrified now that your little baby is growing into a toddler?  We know exactly how you feel.  We have had toddlers in our home and wow, their energy is so time consuming! And mentally exhausting! 

There are so many “experts” that seem to have the quick fix for raising a busy toddler but…let’s be real that’s not always the case. 

We are not saying we have all the answers but we would love to share things we have researched and experienced for ourselves. With the right tools, parenting a child in the toddler stage can be so much more manageable…and even enjoyable! 

 Many of these items on the toddler essential items list have become a staple in our home of young children.

 With a little hard work (ok, maybe a lot), a good attitude, and the right tools, you will find yourself loving being the parent of a toddler! (Well, at least most days). 

What Are the items on the toddler essentials list?

Here are the toddler essentials!  

Parenting Program

Positive Parenting Solutions logo

Sometimes, we wish there was just a cookie cutter recipe for effectively raising kids, don’t you? Unfortunately that is just not the case. Our kids mean so much to us and we just don’t want to mess up!

Who needs hand holding when it comes to knowing how to parent…that would be us! This is where a good parenting program can help.

 There are many great parenting programs out there, you just need to find the right one for you and your family.  Our favorite is Positive Parenting Solutions because it gives practical tools for all sorts of parenting situations.

Monitor

Moonybaby monitor

We (especially Jessica the mama bear) feel strongly about being able to see and hear our kids while they are sleeping or playing. It brings a great sense of comfort knowing your little ones are safe. 

Besides, you never know when your toddler will ask for yet another glass of water in the middle of the night! We don’t want to miss that! 

Truly though, a baby monitor has been a life saver for keeping a watchful eye on our little ones. We have a monitor in both our kids rooms as well as in our playroom. 

When we travel, we take one of the monitors with us so we can put them up wherever we are vacationing. 

Monitors like Moonbaby split screen allows you to both SEE and HEAR your little one. We use the moonbaby and have found it to work great!

Diaper Bag

Diaper bags are a MUST when having toddlers. Lets be real, everywhere you go there is bound to be something your little one needs and you don’t want to have to carry it all in our hands! One of the best kinds we have found are the backpack style ones, and hey, if you get a neutral color maybe even dad will feel cool wearing it!

Car seat

We have three different car seats and let us tell you finding the right one can make all the difference! 

They take up a significant amount of space in your car so it’s key to make the most of that car seat. 

A trending car seat style these days is the rotating car seat which allows you to have your child facing you while you buckle them and then rotate the seat back to its desired position for driving! Such easy access for loading and unloading our ever growing children!

The difficulty of getting kids in and out of car seats makes the rotating car seat SO appealing! 

Honestly, making car seats easier to access and install is so important to us that it was the biggest reason why we bought a Chrysler Pacifica van for our family. 

Stroller

Ok, this may be overkill but we have multiple (3 to be exact) strollers. Alex says that’s too many, Jessica says they each have their purpose! 

 We have an umbrella stroller which is small, easily compatible and easily transported. 

A graco car seat stroller which allows us to take the infant car seat out of the car and hook it right into the stroller…convenience is the best!

And a big yet compact double stroller that allows us to transport two kids at once! Locked and loaded baby! 

Strollers range from large to small, stylish to practical, and simple to complex. Don’t worry though, we can walk you through picking the best stroller for your needs! 

Toddler bed

Toddler bed

Que sad music…your little baby is moving out of your room! Man they grow up so fast

On second thought party music!

WOW, having our room back to ourselves is so amazing! 

As your toddler starts to sleep independently we have found getting them a toddler bed helps them feel empowered! As our 2 year old once said: “my own very bed!!!” Toddler speech is the best! 

If you plan on having more kids, a toddler bed is an investment that can be utilized for future little ones 

That is, if your toddler doesn’t inflict too much damage on the bed before their sibling comes along.  

Black out curtains

We love black out curtains in our home! For the first few months of life, babies can sleep anywhere and at any time, but as they grow it gets harder for toddlers to nap, especially if they have FOMO (fear of mission out). Black out curtains make their ability to fall asleep so much easier and sets the tone that it is sleep time! Game changer for sure!

Toddler proof toolkit

maisi Baby proofing toolkit

Speaking of your toddler inflicting damage on their bed, you will find (if you haven’t already) they will terrorize every part of your house!

We have installed magnetic cabinet door locks. This   prevents cabinets doors braking from being swung open with toddler force and keeps the cabinet contents safe!

There are all kinds of toddler safety tools, some of which come in toolkits to include door handle covers, cabinet locks, electric outlet covers, and the like. 

To keep your toddler and your home safe, toddler proofing is a must! 

Security Door Lock

security door lock

This one is a favorite for us and so many friends visiting have loved this feature too!

Toddlers seem to find such joy in escaping the house, but talk about heart attack for us parents! This security door lock is awesome and works so effectively in keeping kids inside. Put it up high and kids will struggle to ever figure out how to get it open. We love how it screws into the side of the door frame instead of on the visible outside, so once you remove it, it won’t be so noticeable.

Baby Gates

Another lifesaving item for anyone with stairs would be a baby gate. Trust me, this will save so many heart stopping and fearful moments as a parent. Portable ones are great since you can easily remove them and take them to grandma’s house if needed!

Potty Training Watch

A potty training watch can be a huge tool in potty training success. 

In the early stages of potty training, helping your child to make routine trips to the bathroom helps them to have a higher chance of success. 

Successful pees and poops on the toilet=confidence!

A potty training watch is a tool a child can call their own which helps them feel more excited when it is “time” to go try to use the potty. 

The watch is essentially just a glorified timer but it is your child’s personal timer that they have ownership over! 

Potty Training Seat

Toddler potty seat

Potty training seats are a HUGE must! 

It is built for your child’s size, which helps their bodies to be in optimal position for having bowel movements. It is less intimidating because it is not as big as the mommy/daddy potty. 

Plus, it is not very fun to try and catch your toddler as they are falling in the adult sized toilet! 

Early on it may even be a good idea to have multiple toddler potties for you to have in multiple locations in the home. Your toddler is learning to recognize bowel and bladder ques and having to run to the bathroom may result in accidents throughout the home. Cleaning poo and pee off the carpet is NOT fun! 

Potty Training Guide

Oh Crap Potty Trainning by Jamie Glowacki

Just thinking about potty training makes us cringe! Honestly, one of the hardest parts of the toddler/young school age years.

 Having a good game plan in the form of a training program has given us perspective and motivation! 

Potty training is a mentally taxing part of development for both the child and the parents. It doesn’t have to be if done correctly. 

Oh Crap Potty Training has helped us overcome hurdles and learned how to cope with hurdles we still face! Highly recommend it!

It’s always wise to research the other options out there as well!

Step Stool

Now that your little one has successfully learned how to use the toilet, being able to wash their hands independently will just complete the job! Not only are these helpful with standing at the sink, but they can also be used getting up onto the giant toilet seat once they are ready to graduate from their potty training seat.

Nasal aspirator

NoseFrida

Ok, this one may sound a little gross, it definitely did to us at first!  

Seriously though,  a nasal aspirator clears out your little ones snotty nose much better than the old fashion bulb syringe.  Plus, the nasal aspirators are easily cleaned out and won’t harbor disease like those nasty bulb syringes. 

When your child is sick and you are constantly wiping noses (sometimes we feel like a mom is just a glorified nose and bottom wiper), squirting some saline up their nose and sucking it out with the nasal aspirator works wonders!  

Goodbye boogies and hello clean nose!

Our favorite is the nosefrida

Vitamins

First Day Vitamins

First off, we don’t claim to be experts in the field of vitamins and minerals. Sure, we work in the healthcare field and know somewhat about the importance of vitamins and minerals. But we recommend consulting your doctor and doing your own research, that is what we do!

Most of us, especially with modern diets, have deficiencies in various vitamins. Biostation reports 92% of of the US is deficient in at least some vitamins and minerals! 

For the development of body and brain of our little ones, keeping their vitamins and minerals in balance is a big deal. 

There are so many different vitamin supplements so how do you choose? 

We have done some of our own research and found First Day Vitamins to be a great option for our kids!  

Sippy cups

Munchkin sippy cups

Toddlers love to have their independence (sometimes a little TOO much).  Getting them their own sippy cup can promote independence and help keep them hydrated.

We like to give our kids a cup of water that they carry around the house with them.  That being said, you want to make sure it is a good sippy cup that is leak proof!

Cleaning up spills all over the house is not our idea of fun! 

There are so many different sippy cup varieties and we have tried several.  We like bigger bottles with a foldable straw for when we leave the house.  For around the house and at dinner time we LOVE these ones.

Toddler dishes/utensils

Divided toddler plate

Here is another item to promote independence! 

Toddler dishes and utensils make it so much easier for your kids to feed themselves.  

And in case you didn’t know yet,  toddlers don’t like their food all mixed up.  Getting plates with divided sections is a game changer, and some even have suction cups on the bottom to prevent them for being pushed off the counter by our little ones!

We try and start our young toddlers off with plastic utensils but as they start to become more coordinated medal ended utensils can help them pick up their food easier.  

Whatever you do though, don’t you dare put the meat and the fruit in the same section of the plate!

Silicone Bibs

silicone bibs

We love these bibs! As an early parent it didn’t take long before we despised the cloth bibs. They would get soiled so easily and frequently stained. These bibs you can easily wash and just throw right into the dishwasher!

They can also be wiped down for an easy clean. The best part however, is the food catcher!

Children are MESSY eaters and while working on their fine motor skills and using their little fingers, they often drop what seems like more than what makes it to their mouths. This food catcher is great for saving food before it hits the floor, and I love watching their expressions when they look down into the bib and discover, “Hey I found more food!”

Table Booster Seat

booster seat

Eating at the dinner table requires a booster seat for your little toddler.  This is a fun change since they can sit at the table with you and they feel like a little adult!  

There is not much that is fancy about this toddler essential, just make sure that you get a booster seat that will allow your toddler’s legs to fit under the table when they sit in it. 

Some table booster seats flipped upside down to allow for two different booster heights.   

PBS kids

An essential addition to your screen time you give your kids is PBS kids shows!  Most of our boys favorite things to watch are shows from PBS kids.

From learning about animals with Wild Kratts to learning about emotional intelligence with Daniel Tiger, PBS kids brings wholesome educational media to your family!

We find ourselves even watching some of the shows with our kids.  

We just love hearing our boys come to us so excited to share what they recently learned and 9 times out of 10 they learned it from PBS kids!

Recently we were outside planting fruit trees in our yard and came across a bug we didn’t recognize. Our oldest son told us exactly what it was and what it did!  

“Where did you learn that” we asked

“From Curious George!”

Pretty neat when your own kid teaches you something new!

Best part is that PBS Kids is FREE!

Educational movies

In addition to PBS kids are good educational movies.  Our children are constantly learning and why not exposure toddlers to movies that are more educational instead of strictly entertaining. Our boys have learned sign language, the alphabet, numbers, and much more from some of our favorite educational movies!

Leap Frog has some great movies!  Our family favorite is Letter Factory

We have also found it very helpful in our kids language development to teach them sign language as early as 4-6 months old!  You may be thinking, “I have no idea how to do sign language”  and if that is the case you are just like we were! 

Baby Signing Time

The Baby Signing Time series teaches some basic everyday toddler vocabulary in a music filled video.  It helped immensely for our kids to be able to start communicating with us early on

It also helped our kids’ vocabulary to explode once they started talking! 

There are other educational movies that we have found essential for our toddlers.  Stay tuned for the rest of that list 

Books

We are OBSESSED with children’s books and one of Jessica’s favorite hobbies is looking through children’s books at stores, trying to find the next best one for our kids. 

We have A LOT of children’s books at our house, but some of our very favorite ones are Paper Pie (formerly known as Usborne) books.  These books are to the next level of awesome in so many ways. They are a lot more interactive than most books and they make learning non-fictional things a lot more enjoyable. Our kids love them and hey, they are enjoyable and educational for us adults too! 

Another favorite series is the Cat in the Hat Learning Library Set. These books have great catchy rhymes while also bringing learning and enjoyment to the story. Who doesn’t love the Cat in the Hat right?

Sound machine

Ahhh…the soothing tones of your child’s sound machine!

Our boys, especially our oldest, can get rather rambunctious at bed time.  A sound machine has been a fabulous addition to our kids room as it helps to relax them while they are in bed.  

It also helps to drown out the noises that mom and dad are making which prevents the frequent getting out of bed out of curiosity of what mom and dad are doing.  

Some noise machines simply produce white noise.

We have one that has several different noise options besides white noise such as crickets or creek sounds.  

Toddler clock

Toddler clocks are a fun way for your child to be motivated to stay in bed (or at least their room) until a designated time!  So helpful when you just want to sleep in on the weekend! 

There is no telling what mischief your toddler will get into if they get out of bed before you do!

Toddler clocks are a toddler essential that we have yet to get in our home. 

BUT we have heard so much good from many of our friends! 

So do yourself a favor, be smarter than us, and try a toddler clock out!  

Toddler timer

Toddler Timer

We have found this item to be very helpful for the young toddler who has a hard time with the concept of time. Parents are frequently on the go, and why aren’t these toddlers helpful when trying to get out the door? Some days can be such a battle. This timer works great because of the dial it has is used to help these kids visually see the time they have left to complete a task. Eliminating the constant nagging to get things done quickly will help relieve grief for the whole family!

Homeopathic remedies

Good Night Magnesium lotion

As medical professional, but more importantly parents, we hate giving our kids medications unless absolutely necessary. Over the years we have found some key items that have been game changers for decreasing the need for medications and helping relieve miserable symptoms in our children.  One child in particular gets leg pains frequently during the night. Good night magnesium lotion has changed our whole world! Before going to bed we rub this on his legs and since it has magnesium flakes in the lotion, it helps to calm muscle cramps and has diminished the frequency of night leg pains significantly!

Another natural life saving remedy would be Hylands Mucus and Cold Relief tablets! Whenever our little ones get sick with a cold we use these and they make a HUGE difference! Our children sleep so much better through the night since their congestion becomes diminished and their day time symptoms are significantly more manageable! Highly recommend it! 

Humidifier

A humidifier is also a MUST when having sick kids! Seriously, don’t forget this one! Keeping a humidifier near your kids bed while they sleep will help prevent trips to the Urgent care AND help your children sleep better so you can too!

How Can toddler essentials Benefit You

Toddler essentials are simply a way to live life as a family more at ease and with greater enjoyment! Don’t we all love life hacks? We know we do! 

Raising toddlers can be overwhelming which is why having a list of toddler essentials can take off a lot of stress of trying to find the best products for your family life. 

Having a place to start your search for the best toddler essentials can save you time and the headache of trial and error. Use our experience and research to help aid your experience and research! 

Conclusion

There you have it, our running essentials list of must haves for parenting a toddler. We say running list because we are always learning new things about raising kids every day.

 Take it for what it’s worth, these are just some things we have used and or heard about as we navigate our way through the trenches of parenting. 

By no means are we a pro at parenting, believe you me. We struggle just like you and would love to hear your experiences with any of these or other items for parenting toddlers. 

Contact us and let us know what you think!

Bottom line is we all need help and we hope to be of some assistance to you. 

Good luck! You’re going to need it! 

 Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What do toddlers need most?

More valuable than any”thing “ you can get your toddler is your attention! Toddlers thrive on getting quality time with their parents. They want to feel like they belong and they want to feel like they are significant! 

  1. What do I bring to restaurants for toddlers?

We bring backup food favorites like PB and J. This is so if our kids don’t like the restaurant food or if we just don’t want to pay for an over priced kids meal we have our own food for them! We also bring sanitizer wipes and hand sanitizer. Cleanliness is a huge thing for us. Toddlers always find a way to get sick and we want to minimize the chances when we can. 

  1. What stuff do 2 year olds need?

Many of the items on our toddler essentials list are must haves for 2 year olds. Some of those things include: sippy cup, toddler bed, booster chair, toddler dishes and utensils, and potty training gear. 

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