If you felt like the baby gear was overwhelming, wait until you have a toddler! I’m mostly kidding, but the changes happen so quickly at this age and it feels like you’re constantly playing catchup with new things your little needs. I’ve rounded up my favourite must-have items for 12-18 month olds, including feeding gear, toys and organizational extras.
Now – this is a long one. And while these are things I love, they’re not all necessarily things you absolutely need. But – they’re the items I always have questions about and researched extensively. Always do what is right for you and your family.
If there’s one thing toddlers do a lot of, it’s eating! Picking out the right feeding gear is less about what works best and more about what fits your personal needs (and aesthetic) and what your toddler will actually use. Here’s a list of (mostly adorable, not ugly) what worked for us.
Silicone Suction Plates
No silicone suction plate is toddler-proof. They will figure out how to unstick & flip it (sorry). I love the Mushie Silicone Suction Divided Plate & Mushie Silicone Suction Bowl for their clean aesthetic, straighter sides and fun colours. They’ll fit on any high chair, something the EZPZ Mats (which I also love) can’t always do. Sectioned plates are also great to remind you to offer a variety of foods.
Self-feeding is a skill that will make mealtimes messier and then easier. To get your toddler started with self-feeding, I recommend the EZPZ Mini Utensils. These utensils were developed by their in-house Pediatric Feeding Specialist to be the perfect size and weight for learning to scoop & pierce food.
We’ve since moved on to the OXO Tot Fork & Spoon Set which are a bit larger and have a flat back so they won’t roll. These also come with a handy carrying case for feeding on-the-go. These are Isabelle’s current favourites and feel like the perfect size and weight for her at 18 months.
Bibs are going to be part of your child’s eating experience for a long time, so it’s a great time to find one you love. I’m a big fan of a bib wardrobe, since different meals & occasions call for different types of bibs.
Best for Every Day: Make My Day Bib. This silicone bib is adorable and collects all the food your toddler likes to drop. It also contains water and other liquids well – perfect for open cup practice.
Best for Pasta: Bumkins Waterproof Sleeved Bib. For your messiest meals, go for the full body bib. This full-sleeved version will keep the majority of your toddler covered. It is easily cleaned in the sink post-meal with a bit of Dawn dish soap.
Best for Fancy Events: Elodie Details Bib. One day, we’re going to have special occasions again. And you’re going to want one of these adorable fancy bibs to go with your toddler’s fancy outfit. We bought one of these in a cream & gold foil dot for Izzy’s summer wedding flower girl circuit (ha ha). They’re definitely a splurge, but they’re so sweet. And make a Wednesday night fancy, if you’re so inclined (and did not get to use said pricey bib at summer weddings).
Cups & Sippies
While you’ve probably tossed the bottles by now, you’re about to enter the mighty world of sippies & open cups. Welcome. This can be a bit of trial and error, but we’ve found two sippy cups that Izzy will consistently accept. As for the open cups….may the odds be ever in your favour. It gets messy.
- EZPZ Tiny Cup is weighted and perfect for little hands. Like all EZPZ products, it’s easy to clean and 100% food grade silicone.
- Wean Meister Sippy Skillz is perfect for toddlers who prefer handles on their cups. This cup is wider than the EZPZ Tiny Cup and is easy to clean. We’ve also used this as a snack cup!
- Munchkin Weighted Straw Cup is easy for toddlers to drink out of, thanks to the weight at the bottom that means the straw is never hitting the ’empty’ side of the cup when tilted. Go for the one with the handles. They are relatively leak proof, too.
- Playtex Sipsters Soft Spout Cup is a great transitional option and is easier to clean than the weighted straws.
On The Go
Toddlers want to eat. All the time. This includes when you’re out and about! A summer of picnics and distanced park dates meant investing in a variety of on-the-go items that are as awesome for adults as they are kids.
- The stylish SoYoung Bento Lunchbox is insulated and the perfect size for lunch & snacks. Make sure to pick up their cute reusable ice packs, too!
- For dry snacks, I like to use the Skiphop Stackable Formula to Food container set. Two of the lids are watertight and I love that you can take the whole set apart or use it together. This is perfect for long car rides or for kids who need multiple snack options at all times.
- I invested in a bunch of Stasher bags for my nonstop pregnancy snacking needs and they’ve been just as useful with a toddler. These are my go-to for fruit, veg and cheese. They’re reusable and dishwasher-safe, too!
Toddler time is toy time. I try to be as mindful as possible about what I bring into the house, focusing on toys that are open-ended, generally made of wood & felt and that I think will stand the test of time. What I’m really hoping for when we introduce a new toy is one that she’ll continue to use & love for as long as possible.
I recently updated Isabelle’s nursery to accommodate a KALLAX unit from IKEA and it’s made a huge difference in tidiness and how she engages with her toys. I definitely recommend it as a storage solution // easy way to incorporate some Montessori-style learning.
- A Grimms Rainbow is multipurpose: it’s a cute piece of decor and an open-ended toy that allows for stacking, make believe, etc. Isabelle absolutely loves hers and has used it to rock her stuffies, build and even sit on herself.
- If you’re looking for affordable toddler toys, make sure to look at IKEA. The brightly-coloured IKEA MULA Abacus and IKEA BUSA Tunnel are well-priced and beloved.
- If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen Isabelle yelling biiiiicycle on her Bunzi Gradual Balance Bike. We bought it on a whim last summer and she started really loving it around 15 months. She’s still using it in 3-wheel mode, but it switches easily to 2 wheels when she’s ready to give a balance bike a try.
Izzy received a customized IKEA DUKTIG Play Kitchen from her Zio & Zia for her first birthday. I recommend it as a toy that can grow with your child: her interest in it and how she’s interacted with it has changed and developed over time. It’s the first thing she runs to in the morning and she’s constantly finding new ways to enjoy it. It’s also a great gift because there are always things to add on to extend their play!
Some things we love that go with it:
Musical instruments are always on deck here! Isabelle loves playing music and listening to her faves on Spotify. She got an early start with Little Rebels classes and continued virtually for part of last year. I still catch her doing things she learned in the classes, like “shake shake shake”-ing her maracas.
- Maracas or shakers like the Halilit Baby Maracitos are fun for the whole family
- Baby Einstein Magic Touch Piano was an instant hit + is light enough to be carried all over the house for impromptu concerts. It’s also not loud or obnoxious – a huge win when it comes to toys that make noise! (thanks to Isabelle’s Aunt Bridget & Uncle Jeff for researching + gifting her this one!)
- A guitar/ukelele, tambourine and cymbals are other fun items for toddlers who love to make noise.
I’ve been planning a full review on our Lovevery subscription but haven’t gotten around to it quite yet. The Coles’ notes are this: we love it. Our first box arrived just in time for the start of the March 2020 lockdown and they’ve consistently been such a wonderful addition to our toy rotation. Isabelle has loved the majority of every box and the toys have been able to grow with her. She’s always finding new ways to engage with older items and the books are consistently a huge hit. The toys are mostly wooden and very durable: they show minimal signs of wear, have great resale value or can be easily passed down to friends & family. I have a $20 off code – send me a message with your email and I’m happy to pass it along!
- I wish I had purchased a Diaper Brush 18 months ago. Fondly referred to as the “butt spatula” in our house, this silicone brush has a suction base and is the most mess-free way of applying diaper cream. It seems like a ridiculous purchase, but I don’t know how I got by without it. This is especially useful if you have long nails.
- Kyte Baby Sleep Bags are made of luxuriously soft bamboo rayon, have a double J-shaped zipper and come in a variety of gorgeous shades. They come in a variety of weights, but I love the 1.0 TOG best.
Seasonal stroller accessories are a fabulous way to get the most out of your stroller investment.
- The Bugaboo High Performance Footmuff is a must-have for getting outdoors with your stroller in the winter. Like a cozy, fleece-lined sleeping bag, this footmuff is easy to install and zips up right under your child’s chin.
- For spring/summer, I love the Bugaboo Breezy Sun Canopy for the spring/summer months: the shade has UV protection and breezy mesh sides to maintain airflow but also block out the sun.
The Britax Boulevard ClickTight Car Seat is comfortable, has high safety ratings and is a breeze to install. It looks great with my black leather interior, the fabric stays cool and dry in the summer and it’s easy to keep clean. Remember: a car seat is only as good as its installation (and how your kid is strapped in), so having an easy-to-install seat was a big priority for me. The Britax Boulevard ClickTight is absolutely foolproof when it comes to installation and adjustments. It’s rear-facing to 40 pounds, which means you can keep your child rear-facing for quite a long time. Other seats my trusted friends have loved: Clek & Diono.
If you, like me, are also having to purchase a car seat in a pandemic without the potential for professional installation or a fit test, I’d recommend joining the SEATS For Kids Facebook group. It’s moderated by CPSTs who can help you confirm which seat will fit in your particular vehicle. I discovered only 2 or 3 seats would be a good fit for my mid-size SUV, so definitely lean on them for their advice.
- I love using Pehr Pints for organizing and storage. One of my favourite mom hacks is leaving one in the backseat of the car filled with books, a blanket, and toys. Because she only gets to see these things in the car, they’re extra-special to her. They also fit perfectly in the Kallax.
- Isabelle loves to paint. I always have canvasses (Michael’s or Dollarama) on hand plus Crayola washable paints. Use a muffin tin to contain paints or put drops on the canvas and let them smear away. Picking up a smock is also a great call.
Newborn Essentials We Still Love
There’s nothing I love more than longevity in baby goods! These items have gone the distance and are still in constant rotation here.
- Keekaroo Peanut Changing Pad is still in perfect condition!
- Ubbi Diaper Pail & Ubbi Wipes Dispenser
- Skiphop Activity Centre converts to a table! I purchased a set of the Skip Hop Chairs to go with it: it’s perfect for crafting.
- Your Wonder Weeks birth month group on Facebook! Whether or not you follow the Wonder Weeks philosophy, I’ve found this to be one of the best “mom” Facebook groups I’m a part of. Any time I’m seeing some interesting behaviour or am curious about a milestone, I’m also guaranteed to see someone else in the group experiencing the same.
Phew, that’s it! Thank you for sticking around. Did I miss something you’re curious about? Leave a comment below and I’ll share my faves.