After nearly 20 months of parenting, I've really got the hang of it! Haha! I always love to see what other people like for their kids, and I've noticed as Isla grows the list gets smaller and smaller. Here are some of the basics and things that really make life a lot easier.
--Up and Up brand diapers from Target. They're pretty affordable, and when you get them either on sale with Cartwheel for 10% off or when they're doing a promo for a free gift card they're even cheaper! I also have a red card, so I save an additional 5%. We usually pay about 13-18 cents per diaper. What I like best is that they fit Isla well, they hold quite a lot, and they don't give her any rashes. We recently put her in Pampers Swaddlers for a few days because we got them for a really good price online. After a couple days she had a bright red rash on her lower back. Once we stopped using the diapers it went away. So for us, Up and Up works great.
--Overnight diapers! Oh my goodness, are you using these? My kid soaks her diaper at night! We have tried a few brands, Huggies, Parents Choice, and Up and Up. All of them pretty much work the same. I remember when Isla started sleeping a solid 10 hours at night, she would wake up soaked through her pants and onto the sheets. Then I realized that's exactly what overnights were for. We tried Huggies first because I thought that was the only overnight brand, and it was amazing. Then we discovered the Parents Choice brand from Walmart and they work exactly the same. Seriously, if you aren't using these for your toddler you need to give them a try. Yes they cost more, but it also keeps you from changing the sheets multiple times a week.
--Seventh Generation baby wipes. I've used so many brands, but these have remained my favorite. We love the ones that say "thick and soft" on the packaging. They really are thick! I've found other wipes don't do the best job actually wiping away the mess because they are thin and slippery. Some wipes are super slimy, and too heavily scented. The thick and soft Seventh Generation wipes have no scent, they're great for sensitive skin, and they clean really well. Only downside is the price, because they're more than a store brand, but definitely less than the Water Wipes we used to use when Isla was a newborn.
--A&D Ointment for any diaper rash, cut, scrape, or boo boo. This stuff works amazingly well for diaper rash, and it's cheap!
--I always find myself grabbing for Isla's Jumping Beans outfits. It's a brand sold at Kohl's, and my mom always buys Isla little shorts and tank top outfits from that brand. I really love their clothes. They have bright fun prints that are so adorable, easy to pull on and off, and really affordable. My mom always buys Isla stuff that is on clearance, and she always tells me how inexpensive it is. I really like that the clothes are true to size (Isla wears 24 months), no itchy tags, and you can tend to mix and match a lot of the styles. As Isla grows I really don't like anything with snaps. I only put her in onesies for sleeping, the last thing I want to do when I change her diaper is deal with snaps. Shorts and leggings with a top are just the most convenient pairing. I love the outfit below, hot pink with palm trees and matching hot pink shorts, so cute!
--For shoes I'm sad because Isla recently outgrew the best pair and Target doesn't have them anymore. But they were a closed toe sandal by the brand Genuine Kids, by OshKosh. That brand is so affordable! When Isla started walking she still wore a size three shoe, and I had the hardest time finding shoes in that size that had a hard bottom. Everything in a three was still a crib shoe, and when I saw that this brand had walking shoes I was so excited. And the best part is the brand new the shoes I bought were either $12 or $14, which is pretty good.
--You cannot go wrong with a play kitchen. This has provided endless hours of entertainment. Isla loves to pretend play. She washes her baby doll bottles in the sink, she pretends to eat the fake food and drink from the cups, and she will cook on the stove top. When we first brought it home she played for three hours straight without a break. I didn't even exist in those three hours, she absolutely loves the kitchen. I bought a set of over 100 plastic pieces of food online for $20, and I usually take out about 15 pieces at a time for her to play with, then rotate them after a few weeks. Keeps things interesting, and reduces the mess.
--Baby dolls! Isla loves her "babies." She gives them kisses and hugs, changes their clothes, feeds them their bottles, and pushes them around in a little doll stroller. She is such a sweet little mommy. I love to see her model love and affection with her dolls the same way that I show her love. She currently has six baby dolls, and she would probably still love more. The most recent one we bought was from Target, and it drinks the bottle then falls asleep, and when you squeeze the hands and feet the eyes blink and the doll makes noise. That's definitely her favorite baby. Below she's feeding her baby some of her breakfast, that's a doll she got for her first birthday.
--Books. Self explanatory, seriously almost any book. Kids love books! Isla really enjoys The Napping House, Time for Bed, Counting Kisses, and any of those puppet books by Sara Gillingham. We have In My Nest, In My Tree, In My Pond, In My Den, and In My Meadow. Isla loves these books, and she has since she was about six months old when she really started to laugh at the puppets. She also enjoys books that are in both English and Spanish.
--Water tables, sandboxes, slides, swings, play sets, really anything outdoors. Going to the park is the best toy for her.
--Anything that was a toy of mine she seems to love. My old Cabbage Patch Kid, my doll cradle, and she loves this little Playskool horse stable that has two horses. I actually have the Playskool doll house with all the accessories, she'll be getting that for Christmas when she's almost three.
--Those are the most used toys, but she also loves cars, trucks, bubbles, electronic toys by Leap Frog, blocks, play dough, sidewalk chalk, and making bead necklaces with her grandma.
--My favorite sippy cups are the Munchkin Click Lock sippy cups, we have the Hello Kitty ones. They don't leak, even after getting thrown across the room onto a tile floor, and they're easy to clean since they're dishwasher safe. I really don't like bottles or sippy cups that have five different parts to clean, that drives me crazy. So sippy cups that have the cup, the lid, and the little plastic part that keeps the water from leaking out work great for us.
--For snacks Isla loves raisins, yogurt melts, fruit leathers, fruit gummy snacks, Cheerios or Kix, and applesauce pouches. Those are always sure to make her happy, and I make sure I have a snack or two wherever we go in case she gets cranky. It really helps to have something she can hold on her own and eat while we're checking out at a store, since the cart isn't moving and I'm distracted trying to get the items paid for. I've found any kind of snack cup does nothing to prevent Isla from making a mess! Doesn't matter if they're the bowl that won't spill or the cup you put your hand through a rubber slot, she will find a way to make a mess. So I generally stick to snack time in the dining room or when we're on the go! Saves me from cleaning the white couch all the time.
--Disposable place mats. These are great for when you eat out, and you don't want to sanitize the whole table before your kid can sit down. I'm not overly paranoid about germs, but I don't want Isla eating directly off the table and usually kids food is served in a real dish. I try to avoid ceramic bowls being thrown off the table in public, so we use peel and stick disposable place mats and put her food directly on those.
To save some money I definitely recommend shopping at consignment stores. It's so easy to wander around Target throwing anything that's cute into your cart, believe me I'm so guilty of that. But recently I've found a couple stores where I enjoy shopping. I got Isla a brand new play kitchen for $30, the outdoor slide pictured above for $30, shoes for $5, a ride on toy for $15, and I bought a Leap Frog toy for $5 that she loves. It reduces waste and helps to recycle things people no longer need. What are some of your toddler favorites?