Toddler Tools: What’s Saving Me Right Now

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Someone very special had a birthday recently, so we now officially have a THREEnager on our hands. Which means we’re in the throes of potty training and picky eating and perpetual toddler moodiness. I wanted to share a few tricks and tools that are getting us through these trying (while simultaneously rewarding and adorable) toddler times.

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For Quiet Time

We’ve begun to outgrow naps over here (insert panicked mom face!), so I’m really glad that we invested in a Kindle Fire Kids’ Edition and case last Christmas, because if it’s a no-nap kind of day, we can at least have “quiet time” on the Kindle so Mommy can get things done. I’ve found it much more kid-friendly than the iPad, and it has free and paid apps as well as controls to limit screen time.

Side note: I’m well aware that some are against technology for young kids, but she really is learning a lot. Recently in the car she pointed out an “excavator” doing some roadwork. I didn’t even know the technical name for this machinery, to be honest. So there you go.

For Potty Training

Potty training is actually going pretty well for us, but not without incident (some), accident (lots) and wine (lots, lots).

We bought this simple floor potty way before we were ready to start and just left it there in her bathroom. When she started showing interest and signs she might be ready, we slowly started getting her comfortable with the idea, without any pressure. Once she was going more and more in the potty, it was time to move her to the big toilet (mostly because I got tired of cleaning the small one!). We then kind of loosely followed the “three-day potty training” method.  This portable owl seat for the transition to the large toilet has worked really well for us.

A few tips:

  • Invest in a floor potty early on and get your child comfortable with the idea, without pressure. Once they move on to a toilet seat, you can even put the floor potty in your car (like I do) for convenience while out and about (I can’t tell you how handy this has been for us).
  • Let your child shop for new underwear, if they are interested, to make the process more exciting for them.
  • Invest in a toilet seat for the next step in your potty training adventure. We love this cute, portable owl seat.
  • Stock the bathroom with a few books to get your child comfortable with the idea that they can relax and take their time on the potty. I love this Elmo potty training book because it has a lot of little flaps to keep them occupied (and I can insert her name along with the characters when potty training is praised – she loves it).
  • Consider rewards. My toddler is absolutely obsessed with sweets, so candy rewards have been an important part of our strategy, but I try to do healthier treats like fruit gummies with vitamin C, dark chocolate blueberries, etc.

For Mealtime

Ugh. This is our BIG battle. The toddler is beyond picky. In fact, we’ve visited both a nutritionist and a speech therapist multiple times to evaluate the situation and try new tactics. Turns out that she may have some sensory issues that are causing aversion to new smells, textures, tastes, etc. It’s been rather brutal, but I’m trying to keep things in perspective and be thankful that she’s healthy and thriving, even if her current relationship with food isn’t.

A few ideas:

  • I added these gummy vitamins since she isn’t getting many fruits or veggies in. It also doubles as a great potty training reward or  a “please get dressed without a tantrum” treat to help us get out the door in the morning. The struggle is real!
  • At the encouragement of the nutritionist, we bought a kids’ cutting board and knife set so she can “cook” with me and get comfortable with touching and smelling more foods. Among the things we make … Kodiak Cakes, because she loves waffles and these are protein-packed … and of course, my tried-and-true toddler muffin recipes.
  • I try to work in the food ideas from this book about sensory challenges, recommended by the nutritionist/therapist.
  • We make “ice cream” smoothies in the NutriBullet using frozen fruit and milk. These big, flexible straws are great for slurping smoothies and give me peace of mind that she won’t jam a hard-plastic straw down her throat. Because she runs. And I worry.
  • I’m looking out for more plates and things to make mealtime fun and easy, but in the meantime, here are my favorite no-spill cups and our cute, washable place mats that make cleanup easier.
  • And finally, I’m going to go all nerdy on you and tell you how much this handheld vacuum comes in handy for the messes she makes.

I hope some of this was helpful in your own toddler adventures. Please do share any additional tips you have in the comments!

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