Since turning one, Ezra has changed so much—food habits, sleep, speech, play, etc. So I thought I'd do a round-up of some of my favorite things for getting through life with a 1-2 year old. This is only 21 months in, so there may be some more hidden gems, but here are a few things I would highly recommend if you have a little one on the way!
1. Dock-A-Tot Grand
(FYI: It's pricey, and we were lucky enough to get it as a gift. I've heard there are other ones similar and work just as well for a cheaper price)
We were able to borrow the Dock-A-Tot (small one) for when Ezra was under one year old and then received the Grand one for his birthday. Without a doubt the first 7 months without a Dock-A-Tot were a HUGE mistake. Again, this totally depends on the sleeping habits of your kid, but for us we were always pulling Ezra up onto the bed with us after his before dawn wake up calls. So many times we wished we had something we could just put him in where he would stay in between us.
While the Grand Dock-A-Tot is a little too big for this, it didn't matter, because Ezra outgrew the early wake up call. BUT having the big Dock-A-Tot served us so well every time Ezra slept in a new pack-n-play or crib. We were sleeping in a different place almost every week last summer and having the Dock-A-Tot made it an easy transition. Also, I totally recommend the white cover. At first I didn't want white becuase it would get too dirty, but after having the chevron pattern I realized I could bleach the white spots but not the gray stripes. Now I have two covers, because stomach bugs...and the white is so much easier to clean, I can just bleach and stubborn spots that don't come out in the wash.
The Dock-a-Tot also provided cushion to the incredibly hard pack-n-play we had with us in Africa. Before, I had to place a billion blankets underneath the "mattress" so he wouldn't get hurt when he slept. And with the Grand Dock-A-Tot We plan to use it for transitioning to a big bed. My plan is to make a bed on the floor with a wood pallet, mattress, dock-a-tot, and then his mosquito net or play tent hanging over him. (hard to explain, but here's my inspo pic from Weaversquad on Instagram:
2. A Lovey
If you haven't found something that your kid can attach to, it's fine. But here's why I like it—every time we are somewhere new or even in the stroller, as long as we have his blanket or stuffed animal he can fall asleep! Without it, ha! He's had the same blanket since he was born and y'all it's naaaasty! So we slowly worked in another item. We really love Scentsy buddies. They have so many unique animals, are super soft, and have a little zipper pocket where you can add a little smell pouch. (Or make one with essential oils) Ezra's favorite is the lemur. They change all the time and you can find old ones online or with people who sell Scentsy. Seriously, I love these things and may have a problem wanting allll the cute animals.
I really don't know why I didn't use this much earlier. We actually started using it because Ezra was sleeping in our room during the hot season and our door would always wake him up. Once we had the sound machine it would mask the sound of our super creaky door and actually had him sleeping longer in the mornings and during nap time. Now, we don't leave home without it!
We actually blew out the cord to our sound machine because I forgot to plug it into the transformer, so we ended up using an app on our phone and a small bluetooth speaker. So if you're skeptical about the magic of a sound machine try it out with an old phone or iPad and a speaker before you buy one.
There are so many different sound machines, so I'm linking the amazon search page. But I've heard really great things about the Hatch one (syncs with your phone). Our cheap one is finally starting to go out a little, so keep that in mind with cheaper machines that play for all night and a couple hours during the day, they will eventually give out.
I've heard so many negative things about sippy cups. While we used them for milk when transitioning from formula we really kept all other liquids to a straw cup or 360 cup. I would have put his milk in this as well, but he usually had his milk while lying down (the only way we could change him at night an morning) but then a few months later he just started rejecting milk and so along with it the sippy cups left our lives. I love the 360 cups because they are still spill proof, but teach kids to drink out of a cup and also it's supposed to be better for their mouth development than sippy cups. We used the trainer cups in the beginning, they are smaller and have handles. But eventually transitioned to the big cups with no handles once we knew he could pick them up with no problem. They also make the cup in an insulated style, which we love for on the road.
Just do yourself a favor and go ahead and get a few of these. It's the perfect way to serve snacks, and Ezra had no problem doing it himself at 12 months. We put puffs in there and also do fruit and other things. It's great for carrying snacks in your diaper bag and for giving to your toddler when needed.
Speaking of snacks, here's some of our favorites
Just know that all kids are different and it seems to change on the regular. We've had a hard time feeding this kids from about 17 months. He just started rejecting everything! But here are a few things we found he loves.
(I use to make pb and j's for him from scratch and then he started rejecting those too, so now I just give him these. Obviously when we are in Africa I'll have to go back to forcing him to eat homemade ones, that is if I can find our stash of peanut butter)
Whole Milk Yogurt Pouches
In America I just buy the pouches because he can feed himself without a mess, but in Africa I just buy regular yogurt. I get whole milk since he won't drink milk I can at least get some milk in him this way.
Trader Joe's Date & Nut bites and Fruit & Nut Discs - I saw another blogger who suggested this for her toddler and thought I'd give it a try. I really didn't expect him to like them, but man was I wrong! You just have to be careful not to give them too many in one day or you will regret all the dirty diapers later... Also, they come in individual wrappers so they are great for on the go!
So if your kid is a bit of thrower (like ours) these things will really save your sanity. When we go to restaurants we just lay this mat down on the table and then give Ezra his food on top of it. Yes, he can peel it off the table, but when there's food on top of it he really doesn't concern himself with that! However, if we give him a plate, he just thinks its a fun flying disc...(insert face palm emoji)
Note: this isn't the one I have, but these cloud shapes are too cute!
I was very anti-legos (still am), because I'm not much on things with little pieces and bright plastic pieces everywhere, but mega blocks I will take. They are big enough that it's easy to pick up and yet small enough that little hands can still build with them. We've also taught Ezra to pick up his blocks and he loves it; it's like a game! While we can get these in Africa, they price is crazy! I'm also fainted when I saw how much they were on Amazon. I'm pretty sure I could get the same bag for $50, so yeah, totally worth the space in my suitcase...especially since I got ours at a garage sale for $4 and then just took them home and sanitized them all with Thieves soap. #momwin
Our new favorite toy is this Alphabet Case. I first saw it on Jillian Harris' Insta Stories with her toddler and fell in love. My mom saw it too and we immediately tracked it down on Amazon, even better that it was Elmo, Ezra's favorite tv character! I also like that we can just fold it up and take it with us to a friend's house or wherever.
My mom bought these for Ezra for his birthday and it was literally been the best gift. Who knew?! he loves arranging them on the fridge, bringing them to mama, and well hiding them behind the fridge for fun. But I love that each letter has an animal on it, like the N uses a Narwal! My favorite. You can also get the cheap letters like we all had when we were kids and they work just as well. I think I found a set at Walmart for a dollar or two.
10. Fawn Diaper Bag
(again pricey, and got as a gift, but I cannot tell you how much this bag is worth every penny!!)
I LOVE bags. Ask anyone who knows me well and they will tell you I have a bit of a problem. But here's the thing—bags always fit and I'm always in search of the PERFECT bag. I want it to be multi-functional, big enough for all the things without actually feeling big, and cute and classic. Well Fawn has done it. I love that you can wear it as a strap or backpack and that there are a million pockets inside. It also doesn't look like a diaper bag, so if you want to use it for your personal bag, no one would even know. They also have inserts that match the bag that keep everything organized...pretty much my dream.
These guys are amazing. Especially for living in a hot climate all year long. They go with everything, are washable, slips ons, and don't make your kids feet smell. And if you aren't into paying full price you can usually find some used ones at a resale shop or my favorite Poshmark.
So I am someone who is constantly on the hunt for the perfect bag, and since having a baby I've added stroller to that list. However, strollers are a crazy game. There are so many price points and features and it just gets nuts. To be honest, I'm not sure the perfect one exists, which is why so many people have more than one stroller. I first started out with a Graco stroller that came with carseat. And even though it wasn't for off-roading it held up amazingly on the rocky roads of Africa. I loved how the basket was easy to get things in and out of and how the recliner was accessible with one hand (not so on my current stroller). But sadly, the airlines on our flights back to America last summer completely destroyed the stroller and now all four wheels no longer touch the ground...womp, womp.
So that gave me the chance to look for a stroller that would fit our needs and hopefully last longer. I ended up purchasing the City Jogger on an Amazon sale. the tires are made for off-roading, but aren't the kind that require air, which is necessary, because in the heat of Africa you end up blowing up tires every day...no thank you. But while I loved so many things about the City Select, the basket is hard to get things in and out of and the recliner requires two hands. It also doesn't sit up all the way so Ezra has a hard time reaching the snack tray and seeing over the sides. It does however provide amazing sun coverage, which is a huge plus when you live in 24/7 summer.
That said, I don't have a much to recommend, mostly because it depends on what you need it for. And since we are expecting baby number 2, we are now upgrading to a double stroller. But I do have one stroller to recommend. It may not suit everyone's needs, but if you spend a lot of time traveling like we do or just need something small to keep in the car and aren't a fan of umbrella strollers then this is for you:
The GB Pockit Stroller. It folds up and fits in your bag, which means airlines can't check it and destroy your stroller. It also means that for those flights or airports that won't bring you your stroller to the gate and end up putting it with all the other luggage leaving you stranded with no stroller on your 5 hours layover, well worry no more. Now you have just whip our your stroller and go!
I also used this stroller on some off-roading adventures in Colorado this summer and was surprised how well it did! I don't suggest doing that all that time, but if you have to, it works. That said, for the traveling family it's amazing. Especially when you can't wear your baby in the carrier due to your growing bump. :)