32 little tid bits to make life easier with babies and toddlers

parenting advice

  1. Buy socks with the slip free rubber thingies (official term) (it’s not) at the bottom.  Especially if your house is tiles and hardwood floors (which ours totally is).
  2. 1 piece pajamas are easier with babies before they’re potty trained.  Two pieces pajamas are easier with toddlers who are potty training or trained.
  3. Don’t pull all the toys out all the time.  Create a system where you can rotate toys in and put others away.  We have a tall bookcase with bins of toys.  We rotate which ones are on the bottom (and accessible) with those at the top about once a month and it’s like having new toys every month.
  4. These Face and Hand wipes are life savers. – Tessa
  5. Have “special” toys that you only give when you need them to pre-occupy themselves for some amount of time.  These have to be thought of as “super special” by the kids.  In our house that’s an iPad (which they rarely if ever get to play with), some puzzles they don’t usually do, a sorting toy (round hole square peg kinda deal), and a Dora book with a “phone.”
  6. If you don’t think that you want to be in the house for every nap time or know that you won’t be traveling or on the go for every nap time, rotate what you do as much as possible.  We go for walks, sleep in the crib, sleep in the car.  This gets harder as they get older but while they’re 2 or less, I say teach them to be versatile.  Especially when there are two of them.
  7. Grocery store shopping + 2 year old + apple was a huge hit for us.  Our toddler could occupy herself eating a big apple (something I saved for the grocery store) for almost 40 minutes while I did my shopping.  I learned how to do my grocery shopping under 40 minutes.  Win win?
  8. Carriers can go a long way to give you the use of both hands again.  We love our Ergo.
  9. One of the best things that worked for our colic baby was that carrier + bouncing while walking around the yard.
  10. Sound machines that don’t turn off (this is the one we have) can go a long way to help with sleep training with even the most stubborn babes.  We believe in Ferber sleep training, but even with that Taylor had a hard time sleeping more than 20 minutes during the day and at times woke up at night.  She also refused to sleep anywhere but on me when we were away from home.  Sound machine turned up high next to her = sound sleeper no matter what/where/when.
  11. Exercise balls are not only amazing to work the core and help during labor, but they do wonders when your legs can’t take any more bounce walking (see #8) and your baby is still crying.  Tightly snug colic or crying baby + bounce ball = happy baby.
  12. What I found works for my babies is routines.  You don’t have to watch the clock, but repetition in a consistent manner makes everyone’s lives (here) easier.
  13. “Letting go of the expectations of how your day is/should be going! I’ve learned that some days will just be spent in pajamas watching movies and that’s AOK!  it’s all about survival!” – Ashley from I Love You More Than Carrots
  14. Speaking of survival, that’s all the first 3 months are.  I found this to be true with the first and the second baby.  After the first 3 months things don’t immediately turn around, but you begin to see small changes that make you feel a little more human each day.
  15. A good stroller that fits your lifestyle and where you live is worth spending a good penny on.  We love taking walks, I love to run, and we are constantly going off the beaten path or on the beach.  For us the Bob stroller is one of the best purchases we didn’t make (it was a gift).
  16. Keep babies in the infant car seats as long as you can, especially through the winter months.  You think carrying that heavy, clunky car seat is hard?  Try driving 15 minutes to a store and finding out the baby is sound asleep in a convertible seat and your “quick run to the super market” just turned into a 40 minute Pinterest time kill while the baby naps in the back seat.
  17. Babies and toddlers (and probably older kids) can smell your frustration or fear from a mile away.  Sometimes when everything seems to just be going wrong, I take a deep breath, assess my own mood, and try for even more patience.  It’s almost always enough to turn it around.  If not, I find that wine helps (after the kids are in bed…..and if you’re not driving….or operating heavy machinery….or growing a human being).
  18. “Asking the toddler (almost 4 yr old) for help with small tasks for the baby – i.e. Asking her to get the baby’s binky, asking her to go get the baby a toy, asking her to put down his floor padding, asking her to get out the baby food… She is a great helper and she enjoys doing it!” – Skye from First Time Mama.
  19. When you are going somewhere for an extended period of time or traveling on a plain/train, pack a spare outfit for yourself as well as the baby.  An 8 hour flight covered in poop because of a huge explosion is not cool for you or your traveling companions (I am NOT speaking from experience, but I have used my spare outfit before).
  20. Melt downs, especially in toddlers, are often a result of 3 things: tiredness, hunger, or toddlerhood.  Eliminating the first gives you a 2/3 chance of not having a melt down.
  21. Using an overnight diaper or a diaper that is one size larger than your baby usually wears can help the baby sleep longer.  Or at least help to prevent some of those “overflows.”
  22. I found these “mom life hacks” to help me get the things I needed/wanted to do without actually doing them: grocery deliveries/grocery pick-ups (our Stop & Shop does scheduled pick ups where you shop online and then they, wait for it, load your groceries in the car for you); Amazon.com diaper and wipe and many other things deliveries, scheduled and discounted via Subscribe & Save, StitchFix lets you “shop” without shopping (personal shopper picks out stuff for your closet, mails them to you to try on, and then you get to return anything you don’t like in a pre-paid envelope…ummmm….that’s a win in my book).
  23. When there’s little chance of getting outside to wear off some of that toddler energy, I find playing “fetch” in the hallway to be just as effective.
  24. “Treat yourself to a cleaning person…if only once every four or six weeks. The few days “off” from cleaning that follow are pure heaven.” - Alexis from Lex and Learn
  25. Wipe down the bathroom counter while you’re brushing your teeth, do a load of laundry every couple of days (more/less depending on your family needs) and fold/put it away the following day, vacuum the “living space” more often so you don’t have to clean the rest of the house as much (if you eliminate the dirt that gets dragged throughout the house, you don’t have to clean the rest of the house as much).
  26. I found that making baby food is not only cheaper, but it’s actually easy.  Making a baked potato?  Make two and use your food processor, blender, or  (our choice) immersion blender and you’ve just made baby food for a couple of week.  Apples, pears, peas, and many other options take less than 10 minutes to steam or boil and another 1-2 minutes to blend and freeze.  We used regular ice cube trays to freeze the baby food then transfer to zip lock bags for storage.  Each ice cube is approximately 1 oz if you’re curious.
  27. “Pick your battles. If they want to go pants-less around the house or in PJs to the store or not wear gloves when throwing snowballs, it won’t kill them, and I guarantee other parents will totally understand the odd public appearance. And can I add a second? It would be that sometimes giving a toddler a cookie or m&m will save hours of fighting and tantrums and actually encourage them to eat their dinner because they’ll be in a good mood and happy to oblige.” – Erin
  28. “The white noise app (Baby White Noise) has saved my sanity a million times over.” – Jennifer
  29. Don’t google or webmd symptoms.  Just don’t.  Seriously, put your phone away.
  30. Do call your pediatrician.  That’s what they’re there for!   I’ve called mine for everything from how to bring a fever down (warm baths and Tylenol) to how to get the baby to poop after 7 days (prune juice, white grape juice, sweet potatoes, prunes, and lots of water) to whether or not it was ok to feed my toddler sushi (they advise against raw fish before 5 although they don’t think this is a big deal anymore considering kids now get whatever-shot-it-is that helps to protect against it).
  31.  Always carry snacks everywhere you go.  See #20.
  32. Have fun.  They’re so small and so stinkin’ funny.  I find that it’s usually better to laugh than to cry. And then drink wine.  But that’s just me.

Thanks to awesome peeps that gave theirs on the Facebook.

Note: Some links in this post are affiliate links to Amazon.  If you follow my blog, you know that I love my Amazon shopping (hello, diaper deliveries on a scheduled basis).  You also know that I don’t post just to get affiliate referrals.  These are things we love and you get a quick link if you’re interested.

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    32 little tid bits to make life easier with babies and toddlers