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We made a list of budget-friendly essentials for toddlers because your baby is growing into a little human. Your child is exploring more and becoming more independent. And they’re learning what they like or don’t like.
The toddler years are exciting times that can also be overwhelming. Both for you and your tot.
And as their needs change, you need new gear to support their growth and development, too! So, here’s our list of essentials for toddlers.
Key essentials for toddlers
The toddler stage offers many wonderful and not-so-enjoyable moments for parents and kids. Here are a few absolute essentials that could help make the adventure go smoothly.
1. Convertible car seat
Your little bundle of joy is growing and showing you how amazing they are every day. They’re also getting heavier for the baby car seat.
Those baby car seats are convenient though, especially in the winter season if you live in a cold place like me. You can take the baby in and out of the car and carry them around everywhere.
When it’s time to make the transition, a convertible car seat is a smart way to stay on a budget. There are so many available styles and colors in the market, you’ll surely find one you’ll love.
More importantly, convertible car seats can last you for years. Some can take you to the booster stage or until your kid reaches 120 pounds.
2. Sippy cups
The toddler stage takes you out of the bottle stage. But it’s also a time when your cupboard is overrun with all kinds of plastic cups.
Sippy cups are a great way to move your kid from the bottle to open cups. Pediatricians recommend that you introduce your kids to open cups right away.
But unless your kid only drinks at a time and place where you can change them and clean the space easily, it’s not always practical to do that.
Sippy cups are a huge help for busy parents. They're portable and affordable, so you can have spill-proof sippy cups one for home, one for daycare, and everywhere else your toddler goes.
3. Child-sized utensils
Meal times are about to get even messier. However, introducing utensils to your kids early for most meals and snacks can be a good idea.
Purchasing toddler-friendly utensils may encourage your kid to want to feed themself, as well.
4. Step stools
A step stool is included on our essentials for toddlers list because it allows your toddler to do so many things. With a step stool, your kid can reach the sink to wash their hands and brush their teeth.
They can also get on the step stool to help you in the kitchen. That’s why we recommend getting a step stool. It makes it easier for your kids to practice doing things on their own.
5. Potty training seat
Like most things, not all kids are ready for potty training at the same age. So, watch for signs of readiness such as your toddler’s interest in the process or they’re drier for a longer amount of time.
It’s also good to get a potty training seat even before your child is ready. Let them play with it, and sit on it wearing clothes or diapers.
It can help everything go smoothly because they’ve seen it before. Whether you start earlier or later, potty training seats are one of the essentials for toddlers.
6. Child-proofing kit
Honestly, I didn’t need to child-proof anything with my first child. He didn’t open the cupboards and take everything out.
But when my second one came along, I needed to lock every cupboard and cabinet. This kid learned how to open jars and containers way too early!
So, a child-proofing kit is one of the best items to have for toddlers, especially if you have one like mine.
Also, a great mom hack is to baby-proof your cabinets with rubber bands. Just wrap it around the handles a few times to tighten it. Hopefully, your lovely child isn’t strong enough to unravel it.
7. Toddler bed
Toddler beds are a great way to move your tot out of the crib. It’s not too big that the babes feel overwhelmed, but it’s not as constricting as the crib.
They’re low to the ground so it’s easier for kids to get in and out. In addition, you won’t need to spend more because most crib mattresses fit into toddler bed frames.
Having their own bed is considered one of the essentials for toddlers. But if you don’t have the space for a toddler bed or you prefer to co-sleep, do what’s best for your family.
8. Booster seat for mealtimes
Some kids stay in the high chair happily and safely well into the preschool years, while others may want to move on earlier.
A booster seat offers an excellent option for kids who aren’t tall or balanced enough to sit in a regular dining chair. It gives your tot the support they need to eat meals at the table with the family.
9. Backpack diaper bag
When you’re a mom, you need your hands free. That’s why a backpack diaper bag is a great item to have.
They’re easier to carry around if you’re out and about. Backpack diaper bags usually have extra pockets and storage for all your baby’s needs. Plus, they have compartments to help you be organized.
Travel essentials for toddlers
Traveling is a great experience for kids to learn and explore. But the change in routine and the physical demand can make it difficult for tots and parents.
So, here are some accessories and travel essentials for toddlers to make traveling easier for you and your child.
10. Lightweight stroller
A lightweight stroller is one of the best travel items because it makes it easier to get around. Choose one that’s lightweight and collapsible, so it doesn’t take up a lot of space.
It will also be easier to load in overhead compartments of trains and airplanes.
11. Ergonomic toddler carrier
A carrier is another great item to have because it’s better for your back. It’s a safe and practical way to carry your kid, especially in places where strollers would be hard to maneuver.
A toddler carrier also gives you the advantage of being hands-free, while your tot enjoys the scenery. Choose a carrier that can be worn for both the back and front. Make sure it’s comfortable and machine washable as well.
12. Kid’s travel pillow and blanket set
Add travel pillows and blankets to your list of essentials for another layer of comfort. Look for materials that are easy to care for and light. Check out this kid's travel pillow and blanket.
Many come with a blanket and a stuffed toy. But the stuffed can transform any armrest into a comfy space for your kid to rest their head. Simply slide it in place. So smart and cute!
13. Kid’s headphones
You can only entertain your child so much and they’ll eventually get tired of coloring, reading, or playing. This is why kid’s headphones are also considered travel essentials for toddlers.
Headphones are great for when your tot wants to watch a favorite movie or listen to music. Look for one that’s comfortable and compatible with all devices. Some headphones for kids also feature a volume restrictor to protect their ears.
14. Travel toys for toddlers
Toys can help make kids less anxious because it’s something familiar and comforting. They’re also a great way to pass the time making travel easier and more fun.
Some of the very best travel toys for toddlers include the Montessori Quiet Book. It’s a soft cloth book with nine different activities that teach kids about colors and shapes.
We also like Story Time Finger Puppets. It comes with 20 puppets that you and your toddler can use to make up endless stories. This toy is amazing for creative play.
15. Portable window blackout curtains
When you’re traveling with kids, sheer curtains in the rooms is the worst. Your kids are waking up at the first sign of light, and nobody’s getting a good night's sleep.
That’s why you need your own blackout curtains whether you’re staying in a hotel, Airbnb, or with relatives.
Make sure you get lightweight curtains. We recommend these blackout curtains.
They come with suction cups. So you can stick them to any window too.
16. Snack catcher
If you’re a parent, you don’t leave the house without snacks. I’m not above putting snacks in a baggy, but these snack catchers make sure my toddler doesn’t spill his food all over the place.
Plus, they fit in the standard cup holders in cars and strollers.
17. Toddler leash backpack
Toddlers love to explore and I want to encourage that, but the thought of losing my kid in a busy place gives me so much anxiety. That’s why a toddler leash backpack is definitely at the top of my list.
Beach essentials for toddlers
Are you going on a vacation and planning on spending lots of time at the pool or beach? Here are some amazing beach essentials for toddlers to take with you.
18. Life vests
Whether they’re good swimmers or not, it’s always best to have an extra layer of protection. Anytime you’re around water, make sure your kids are wearing swim vests.
This Speedo Swim Vest for toddlers features an adjustable buckle strap and a full front zipper. And it also has UPF 50 protection.
19. Waterproof wet bag
Carry a waterproof wet bag with you so you don’t have to worry about getting everything wet. It’s a better alternative than plastic bags. Store your wet clothes in it and keep the rest dry.
20. Water shoes
Water shoes are also on my list of beach essentials for toddlers. They’re just so useful to keep your kids from slipping and falling when they’re playing around the pool.
You know no matter how many times you remind your kid not to run, they’re going to do it. Additionally, swim shoes are great to have if you’re visiting beaches that have lots of shells, corals, or rocks on them.
21. Sunglasses with straps
Get your toddler some sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sun. Choose one with soft and comfortable materials.
Look for sunglasses with a strap as well so it doesn’t fall off when they’re in the water or playing around the beach or the pool.
22. Toddler beach tent
A pop-up beach tent provides a great sunshade for your little one. Most tents also feature 50+ UPF for extra protection so your tot doesn't get sunburnt. That's why beach tents are beach essentials for toddlers.
The Monobeach pop-up tent is small and compact. It comes with four pegs so you can secure it in the sand or ground if you’re at the park.
Plus it doubles as a small splash pool. How cute is that?
Daycare essentials for toddlers
Sending your kid to daycare or your baby moving into the toddler room means a new list of items to pack. Here are the daycare essentials for toddlers that the center may ask you to send.
23. Diapers and wipes
You’ll be asked to send diapers and wipes if your child is still in diapers. If your toddler is potty training, send training pants or pull-ups.
Obviously, these items are daycare essentials. And be sure you label everything with your kid’s name to avoid getting it mixed with the other children’s supplies.
24. Extra outfit
Send at least two spare outfits to be kept in your toddler’s cubby. Toddler activities like painting, playing outside, and eating solo mean more changes per day than they did as a baby.
Pack each outfit in a resealable plastic bag and make sure you add underwear and socks. Check the clothes every two or three months to make sure they still fit your child and are appropriate for the weather.
25. Medication, sunscreen, and diaper cream
When the weather is nice, your toddler will likely be outside once or twice per day. So, make sure you send sunscreen to daycare. Maybe include a diaper cream, especially if your child is prone to rashes.
If your little one has chronic health issues, their medication tops the list of items they'll need at daycare. Make sure you send them clearly labeled with your kid’s name. Give them instructions and the proper dispensers as well.
Most daycare centers have rules when it comes to giving medication. Be sure to follow the requirements and sign the forms so the staff can administer your child’s medicine when needed.
26. Name labels
You’ll need to put your kid’s name on every item from bottles to clothes that you send to daycare. For some things, you can use a permanent marker or sew-in name tags. You can also get pre-printed stickers with your little one’s name.
Your toddler will most likely nap on a mat or a cot instead of a crib at daycare. Ask what they have and what you need to send over. Some daycares will provide the mat, but at the very least, your kid will probably need a blanket.
28. Mom's backpack
You’ll also need a backpack. Even though those little backpacks are adorable, get a big enough backpack to carry everyday daycare essentials for toddlers.
Use the backpack for items your toddler may need during the day such as a sun hat, rain jacket, or snowsuit. Maybe you need to send lunch or snacks as well.
Having a list of the essentials for toddlers can help you budget for the most important items!
We hope you found this list of essentials for toddlers helpful although we recommend that you be mindful of your budget. You don’t have to follow every new trend or buy every viral product for your kids.
Consider the most important items you'll need for your child in the first few years, and focus on purchasing those first. But as always, we encourage you to do what's best for your family.