Before you become a parent, everyone always tells you how the first year flies by and that the days are long but the years are short … and man, are they right. I feel like I blinked and all of a sudden, my baby, Zachary, is a big boy and soon leaving me for college. So many things have changed over the course of the year.
I have an attic full of items being saved for (hopefully) a future baby, and we’ve graduated to a whole new set of essentials. It has been amazing to see how fast my son’s brain has grown—his ability to interact with his surroundings, form a love of certain items, and engage with his toys all wow me constantly. With all of this rapid change, my need for getting things delivered fast without extra errands only grew. Amazon and wine were the MVP of year #1, and 99 percent of our favorite items arrived with Prime.
We focus really heavily on toys that can encourage healthy development and independent play, and I was shocked by how many fantastic items are out there without breaking the bank. Here are our current favorites that we are loving and still using at age 1 and beyond.
This snack cup is truly a space-saving game-changer. Kids accumulate stuff at such a rapid rate that it is fantastic to be able to store this flat at home and when traveling. It is dishwasher-safe and a beautiful color, which makes it even better.
Zachary LOVES his “baba.” Transitioning was truly terrible for all of us, and this sippy spout cup really did make the transition so much smoother. The grip handles are easy for him to hold, and the cup doesn’t spill. He was immediately comfortable with it. The Everymom cofounder Alaina Kaczmarski’s son Henry also uses this and loves it too.
At age 1, we enrolled Zach in weekly swim lessons, and the swim school requires all students use this specific brand of diaper. I can see why as it really does work, and it’s better for the environment than disposables. I am a big fan of these and will continue to use them while Zach is in diapers.
It is amazing how fast a baby in 2020 learns how to use an iPhone. We try to keep our phones away from Zach whenever possible, but between FaceTime with family and friends far away and taking pictures, it is an inevitable evil. We got Zach this little chat and count phone that talks about colors and numbers to redirect him when we are in the car and on-the-go, and it does work! It easily fits into a purse, and he loves holding it up to his ear and fake talking.
We got this toy as a gift for Zach’s 1st birthday, and from the second he saw it, he was in love. He can easily sit for an hour and play with this toy. He loves to take all of the animals and the farmer out and play with them individually and then open the doors to the bar and ring the bell. I love that it encourages him with his animal recognition and sounds.
The Everymom cofounder Danielle Moss got this for us as a holiday gift in 2018, and it is Zach’s number one lovey. We have had to buy three more as backups, and he now snuggles all three at the same time while he sleeps. It is so soft and breathable, and I love all of the sweet prints.
My child loves music and he loves books, and this is a perfect mix of both. He presses the little buttons on the learning songs which play the melody to the song and each page has all of the lyrics. He can play with these type of books for long periods of time. We also have the Christmas themed one which he loves even more!
Since he was a baby, cars have been a big hit in our house. While these are bath toys, I keep them in my purse as toys for the car and being out and about. They are easy to sanitize (I’ve run them through the dishwasher) and are very lightweight and well-sized for tiny hands.
Anytime I use these out in a restaurant both the waitstaff and other people come up to us to ask about these. They are thin pieces of plastic with adhesive you pull off around the outside and stick to the table so you can put food directly on them for baby to feed themselves. They peel off at the end no problem (I fold the mess into it) and toss it out. No damage to the table!
We got these headphones in advance of our first family flight to London. They are great for kids, and he is really tolerant of them. I like that they are padded and I don’t have to worry about the sound being too loud. They fold, making them great on saving space in my bag, which is key for me.
We got this after two iPads bit the dust by falling off of beds/counters/etc. We use the iPad for our baby monitor and for movies/Elmo songs on YouTube while traveling. We need something that can withstand rough handing by toddler and tired Mom and Dad. This does the trick and has a great little pop-up stand in the back for watching TV or sitting on the counter.
Our home isn’t very big, and we don’t have a dedicated kids-only playroom, so all of our kid decor needs to pull double-duty and fit into our home as best it can. I was so happy to find this set. It is super sturdy and well-made and looks great. Easily wipeable for art and food mess.
We added two of these above the kids play table to keep books within reach. They fit a ton and are seamlessly integrated into any decor. These types of shelves can be really expensive, but the price is fantastic on these, and they are really durable.
I have a very messy and independent eater on my hands, and I am constantly in need of a solid bib. These are so flexible and comfortable and easily packable in the diaper bag or thrown in my purse. I can easily wipe it down if we are out with wipes and throw it in the dishwasher at home. I like the adjustable neck as well to ensure a tight fit to minimize food spills on the collars of Zach’s clothes.
This toy does triple-duty and can hold Zach’s attention for a long time. We are currently using it as a walker, but he loves playing with all of the toys on the front and sides as well. All of the elements are great for development, and we love the mirror!
Since this toy entered the bath scene, it has taken over as #1. It has been great for practicing motor skills and the balls do double-duty as little squirt-y toys. We have so much fun with this one every night, and the proud look on Zach’s face when he makes a basket is precious.
This thing is pretty much the greatest for a semi-mobile toddler. He doesn’t want to climb out, entertains himself, and loves to pull up to stand on the sides. I got a mesh bag to store all of the balls when we aren’t using it, and it can be folded up and shoved under a bed or in a bag in a closet for storage.
My Mother-in-Law got this for us as a holiday gift. She had researched gross motor development toys, and this is so highly-rated! It works really well for kids on the shorter side, which many of these bikes don’t. It is easy to move, and the wheels don’t scuff or scratch our hardwood floors.