This week’s vlog is partly tongue in cheek — all your kids really need is your undying affection and food and free access to Wi-Fi, etc., etc. — but it’s also meant as a public service. There is just so much toddler stuff out there and a lot of it is not especially useful. Before you go out and buy your two-year-old the newest Samsung Galaxy smartphone, maybe you should think about some of these things you can get for about twenty bucks or less.

As you may recall, I’ve written before about must-have baby products that are a a waste of money, as well as some stuff you may have forgotten. It’s probably fair to say that parents of newborns face a lot of pressure to “do what is best for the child.” In this sense, parenting a toddler gets a little easier as you become a little more forgiving of yourself.

A little.

Because what’s another PAW Patrol episode on the tablet if it means you’ll be able to make it through dinner without another terrible two meltdown?

In the vlog, I highlight some toddler stuff that I think is actually worth your money. It also helps that they’re pretty cheap (or free!), so if they’re not especially useful to you, you’re only out about $20 or less.

  • GOOTRADES Straw Brush Cleaner: I’ve seen some more expensive versions of this, but why bother? If the cleaning thing costs more than the thing you’re cleaning, you’re probably doing it wrong.
  • Boogie Board Jot 4.5: For the most part, Addie has been asking me to draw on this thing (she keeps asking for baby whales for some reason), but it keeps her occupied for a few minutes while we wait for our meal. If you want to be extra fancy about it, consider the version where your doodles are rainbow-colored instead of monochromatic.
  • Kalencom Potette Plus: Potty training is so stressful for all parties involved. I like this travel potty both for its size and its versatility. If you are going to use it in a “standalone” fashion, remember to “click” the “legs” into their upright position (I didn’t do that in the video).
  • Kinderglo Portable Nightlight: Press the button once and it’ll automatically cycle through its range of colors. Press it again and again if you want to stick to one color. After about 30 minutes, this portable rechargeable nightlight turns itself off automatically. The charger has gotten a little finicky over time, but it still works.
  • Public Library Card: I don’t know about you, but I loved going to the public library as a kid and it looks like I am instilling the same in my daughter. Our local library even lends out DVDs. I’m okay with being the only dad at story time as long as my little one is enjoying herself. And learning. Or something.

Potette Plus

Is there anything specific you would recommend to other parents of toddlers? Are you for or against the various “toddler leashes” for managing flight risks? Do you have a favorite snack box, utensil set or dinner tray? What kid-friendly headphones, if any, would you recommend?