Our Top 5 Toddler Faves (12-18 months)

Now that we have an official “toddler” on our hands (Lucas is 21 months now! How time flies), I think it might be useful to make lists of things we’re enjoying and finding useful across his developmental stages. My plan while he’s still a toddler is to do these every half-year, because I sometimes find myself looking for resources to see what would be useful for us at certain ages, and rarely find definitive lists. So perhaps this might be of some help to you! This particular post will cover things we loved during his 12-18 month stage. Note: Many of these things we still love now!

12-18 months

  1. Bekvam IKEA step stool: [First from left in above photo; source credit: IKEA.co.id] We had originally purchased the Bekvam stool for ourselves – to use mainly in the kitchen when reaching the top shelves and cabinets of our pantry space. However, in more recent months (when Lucas was about 14 months or so), the stool started becoming useful in practical skills exercises. We noticed Lucas was starting to take an interest in copying everything we did, and we nurtured his curiosity by allowing him to explore regular, everyday chores. This is quite a “Montessori” way of doing things, and it’s actually reaped many rewards since in terms of his own confidence, motor skills development, and practical skills development. As of the 18 month mark, Lucas would return from playtime outside, take his shoes off in the foyer, put them back on the shelf, go straight to the kitchen, drag the stool to the sink himself, and climb it to wash his own hands (with supervision and assistance of course). I think all homes with toddlers should have stools around to make life skills easier for little ones to master.
  2. GB PockIt Stroller[Second photo from left above, with a bonus shot of what it looks like folded down; credit: GBChildUSA] We got this as a gift at one of our baby showers for Lucas ages ago, and broke it out after the 7 month mark when he was a confident sitter and mover and didn’t need a stroller that laid back to let him sleep in it. It has since become a mainstay across all our travels. This stroller won the 2014 Guiness Record for Most Compact Stroller, and is (as the site promises) “small but strong.”
    • Product pros: It folds down so small, it fits into the overhead compartment in planes (no more waiting in lines or at “odd sized” baggage claims at airports and being the last people to leave after a long haul journey). It’s also relatively lightweight (though not as light as our Aprica, it’s light enough that you can
    • Product cons: It’s not one-arm handling enabled (you have to press both buttons on the handles at the same time to release it rather than just having one button like our Aprica does). And it doesn’t provide great suspension (really bumpy on cobblestone…we’ve taken it all over Europe and are just glad our son doesn’t mind all the bouncing).
    • All that said, it’s definitely been a must-have and must-keep for us with all the travel we do, and how light we like to pack when we go places.
  3. OshKosh Toe Zone Toddler Sandals: [Third photo from left; photo credit: OmJoni] We have been purchasing Toe Zone Toddler Sandals for Lucas across his past 3 pairs of shoes (basically since he could walk), and have so far been very happy with their quality, durability, comfort, and ease of use. The only reason we’ve had to buy 3 is because he outgrows them so quickly. But we’ve kept the others for future use with future kids.
    • Product pros: The velcro straps make it easy to teach your toddler how to take off and put on their shoes themselves. The shoes are also nice and airy and provide both arch support and traction – making them ideal for kids who like running around in places that can get slippery (ie the pool area in our apartment complex), or enjoy exploring mixed terrain (ie every time we take Lucas to a different park in Europe there’s always all kinds of grass, hill, sand, stone to run wild on).
    • Product cons: When they get wet and then dry in the shade instead of the sun, they do stink up a bit because they’re rubber and canvas. I still haven’t found the best way to get rid of that sun, sweat smell, but I figure it’s a small price to pay for such a reliable pair of shoes for our little one.
  4. R2D2 Diaper Bin: [Last photo on the right; photo source: Daily DADvice] This was sold to us at a steal (as a gift of sorts) by our friends Ryan and Karen when I was about to pop with Lucas. If you’re in Manila, you can purchase through Ryan at The Perfect White Shirt (he sells a lot of awesome merch across multiple fandoms). This is another one of those things that we always knew would be useful (like the BEKVAM) but didn’t realize how useful until recently when Lucas started throwing his own diapers away! Because it’s low to the ground with an easy step-on mechanism for activating the hood (and also the option to just lift the hood yourself), it’s easy (and mess free) for Lucas to pick up his own diaper after being changed and toss it into the bin himself. Similar to #1, this was something we didn’t necessarily make a “rule” or “chore” for him – it was something he actively took an interest in himself. I think toddlers love to be able to do useful things with their skills. So just like I believe stools for ease of access to hone life skills are necessary, so to do I think that laundry bins and diaper bins that are accessible to our little ones are equally useful to them growing up to feel like responsible, contributing members of the family too.
  5. Interactive books [Photo of books below] At this toddler age, I’ve found that books that allow for a level of interaction are really well-received. Below are just 4 examples of books Lucas really enjoys, but there are many, many more I could name and that deserves a post of its own. For now, let’s stick to these. I’ve hand-picked each of them because they each have a different “type” of interaction that they encourage:
    • Play-A-Sound Books (in this example Moana, but we also have Zootopia, Potty Time with Elmo, and 2 Star Wars themed ones Lucas also loves; photo credit: Calendars.com) — These are fun because there’s a story attached, with icons throughout that prompt you to press on different sounds. The sounds help liven up the story, and keep the kid engaged
    • Steering Wheel Books (in this example Let’s Go Thomas, but we have our eye on the Cars version as well; photo credit: Amazon.com— These are fun similarly to the above Play-A-Sound book because they come with prompts and buttons to press that supplement the story, but there’s an added element of fun with the steering wheel, which makes this more than just a book. It’s also a toy. Lucas is big into his cars and things-that-move phase, and leaving him in his stroller or a car seat with a book like this means endless minutes of focused playtime for him. So helpful when you’re trying to get errands done!
    • Pop-up books (in this example, the Dutch: Wie Heeft Alle Sla Opgegeten?; photo source: Bibliotheek.nl) — Pop-up books are nice because of that element of surprise, and wonder that accompanies reading a story and slowly revealing different aspects of that story as you go along. If you pick the right ones as well, they’ll be easy teaching tools too. This particular one is actually a useful study in bugs and other animals/creatures. Through it I have taught Lucas frog, bee, snake, worm, snail, and so on. Because the characters pop out, they are that much more memorable
    • And lastly: Books with a consistent theme and cut-through shapes (in this example: Little Tortoise’s Starry Night, but we also have Little Hedgehog’s Big Day, Little Elephant’s Big Heart, and a few more; photo credit: National Bookstore PH— So this actually kills 2 birds with one stone. First, it’s part of a series of books that all center on specific themes: little animals, a shape, their wonder at the world, and their parents’ love for them. These repetitive themes make it easy to hop from book to book, and I’ve noticed that Lucas latches on to the topics with ease and interest because they are so straightforward. The second thing that makes this more easily “interactive” is the cut-out shape. The cut-out shape draws the toddler in, and is a nice teaching and sticking point to show them “this is a moon, this is a heart, this is a circle” and so on

books 12-18





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