Motherhood

“The Random Parenting Product I Swear By”

Mother and Child

There are the big-ticket items almost every parent encounters: crib, stroller… Sophie the giraffe! But sometimes it’s the random little things that save the day. I asked 10 parents (with kids of all ages) to share the surprising items they’ve found most useful, all under $25…

“I always keep a bottle of baby powder in my beach bag because when you put it on sandy feet, the sand instantly melts away! Great for preventing sandy-feet-in-shoes-meltdowns. (It’s a thing.)” — Luisa

“We love this book of drawing prompts. I actually bought two copies — so one adult and one kid can work on the same drawing separately and then exchange books. There are always lots of laughs. It’s awesome for travel or while you’re waiting for dinner or just to amuse yourselves on the subway.” — Abbey

“The most used thing we purchased as parents was this 99-cent ocean waves track. We have it on both our phones, as well as an iPod in my son’s bedroom. No matter where he’s sleeping (a shared hotel room, at the grandparents’ houses, on a plane), his bedtime routine feels familiar and soothing, like an old friend. He’s seven now and we still use it. 99 cents!” — Randi

“My six-year-old twins are obsessed with making art these days, and these magnets make it possible to hang their drawings on just about any flat surface. Bonus: No holes in the wall.” — Holiday

“My family likes this lavender sunscreen. It’s magical: a soft and moisturizing formula that smells so lovely. Nobody objects when I try to slather it on.” — Lauren

“My daughter is a little artist, and these Ikea glass jars work really well for art storage. We have one for pencils, one for markers and one for crayons. They look great on a shelf, keep things organized, and the kids can just go in and get what they need.” — LaTonya

“I swear by this rosemary-scented hair detangler, which also helps to repel lice. It has worked wonders with my daughters.” — Kendra

“You know those silver things they put on runners after marathons? Thermal blankets are crinkly and fun to grab (my baby loves playing with them!), but also light and compact. You can carry them in your bag and put them down on surfaces when you’re out in the world and need to change the baby or have an impromptu picnic.” — Anna

“I started carrying instant cold packs in the trunk of my car after my daughter (then 11) broke her arm playing soccer. They are always ready to go with a wide variety of random sports-related (or playground-related) injuries and bruises.” — Jenny

“We once went to a diner in Baltimore that had an old-school Etch-a-Sketch they handed out to kids. My son loved it so much (and was so preoccupied with it during our meal) that we bought one that same afternoon! It’s perfect for meals out, long car rides or just rainy afternoons at home.” — Diane

What do you think? What would you add to the list?

P.S. What to register for your baby and 15 things I’d tell a new mom. Plus, 21 surprising parenting tips.

(Photo of Mother and Child in Corfu by Linda McCartney)

  1. I love the baby powder as #1 ! This is always in my beach bag! Works like a charm! But i recently read that you cannot take baby powder in your carry-on anymore, so check with your airline!

  2. Molly says...

    That lavender sunscreen is the BEST! I usually think sunscreen is heavy but I feel so fresh every time I use this kind.

  3. Seraphim says...

    My 6-year old was recently home sick from school – she was too tired to read or play and I didn’t want her streaming shows all day, so I put on some kid podcasts for her. She lay quietly listening for hours – it was awesome. She remained quiet and resting, which is what her body needed and I was actually able to get some work done (which is what I needed!). She really liked ‘NPR’s Wow in the World’ and ‘Stories Podcast’ – other good ones are ‘But Why’ and ‘Story Pirates.’

  4. Jori says...

    We travel a lot and there have been many times when we were nowhere near a bathroom or a tree. “Travel Johnny’s” (http://traveljohnjr.com/our-products/) have been amazing and I always carry them around as they are so compact. Truly a game changer. Works for girls too and adults!!

  5. Kathy says...

    A 12-pack of flat (unfolded) diapers and a package of those plastic clips that are used to turn plastic hangers into skirt hangers are always part of my gift to a new mama. I kept a few of each in my tiny diaper bag. The diapers: clean up messes, blow noses, wipe tears, lightweight baby blanket, tie ice in one for a boo-boo, emergency head-cover (fold it, roll it, and/or tie it) on a sunny or windy day, a wet one is cooling on a hot day, a knotted one makes a good teether…I’ve even made an emergency shirt for my daughter a couple of times. I most often used the clips to attach one or more diapers to the edge of the stroller canopy. It made guaranteed shade and limited visual distraction for a sleepy baby. I also used the two items to make a bib MANY times. My daughter amused herself with a diaper quite frequently–she waved it around, played peekaboo, etc. She is 19 now, and I still have a few diapers in the linen closet!

  6. Lacey Parr says...

    A removable shower head! So helpful for bathing babies and rinsing off heads. And nice for shared showers, no one gets left in the cold! ;)

  7. Alyson Carlisle says...

    The app buddhify 2-I bought it for Myself when it first Came out & I can honestly say it’s the best $4.99 I have ever spent. At bedtime my husband & I do the meditations with our 2 & 5 year old and it’s the best way to end the day.

  8. Elly says...

    The Nugget saved our lives last winter!

  9. Sasha says...

    At my home preschool the favorite *lesson* is a tool bag. It has a tiny tape measure, a couple small flashlights, and a couple magnifying glasses. Kids 18 mos and up just love using the tools in a variety of ways to explore, and they often use imagination to turn them into other things too. Open ended toys are the best!

  10. VBK says...

    A deck of waterproof cards. This one is for the older kids probably 7 and up? It’s still hard to wait to be served in a restaurant, or to be patient while grownups are talking. We’ve been playing “golf” – a simple card game where each hand only takes a couple of minutes – for years now. I’m sure you can google the rules. Bonus- the waterproof cards don’t get wet from the spills on the table!

  11. Kelsey says...

    Wahoo for Good Hangups! The inventor/owner is a mom at my children’s school. We use them at our house :)

    • I have been meaning to get some of these ever since I saw them on Shark Tank and was reminded by your comment so thanks! They are %30 off today, too! Score!

  12. bethyp says...

    Baby wipes!

    My “baby” is now almost 5 years old, but I have a package of wipes in my car, every bathroom in our house, his bedroom, near the front door, at my office…I use them to clean my son’s hands and face, dust off any surface quickly, clean up sticky stuff on the floor, wipe down the bathroom sink/toilet seat, wipe his bum…so many uses! I don’t think I’ll ever not have them in my life…

    • Sophia F. says...

      This, all the way.

  13. Shannon N says...

    The best investment I have made are the 2 lifejackets I bought for my kids at Costco. We take them with us when we travel to lakes and the ocean. Great peace of mind!

  14. Bridgette says...

    This is the absolute best comment thread EVER. Thanks for so many great ideas!

  15. Cora says...

    We learned about this trick too late but I wish someone had told us to keep a red washcloth for cleaning up bloody kid accidents. The kid is already freaked out about being hurt and seeing lots of blood freaks them out more. Using a red washcloth conceals the amount of blood involved.

  16. Toy with crinkly pieces work a treat as mini would focus a long time playing with them while talking to himself!

  17. Elizabeth Anderson says...

    Did anyone mention Wikki Sticks?

    • Jasmine says...

      Second this! One of my best friends works as a manager at Wikki Sticks (its a very small company), and it is so fun to get their sets and use them even as adults – I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough to use them, too!

    • Mimi says...

      Wikki Sticks are amazing!! I always have a set in the diaper bag and they are a lifesaver on planes. They are fun for both kids and adults! My two-year old daughter, my 30 year old sister, and I spent a 2 hour flight making jewelry for each other. To the commentator below, please tell your friend that her company makes a great product.

  18. Jennifer says...

    My kids are getting a bit less inclined to spill everything these days, but I still try to carry some silicone sippy-cup tops that stretch over any cup and make them spill-proof. Having those in restaurants or at friend’s houses made for some much tidier meals.

  19. JG says...

    My #1 baby shower gift is a big tub of Aquaphor. I used it instead of diaper cream and it would heal rashes so quickly and effectively (and it helped me avoid that dreaded chalky feeling on my hands from the regular diaper creams). Now I also use it for chapped lips, scratches, dry skin, etc. for our entire family, not just our two year old twins. It’s a must!

    • Yes, JG! Aquaphor FTW. For always. For everything.

    • Just keep it out of little one’s reach. My friend let her little girl play with her hair and didn’t realize she was adding Aquaphor by the handful. It took her 8 days (including a 4 hour salon visit) to get it all out. ;D

  20. gfy says...

    I second the sleeping soundtrack idea – I use this super dreamy massage music track for a three year old little boy who often gets very rambunctious at bedtime. This works like a charm! Should mention that it has one or two lines of somewhat spiritual lyrics in a ancient/new age way, but mostly it’s just abstract toning. It’s mesmerizing and has made bedtime effortless, as he seems to relax right away, as do I.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83GoT3l0CgM

  21. Heather Hall says...

    Chenille pipe cleaners from the craft store make a fantastic restaurant activity. They’re quiet and have provided endless, artistic sculpting opportunities.

  22. As an adult who has been known to have a mini-meltdown over sand everywhere, I’m super excited about the cornstarch/baby powder solution.

  23. CJ says...

    I’m not a parent, but my mom always swore by (and continues to buy as a baby gift) a pediatric humidifer. They’re cheap, they provide just enough white noise, and they make sleeping so much easier when you’re stuffed up or have a sore throat.

  24. i carried a deck of cards always. Not just for games but for building houses and marking “the court” for soccer games played with straw wrapper balls hahaha.

  25. Cynthia says...

    I had forgotten about using baby powder to get the sand off your feet and legs, so now I am going to buy a container of it to keep in our camping trailer.

  26. Karina says...

    GRIPE WATER for newborns!

  27. Amy says...

    I’d like to add a few things. A pen and small pad of paper for my artist son, a handful of cars, wikki stix (wax sticks that can be used to create anything that can be imagined), small packs of antibacterial wipes for my purse, a pacifier clip, a small stick of sunscreen for impromptu outside time, and a Wet Brush for detangling hair. I also keep an outside blanket in my trunk for a place to sit outdoors when needed.

    • MissEm says...

      the wet brush is brilliant.

  28. Anne says...

    Ok, it’s way more than $25 but my sister in law shared with me that they loved having a hot tub when they had teens at home. It turns out your kids will tell you anything when you put them in hot water! For whatever reason it gets the conversations going. This is valuable information people!

    • Hmm, this is so interesting. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh that really is! love it.

    • Carly says...

      I remember talking to my mom about EVERYTHING on winter nights in our hot tub!

    • My parents had one and I second this, 100%, but be aware it works both ways! My parents would tell us anything, too :)

  29. Erin says...

    Cotton infinity scarves! Way better than any nursing cover, can serve as blanket to keep a little one warm or soften a place to sit.

  30. Rachel says...

    Blue tape! Use it to tape up an art gallery on the back of the plane, train, automobile seat in front of you or on the window of the hotel or Airbnb. Use it to create sculpture or a collage. Put it on the floor to make a track. And, my proudest MacGyver moment…race two rolls on their sides at an empty airport gate when the flight is delayed! My son is 11 and blue tape has been a staple since he was a toddler.

    • Sadie says...

      This is such a good one! The best plane toy ever! Plus, just my son’s face when I told him the WHOLE ROLL was JUST FOR HIM to play with.

    • Rachel says...

      Yes! Painters tape and a sharpie are a must-have items in our household! We use them all the time to label baby bottles and jars of food for daycare, babysitters, and our tired selves.

  31. Genna says...

    One of my favorites are trucks and pom poms. This combo has occupied my my sons (4 and almost 2) for hours! It was especially great on an airplane because it kept him busy and doesn’t make a noise. Here are our favorite trucks we use them with: https://www.amazon.com/Caterpillar-Construction-Bulldozer-Excavator-Free-Wheeling/dp/B07734DZKG/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1525750593&sr=8-4&keywords=mini+trucks+pack or https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FJ2HDE/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A2HW4ODLJATN5W and we like the assorted packs of pom poms because of course rocks/boulders come in all sizes =)

    • Sadie says...

      We have gone through two of that exact set (they were loved hard). Wish I had thought of pompoms! He always wanted something to dig.

  32. Anna Jaye says...

    I don’t have kids, but I loved this post! Some great gift ideas and things to think about for the future. Thanks!

  33. Jeanne says...

    Driving teenagers? Life 360 app (or similar gps tracker). I worry less when they’re out late at night so I don’t need to be the nagging parent with texts or calls. I can also see how fast they’re driving and how much battery power left is on their phone. Sanity saver!

  34. ellie says...

    maybe it’s because I work in healthcare, but no new parent should embark on their infant journey without Nose Frida! It’s not cute or romantic, but it will save at least one trip to the doctor/ED during infant and toddler cold seasons. I tell all my patients about it and give it at every baby shower I attend (with something more fun, too…of course!). I swear, every parent has sent a note later thanking me for something they thought they would not need or use!

    • Lex says...

      100%. I did not realize how much time i would spend trying to get things out of my infant’s nose. so. much. congestion. don’t forget the saline spray! I give this at EVERY baby shower i go to.

    • gfy says...

      I see so many congested kids who are clearly allergic to dairy! I discovered that dairy creates wicked congestion when I was being crippled by sinus infections/congestion and now my heart goes out to all the little kids I see being given milk or cheese sticks. Other congestors for me were soy and wheat, fyi.. Just something to consider!

    • M says...

      Peds resident here and 100% agree. I don’t have kids and have never used it but guys- every. single. parent. that uses this thing swears by it, as do all my attending physicians. 10/10 would recommend even if the concept grosses me out a teeny bit, haha.

  35. Shannon says...

    Along the etch a sketch lines, I grabbed a fake magna doodle on a whim at Walgreens for a dollar (on sale!) and my almost 2 year old LOVES it. She can draw and erase like a pro.

  36. Cindy says...

    A length of baseboard from Home Depot/Lowes! The back has a ridge in it that is the perfect width for a toy car. Prop up one end on a piece of furniture, then let the cars roll down. Stores easily under furniture. My boys used to play with this for HUGE periods of time.

    • Emma says...

      genius!!!!

  37. Anne says...

    Here’s my summertime answer: 1. A stomp rocket! Its so simple but it keeps my kids and all of their friends of varying ages entertained. Bonus! They’re only $15

    2. Blue lizard sunscreen. We’ve tried so many different brands but this is by far our fav

    3. Do – A – Dot markers. My kids are obsessed.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love stomp rockets! even grown-up friends have had hilarious times with those :)

    • Cora says...

      We learned the hard way that dot markers stain toddler skin!

  38. Nina says...

    One of my most used: a dollar store tiny screwdriver set. Practically useless for anything but EVERY CHILDREN’S TOY out there that takes batteries. Instead of fighting to find a big screwdriver that squeezes into a hole it never goes all the way into these have tiny 5 flat head and 5 phillip’s heads. They are usually in a cheap container that falls apart but the screwdrivers stay in their slots – small enough to keep with the batteries! I give them to every new parent.

    • Luna says...

      Yes! our youngest son loved his Dad’s old screwdriver & he would pretend to fix everything imaginable.

  39. Val says...

    Playdoh, it gets on everything but keeps my daughter busy for hours.
    From the toddler days, the lollacup sippy cup was great.
    I also keep a bag with crayons, coloring books, toys, etc. for restaurants and trips.

  40. Morgan says...

    Ketchup and mustard squeeze bottles! you can get them just about anywhere they sell kitchen items and once filled with water they are HOURS of awesome, silly play – outside we water the plants, squirt rocks or have “aiming” games. Great in blow up pools or the bath! All three of my kids go wild!

    • Oh, I LOVE this idea. Need to get these for our water table/Kiddie pool this summer!

    • Mindy says...

      We got a pack of clear and I’ll throw some food coloring for bath fun. Also great for icing at cookie decorating parties! I love the idea of using them to water plants, will do that tomorrow!

  41. Annie says...

    Loved seeing this lesser-known Linda McCartney photo! I’m such a huge fan of her as both a person and a photographer. Definitely a very underrated artist, because of gender politics in addition to the obvious.

  42. Selina says...

    Plain dot stickers from the office supply department and a sheet of paper and a pen!

  43. Debra says...

    Corn starch works for sand and other stick to you things. Easy, readily available, and inexpensive.

    • Katie says...

      I love the cornstarch/baby powder tips! We live in a beach city and my toddlers seem to bring 10 pounds of sand back into the house after every beach day.
      But how do you do it exactly? Rub the powder on them at the end (when they are covered in sand)? Or coat them a little before the beach so the sand is repelled?

    • Lisa says...

      Katie, I’m a Florida mom and I always used the baby powder after beach day before climbing into the car for the ride home.

    • Anne says...

      I put a little baby powder on the corner of my towel and rub my feet with it on my way back to the car, at the end of the day. Easy!

    • Sara says...

      Cornstarch works great with no nasty ingredients!

  44. Julie says...

    I always have some kind of little plastic figurine in my handbag. We take turns playing hide and seek with it to keep the kids entertained when we’re waiting somewhere.

  45. Megan says...

    A library card is free! We go all the time. Not just for storytime but to play with their toys and obviously check out books and videos, etc. Ours has bundles of kids and baby toys you can check out and tv and ebook services included with a membership. There are always free events going on and since they’re public places they are ADA compliant and breastfeeding friendly (though I know all places are supposed to be BF friendly) I just had twins last fall and I’ve gone there solo more than any other place with them and my two year old. I also look out for libraries to visit when traveling, especially with babies.

  46. cgw says...

    For those early toddler years: A pair of small safety scissors (preferably with a cover for the tip -easy to find at a Sanrio store). The scissors were so useful for cutting food into smaller bites when we went out to eat. It cuts so much faster than using a knife. Wipe it down with a baby wipe and put it back into the bag/purse.

    I don’t know if they still make these, but when my daughter was young there was a brand that made water based markers that were small and had a loop on the end and came with a carabiner to hold all the colors in one place. It was awesome, we brought that plus a small notebook and she was set to entertain herself when we went out to eat, long drives, etc.

  47. Katie Larissa says...

    The baby powder also works after a haircut to get all the tiny itchy hairs off their necks and shoulders!

    • Kate says...

      OMG, brilliant. Do you just rub it on your hand and then onto their neck?

  48. Alison says...

    My favorite go-to when it’s nice outside and we have a whole gaggle of kids at the house is corn starch paint: Just mix a few tablespoons of corn starch, a few drops of food coloring, a few drops of dish soap and some water in a small cup (or mix up several different colors in a muffin tin). You can paint sidewalks, fences, cars, or each other. The ‘paint’ washes away with a hose or rain.

    • Heather says...

      This is brilliant. can’t wait to try.

    • LOVE LOVE LOVE this! I can’t wait to try this!!

    • Carly says...

      Wow!! We’re doing this tomorrow!

    • Rachel says...

      Water Wow books are awesome for car/train rides with toddlers!

  49. Claire says...

    I used to keep what I called an unexpected events bag in my car. It included a couple fleece throw blankets, hand soap, an old towel and washcloth, sanitizer wipes, sunscreen, Kleenex, bandaids, an old sweatshirt -one for me and one for my son, mosquito repellant, etc. It came in handy many times when the weather shifted on us, or we were face with a questionable restroom, or one that was out of soap, or if we found ourselves outside when we thought we’d be inside, or inside someplace with chilly AC. The summer version had extra swimsuits and pool toys so we were prepared to enjoy a splash in the pool whenever the impulse struck.

    • Mariana says...

      Great idea, saving this!

  50. Audrey says...

    It took me 3 kids to figure this out. You can use a small drawstring bag (I use the cotton backs that come when you buy shoes sometimes) and make a mini diaper bag with a few diapers, some wipes, a change of clothes and maybe a small toy. I then hang it on a hook by the door and put it in whatever bag i’m carrying that day before we leave the house. Sometimes it’s my purse, sometimes it’s the beach bag, and sometimes it’s an old backpack that we use as a diaper bag. I packed way too much stuff with my first two kids…probably in an attempt to be prepared for any imaginable situation possible. In reality, you just need the basics. And diaper bags are over-rated. If you’re not packing half your living room, you really just need any old bag.

    • SAME! And also kid #3…takes me a couple of tries ;)

    • Robin says...

      Yes! I love wet/dry bags for the extra clothes/diapers/wipes. Handy for keeping all the gross messes separate from the still clean remainder :). I also have a bunch of washable muslin drawstring bags to pack snacks/toys – I bought them to replace plastic bags when I buy bulk, but they are just as often filled with hot wheels in this house ;)

    • Emma says...

      Yeah, never understood the need for overpriced diaper bag. A good backpack with lots of pockets did the trick for us and three babies.

  51. Samantha Maxson says...

    my 1 year old was obsessed over our tv remote. He wouldn’t fall for the ol’ baby fake remote, So i bought 6 old remotes from people off of a Facebook selling group. Its been the best $3 ive spent and Is still his most played with toys!

    • That’s so cute.

    • Sheri Moore says...

      I actually bought my 1 year old a chewie dog toy that looked like a remote (brand new, unused!). It was a huge hit and let the adults keep the working remotes for themselves!

  52. I LOVE these chopstick helpers for older toddlers-younger elementary age kids. I keep them in my purse and end up passing them out every time we go out for Asian food. I gave one out today when I went to a Ramen place for a work lunch and the lady at the table next to us had a kid with her. They cost practically nothing, but can be reused forever.

    https://www.amazon.com/FUN-CHOP-Chopstick-Helper-FunChop/dp/B00FFHDUA0/ref=sr_1_3?rps=1&ie=UTF8&qid=1525720838&sr=8-3&keywords=fun+chop+chopstick+helper&refinements=p_85%3A2470955011

  53. Sophia F. says...

    Top two: BABY WIPES. We are long out of the diapers stage but I use them for everything – grubby hands after the playground before the car, ice cream drips on leggings, wiping spilled food at the restaurant. It always surprises me how many parents stop carrying them when their kids are potty trained. And the other is totally free: when my eldest was five months old, I made an impromptu toy from a disposable water bottle that I threw some coffee beans into, squeezed some air out of, and recapped. It crinkled, it rattled, and she loved that thing for over a year and a half. It moved across the country with us!

  54. Meg says...

    Amen to the baby powder! Never leave for the beach without it – it’s magic and also gets rid of sweaty wet kid smell in the car haha.

    These water painting thingies… all you need is water. My 2 year and 12 year old are equally entertained by them, they fit in a purse, never run out, etc. LIFE SAVER because somehow parenting always seems to involve a disproportionate amount of time waiting with restless kids!

    https://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Doug-Reusable-Water-Reveal-Activity/dp/B017OW251I/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1525720315&sr=8-9&keywords=melissa+doug+pad

    • Silver says...

      I have lived my entire life next to the beach and had never heard of this – I am going to try it! Wonderful

  55. Alex says...

    An Amazon Prime subscription is all you’ll ever need. :P

    • Emma says...

      Hell-to-the-yes!

  56. marie says...

    The small klean kanteen container. Small and leak proof. Honestly my most used thing from her first mashed vegetables to endless raisins and nuts, sliced apples, breakfast on the go, leftover porridge for the train ride, etc.

  57. oh dear. my amazon cart is OOC right now.

    is it weird that i wanna say a wooden spoon? my son uses it when he’s teething, uses it to make noise with, uses it to fling and then crawl after. i don’t even know why we own toys…

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes!! when they were younger, my kids loved wooden spoons, keys and remote controls :)

    • Dana says...

      PSA regarding keys – some keys have screaming high levels of lead! I’m in environmental health and only just found this out. Please don’t let your children play with keys, and wash your hands after handling your keys. My baby wants my hands in his mouth all the time, and im terrified I’ll forget to wash them first. Here’s an article for anyone who wants to know more… scary! https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3814711/

  58. Heather says...

    Something about Abbey’s tip–I think it was the “one adult and one kid” language–made me wonder if there’s more than one child in her family now. I believe she wrote about her miscarriages on Cup of Jo a few years ago, and I’ve thought of her from time to time since then. I just checked her Instagram, and indeed, she had a baby in February! Such wonderful news!

  59. Megan says...

    The Baby Bjorn bibs that catch crumbs and spills in their “trough” was the first thing that came to mind! Honest Company healing balm and a boo-boo bunny: one or the other will heal pretty much any toddler injury. Multiple packs of the Aden & Anais muslin loveys, to rotate through the laundry, take on trips, stash as back-ups, etc. And sidewalk chalk from the dollar store… All. Summer. Long.

    • Emma Bee says...

      Aiden and Anais lovey! We have 6 of the same one for our 3 yr old. One has never been opened, it’s our emergency backup! But the other 5 are getting so worn, AND they discontinued the style, ahhh! I will pay $$$ for the bunny lovey with pink stars if anyone has any!

    • Meagan says...

      Oh my gosh I had completely forgotten about boo boo bunnies! We had them when I was a kid. On amazon right now ordering one for my toddler. She had her first scraped knee last week and I’m sure a boo boo bunny would have helped tons!

    • Nina says...

      Not sure what the boo boo bunny is but keeping a frosty bear (a bear shaped pack you put in the freezer with gel in it) has been amazing for my child and other neighborhood kids -heck I get it out for me with a bad migraine. Almost instant stoppage of crying.
      Even the dog has used it on hot days – washes up easily.

  60. Bernie says...

    An insulated straw cup. I bought it for myself because I love ice water but my 2-year old became obsessed with it. She loves the clinky ice and drinking from the straw. She drinks so much water now. The only drawback is she usually drinks it all so there’s hardly any left for me!

  61. Heidi says...

    Aden and Anais Swaddles. Invest in two sets if you can. They will function as swaddles, changing pads, nursing covers, burp cloths, light travel blankets for babies and adults, car seat shade, mini indoor picnic blankets, super hero capes, pretend skirts, dolly blankets, fort curtains, “Elsa” braids (wrap around the head and leave the long part as a “braid”) and now, as my daughter is almost five, they are the perfect hair towel for her curly hair- absorbs the wetness without tangles. And they’re all still so soft and intact. I’m never getting rid of them!

    • Ashley says...

      Yes! We loved these. I tried to find patterns I could wear as a scarf when we traveled as a two in one. They dry super fast so they’re perfect for traveling.

    • Alex says...

      Yes! We still use the ones we got at our baby shower on a weekly (if not daily) basis with my almost 3 year old for all the things Heidi mentioned plus indoor forts, warm weather napping, make believe “ice packs”, stuffed animal hammocks, and hobo sacks (like on a stick you find at the park). I tell every expecting friend to put them on their shower list.

    • Audrey says...

      Agreed. We have had ours for 7 years now, and my older two kids play with them multiple times a week doing everything you listed above! And I use them with the baby constantly.

    • Heidi says...

      Yes! I’ve worn one as a scarf before and I’ve also used one to cover my legs in the sun by the pool!

    • Natalie says...

      Yes!!They were baby blankets for my daughter but now my daughter uses it as her lovey. She never used a pacifier . She calls it her “bee-bee”

    • Taylor says...

      Yes. All three of my kids are obsessed with those blankets! And they’re so great for all the reasons above. Every baby shower- I get a set. My oldest has 12! 😳 and he sleeps with all of them piled up as his pillow. He has the set with turtle, bees and owls. He has a speech delay so for the longest time would go around saying Bzzzzz and Hooo hooo when he wanted his blankets. Now he can says the owl etc, but such a sweet memory.

  62. Steph says...

    You will always find a small deck of cards in my purse, notepad and pen (hang man/tictactoe/pictionary), and baby wipes (my kids are now 8&12). And snacks… because hanger always makes it worse.

    • Michelle says...

      I carry these exact things and for the same purpose! Water too! I :)

  63. Jill says...

    I buy Crayola Model Magic in bulk (primary colors) and we bring it on car trips, to sports games, restaurants, etc. My kids (3, 7 and 9) all LOVE mixing the colors and making cubes, caterpillars, etc. It doesn’t stick to things and the texture is really soothing (like a less annoying fidget spinner!). We also find it attracts kids of all ages. I bring extra packs for the other sideline siblings that are sure to join us!

    http://www.orientaltrading.com/4-color-crayola-sup—/sup-model-magic-sup—/sup-classpack-sup—/sup-a2-56_8019.fltr

  64. Mac says...

    Mine are a set of energizer touch lights— they offer enough light for late night feeding and diaper changes without being so bright that baby thinks it’s party time. My 6 and 3 year old daughters still keep them on their nightstand and use them if they get up during the night

  65. Erin says...

    I spent $20 on a HUGE set of plastic fake food from Amazon and my kids love it. Seriously the best $20 ever spent. They play restaurant, grocery store, make “meals” for my husband and I… Just add a few plastic plates and a few lunch boxes and you have hours of entertainment.

    • I don’t even know why but I loved playing with fake food as a kid :)

  66. Joyce says...

    I carried cheap pashminas in their wrappers in my bag throughout my daughters’ early childhoods. They took up no room, but they were always ready when we needed something to sit on, something to bundle things up in to carry or an extra layer of warmth. Once I even improvised a halter dress when my daughter got soaked at a water playground on a breezy day! The last one went to a toddler in a stroller on a day that had turned cold, and I felt like Mary Poppins.

    • Amy D says...

      “Mary Poppins” ….I just loved this! 😂

  67. Lisa says...

    Baby washcloths because they are so soft and I ended up using them for everything. Also, they are really small and fit in your pockets quite easily. I still have them in all my coat pockets for blowing noses, etc.

    • Anita B. says...

      YES!! This got us through Hurricane Sandy with no power for 5 days stuck with no toys at a friend’s house!

  68. Jessica says...

    I always have between 5-10 little hot wheel cars in my purse. I take them out at restaurants or wherever and my 2 boys are happy.

    • Michelle says...

      Oh that is really so sweet!

  69. Allyson says...

    A Haakaa pump! As a breastfeeding Mom, I’m kind of annoyed I didn’t see this on any of the actual hundred “New Baby Must Haves” lists I read. It’s a small, soft silicone “pump” that you attach to your other breast while you nurse. It catches all the letdown and creates gentle suction so you can score up to 3 (or more!) ounces while you feed on one side. It’s been a HUGE help; I store more milk, keep my bras and shirts dry and can let my baby practice drinking from it. I buy them as baby shower gifts if I know the mother is looking forward to (or anxious) about breastfeeding. The off-brand ones on Amazon are less than $10. Amazing.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow, that pump sounds amazing. i had the hardest time pumping and would have taken any help i could get!

    • Justine says...

      I didn’t know about these with my first but am so excited to use it with #2! (Due in 9 weeks!) I feel like I wasted so much milk in nursing pads and then when I went back to work, pumping was so stressful and my freezer supply went quickly. I’m gonna start building up my supply immediately this time!

    • Robin says...

      I’ve never heard of this! So smart! I’m almost done nursing my second now … I wish I’d heard about this sooner. A year ago I definitely would be adding this to my amazon cart.

    • Emily says...

      yes! loved this.

    • Allyson says...

      As far as pumps go, the haakaa pump and a lansinoh manual pump have totally replaced the expensive electric pump my insurance provided. For me, the electric one is a hassle & uncomfortable. I get MORE milk in less time just alternating the haakaa pump and the $25 manual pump. I can get 6 ounces in 15 minutes or less at work. At home, I use it on the off-side every feeding and put any amount it catches in a bottle in the fridge. At the end of the day, I combine cold milk from all the bottles into one bottle or if I have enough to fill a freezer bag, I’ll freeze that. I feel more in tune with my body using the manual pump and think it’s more efficient and gentle. But, my sister and friends LOVE their electric pump. It’s just good to have options! Also, I feel safe telling you guys my mom hormones made me cry (???) and immediately laugh because I was so happy to see my comment was helpful! I really love Cup of Jo so much!

    • Lomavistagirl says...

      The other great thing about the Haakaa is how easy it is to clean. I started using it too late (by the time I bought it, I wasn’t really letting down on the off side anymore) but I still keep it in my desk drawer at work in case I ever forget my regular pump.

    • Anu says...

      The one thing to note is the Haakaa doesn’t work for everyone, particularly women like me who didn’t have an initial oversupply.

  70. Wendy says...

    Surprised no one has mentioned a dustbuster (portable vacuum cleaner). That has been the most useful thing I’ve ever bought! Keeping tidy without any hassles – plus the kids fight over it :)

    • Jen says...

      YES. I finally got a good Dustbuster recently and it’s a huge game-changer for small messes (which are truly constant with a toddler). Bonus, my 2.5 yo can legitimately operate it and loves to help, so she will actually clean her own messes. I wax poetic about it every time I use it.

    • Claire says...

      Same here! I use it daily.

    • Laura says...

      Ditto on the dustbuster!

    • Sylvia says...

      LOVING my dustbuster! For some reason I have always wanted one. FInally got one last year. And I am just a messy adult living alone.

    • Amy says...

      Jen….do you mind sharing which “good” dustbuster you have? The one I previously owned was junk with barely any suction. Gosh, this would be the best thing to have in the garage to quickly clean up my van……

  71. Sara says...

    Love this post! One of my favorite finds are these divided snack trays with lids. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BB1YDML/ref=psdc_3744021_t2_B004S129AQ (EasyLunchboxes 4-Compartment Snack Box Food Containers) When the boys were toddlers, I would fill one up for each of us and throw them in my tote bag and we were on our way to do whatever we had planned for the day. I didn’t have to worry about stopping for food and I could buy snacks in bulk and use fewer zip top bags and single serve packages. The same company makes the same trays in a little bigger version that fits a sandwich that I use now to send their lunches to school. Great for road trip snacks too.

  72. Megan says...

    Crayola washable non-toxic markers!! My daughter was 18 mos old on a road trip last summer and we blitzed through all of my preplanned activities, snacks and toys and she was really fussy. I gave her a few markers and watched her blissfully draw all over herself for easily 30 min. Then I gave her a baby wipe and she spent at least 15 more mins wiping down her arms and legs. Now I always bring some in the diaper bag. Also, I learned on a 9 hour flight that the hole in Cheerios fits perfectly through an airline cocktail stirrer. Even better if said cocktail was for mama!

    • Robin says...

      Ha genius!

  73. Lisa says...

    For toddlers:
    Bubbles. I’ve sent this link to so many people https://instagram.com/p/BhzVG1WBnNj/ because it sums up most toddlers’ reactions to bubbles. I also use them as bribes for bath time (blow the bubbles over the bath so the floor doesn’t get slippery)
    Water wow colouring books. It’s supposed to be from 3 years old, but I got one for my two year old and it kept him busy for a lot of a flight. You “paint” with water (so no mess!), there’s hidden pictures and one of the best things is that it dried (and the painting disappeared) by the time he got to the last page, so he started all over again. Kept him busy for half an hour
    Big chalks for drawing on pavements / playground floors

    • Rachel Youngman says...

      Blowing bubbles in the shower are even better. When you are wet, the bubbles stick to you without popping. You can catch them, bounce them off each other and join them together. Also the steam seems to make them last forever :)

  74. DIANA says...

    ETCH A SKETCH! I’ll take anything that will occupy my nieces like an i-Pad that doesn’t have easy access to explicit Pitbull songs and allow them to take videos of their bare butts.

  75. katie says...

    Oh my gosh. The baby powder thing. I’m not a parent and I hate it when sand gets stuck to my feet. Or legs. Or my body in general. I’m going to adopt this trick and keep baby powder in my beach bag!

    • Becky says...

      Totally agree! I’m excited for this beach hack!

    • Anne says...

      It totally works, we always do this at the beach! I shake a little onto the corner of my towel and brush my feet off – my theory is that it absorbs all the moisture so the sand has nothing to stick to

    • Eliza says...

      I’d love to shout from the rooftops that corn starch does EXACTLY the same thing and can be used on hands before eating a sandy beach sandwich or on the face if sand is on your toddler’s face/cheeks – completely non toxic! I use an empty washed out baby powder bottle and fill it with corn starch!

    • Anu says...

      Actually most baby powder now is corn starch since there were found to be issues with talc.