Emma is a good friend of mine and one of my first very close friends to have children. Her super cute son Melvin has just turned two and I find myself constantly turning to her for parenting advice and tips on what to buy for baby. Before Alec arrived, the newborn must-have shopping list Emma e-mailed me was invaluable (I should actually ask her to share that list with you as well!), so I know that toddler parents will find Emma’s favourite things for one-year-olds very very helpful! Here are Emma and Melvin’s favourite things for one-year-olds:
1. HANDBLENDER. Melvin is a VERY fussy eater. Always has been. His diet consists of bread, pasta, hot dogs and fish fingers. We continue to serve him all kinds of vegetables, hoping that he one day will actually like some of them, but in the meantime it is so nice to know that he’ll at least get some of the healthy stuff through his smoothies! He loves berry smoothies, and won’t even notice the fresh spinach and broccoli that we sneak in there.
2. PORTABLE DVD PLAYER. Oh, this is such a handy little thing! We bought ours while travelling in Australia, and it was such a life saver during long flights and car rides. Melvin hates to sit in his car seat, but with his favorite show on he would happily let us drive for a couple of hours. He was just over a year at the time and really not into sitting down more than two minutes at a time, but thanks to our beloved portable dvd we were actually able to sit through a couple of nice restaurant lunches and dinners!
3. PRICKEN. Any kind of stuffed animal or comfort blanket will do, but Melvin has Pricken, a small stuffed red dog with white polkadots. He sleeps with it every night and he has a doppelganger at pre-school. We’re so happy that we introduced this when he was a baby, because now Pricken means comfort to him and whenever he felt sad and lonely when he started pre-school he would instantly feel better when they gave him Pricken. We have been doing a lot of travelling and having Pricken around also made it easier for him to adjust to new places to sleep.
3. TAGGIT NAME TAGS. At pre-school everything will get lost the second you bring it there unless it is clearly labelled with your child’s name. I couldn’t stand the thought of taking out the old needle and thread and sewing name tags in all of Melvin’s clothes by hand, so I was very happy to find Taggit name tags. You just put this plastic thingie through the name tag and the clothes label and it’s done.
4. HELLO KITTY AND ROBOTS. It’s important to us to try to keep an open mind and see Melvin as a kid, rather than “a boy”. I hate the stereotypical “boys will be boys and should wear blue and play with cars” stuff and am a firm believer in not trying to force kids into a specific gender mould. We want him to be able to develop his own personality traits, not the ones society has decided for him based on him being a boy. This means that we give him toys that he enjoys playing with (he just had his second birthday and his favourite presents were a Pippi Longstocking doll in a red doll pram and a Lego firetruck) and clothes in various colours and patterns, as long as they’re comfy. If we let him choose what clothes to wear he will always pick out the most colorful reds, yellows and greens. Luckily there are lots of great Swedish and Danish kids clothing lines with the same philosophy (Småfolk, Mini Rodini, Katvig, Ebbe, Polarn o Pyret to name a few). I could go on and on about this, but this will have to do for now .
5. iPHONE. We bought a small camcorder when Melvin was a couple of months old, thinking we would use it loads, but I can count the number of times it’s actually been used. When Melvin suddenly does something funny/adorable/cute/amazing there is just no time to start looking for a camcorder, instead I reach for my phone that’s always nearby. I have tons of great little recordings in my old Sony Ericsson, but now that I am a proud owner of an iPhone 4 the quality of the recordings will be even better. It’s also really handy to have a phone with a good quality camera, for all of those photo ops when you’re out and about, not carrying your regular camera around.
6. THE WIGGLES, TELETUBBIES AND IN THE NIGHT GARDEN. Sometimes when you’re home alone with a tired, whining kid, trying to cook him dinner while he’s plastered to your leg yelling “mummy mummy mummy” I resort to the DVDs… We’ve tried a lot of different shows, but only a few of them have been able to mesmerize him and keep his attention for more than two minutes. He loves music (and his parents love Australia), so the Wiggles was one of the first ones we bought him and even though he couldn’t understand a word they said he absolutely loved it. I was sceptical about Teletubbies, but ever since he was just 11-12 months old he has been mesmerized by those weird British dolls. That said, I was very happy to find In the night garden, which resembles Teletubbies but is a bit more endurable for mummy and daddy to listen to!
7. BROTHER MAX CATCH AND FOLD BIBS. Clever soft bibs with a clip-on crumb catcher. Melvin hates those hard plastic bibs, but he still (really) needs a proper crumb catcher. This is the perfect solution, and comes in a pack of three machine washable soft cotton tops.
8. HOME-MADE PHOTO ALBUM. Since we live quite far away from all Melvin’s grandparents and other relatives I decided to make him a photo album with pics of all of the people who love him, so that they would be more present in his life somehow. At the bottom of each photo I wrote who they are (eg GRANDMA or AUNTIE THERESE) for when he learns to read. I put all of the photos of friends and family in a child friendly plastic photo album that he keeps among his books and flicks through on a daily basis, pointing at the different pictures saying who it is and we might have a little chat about where they live or when we will see them next time. It makes me happy to see that he recognizes his relatives even though he can’t meet them in person very often.