smiling Asian child and his young mother in nature with sunlight (toddler parenting hacks)Toddlers! As a doula, I know the word “toddler” can strike fear into the hearts of infant parents. Toddlerhood comes with daily mishaps and messes, making parenting a new kind of hard. As my older two children graduate from this phase and my youngest bulldozes toward it, I am grateful for the many tried-and-true parenting hacks we’ve collected along the way. I hope these toddler tips help your family as much as they’ve helped mine! 

1. Hot glue guns and “surgery day”

Years ago we bought a hot glue gun to fix a couple of broken toys. Since our kids were really interested in this new tool, we turned it into a surgery day. We gathered up our broken, damaged, or no-longer-loved toys, laid them all out, and decided together what to fix, what to donate, and what to trash. It was great to see them start to understand why we weren’t keeping every toy, and this surgery day has become a regular activity at our house!

2. Athletic tape instead of Band-Aids

We all know Band-Aids aren’t necessary for every kid injury. But what do you do when your kid insists they need a Band-Aid and there’s no visible wound? Athletic tape to the rescue! You can buy kinesiology tape in many different colors and patterns! We use these when there is no blood but a child “needs” more than kisses for their boo-boos. At the rate our kids go through Band-Aids (particularly in the summer!), this is a cost-effective solution!

3. Orphan socks bag

One of my best friends in college introduced me to the concept of an orphan socks bag. When you inevitably end up with single socks while sorting laundry, place them in a bag of “orphan socks.” I go through the bag quarterly to find pairs, sort socks, and turn the unmatched ones into puppets!

4. Two remotes

After losing the television remote for a three-day period, I ordered a second remote. I wish I had done it sooner! No, it’s not for the baby to play with — it’s reserved for when the first remote goes missing. We keep our extra remote on the top of the bookcase, and we need it all the time! If you want a decoy remote for your baby to play with, you can buy one at the dollar store — but keep two real remotes for the devices that require them!

5. Kids shelf in the fridge

Our almost 1-year-old is already crawling over and rummaging in the fridge anytime someone opens it! It really helps to have a few containers with things the kids can reach. Our kids currently favor grapes, cucumbers, and blueberries. Having access to those has been a game changer for their constant snack needs.

6. Bath and snack

On a hot or stressful day, taking an early bath and pairing it with a snack is a great way to cool off and calm down. Popsicles and ice cream are the most popular options in my house, but smoothies, milkshakes, and yogurt work great, too.

7. Busy wallet

My kids love pulling things our of my wallet. After too many instances of lost credit cards or ripped dollar bills, I created one of my favorite parenting hacks — a “busy wallet.” It’s simply an old wallet with expired gift cards, old raffle tickets, play money, and a mini tic tac toe game for them to play with.

8. Smoothies with veggies

We serve veggies with most meals, and if the kids don’t eat them, we blend them into smoothies! We don’t hide the vegetables because I believe that defeats the purpose. We want to teach our children that veggies can be easily incorporated into things they like — and putting them in a smoothie means they get eaten!

9. Makeup sponges for sunscreen application

Applying sunscreen to my kids’ faces with makeup sponges is a great time saver! The sunscreen isn’t all over my hands, and I’m not rubbing their faces and attempting to keep sand away. The boys see me use makeup sponges and brushes on my own face each morning, so they act really silly while I pamper their faces in a similar way. It’s become much more fun for us all!

10. Car “go” bag

We keep a bag of the essentials in our car — two outfit changes, including socks and a pair of shoes, plus baby wipes, a sanitizing wipe pack, gloves, and granola bars and fruit snacks. It sounds like a lot, but it’s been a lifesaver for when we’ve forgotten a diaper bag, thought an event would be shorter than it was, or had a kid accidentally squeeze a juice box all over their clothes. As my kids get older, I re-evaluate how much much extra stuff to bring along for them based on their current needs. 

Dashanna Hanlon
Dashanna was born in Michigan and raised between there and Virginia. She moved to Massachusetts in 2011 after getting a bachelor’s degree in English and gender studies from the University of Pittsburgh. She married her favorite Massachusetts native (Tom) seven years ago. Together they have two sons, Lucas and Isaiah, born in 2018 and 2019. Becoming a parent ignited a passion for supporting others, and Dashanna became a doula before the birth of her second son. She is now the owner of Caring for Mamas, working with families all over Massachusetts and New Hampshire. She loves fresh-squeezed lemonade, good music, and helping and supporting families.


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