My Favorite Products for My 3 Year Old.

By: Jen Shoop

*Our bed is Serena & Lily, as are the throw pillows; linens are Hill House.

This post is truly helter-skelter, but below, a list of my favorite products for my three-year-old: the hero-status items I lean on every single day.

+Re-Play Divided Plates. These are absolutely the best. Dishwasher- and microwave-safe, unfussy and attractive in design, and the wells are deep enough to hold even liquids (like soups, or oatmeal, or cereal).

+Activity Trays. Very Montessori of me, but I use these trays all the time, even when just presenting mini with some dot markers and sheets to fill in, or organizing the components of a little project — just a contained little space to place all elements of an activity. But they’re also excellent for sensory play, just deep enough that they are ideal for creating sandscapes with kinetic sand, or pools of water for little animals to play in. I also have one permanently filled with a mountain of crayons that we use close to daily in these parts. These trays are sturdy and easy to clean. Love.

+iPad Holder (seen above). Mini gets iPad time most days (now with school back in session we actually find we skip this most school days), and this sturdy silicon holder has prevented her from destroying the iPad (dropping, throwing, etc.). It also stands upright on a surface, so great for planes / tabletop use.

+Crayola Dropz. Mini is occasionally resistant at bath time, and this under-$4 snag has saved me countless times by giving her some measure of control over bath time. Once she starts dragging her feet, I ask her “do you want to put dropz in the water, or bubbles, or nothing?” And she usually perks right up with the option of dying her bath tub fun colors.

+Micro Kickboard Scooter. The go-to for Manhattan parents — these are all over the city, and with good reason. They are perfectly designed for small children and the handles are adjustable so the board can grow with your little one. We see children as young as just under two using them! They are essential when walking somewhere that’s just a little too far for little feet, but not far enough to necessitate the Subway/a taxi.

+Bugaboo Ride Along Board. Another brilliant product for city parents: we attach this to the back of our stroller so mini can sit (or stand) when she’s too tired to walk. It took us a couple of months for her to accept this — she used to jump off all the time. But just when she turned three, she started to love it. It does make the stroller a little bit more awkward to push and you kind of have to walk to the side while it’s deployed, but it also does fold up / can be removed when not in use.

+Camelbak Water Bottles. These have been our favorite water bottles for Emory since she was about two — she “got” how to drink out of them very quickly, they hold a lot of water, and they wash nicely. I also like the whimsical designs. Perhaps most importantly, they do not spill when “closed,” so mini usually takes one to bed with her.

+Sunbutter. Mini’s favorite lunch is peanut butter and jelly. I have to work hard at keeping it to only once or twice a week — she’d eat it every day if she had her druthers! Like most schools, mini’s is a nut-free environment, so was relieved to discover sunbutter tastes similar but has no nuts.

+California Baby Detangler. I love this lavender-scented mist, which detangles but also seems to condition mini’s hair. I first got hooked on it the summer she took swimming lessons and went to the pool/beach a few times. It was so good for her hair post-swim. We’ve been in love ever since.

+Mason Pearson Child’s Brush. Somehow both gentle and incredibly effective. I remember when I was growing up, my mom had a few brushes, and we all begged her to use “the soft brush,” which was roughly the equivalent of using a soft washcloth to brush our hair — aka, it did nothing. I vowed not to fall into that trap and invested in one good brush thus pre-empting the inevitable fight over the brush / the softness of the bristles / etc. We’ll use this one until she leaves for college — ha. I also swear by these cheap

+Goody Elastics and Hair Clips. Can you tell we spend a lot of time doing hair around here? Ha. I feel like I’m forever re-tying her hair — she’s at such a busy age and it’s a battle to keep it out of her face. I honestly prefer the tiny latex elastics as they hold hair so much more tightly but they always break her hair, so I try to stick to these, which are must gentler and less likely to get caught in hair. And the hair clips? Yes, a little bit reminiscent of my obsession with the 90s US Olympic gymnasts, but they really keep her hair out of her face.

+Wee Ones Bows. Really high quality and love that many of them are available via Prime, aka when you need a coordinating bow and FAST. She also wears two braids or two pigtails frequently, and in that case, I love these super cheap little bows. Inferior quality to Wee Ones, but they’re the perfect size for pigtails and they come in good colors (mauve and mint are amazing).

+Bitsy’s Brain Food Cookies. Mini is a fairly picky eater. She does eat from all the food groups every day and there are several vegetables she loves (cucumber, carrots, peas, broccoli, and green beans), so I am trying to just push through this phase without getting too worked up about it, but it does drive me crazy when she will insist she “doesn’t like” something without ever having tried it. Or, worse, when she’s had it before and liked it. Anyway, I am all for any shortcuts to introducing extra vegetables into her diet, and she loves these cookies, which are packed with stuff like beets, sweet potato, and zucchini — aka things I have failed at cajoling her into trying in other formats.

+Native Shoes. I’m pretty sure every parent loves these shoes. Blissfully easy to keep clean (literally just hose ’em down), all-terrain (aka can traipse through splashpads and puddles), and easy for mini to pull on herself. Just perfect.

+Petite Plume Nightgowns. Mini has been in a nightgown phase since she was around two and change and what a delight! Not only are they precious, but they are easier to put on at the end of the day (does anyone else spend a good five or six minutes chasing her child around, begging her to step into her pajama pants and wriggle into the top? Just me?) AND they last so much longer than pajamas in the sense that mini still has a few nightgowns sized 2T that she can squeeze into! And her current size 4T will probably last another year, too. The Petite Plume brand makes the most darling designs and they are extremely well-made.

+Silicon Cloud Mat. I originally bought these to use when out at restaurants but we actually use them at every single meal time. So easy to clean her spot after dinner.

What are your favorite toddler products?

P.S. The best toys.

P.P.S. Tips on supporting literacy for little ones during coronavirus.

P.P.P.S. Oh, motherhood and thoughts on remaining interesting to your husband after having children.

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10 thoughts on “My Favorite Products for My 3 Year Old.

  1. Such a great list! My older niece is about a year younger than mini and so I always love hearing about what products you (and she) love! Yes to the scooter — my niece is obsessed. 🙂


  2. I am obsessed with the barrettes and bows from five/eleven, particularly the pom pom barrettes… so dreamy I have almost ordered a few in hopes I will have a baby girl!! xo

    1. SO cute! I totally stockpiled a few items I found for babies before I was even serious about children, so I fully support that 🙂


  3. Oh I need to check out those cookies and the cloud mat. I adore replay cups and plates. So well made compared to so many. I just ordered my five year old the straw cups and probably should get some tumblers as well. My younger ones love the sippies.

    I don’t actually prefer camelbaks, they once leaked in Williams backpack on the way to school and he was devastated! Prefer yetis and hydroflasks.

    Natives yes! I have them in so
    Many sizes for my boys. Probably the only shoe that all three will go through (they are just so durable!)

    1. Yay! Glad that these recs line up with your own favorites. And thanks for the Yeti and Hydroflask recs — will look into those to see if they outperform our Camelbaks! xx

  4. OMG!!! I’m DYING (NO seriously dying) over how adorable mini is in real life! Ok, now I really ( no REALLY) want a girl!!!!

  5. Yes to (almost) all of these recommendations!! Going to need to try the California Baby detangler and those cookies out, but your kid recommendations have never steered me wrong.

    We do freeze pops in the bath, and wouldn’t you know, my daughter ALWAYS wants to take a bath haha.

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