What Are Toddler Years "Must-haves"?

Updated on February 22, 2012
P.M. asks from Arvada, CO
16 answers

My son is 15 months old, and I'm quickly realizing we seem to suddenly need all new stuff. No more baby! New car seat, new toys, etc. I bought way too much stuff for the baby years that we didn't end up using. So what are some toddler must-have items? Things that are worth investing in. I know he's still young, not walking quite yet. Some things I've been eyeing:

- some sort of toddler chair
- these cool things for him to climb/play with : http://www.amazon.com/PKolino-Silly-Soft-Seating-Green/dp...

any recommended items that moms have used/couldn't live without are greatly appreciated!

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answers from Provo on

Good toys include Duplos. As he gets older, I know of no better toy than Legos. Skip the stuff you see advertised on the children's cartoon programs. Totally unnecessary!

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answers from Wausau on

My 18 month old, loves his play kitchen (bigger step 2 one with lots of food), lego duplos, chunky puzzles (Melissa and Doug ones are great!) , fisher price computer, big trucks to race around the house with and the little ones to. I babysit for a 14 month old girl and she also loves the same toys. Sometimes you think of a toy as being gender specific but I have found that the kiddos don't care as long as they are having fun!

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answers from Detroit on

In addition to the other responses, I'd get a wagon. Like others have said, you can sometimes get a lucky and find one in good shape at a thrift store, or Freecycle/Craig's List. Ours is all plastic, from Step 2 - I think we got it at Salvation Army for like $10 and there is nothing wrong with it. It's great for taking DD is someplace like the zoo when maybe she wants to take a break and rest her legs but she's well beyond a stroller.

We got an outdoor playhouse, picnic table, and indoor table/chair set the same way.

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answers from Columbus on

Child's table and chairs

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answers from Washington DC on

Something to consider is that freecycle and thrift store shopping can save you a LOT when getting items. Many of DD's big toys were free or low cost.

A portable booster has been useful for us. Ours inflates when you unzip it and very easily attaches to most seats with straps.

We also got IKEA plates and bowls and take and toss forks and spoons for going out (we try to keep them and reuse them but if they get lost, not a lot of $ spent). We got DD some Gerber fork/spoon/knife sets for home use. She has a collection of sippy cups, but she now (3) likes straws, so cups with straws or colorful straws are her thing. Her sippy cups are Playtex because my mom got about 50 of them somewhere (still in package). You can get a kiddapadamus mat to put on the table, too.

We got DD a Britax Marathon for both cars and we are happy with it.

We went the potty chair route and DD has a Bjorn potty and a Safety First insert. She prefers the seat or the plain toilet now, but the insert can be handy when you go somewhere for a visit. We did not use pull ups. We only used diapers and panties.

Socks. Shoes. More socks.

Play Dough. Pretend items - kitchen, dolls, food, play house, hats/dress up/aprons, etc. Tupperware that he can mess with.

Books, books, books. Kid friendly music that won't make your ears bleed (Check out Choo Choo Soul).

Chunky puzzles.


A small backpack so that you're not dragging as much around when he's more mobile, but you still have some stuff with you.

An umbrella stroller.

You'll find what your child likes. Mine loves dinosaurs so we have...several.

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answers from Kansas City on

I agree with the others so far! A play kitchen is a must! You can most likely find one at garage sales or Craig's list though, so just start looking. Other must haves are ride-ons and push toys. They make chunky push toys that are meant for learning how to walk and my daughter loved her little stroller, but I know they have more manly things too! ;) But honestly, any sort of stroller, shopping cart, whatever will be coveted! We also really like outdoor toys like climbing and sliding structures and the giant Cozy Coupe cars.

As far as kid sized tables and chairs, I like them for outdoor stuff, but inside we don't use them. I tried to get my daughter to use a booster after transitioning from the high chair but she just wasn't into it. I spent probably $30 and she used it for like a week. Both my kids just sit in the big chair and are happy about it.

Of course books...we have quite a library and I'm surprised at some of the books my younger child likes because he's been exposed to them. He's only 2 but will sit through fairly long picture books and such, so if you see something that catches your eye but you think it might be "too old" try it out anyway and you can always save it!

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answers from Dallas on

suction cup bath seat
Those walker things that turn into ride on toys. Both my kids loved ride on toys. You can get one with a handle to sterr him toward the park!
a big red wagon

for my boy
balls and soft rubber trucks
trains trains trains

for my girl
stuffed animals that sing, dance, wiggle. Like Tickle Me Elmo type stuff

I shouldve bought stock in Toddler Motrin, Tylenol, Benadryl, Neosporin, and cough medicine. Stock up! Also get a well stocked 1st aid kit going. Tons of differant sized band aides, 1st aid lidocaine pain relief spray, neosporin, ice buddies in the freezer.

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answers from Kansas City on

I second the mini table and chairs. We have/had the crayola one...they can use markers and such on it and it wipes off. It has been helpful with my son...he's four now but he knows that coloring/using markers can only be done on the table.

Books my kids have so many books and my little one loves to just look at books! When he first started opening them himself and after us reading them to him he now "reads" us his version of the story, or tells up what the shapes are, colors.

And again second the play kitchen...most wonderful invention EVER!

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answers from New York on

Our boy is 16 months and he really digs anything musical, anything with buttons to push, doors to open, knobs to turn (action/ reaction) really gets him happy.
stacking and shape sorting toys, blocks.
He's getting into cars too and makes the vroom vroom sound.
His rocking horse, push and ride train, and fisher price lawnmower get a lot of use.
Recently though he's been really into imitating us, so we've turned over pots and pans for him to play with in the kitchen. He enjoys sorting laundry, putting stuff in the trash, talking on the phone, pushing the stroller, and is desperate to get his hands on the computer.

good luck to you and yours
F. B.

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answers from Bloomington on

Our little tike is 22 months old today. She loves big sis' everything. The favorites, like others have mentioned:

Play- dough (we make our own)
Building blocks
Baby stroller
Babies....lots of them....and their gear
Shopping cart
Miniature rocking chair (to read in)

We have potty chair, and potty seats that go on the big potty, step stool to reach the sink/pot, and an umbrella stroller. We gave up the toddler seat at the table. She refused to sit in HER seat and was causing serious issues with sister. Now she just sits in the big chair by herself. Whatever. Not going to fight that battle. :)

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answers from Boise on

The best toys for a toddler are those that do not 'do' too much; toys that encourage your child to use his imagination rather than just push a button. Balls, blocks, playdough and fingerpaint (supervise closely with those), trucks and cars to push around, etc. Your child will also begin to be much more interested in books, but he will rip some of them up. And he will have more fun with art, he can start to color with crayons and paint. A little table and chairs and a play kitchen are great items to splurge on if you can, and a set of plastic dishes for "tea parties" and the like. My best advice is not to spend too much, your child would rather play with you than any toy you can buy, trips to the park and the library together are of more value than a new toy. Have fun!

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answers from Los Angeles on

They are big in my family and fun for a good long while! Good wooden puzzles are $expensive$ so I would start adding to your collection slowly!

Also a must have and way worth the $...you will spend a good amount of time reading and rereading them, so start that collection too!

Besides a good toddler chair there really isn't any other necessity that is a 'must-have'...that I can think of right of the top of my head?! I am sure you will get lots of good advice from the other Moms/Dads on here though!

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answers from Detroit on

We like to picnic at parks. We found the attachable chair to the picnic table invaluable for the time before walking. A child can't easily eat while sitting on a picnic blanket.

push, pull and ride on toys

play kitchen. Our camping dishes get full time use with it, so no need to buy those. Buy a few wooden pieces of food, but also show and encourage how to "make" an item out of paper or rename something for playing purposes.

art easel (no one else has said it, but DD LOVED this!)

unlimited supply of computer paper for drawing- buy it in bulk

chunky crayons- love Melissa and Doug's

table to stand at to draw

this is the time for the special "stuffie" toy to earn its affection. You don't need many, as many relatives will supply you with these and you'll easily get a lot.

musical instruments and children's CDs or downloads--also different types of music from around the world



extra clothes--food stains on everything

bath tub letters

bath tub squirt toys

sand and water table


balls of all sizes

wooden blocks--if you haven't already, invest in a good set-this is the area not to skimp

wooden toy train set, like Plan City's. I didn't for years--said she could play with it at any store in town. Should have gotten it sooner. It also acts as a puzzle as she crafts her own track / road system and a town out of her blocks.

wooden animal figures, like Holztiger--will be used for years, and then can be an heirloom


time spent outside - hat, sunscreen, bathing suit, outdoor shoes when walking, and taking the time to point out bugs, plants, and animals

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Play kitchen
Shopping cart

My son's favorite toys from 12-24 months: shopping cart and stroller. In fact, every toddler I know that has access to these things will fight over them. Some play food to put in them is nice, but really, they need something they can push. My son also loved his little push horse. He has been riding all over our basement with it for over a year now, and he uses it everyday.

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answers from New York on

In the summer months, our neighbor had this little "water-table" type thing that was basically a cool water-toy that kids could stand up and play with other toys in.... a huge hit in the hood! All the kids going for walks with their parents would want to stop and play with it. In general, they graduate from baby bath toys to more interesting ones like boats, watering cans, my son had a seaplane that winds up, you get the idea.
Your son may be a little young for this idea but we got a really neat rug for his room with a town, roads, buildings and whatnot. My son is obsessed with cars and so playing on this rug is always fun for him. Plus the colorful rug really brightened up his room!
Another favorite that your son would not be too young for, and I don't think anyone is ever too old for (I still like to play with it) is a toy that has descending ramps, so they put the cars on top and watch them drive down each level, or in some cases they go in circles, then shoot out the bottom. Always gets a big laugh!
Best of luck to you, Mama!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Definitely and kitchen and small table and chairs. A water and sand table. ( you could always make one ). Laugh and Learn Learning Piggy Bank.
Huge cardboard box. Ours has a window and door and we use it for all kinds of imaginative play. Those are toys that I think all toddlers would like and use a lot.

We got a lot of use out of the Fischer price Laugh and Learn Farm and the Leap Frog musical table when our son was your son's age. They still come out of the attic once in awhile and he likes them at 2 1/2.

Other stuff we really are happy with, but that might be more tailored to our child's tastes: Musical instruments. Duplo blocks. Magazine subscription (Babybug, WIld Animal Baby, or something similar). Little People. Toy vacuum cleaner. One of the leapfrog magnetic toys that you can put on the fridge...so he has something to do when you are getting dinner ready.

Prince Lionheart booster. It's stable and easy to clean!

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