This is the era of the infant. Babies get everything they could possibly need or want, and then some. And just when I think babies have it ALL, they come out with something new, and I’m awestruck. There were even several revolutions in baby gear from the time my daughter was born to the time my son was born. Yes, babies have it all, and that’s a good thing. But unfortunately, toddlers don’t.
Now that my sweet baby has grown into a strong, busy, demanding, and rambunctious toddler, it occurs to my mommy mind that many things he needs at his age are scarce or even unavailable (gasp!). Might I remind the markets out there that toddlerhood spans three years. Babyhood spans only one year. Think about it.
And while millennial babies have enjoyed thriving in the lap of luxury, they must be shocked when they arrive at toddlerhood and have to go without in some areas. Toddlers and their frazzled parents have needs too!
1. Seat Straps on Shopping Carts That Actually Work
I cannot count how many times I’ve been to the grocery store and most of the carts have either, A) broken straps that don’t even buckle, or B) straps that buckle but are useless at containing my toddler.
Believe me, I’m trying to teach him how to walk and stay with me at the store, but he likes to run off. This is typical toddler behavior. Usually as discipline for running off, I put him in the cart because he hates being confined that way. But usually, the cart’s straps don’t work. Climbing into the back of the cart and standing up, or even trying to crawl out of the basket, has become the norm. People give critical or worried stares. So I take him out and tell him to stay with me. Round 2. The cycle continues…
2. Higher Straps on Car Seats
Is it just me, or is it that no matter which car seat you buy, the straps are never high enough for 30-40-pound kids? Maybe my kids are just tall (they do run on the tall side), but they’re not giants. It seems the car seat straps are made for short kids. The highest level is never high enough when mine are under 40 pounds. I got tired of seeing my daughter scrunched down because of this. The straps were way too tight on her shoulders. So I had to switch her to a backless booster before she was “ready” legally (weight or age-wise). Now that my son is a toddler, I’m encountering the same problem.
3. Pull-Ups That Don’t Leak
It’s nearly impossible to find pull-ups that don’t leak. I mean, yes, I get that the kid is supposed to be learning to go potty, but they’re in training. Here’s a shocker: They won’t always go pee-pee in the potty and will in fact, at times, go pee-pee in their pull-ups. That’s why the pull-up is there, right? To catch the stuff that doesn’t make it to the potty? So then, why have a pull-up if it leaks half the time?
4. Bigger Changing Tables/Changing Pads
I have yet to find “toddler-sized” changing tables and changing pads. My son has always been big for his age. When he turned two (before potty training), his head started hanging off the end of the changing table. This became quite a problem because he would push his feet against the end of the table, which would push the changing pad back, and then his head would hang off and he would yell “Help! Help!” Not that he was actually in danger, but it got to where I’d have to push the pad slightly off the end of the table so his head wouldn’t hang off and so he wouldn’t push himself off with his feet. This ultimately becomes a safety hazard.
I know that several parents of toddlers just change them on the floor or bed, but they also don’t have MY son. If I try to change MY son on the floor, he will get up and run off. If I try to change him on the bed, he will roll around on the bed and get the bed dirty with his bottom, then try to get off the bed. Or jump on the bed. I’m sure you can imagine what might happen next. My son doesn’t know how to stay still. The only way to contain him is to put him on that baby-sized changing table.
5. Taller Step Stools
Naturally, after our toddler’s go potty or have accidents, they need to wash their hands. Most toddlers can quickly learn how to wash their hands at age two. However, they cannot reach the sink. Unfortunately most of the step stools for sale are only about six inches tall. This means that, for the past YEAR that my son has been washing his hands, he hasn’t been able to reach under the faucet on his own. So our six-inch step stool has been useless.
Plan B has been me lifting him up onto the counter to sit by the sink and still helping him reach underneath the faucet. Lifting him up there isn’t the easiest thing on my back, and often he decides that since he’s up there, he might as well wash his feet too…
6. More Manually Challenging, Hand-held Toys
My son constantly needs something to do with his hands. Especially when he’s on the changing table. He HAS to stay busy or he acts crazy. Most of the safe toys out there don’t offer much to challenge and strengthen busy little hands. I wish I could give him a rubix cube, but he’s not ready for that. There are some great larger, stand-up toys out there to keep hands and minds occupied, but what about portable, hand-held toys I can give him on the changing table, while he’s in his car seat, or while we’re waiting at the doctor’s office? You know, the times he needs something to occupy him the most?
7. Affordable, Healthy On-the-go Breakfasts
There are a lot of on-the-go breakfasts out there, but the key word here is “healthy.” There are those low-sugar protein bars that are pretty healthy, but those cost a fortune per box. I need some kind of packaged, affordable, breakfast that’s not full of sugar that I can give my kids in the van on the way to school every day. Because I know my daughter, princess that she is, will not be getting up early enough to have time to sit down and eat breakfast. And while I’m taking her to school very early in the morning, that would be the time to give my son his breakfast before I transport him to preschool.
8. More Indoor Play Places
I feel we need more indoor playgrounds. They are scarce. Where are all the McDonald’s play places going? All the new McDonald’s coming up no longer have play places, and the old McDonald’s are being remodeled and the play places removed. The only indoor playground where I can take my kids for free is Chick-fil-A. I’m not complaining about the food–I’ll take Chick-fil-A food over McDonald’s any day. But it was nice to also have the option of taking them to a McDonald’s playground when my daughter was little. That option is hard to find now. Granted, there is the Plex and places like The Little Gym, but for me, those are “special outings” because they cost money. Those usually involve planned play dates or birthday parties, not just a place to go on a rainy day so they can get their energy out.
Until such needs are met, we just have to “survive” these toddler years. If I made it as a baby in 1979-80, before car seats or seat belts were even the law, I know my son will make it through today. Not sure I will! But he will. Let’s hope that these needs will become reality in the near future. Maybe some of us can take the actions toward making them happen…