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parents panel

10 parents share products that make toddler life easier - from a leash backpack to a folding potty

Bath paints, nightlights and library cards: These made all the difference to the mums and dads we polled.

WHEN IT COMES to being pregnant, or parenting a newborn, everyone’s just figuring things out as they go. That’s why it can be so helpful to hear how other people are getting through the mess of it all, from the first nappy change to the countless sleepless nights.

Our Toddler and Preschool Parents Panel is made up of parents with little ones from 24 months up to age five.


This week, we asked our panel of intrepid parents about the practical products that helped them survive the toddler years. 

We asked the panel: What’s the one product you’d recommend to anyone with a toddler at home?

Here are a few of the best responses:

The kiddie toilet seat was great for potty training. My daughter had a big fear of falling into the toilet but this solved the problem. We picked it up in our local supermarket for less than a tenner. We also used puppy pads to protect the car seat and bed for the first few accident filled days! 

- Nicola Barry 

Wall paint! If you are lucky, they will only draw on one or two wall panels, so maybe you could get away with a pot or two of paint. With a very well behaved toddler, a tester pot may suffice. Enjoy the creativity (or photograph it?), it’ll be over soon, I hope!  

- Sadhbh Ni Ogain

We could not live without our Potette, a little fold-flat potty that comes with absorbable liners. Peewee emergency in the middle of Tesco carpark? Miles from the loo in the zoo? Pop out the Potette, job done, proud toddler! Its foldable legs can also be flipped out to act as a child-size toilet seat on regular toilets. We’ve found it particularly handy while travelling, both as a potty and also as a toilet seat – it makes the airplane toilet less terrifying. 

- Juliet Ward

We have found leash backpacks great, although I know this is something that divides opinions. They have saved us a lot of stress in busy places such as airports as both our boys have been “runners”. Having a backpack attached to the leash makes the child happier to wear one since they can carry their own little things in it. They view it more as a functional thing rather than than something that ruins their fun.

- Kaisu Healy

One thing that makes toddler parenting easier in our house is the Munchkin 360 drinking cup. They’re easy to bring around, the kids could use them from six months up with no spills (unless flung from a distance!), and they last ages so they are good value for money. 

- Michelle O’Brien

shutterstock_1233153031 Shutterstock / Ursula Page Shutterstock / Ursula Page / Ursula Page

Both of our toddlers also have nightlight projectors. There is one in each of their bedrooms, and they still prove they are worth their weight in gold in making bedtime more peaceful and buying some very valuable minutes for us in the morning keeping them entertained for a while when they wake up. The best one we have is the Tiny Love Magical Night one which transformed from newborn mobile to toddler bedside lamp. Almost four years on its still used every day. 

- Michelle O’Brien

Bath paints and bath crayons. Even the most reluctant bathers will put up with having their hair washed in exchange for ten minutes with these babies.

- Nicola Barry

The most useful product for our twins is the simple sleeping bag. They are two-and-a-half and miraculously still not climbing out of their cots! They have started to climb into the cots though before getting strapped in to the sleeping bags, so I reckon it’s only a matter of time now…

- Joanne Burke

I highly recommend Nitty Gritty Conditioning Defence Spray. For anyone with a child in day care, you apply it every day before leaving home and it is a pesticide-free way to keep head lice away. We have never had an infestation yet and it is totally down to this wonder spray!

- Tracy Kilgallon

shutterstock_667489576 Shutterstock Shutterstock

We get so much use from our library card. My toddler loves books and borrowing them from the library is budget friendly (especially since they’ve done away with library fines!) and better for the environment than constantly buying  new books. A library card also does so much more than just allow us to borrow books. Our library hosts so many different events, like short film screenings, rock touch pools, arts and crafts workshops, breastfeeding support group meetings, baby & toddler story times, and a magic show. That was just this summer! My daughter’s library card has introduced her to so many wonderful stories and adventures, and a love of books which I hope will stay with her as she grows up. 

- Deirdre McCormack

My child has some sensory sensitivities and refused to brush his teeth. I’ve been stressing because his teeth were probably going to fall out of his head, but yet I couldn’t physically force him to brush them. I recently bought an electric toothbrush for him and it’s been a game-changer. He now brushes twice a day and loves it. I would highly recommend to any parents with similar struggles.

- Niamh Doyle

A coffee machine! Toddlers are so unpredictable. You could research for weeks to buy them the best toys available – and they could end up completely underused while the kids are in the kitchen fighting over an empty lunchbox. So, for a product that is guaranteed to help on those early weekend mornings, go for a nice coffee machine. Just don’t give any to the toddler – they don’t need the caffeine hit!

- Ger Lowry

A hand-held hoover has been essential. toddlers spill everywhere, all the time and being able to quickly clean up your car or home without the palaver of dragging out the Hoover really helps especially as they transition to solids. 

- Tracy Kilgallon

More: 11 tips for getting better sleep during pregnancy, according to women who’ve been there

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