Penguin Sensory Table

Penguin sensory table using plastic toy penguins, ice, rocks and books.

This penguin sensory table is so much fun to set up! Princess L is totally infatuated with and fascinated by penguins currently. I love leaning into her latest curiosity to spark more learning opportunities!

Currently, we are using the IKEA FLISAT children’s table during our sensory play activities. But if you don’t have something similar, not to fear! For a long time, we actually used a drip pan from Dollar Tree. Other ideas of items you may already have that can double as a sensory bin are an old baby bath tub, an aluminum tray, or a shallow storage bin!

Let’s jump into how I set this activity up and what you’ll need!

Sensory table items you need for this penguin activity:


Penguin sensory table using Wild Republic brand plastic penguins. Sensory table contains plastic penguins, fake snow, and water.

No penguin sensory table could be complete without using some penguins! We love these penguins by Wild Republic! These feature different types of penguins including Emporer Penguins, Gentoo, Chinstrap, Adelie, and Rockhopper penguins.

It comes with 10 penguins that have held up super well to lots of playing. Other brands of plastic animals have had paint chipping and smearing after they have been submerged in water. These haven’t chipped or smeared, and have had loads of playtime.

These also make a super fun bath toy too!

creating the environment

Plastic toy penguins sitting on ice cubes and fake snow.

My favorite part of creating these sensory tables for Princess L to explore is having fun creating the environment. I really wanted to create a super cold place for these little penguins to live at! To get that frigid feeling going, I started by making fake snow.

A little bit of this expandable snow powder mixed with water goes a long way. I feel like it really adds to this sensory bin and makes it feel more realistic!

In order to get the penguins to stand on the ice, I knew I needed to make little mini glaciers. I used a square ice cube mold and mixed different shades of blue, purple, and black food coloring into the squares.

I also added some rocks that I had picked up at the dollar store and some regular ice cubes. Mixing some food coloring with the water in the bins also helped create some more pizzaz in our sensory table as well! I especially love this set of food coloring I ordered from Amazon. Itcomes in an array of different colors and I use it for almost every sensory activity I set up.

Plastic penguin toys set up in fake snow and water with penguin books displayed behind.

Books to help facilitate learning

I love including books in our sensory table activities if they are relevant to what we are doing. Usually, I like to set the books up at the beginning of our play, and depending on what types of materials we are using in the sensory bin, I sometimes move the books onto the floor to keep them from getting wet.

I mentioned this book, Baby Penguins First Waddles, in my top 100 books for toddlers post. We love that this book is packed full of interesting facts about Emperor Penguins. It features real photographs of penguins as well and is perfect for children who are interested in learning more about these creatures.

Another fantastic book that we get so much enjoyment from is Frozen Planet: A World Beyond Imagination. This book is big and heavy, and more like a textbook than anything else. But it is filled to the brim with breathtaking photos of arctic animals! We don’t read this book per se… but we do flip through the pages to talk about all the different animals we see. This book offers a lot of opportunities for learning!

Playing with the sensory table

Toddler hand reaching into penguin sensory table that includes plastic penguins with fake snow and water.

The great thing about sensory tables is that you almost always get to step back and enjoy watching your little one explore and play without needing to intervene.

Setting up the table to help promote your little one to continue to investigate and learn while playing will help to make this a successful activity. Here are some ideas:

Working out those fine motor skills

Penguin sensory table where toddler is working fine motor skills by using tongs to sort rocks.

I love including tongs in many of our sensory table activities. It is a perfect way for little ones to work on their fine motor skills. Encouraging toddlers to work out these small muscles in their hands is important. It helps to both strengthen and improve their dexterity.

Also included on the table were some small plastic bowls I had picked up at the dollar store. My daughter loves to sort and separate things. She immediately starting taking the rocks out of the bin and dividing them between the two small bowls.

Imaginative play

Toddler hand reaching into a penguin sensory table that contains blue water, ice cubes, plastic penguins, and fake snow.

My daughter naturally gravitates towards imaginative play. I like to help her get started by joining in the fun since I enjoy it also. Pretending to penguin can get messy! I totally recommend throwing a towel down on the ground before you guys get started.

Another great element to add during your sensory playtime is music. I like to play some original background soundtracks while she plays. These types of songs are instrumental and do not often have words. The Pirates of The Caribbean soundtrack is what I usually like to play whenever I set out any sort of ocean-themed sensory table.

Introducing different textures in sensory tables

Utilizing different textures when creating sensory tables for your little one will make the play more interesting. For this sensory table, I focused on snow, ice, and water.

Toddler hand reaching into a sensory bin that has plastic penguins and fake snow.

The giant ice cubes were a big hit with Princess L. She had a lot of fun moving them around in the water and splashing them. Together, we talked about the different temperatures and together we investigated what was coldest in her sensory table.

Toddler hand holding giant ice cube over a penguin sensory table.

Clean up and conclusion

Cleaning up after setting up a sensory table can be a real drag if things get too messy. My daughter enjoyed helping clean this activity up since I let her give the penguins a “bath” in some warm, soapy water. I wanted to be sure there wasn’t any blue food dye residue hanging out on them. Blue food dye has a propensity to stain and I didn’t want that to happen.

Messy penguin sensory table with fake snow, ice cubes, plastic penguins, and rocks thrown into a bin.

Having a towel on the ground for this type of activity definitely helps make clean up a breeze. You may find that the fake snow has floated away and landed somewhere else. A vacuum cleaner is the easiest way I have found to get it up!

I have had so much fun sharing with you this sensory table activity! Sensory table play is a regular part of our normal routine. I can’t wait to share with you more activities that I have put together. Please share with me any sensory table play ideas that your little one has enjoyed playing with also!

Top 100 Toddler Books

Have a bookworm on your hands? Me too! My daughter has always been infatuated with books, even as a baby. This has lead us to acquire quite a little library of toddler books in our home!

Reading is our favorite part of the day and collecting and growing our home library has been such a joy. Let’s jump right into the 100 best toddler books that we have discovered so far. Buckle up- I can’t wait to share these with you!

1. Big and small, room for all

Big and Small, Room For All is our family’s very favorite book to read. We love the beautiful watercolor pictures in the book! This is a fantastic book that introduces the idea of comparing sizes, with a lovely message as well. This is a short book, and is perfectly suited for babies and younger toddlers.

2. Click clack moo cows that type

The book Click Clack Moo Cows That Type is an instant classic. Books with farm animals are usually a favorite for toddlers. Poor Farmer Brown really has his work cut out for him with these mischievous critters. I always have to read this book in my best southern drawl, and Princess L loves to hear the twang.

3. the grouchy ladybug

The Grouchy Ladybug is a story I can remember from my childhood. I’m so delighted it gets to be a part of my daughter’s as well! Eric Carle’s bright and colorful pictures help to tell a fun story about a ladybug who goes on a very, very long adventure.

4. There was an old lady who swallowed a fly

Toddlers love repetition… and this book has that in spades! Share with your toddler this silly tale of an old lady who swallowed a fly, and perhaps you’ll get to find out why.

5. Joseph had a little overcoat

The story of Joseph Had A Little Overcoat offers to children the lesson of reusing one’s belongs. We especially love that the pages give small clues as to what will happen on the next page! Interactive toddler books are our favorite! The whimsical artwork is also another reason we love this book.

6. Blue on blue

We love to read the book Blue on Blue on rainy days! Share with your toddler this book about weather changes and fall in love with the artwork! The illustrator, Beth Krommes, is a Caldecott Medal-winning artist and has done such a lovely job with this story. I don’t know why, but this book always makes me feel so much calmer after reading it. I love it too!

7. the pout pout fish

I had seen this book everyplace and knew it was recommended by so many people. I finally purchased this book and wish I had done it sooner! It is a book about a gloomy fish who needs some help cheering up. Get ready to practice all your fun voices with this book- there are many characters! Princess L loves seeing me get into character as we read this book and she really enjoys how silly we can get.

8. A beautiful day in the neighborhood: The poetry of mister rogers

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers is a collection of poems from the show Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. I love that I can read and reference a poem to Princess L if we are struggling through a big emotion. I was surprised when I discovered how large this book actually is, and I love that it will be one that we will enjoy for years to come.

9. Charlie the ranch dog

Charlie the Ranch Dog is one of our most beloved books! We love how serious, but silly Charlie is at explaining what he does on the farm he lives on. This book is from the perspective of Charlie, and we always do our best to put on a southern drawl when we read it!

10. one special day

The book One Special Day has a special place in our hearts. It was the first book Princess L fell in total love with! She loves touching Little Hedge Hog’s special blankie that feels like soft and fuzzy on each page. It is a story that helps to teach about caring for others. You’ll also have another great opportunity to read in lots of fun voices since there are several characters!

11. Mars first friends

Mars First Friends: Come on over, Rovers! is seriously a blast to read! This book is told from the perspective of Mars who is looking for someone to play with. I love that this book is great at introducing other planets in the solar system as well! An awesome book if your little one is into space and astronomy!

12. chrysathemum

We love books by Kevin Henkes, and Chrysanthemum is our favorite! This book is a classic for a reason. It is about a little mouse who loves her name until she starts school. A great way to introduce how bullying is hurtful to others.

13. Someone special just like you

Someone Special Just Like You teaches that we are more alike than different. The message of this book is told with real photographs of children- which I feel brings so much meaning. We love looking at the pictures and talking about what we see. This is an excellent book for all children, but it is written well for toddlers. Fun fact, this is the first book Princess L had memorized and enjoyed reading aloud to us!

14. The snail and whale

Love a book with a fun rhyming scheme? The Snail and the Whale will be perfect for you guys! This book is about a small snail who had big dreams to go explore the world. The snail meets a humpback whale and together they travel and see many exciting things!

15. Pete the cat and the perfect pizza party

So, we eat pizza once a week at my home 😂 ! I love to read this book- Pete the Cat and the Perfect Pizza Party before we dig and make our own pizzas! Pete the Cat invites all his friends over for a pizza party. You’ll get to find out what sorts of groovy toppings his friends like on their pizza!

16. if you give a mouse a cookie

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie is a classic loved by toddlers. This book offers a comical way of teaching cause and effect. It is also great at offering time to pause and ask your little one what they think will happen next too!

17. giraffes can’t Dance

I can proudly say, Giraffes Can’t Dance is the first book that both my husband and myself have completely memorized! Princess L has loved this book since she was a baby and she still loves it as a toddler. The bright and colorful artwork is fun to look at, and the rhyming scheme helps draw little ears in. It is about a giraffe named Gerald who does not know how to dance. With some help from a cricket and his violin, Gerald learns to boogie!

18. Chicka chicka boom boom

There is no better way to introduce letters of the alphabet than Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. The lower case alphabet climbs up a coconut tree, but there isn’t enough room. This book has lots of rhyming and is a pretty quick read- perfect for young toddlers!

19. Under the ocean

I always get excited when Princess L brings Under the Ocean over to read! I personally love how this book is set up- with part of the pages being transparent, and how the ocean water changes in color on each page as you go deeper into the ocean. Each page also hosts a wide variety of sea creatures that live in different depths of the ocean. I’m always sure to set this out on days we plan on making a beach trip (tips here!).

20. Hello, World! Solar System

Hello, World! Solar System has been in our bedtime book routine longer than any other book. We love the fun facts it offers for each planet in the solar system. This book is perfect for both babies and toddlers alike with its cheerful illustrations.

21. Moon! Earth’s Best friend

The book Moon! Earth’s Best Friend is packed full of many facts about our moon. Told from the perspective of the moon, she introduces herself as Earth’s best friend. Parents may find something new to learn in this book too! Finding toddler books that offer both factual information and help tell a story are always a win in our home!

22. ABC’s of Art

ABC’s of Art is a fantastic way of introducing classic artwork with the alphabet. From A to Z, each page features an individual letter accompanied by a large print famous painting. It is a perfect book to introduce art history to your little one. I also love how large and sturdy this book feels! I personally think this book would also make a fantastic gift!

23. Little penguin gets the hiccups

A silly story about a penguin who should have avoided the chili… Little Penguin Gets the Hiccups is in need of your help to scare the hiccups away. My daughter is completely fascinated by penguins, and this book is one we read almost every day. She loves getting to say, “BOO!” loudly as we try to scare little penguin too!

24. we forgot brock!

We Forgot Brock! is a dramatic tale about a boy who forgot his imaginary friend, Brock, while he was out of the house. This book is a lot of fun to read and teaches that we can have both real and imaginary friends alike.

25. Storytime with daniel

Storytime with Daniel is a collection of six short, easy to read books based on actual episodes from the show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Perfect for emerging readers and toddlers alike, these books offers large font and shorter sentences.

26. Ten little rabbits

Ten Little Rabbits helps celebrate Native American culture and boasts beautiful images. It’s a perfect bedtime story to read to your toddler. I really appreciate that each page helps to depict a different Native American tribe and the artwork feels very thoughtful. We love counting all the rabbits on each page and talking about what they are doing.

27. stellaluna

Stellaluna was a classic when I was in school too! It’s always exciting to share books I remember reading when I was a kid to my toddler. It is about a little bat named Stellaluna who gets separated from her mother and is then raised by a bird. Stellaluna adapts to her new bird nest and makes some fun friends too! Stellaluna discovers she is a bat and is reunited with her mother in the end, but is excited to try and show her bird friends what it is like to behave as a bat.

28. Something beautiful

A story told from a growth mindset perspective, the story Something Beautiful offers a beautiful lesson for people of all ages. About a young girl growing up in an urban environment searching for something beautiful. Issues like vandalism, poverty, and homelessness are all examined in this book and offer the opportunity for some deeper conversations to have with your child.

29. its fun to be a furmaid

My daughter is obsessed with Its Fun to be a Furmaid! The two-way sequins are a lot of fun to switch back and forth and the rhyming pattern is a lot of fun in this book as well.

30. the kissing hand

The Kissing Hand is a touching story of a little raccoon who will soon need to leave his mother’s side to start school. Perfect if your toddler will be starting daycare or other school setting, or are worried about any sort of seperation anxiety. The story itself is very empathetic to the little raccoon’s feelings and can help soothe any worries your little one may encounter when apart from you.

31. dear zoo

Books with flaps are always exciting for a toddler, and Dear Zoo has been one of our most loved. Ideal for babies and younger toddlers, you’ll get to uncover lots of zoo animals. We love practicing all the animal sounds too!

32. the going to bed book

Sandra Boynton’s books have always been a hit in our home, but The Going to Bed Book is by far Princess L’s favorite. Perfect for bedtime, this book depicts a bunch of silly animals completing their own bedtime routine.

33. The home builders

The Home Builders is an opportunity to explore how other animals build their homes and where they sleep. My daughter is really drawn to the images in this book and always picks this book first when it is in our rotation.

34. 8 Little planets

8 Little Planets by Chris Ferrie is another fun astronomy based book to add to your library! I like how this book is different from other books about that planets in the sense that instead of starting with Mercury and working outwards into the solar system, this planet starts with Neptune and works towards the Sun. With lots of rhyming and interesting facts- this book is a hit!

35. Hungry bird

Disclaimer: I hate this book. However, my daughter loves it. This book is about a whiny, bratty little bird who should have packed his own snack. Instead, he begs all his friends for snacks. When they try to share with him, he doesn’t like what they offer. Hungry Bird is truly insufferable and lives in our car so we don’t have to read it as often. Princess L seems to really enjoy Hungry Bird’s antics and we try to make a lesson out of this book by talking about how we should ask for things and how to respect our friends. If you are looking for a book on how you don’t want your child to behave- this is the book for you. Why our daughter loves this book so much, I will never know… but she really, really does 🤣 .

36. dinoshapes

Everyone loves dinosaurs, and Dinoshapes is a lot of fun for young toddlers. Each page features a different shape and introduces a different dinosaur species. The artwork is geared for babies and young toddlers, and has a nice rhyming scheme.

37. Good morning farm friends

Good Morning Farm Friends is a book we received from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. (See if your area is available by following the link. It is an amazing program that mails children birth through age 5 free books, regardless of household income.) This book is a fun one to read in the morning and greet all the farm animals with!

38. Baby penguin’s first Waddles

Baby Penguin’s First Waddles is a fantastic book for children of all ages who are infatuated with penguins! This book is ripe with interesting facts about emperor penguins and features real photographs. Parents are sure to learn something in this book too!

39. Foods with moods

I mentioned this book in my dining out with a toddler survival guide! Foods with Moods is a seriously fun book that uses different fruits and vegetables to showcase a variety of emotions. Perfect for young toddlers who are learning at identifying their own emotions.

40. Open very carefully: A Book with a bite

Open Very Carefully: A Book with a Bite is interactive and suspenseful book for toddlers to enjoy! As you read the book, your toddler will anticipate and be excited to help you get to the end of this one- and then want you to read it again!

41. Dinosaurs- listen and learn

Books that have buttons that make noises are always exciting for your toddler. Dinosaurs Listen and Learn is great because of the fun sounds and features dinosaurs! We love the dinosaur facts in this book and the vivid artwork.

42. watch me grow

Watch Me Grow has gotten so much love in our home, that I’m about to have to buy a replacement! Each page features a turning wheel, flaps, or pull out portions of the book! The book focuses on how different plants and animals grow on a farm and offer a lot of novelty!

43. oscar the octopus: A book about months of the


Matthew Van Fleet’s books are always so much fun to read, and Oscar the Octopus: A Book About Months of the Year is no exception! Each page has a flap that allows toddlers to discover what different animal Oscar has caught that month. Also, each animal has special textures so little ones can learn what they feel like. SO cool! I like putting this book out on the mornings we plan on going to the beach!

44. corduroy’s shapes

We love Corduroy, and Corduroy’s Shapes is our favorite book featuring him! Simple and easy for toddlers to sit through, this book helps introduce basic shapes.

45. not a box

Not A Box has been in our bedtime book rotation for almost a year now! It is about a bunny who uses his imagination to make a box into lots of different things, and helps explore the idea of imaginative play with your toddler. This book is very short and simplistic- perfect for babies and young toddlers.

46. Animal 123

Counting books are always nice to read with your toddler, and Animal 123 is a fun one to add to your collection. Focusing on numbers 1 through 10, this book also has large fold out pages that help you discover more animals as you count!

47. clifford the Big red dog

Princess L loves Clifford the Big Red Dog and I love reading a classic from my childhood as well! Take a trip back, and fall in love again with this lovable dog all over again!

48. The biggest pumpkin surprise ever

The Biggest Pumpkin Surprise Ever is a Halloween book, but we have had to maintain it in our regular book rotation because we can’t get enough of it. This book has loads of flaps to lift, and toddlers will love looking through it.

49. doggies a counting and barking book

Another great counting book, Doggies A Counting and Barking Book is a great addition to your toddler library. Focusing on numbers 1 through 10, your toddler will love to hear you bark, yap and howl through this book.

50. wemberly worried

Wemberly Worried is about a very anxious mouse who worries about everything. In the story, Wemberly makes a friend at school and helps to alleviate some of her anxiety. This book would be a great one to read if your little one is going to have a new experience soon, or is struggling with anxiety.

51. Pete the cat and his four groovy buttons

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons focuses on numbers 1 through 4 and some simple subtraction as well. Poor Pete wears his favorite shirt, but buttons keep popping off! We love singing the song that Pete sings when the buttons pop off, and counting how many buttons are left.

52. mama loves you so

Mama Loves You So is terrific book for a baby or young toddler. This is one we have reached for again and again at bedtime. It is about a mother expressing her love for her baby in a very tender and beautiful way.

53. Babies in the forest

This is a book we discovered at a friend’s house and Princess L fell in love! Babies in the Forest is about two little foxes making new discoveries in the forest. This book would be perfect for a baby or young toddler.

54. click clack peep

Click Clack Peep might be our very favorite of the Click Clack books! The poor animals are unable to get any sleep on the farm with the new arrival of baby duck. Thanks to Duck, everyone gets some sleep eventually…

55. never touch a dragon

Never Touch a Dragon is a fun book for a baby or toddler. Each page offers a sensory portion for curious little hands to explore a different texture. We enjoy the rhyming scheme and how bright and colorful the pictures are in this book. To date- we have never been able to read this book without touching a dragon, ha!

56. SUN! one in a billion

We love books about space, can you tell? Sun! One in a Billion is written from the Sun’s perspective and is full of fun facts regarding our Sun. Having a variety of books about a similar topic can help you create a collection or theme for you toddler that you can then group together. We love astronomy books, and once a week I put all our space-based books in our book display cabinet. (We have this one!)

57. vehicles- magnetic fun

Vehicles is a fantastic book for your car or truck obsessed toddler. This book has magnetic pages for you to stick the different magnetic vehicles to. (Most of our magnets now live on our refrigerator, lol.) Each page features a different scene where different types of vehicles would be found and explain what is happening on each page.

58. green on green

Green on Green is a lovely book that showcases different seasons. A great book for toddlers since it has a lot of emphasis on different colors as the weather changes. I especially love how in each season you see a woman’s belly grow, and the book ends with you seeing her hold her baby!

59. color – dog

Color Dog by Matthew Van Fleet is super engaging with lots of tabs to pull and textures! We love the photographs of the silly dogs! Each page focuses on a different color and has been a massive hit since we got it! This book would make an awesome gift as well! It is made super sturdy and is sure to survive lots, and lots of love!

60. baby beluga

A true classic, Baby Beluga is sure to win your little one’s heart! We love singing the song at home, and reading the book at bedtime. We have actually had to buy two of these so far!

61. The wise animal handbook

The Wise Animal Handbook is actually made for each state! We were gifted the one designed for Tennessee from Princess L’s grandfather! From what I’ve been able to tell, Amazon sells each state’s version. We love the photographs of the animals and the advice they offer to the reader. At the end of these books, it features coloring pages of animals that are specific to the state the book is about!

62. Barnyard dance

A super silly Boynton book- Barnyard Dance is perfect for little ones who love farm animals. We always sing instead of “reading” the words and try to do it in our best farmer voice. We love to try and act out the dance moves too!

63. rainbow fish

Oh how I love Rainbow Fish! I remember when I was a little girl, when we would go to the library I would always rush and see if the Rainbow Fish was available! I loved the sparkly scales on the Rainbow Fish and the pretty artwork. Similarly, Princess L seems to have the same infatuation. The book is about a fish who learns to make friends by sharing his scales with other fish.

64. click, clack, splish, splash

Click, Clack, Splish, Splash is another fun book from the Click, Clack, Moo series. This book focuses on counting 1 through 10. Books that emphasize counting are always on my radar for my toddler.

65. The very hungry caterpillar

Eric Carle books are always a hit in our home, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar has been well-loved. This book is a true classic and there are tons of activities and lessons available on Pinterest to do with this book as well! Finding books that already have these types of resources for your toddler is always exciting! We love that there are holes cut out on the pages to show where the caterpillar ate through the food. This is an eye-catching book for children of all ages!

66. I love my mommy because…

I Love My Mommy Because… is told from the perspective of a child who lists out all the reasons they love their mommy. Princess L really likes picking this book out when its in our rotation and asking me to read it to her, which always warms my heart too! This book features lots of different animals and we love pointing them out and making their sounds.

67. I love my daddy because…

I can’t mention the previous book without also sharing this one as well! I Love My Daddy Because… also has a similar theme.

68. love you forever

Sticking with the theme of love here… Love You Forever is a classic book about a mother’s unconditional love. Get ready for the tissues if you haven’t already experienced this book.

69. everyone poops

I don’t know about your toddler, but mine loves talking about poop. Everyone Poops will help reassure your little one that everyone poops… people, animals, and bugs alike.

70. dragons love tacos

Dragons Love Tacos is a book about Dragons who (surprise) love tacos! There is one thing dragons definitely should not eat though- salsa! This is a pretty silly book that doesn’t have a major plot line, but it sure to get some giggles out when the dragons realize they’ve eaten salsa.

71. the day the crayons quit

The Day the Crayons Quit is written from the perspective of the crayons. Each page features a letter from each crayon who is disgruntled over what they are being used to color. A silly way to show your toddler the power of differing perspectives, this book is sure to be a hit!

72. Hello lighthouse

With both a beautiful story and artwork to go with it, Hello Lighthouse is my favorite. It is about lighthouse keeper and all the work he needs to do in order to keep the lighthouse operable. I love that as you read the book, you get to see the changing seasons and watch his wife’s belly grow. The artwork in this book is both charming and beautiful.

73. Oh, the places you will go

I must admit, I am not the biggest Dr. Suess fan, but Oh, The Places You Will Go is the exception! Another classic I remember from my own childhood, this book is about the ups and downs of life and all the things that can happen along the way. I appreciate the message this book offers and is a must for every toddler books collection.

74. Llama llama Misses Mama

Llama Llama Misses Mama is perfect for little ones working through separation anxiety or starting a new routine. Like other Llama Llama books, this one offers a nice rhyming scheme and is perfect for toddlers and young children.

75. Don’t let pigeon drive the bus!

Don’t Let Pigeon Drive The Bus! is about a Pigeon who demands to drive the bus. With super cute artwork that looks very childlike, this book offers a lot of humor.

76. Grumpy monkey

Grump Monkey is perfect to help teach toddlers and young children about difficult emotions. Sometimes we are grumpy, and we don’t even know why! This book is relatable for days when despite things seeming “perfect” we just don’t feel perfect ourselves.

77. How to catch a mermaid

My daughter loves mermaids, and How to Catch a Mermaid is a favorite. This book is written with a nice rhyming scheme and really colorful images.

78. Owl babies

Owl Babies is about three anxious little owls waiting on their mommy to return to their nest. We love the illustrations in this book. If you were looking for books that dive into separation anxiety for your toddler to help them identify their emotions, this one is worth looking into.

79. dream snow

Dream Snow is a Christmas story we discovered last year. We have started a Christmas tradition of unwrapping a new book each day in December leading up to Christmas and this one was our favorite. About a farmer who has five animals- the book offers flaps that Princess L always gets excited to lift. A simple Christmas story- this book is ideal for babies and young toddlers.

80. frozen Story collection

Have a little one obsessed with Frozen? The Frozen Story Collection is a must. For the last several months, this is the book we have to read to bed every single night. This book features five short stories and uses large print font. Perfect for early readers! If I asked my toddler what one of her favorite books were, I promise this would be the one she would probably pick.

81. Little owl’s night

Little Owl’s Night is about a little owl who asks his mama what daytime is like. Mama Owl describes daytime to Little Owl, and when sunrise finally arrives, Little Owl has falls asleep. This book is perfect for babies and younger toddlers and is an ideal bedtime story book.

82. If you come to earth

If You Come to Earth is a breathtaking book that is an open letter to any visitors who may visit us from outer space. I appreciate that this book features both positive and negative things about how we treat our fellow human. The illustrations really add to the story and are beautifully done.

83. wild symphony

I am a huge Dan Brown fan I must admit. I was so excited to see he had written a children’s book and had to preorder it once I found out! Wild Symphony is a charming book that features lots of different animals and instruments.

What takes this book to the next level is that it also comes with a QR code. By downloading the app you get to listen to each of the animals play a different song by pointing your phone at the pages! What I really love about this book… is just like Dan Brown’s novels, this book is like a treasure hunt that parents and children can go on. There is all sorts of letters and instruments to look for! This book would be great for children of all ages- I highly recommend this one!

84. ZIn! Zin! Zin! A Violin

Another fantastic book that features a variety of instruments, Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin is a perfect addition. This is a Caldelott award winner book and has a really big fan base. I love how this book is written with such a catchy, rhythmic prose- perfect for a book about a symphony.

85. How do dinosaurs eat their food

How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food is from a collection of books about how dinosaurs do all sorts of activities. This book is fun for toddlers and young children, and is great for teaching some table manners too!

86. How to be a good dog

How To Be A Good Dog by Gail Page has been a huge hit in our home. A simple story about a pet cat teaching his canine companion some tricks to be a good dog. We love how silly the book ends and talk about how our dog is very similar to the dog in the story.

87. Seeds and trees

Seeds And Trees: a children’s book about the power of words, is about a young prince who collects and plants seeds. The intended message may be a bit deep for young toddlers, but the story itself can be enjoyed by children of all ages. The young prince discovers that some seeds grow lush, beautiful trees while other seeds grow into thorny thistles. With the help of a young girl in the story, readers uncover the power of words and how they shape our environment.

88. The wind and the willows

The Wind and the Willows has been a classic for generations now. If you’ve never read this book before, it is long. This book actually a shorter version of the original and still is likely far too long for a toddler to sit through in one sitting.

This book does offer beautiful images that are very similar to the cartoon version I remember watching as a child, myself. I often read aloud books to my toddler while she plays just to introduce her to a wider variety of words to help increase her vocabulary. This is one of my favorite books to do this with because the story itself is one that people of all ages can enjoy.

89. cloudy with a chance of meatballs

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs asks readers to ponder what would happen if all sorts of different foods started to rain from the sky. This is a seriously silly book that has made us giggle so much. I really do feel like while it’s important to have a wide collection of educational books for your toddler, having some just for comedic purposes is so important as well!

90. Winter Dance

A book about a fox learning what different animals do to prepare for the winter, Winter Dance is sure to be a favorite. This is an excellent book to introduce the survival skills of animals during the winter months to your toddler.

91. A Child’s Good morning

A Child’s Good Morning is a lyrically written book that is about starting off the day. With so many books about night time in our collection, I love having this one to read in the morning! Princess L also seems to really enjoy the very cheerful images in this book as well.

92. If you give a moose a muffin

If You Give A Moose A Muffin will be a hit if your little one also enjoyed the original hit- If You Give A Mouse a Cookie. About the consequences that will ensue if you give a moose a muffin, this book is great at teaching cause and effect.

93. Marvel’s Super hero adventures: Flying Super heros

Marvel’s Super Hero Adventures: Flying Super Heroes is a super fun board book that allows you to make each character spin around the page by turning the wheel component. My husband is a massive Marvel fan and some of that adoration has definitely rubbed off on our daughter 😂.. She loves reading this book and having us make all the superheroes fly around the city.

94. Charlie the ranch dog goes to school

Charlie The Ranch Dog Goes To School is another story that features Charlie and his family on the ranch. We love that this book features a family that homeschools. It offers a glimpse into what their daily schedule is like and the things they learn. Charlie gets a grand idea to try and homeschool his animal friends on the farm but realizes it is a lot of work.

95. Silly milly the dane

Silly Milly The Dane is written from the perspective of the owner of Milly, a Great Dane dog. The owner marvels at Milly’s silly antics and is written with lots of repetition and rhymes. This book has garnered lots of giggles from us and we love saying the part, “Oh Milly, why are you so silly?!” together.

96. the three little pigs

The story of The Three Little Pigs is a classic and shouldn’t be left out of your library. This is the original version, so nothing unexpected here!

97. The mitten

We really love Jan Brett books, and The Mitten is one of our favorites. A little boy loses his mitten while playing outside. Forest animals discover the mitten and all try to squeeze inside… We really enjoy the timeless artwork and watching the mitten stretch out to accommodate all of the woodland creatures. This is a fun wintertime story to read during the cooler months.

98. Owl moon

Another fun wintertime book, Owl Moon is about a young child going out at night with their father to go look for owls. We love making the hooting noises whilst reading through the book.

99. over and under the pond

Over And Under the Pond follows a mother and her son as they paddle around in a pond. Together, they see different animals and plants on their journey. This book is beautifully done, and offers as a terrific way to dive into ecosystems.

We have park nearby that has a pond that we really enjoy going to. I love having this book to tag along with us on our trips there. We like looking for different plants and animals that are featured in the story at the pond we visit. This book is very soothing to read and the pictures themselves could be framed.

100. stars

Stars celebrates how stars make us feel. Sheriffs wear them, fairies put them on wands, and sometimes we put them on calendars to mark special days. This book talks about how stars can make us feel, and that it is okay if we don’t always feel like we are a star.

This book deals more with our feelings and less with astronomy. My favorite part of the book though is when it says that even when we cannot see stars, they are still there. This is a relaxing story to add to your bedtime repertoire of books!


Wrapping up the top 100 books for toddlers has been a blast! I truly hope you discover at least one new book to add to your collection. Now I want to know your favorite children’s books! I am always looking for new books to add to our library and appreciate recommendations.

Brush Toddler’s Teeth Without Fighting

Are you tired of engaging in a power struggle to brush your toddler’s teeth? It’s time to stop and take a step back to analyze what you can try and do differently. Trying to figure out how to brush your toddler’s teeth without a fight might be one of the most annoying parts of parenthood.

For the longest time, I felt like I was running in circles over teethbrushing. I didn’t feel like I was getting Princess L to accept the fact that she has to brush her teeth twice a day. It was a massive struggle to get her to keep from running away or wriggling out of my arms. There were many tears. I had to stop and rethink how I was approaching the fiasco to figure out how we could solve our problem.

I want to share with you what we have found that has transformed our twice-daily battle ritual into a much healthier habit of dental care. Thankfully, Princess L happily helps us brush her teeth now. It took only a couple of changes to transform our morning and nighttime routine.

Getting started on what to use to brush your toddler’s teeth

It may seem obvious enough that you need toothpaste and a toothbrush to get started. But did you know that you should start flossing your toddler’s teeth once they start touching? I didn’t until we were told by our dentist. Princess L’s teeth came in touching, so that meant we had to start flossing before her first birthday.

Flossing a 1 year old (or a toddler’s) teeth can be an enormous challenge. Luckily for us, Princess L has always really enjoyed getting her teeth flossed. We started out by using these Twistables flossers by Crayola and they have been a massive hit since day one!

We love that these come in different flavors and colors. They also make flossing her teeth possible for us to do quickly and effectively because of the handle.

If you are in the middle of a battle of the brushing, try letting your little one pick out a new toothbrush to help get them to look forward to getting to use it. Another thing worth experimenting with is your toothpaste. This one by Burts Bees has been Princess L’s favorite. I appreciate that it doesn’t include any dyes like most other children’s toothpaste.

when your toddler hates brushing their teeth

If your little one is having meltdowns over toothbrushing time, it’s important to take into consideration their feelings. I know first hand that I wasn’t engaging with our tooth brushing routine with all the calmness and patience I could have. I rushed and begged and pleaded for cooperation. Just trying to get it over with so we could move onto the next part of our routine.

This total lack of thoughtfulness on my part and rushing is what made the situation so much worse. I realized I wasn’t helping boost my daughter’s confidence in this area of personal hygiene and that I wasn’t setting her up for success.

Taking lots of pauses and realizing that toothbrushing can last for several minutes and that it’s okay if we do the top and need to take a break and chat before getting to the bottom made a huge difference in our experience. My single biggest tip if your little one is fighting you on brushing their teeth, is to slow down. Don’t rush and be calm- as hard as it may very well be. Our little ones totally sense our emotions and feed off our energy.

If your toddler hates to brush their teeth then it is time to find ways to make it fun…

finding ways to make it fun!

I asked our family dentist how to make brushing my toddler’s teeth less of a challenge. He recommended trying to make it something that she would look forward to. And recommended offering an incentive such as watching her favorite show while we brushed her teeth. Since we heavily limit any screen time, this didn’t feel like a very reasonable option for us. We had to get creative!

The first thing I did was let Princess L pick out her own toothbrush. She was very excited to pick out her own Frozen toothbrushes! We had been trying to make our own songs to sing while we brushed our teeth, but that just simply wasn’t fun enough… Trying to brush a toddler’s teeth made be made easier just by letting them decide on their own toothbrush!

Then I remembered something her pediatrician did to check her ears while we had a check-up. Her doctor asked to see if there were any monkeys in her ears. Behold my surprise when Princess L allowed her to look into her ears without any fussing! I tried this same tactic at home and asked if I could check for monkeys in her mouth. She willingly opened her mouth to see and I told her I saw an entire family in there! We have to brush your teeth to get them out! Engaging in some make-believe play while brushing teeth has completely transformed our teeth brushing routine.

While I’m excavating the monkeys out, I sometimes throw in some cool sound effects and pretend I’m throwing them across the room. To her delight, she loves when we talk for the monkeys too. Sometimes the monkeys will sing to her about being washed away. But usually “Grandpa Monkey” likes to ask Princess L about her day or what her plans are.

Instead of asking Princess L to brush her teeth, we ask if she is ready to get the monkeys out of her mouth. She runs to the bathroom now! Its been a massive success!

Teaching your toddler to brush their own teeth

Toddler girl brushing her teeth.

Dental hygiene is so important for everyone and is a skill we want to teach our toddlers how to do by themselves. Try offering them an opportunity to practice after you have already brushed their teeth for them. By brushing their teeth before you let them practice alone, you will get rid of the possibility of them becoming bored of it before you have a chance to do it too.

I also highly recommend the Twistables teeth flossers for teaching your toddler how to floss their own teeth. They are made to be very user friendly for small children thanks to the handle. It is so much easier to use than traditional tooth floss!

Another perfect way to teach dental hygiene to your toddler is to model to them what they should be doing. While giving them the opportunity to do it themselves, take that time to do your teeth care routine too! Try and get them to copy you and mimic your moves!

don’t engage in a battle

And finally, as tough as it may be… don’t engage into a battle of wills with your toddler over tooth brushing. This can lead to anxiety around this part of your daily routine. Help build up your toddler’s confidence by expressing how impressed you are once you start brushing and flossing. “Grandpa Monkey” always tells Princess L that he is super wowed by how grown up she is for taking care of her teeth.

Our tots totally feed off our energy. Make sure you’re calm and not anxious yourself before starting. If you have been having a lot of difficulties recently getting your little one to brush their teeth ask for help! Try to have someone else take a shot at it if possible.

I hope you found a new tip or trick to try for the next time you go to brush your toddler’s teeth! Please share with me any toddler teeth brushing hacks you have found yourself. I would love to hear from you!

Survival Guide: Dining Out With A Toddler

Eating out is supposed to be a fun experience for everyone at the table. When going out for a meal with a toddler, it can quickly become a threat to our sanity. To make Dining out with a toddler easier- read on!

We attempt to heavily regulate our use of screens for our little one and ourselves… this means we don’t hand her our phones while we wait for our food. Coming up with ways to practice our table manners and keep her occupied and happy during a trip to a restaurant has been a huge learning experience for us.

Dinning out with a young child can be a challenge. We’ve all seen it before… the tot running a muck around the restaurant or making obscene amounts of noise to the dismay of others sitting near them. You probably swore to yourself before you had kids, “that’ll never be me!” Now that you’re in that mama’s shoes with a little one you want to set you and your little one up for success so you can enjoy a meal together outside of the home.

Read on to find out our top 13 tips and tricks that make dinning our with your toddler an enjoyable experience for everyone!

Toys to help you survive the wait

I’m telling you the most obvious hack first. If you’re not already traveling around with a bag full of loot for your toddler to help entertain them…. then here you go! We strive to heavily limit our little one’s screen time, which means she doesn’t get to view screens when we are out at a restaurant either. Keeping her entertained via different avenues is our biggest strategy for keeping her happy at the table while we wait for our food.

Not all toys are created equal when it comes to what will work best in a restaurant. Below are our top 3 favorites that have made the waiting quiet and peaceful.

Tegu Blocks

These Tegu blocks are seriously the coolest blocks we have found so far. This small pack of eight may seem unassuming, but I promise it is mighty! These are magnetic wooden blocks and align in different ways to be stacked and built. Not just some basic wooden blocks here! The magnets give these toys such a fun twist and help keep Princess L entertained a lot longer than other toys we have tried. Open-ended toys are fantastic at keeping toddlers entertained longer than other toys. (Plus they don’t make noise, which is pretty nice for restaurant dining!) These are so easy to keep clean since they can just be quickly wiped down before being stowed away in their handy pouch- a must for any toy you plan on carrying into a restaurant.

Imagine ink magic pictures

The Imagine Ink Magic Pictures Coloring Activities are so nice to pack for a restaurant trip because they are mess-free! The marker only works on the paper in the activity book! What is it about toddlers and markers? Princess L loves coloring with markers… but it can get messy fast! These entertain her so well and help to keep her content until the food arrives. These also work really well for car rides as well, if you were looking for any car ride hacks to help for peaceful trips.

pouch puzzle

Princess L loves doing puzzles, but still needs help from time to time completing them. Another quiet, calming activity- this Mudpuppy World of Eric Carle puzzle set is so much fun! I love that it comes in a zip pouch, making storing and keeping up with the pieces very easy. We love talking about the animals and the different colors in the pictures. Plus we get to practice counting our numbers as we count each puzzle piece to make sure its made it safely back inside the pouch.

the highchair hack while dining out with a toddler

However, once you get to the highchair its not uncommon to find that it is pretty sticky, gross, and may have some of the last kid’s food still sitting in it. Ick! You do your best to wipe it down, but the sticky residue still remains… It is time to bust out a high chair cover! This one is great and also doubles as a shopping cart cover as well!

Using a cover over the high chair helps your sanity when you’re worried about germs and grime that comes with using a communal high chair. I love that this is easy to throw into the washing machine when we get home too!

ask for more accommodating seating

Since we have started dinning out with our toddler, I have found that sitting at a booth makes life so much easier. If this is an option while we are out, I always request one instead of a traditional table with chairs. The booth allows Princess L to have some more room to wiggle around in before we move to the high chair.

We have alternated between trying the booster seats and the high chairs. So far, we have found letting Princess L wiggle a bit in our laps until the food gets to the table, and then placing her into the high chair works the best. Boost seats for us just don’t work out. They tip over too easily and don’t allow us to get her close enough to the table to keep her from dropping a ton of food on her lap.

Another tip is to ask for a window seat if you see it is available!

hacks for feeding your toddler

Once the food arrives everyone gets excited and is ready to dig in. Restaurants are notorious for serving enormous portions and that means lots of opportunities for your little one to make a mess with their food.

At home, I don’t worry as much about Princess L playing with her food, but when we dine out I want to be respectful to the wait staff as much as possible. To help keep down on our mess, I have discovered that offering small amounts of food, and doling it out over a period of time really helps cut down on the mess.

If you are sharing an entree with your little one, ask for an extra plate for them. This also helps cut down on the dinner table chaos.

bring A sippy cup when dining out with a toddler

I like to try and carry a sippy cup for Princess L any time we leave the house, but especially when we go out to eat. With so many places foregoing on giving out straws and other places using heavy glasses- it makes it tough on a toddler to drink without asking for some help.

Help your little one out by bringing along a cup just for them.

pack your utensils

Some restaurants offer really heavy eating utensils or they aren’t as tot friendly as the ones you have at home. Try packing a set to keep in your diaper bag for when this happens.

Our favorites are these ones by Zak. I was actually discussing with some friends about how Princess L seemed to be really struggling with getting the hang of silverware. I had previously been using some plastic toddler utensils and a friend said I should try using some that had a metal end and plastic handle- to make it easier for little hands. She was so right! I think the metal tip on the fork makes picking up food easier, and the spoon can actually hold some liquid in it. These are awesome!

the Disposable Placemat Hack

These disposable placemats are seriously a game-changer. If you’re like me, you probably worry about the mess you leave behind on the table. These make clean up a breeze!

They stick down really well since they have adhesive tape on all four sides. When you’re ready to peel it off, it comes off without leaving any sticky residue behind. I love that I feel like this helps create a more sanitary space for my tot to eat at as well. They are sized well too- large enough to give our little one a bit of room to spread her food out on.

The colorful pictures include some cool graphics that also give us something to discuss while we wait for our food to arrive. We love counting the different animals or talking about the letters we see on the mat.

banish germs

I’ve brought up a couple of times about dealing with grime and trying to create a sanitary place while dining out with a toddler. But my favorite way is to break out a sanitizing wipe!

I like to try and remember to keep these in my diaper bag all the time, because you never know when you may want to use one (like after pumping gas!) Giving the table and high chair a wipe down as soon as we are seated helps me feel better about doing my part to help create a clean space for my little one.

the restAurant bag

When eating out, it can feel like you need to bring extra things with you that you don’t typically carry on a typical day. Creating a quick “restaurant bag” to keep in your car can help keep clutter out of your regular diaper bag, but also help you feel prepared for when you do decide to eat out at a restaurant.

I like to keep a zip lock bag in the car with a couple of the toys mentioned earlier, and a couple of the disposable mats. I also put this book- Foods with Moods in our restaurant bag.

We especially love this book during our restaurant adventures because it has to deal with one of our favorite topics- food! I mentioned this book, Foods With Moods, in my Top 100 Books For Toddlers post. This is a seriously fun book for toddlers and helps to teach about lots of different emotions.

Try keeping all the items in a single storage bag, like a zip lock, and you’re set to go on what you need to carry inside the restaurant with you.

Mind your manners!

Dining out with a toddler can be a challenge, but they definitely feed off of our energy. Eating out is a great time to model our best table manners and etiquite! I read in one place that we should encourage our little ones to pretend that they are adults eating at a fancy restuarnt when we want them to mind their table manners. This tip may work great for older toddlers or young kids.

For younger toddlers still learning their manners, eating out at a restaurant is a perfect time to model the behavior you’re wishing to see from your child as well. Stow away the phone and engage with everyone at the table yourself as well. Make your toddler feel just as much a part of the experience as well. How often are we guilty of doing the very things we are trying hard to get our toddlers not to do themselves.

set yourself up for success

Making sure you’re giving yourself every opportunity to enjoy your meals is a no brainer move. Try not to wait to go until everyone is completely starving. You’re not yourself when you’re hungry- right? If you realize the timing is off, try offering a really small snack leading up to the event to try and keep everyone from feeling hangry.

As I’m sure you already know… Try to keep nap time in mind and try not to take your little one out to a restaurant when they are likely to be irritable and cranky.

get the wiggle worm out before you are seated

My last hack I can offer on taking your toddler out to eat at a restaurant is to do your best to get the “wiggle worm” out before you are seated. We do our best to make this happen by parking towards the back of the parking lot to have a longer walk before getting inside. If you have time, try walking a little bit before entering the restaurant (if its safe and you’re at a place where this would be reasonable to do so outside). Getting some energy out before having to sit down for a long time can help set your little one up for more success!

I hope some of these tips and tricks are helpful for you on your next adventure on dinning out! Please share with me some hacks you’ve found to help eat out at a restaurant with a toddler!

Clean House Hacks With A Toddler

Keeping a clean house is rarely an easy task to start with. Adding a baby, toddler, a dog, or any combination of factors can make you feel like you are engaged in a never ending battle. I have often realized that the state of my home is a direct correlation to how my mental health is doing. When I am struggling to get through the day and I am feeling like a glum mom, my surroundings often seem to match my disposition. Finding some hacks to help keep my house clean has been paramount in my journey into motherhood.

If you’re anything like me, then you thrive in a neat and orderly environment. I can easily fixate on the endless list of household chores that never seem to get done. I have, however, seemed to have found a method that works for me. It took me a year to really get in the swing of balancing motherhood with keeping an orderly home. Now I am here to share some hacks with you that I have since discovered!

1. The Dishwasher Hack

Of all the hacks I have found to help keep your house clean, this one is by far my favorite.

Run your dishwasher at night and unload it before breakfast in the morning. Once Princess L was walking, she loved helping me unload the dishwasher by handing me the items on the bottom rack. This has become a part of our morning ritual now. By emptying the dishwasher before breakfast, it allows me to place all the dirty dishes straight in the washer. No dirty dishes in the sink for the win! Woo!

As simple as this hack sounds, I shared my favorite with you first. This hack to help keep the house clean is one I stand by because it helps set you up for success throughout your day! We also recently purchased this toddler step stool for counters recently.

The stool allows her to help unload the top rack of the dishwasher, and it has been a real big hit! Before we were using a chair pushed up to the counter and it was a constant worry so far as safety goes. I love that she can help me now in the kitchen without having to be concerned about her getting hurt!

2. A Load a Day Hack

A load of laundry a day keeps the mountain away. Seriously! I focus on accomplishing one load per day. Trying to do more than that, I rarely get the clothing actually put away. But one load seems small and easy enough to tackle and put away. When it comes to hacks that keep your house clean, this one the hardest for me to keep, but the most important. I loathe folding and putting away laundry. Does anyone else have “that chair” in their room? Sticking to the plan of just one load makes this one doable for me (and keeps me from leaving clothes in the basket after they’re clean).

Doing just one load a laundry a day can help you keep your home clean and orderly.

Props to the fact that Princess L also loves helping me fold clothes by handing me each item of clothing. Getting your little one involved in your household chores not only teaches them responsibility but can also be a fun learning experience! Talk about the colors and textures of what you’re folding. Ask them which shirt is their favorite.  

I’ve started letting Princess L put the clothes into drawers now too. This makes her feel so accomplished. Sometimes (okay most of the time…) it gets smushed into the drawers and isn’t as orderly as I would like. However, for her clothes in her room- she gets a big sense of accomplishment from helping out with this chore.

3. Keep Surfaces Clean hack

Wipe down the counters and tables every day. I wipe down our table after each meal, and the counters in the evening after Princess L has gone off to sleep. Keeping these surfaces clear makes this hack so much easier. I don’t allow things to accumulate on our kitchen counters or table. Aside from a couple of kitchen appliances like our toaster and a blender, our counters stay bare. This makes wiping up a snap. Having to try and clean around papers and clutter is a headache. I love Happy Simple Mom’s post about dealing with the “dumping ground” area that is usually our tables or counters. She gives some truly, solid advice on how to conquer clutter once and for all.

Wiping down your surfaces at the end of the day helps to keep your home clean, and makes for a fresh start in the morning.

I often need to sweep under our table after meals to get all the little crumbs up because our faithful fur companion isn’t much of a vacuum. Am I the only one whose toddler has more food end up on the floor than in their belly?! But seriously, cleaning up after each meal makes such a difference for us in terms of keeping our house tidy. Since we empty our dishwasher in the morning, the dirty dishes go straight in (no sitting in the sink!). Doing a quick wipe up on the table and kitchen makes everything put back together within a minute.

4. Toy Organization and Rotation for a clean house Hack

I have found that allowing for fewer toys, and putting them away when they are done being played with, is the easiest of the hacks to help keep your house clean when you have a toddler. Sounds easy enough, right? But how often do we let our little ones pull out each and every item they own before looking to see there is no longer a discernible path to even navigate through the room? When we finish playing with a toy it gets put up then- not at a later time. This is also made easier by the fact that we rotate our toys out daily. By rotating our toys, not only do they feel more exciting to play with, she does not have access to all her toys at once. This really helps keep some of the toy chaos to a minimum. 

Toy organization is always an ongoing task. We keep a book and toy storage unit similar to this one here in our living room. I love being able to both display her books on top, and have room for toys underneath. We swap out the bottom baskets throughout the week to help rotate toys. This is the best system we have found for us.

5. Make a Schedule Hack

Come up with a schedule. Some things should be cleaned daily- like your kitchen(!), but other things such as mopping and cleaning bathrooms aren’t something you’re likely able to dedicate to daily cleaning. By creating a schedule for these areas it makes it so much easier. Some of these things I only work on after Princess L is asleep, or while my husband can care for her so that I don’t feel like I have spent a lot of time neglecting her.

When Mom Guilt Creeps Up

I don’t know about you, but I feel the most mom guilt about spending time cleaning, instead of engaged with my daughter. I realize that the mess will always be there, long after she has grown. However, I can’t play and hold her in my arms forever. I do recognize the importance of a clean home for my whole family. It teaches my daughter that we have responsibilities and that hard work is worth the effort to make everyone comfortable and enjoy the home we have together.

So my tip for you, when you have to clean and the mom guilt starts to creep up on you, is to find a way to make it a chore you can do together. Maybe you can’t carpet clean together… and you should save that task for another day, but can you dust the baseboards together? Windex the sliding glass door? Just find one chore you can do together can make you feel both accomplished and like you have connected with your child and taught them the value of keeping their space clean as well. (It’s funny, but Princess L loves cleaning our sliding glass back door! It is by far her favorite chore and she gets so much enjoyment from spraying the Windex on the glass all by herself!)

Getting your toddler involved with household chores can boost their confidence and help your sanity as well.

Keeping a tidy home is no small feat. But you can do it! Create a plan and stick to it! Make completing some chores a part of your ritual and they become second nature to everyone in the home. I never go to bed with our kitchen and living room not looking it’s very best. These two spaces are where we spend the bulk of our time during the day. I want to ensure that at least when we start our day in the morning, it is in as nice and serene of a state as possible. Plus it’s a bonus to keep these living areas tidy and presentable since you never know when you might have some unexpected company.

I hope some of these tips helped you! Please share any tips and hacks you’ve found to help keep your house clean!

Beach Trip Hacks for Toddlers

Hey Friend! Ready to make a splash at the beach with your toddler? It can be daunting… I know from experience. I live twenty minutes from a beach, so Princess L and I make our way there as often as we can. After traversing from the car to the beach with a toddler several dozen times this year, I am confident to bring you some tips and tricks I have found that have made our visits more enjoyable and easier on me!

The Backpack Hack

A brown back pack sitting on the sand.

Given that we live close to the beach, I seldom try to make plans to stay out on the sand longer than two hours. I find that with a toddler, this about the upper limit we can enjoy the beach anyways. By knowing that I am planning to stay out on the beach for about two hours, I pack LIGHT. This makes the whole experience easier, and more manageable.

Several times, I have loaded down our beach wagon, packed enough for us to last all day on the beach only to be left frustrated, hot, and overwhelmed with trying to keep up with everything. I have found that it is much easier to pack everything in a backpack. I actually just use our backpack diaper bag that I carry daily. Using a backpack means I can be hands-free to keep up with Princess L as she runs around chasing seagulls.

If your toddler is like mine, they will likely prefer to wander around the beach, rather than laying claim to one spot on the sand. Using a backpack also makes it easier to continue to be mobile with your little one. So what do you pack in your bookbag? Let’s jump into it…

The sunscreen hack

First things first, you need to pack sunscreen. I prefer to apply sunscreen before we leave the car using this sunscreen by Badger. I highly recommend using a spray sunscreen to carry in your bag to reapply sunscreen while out on the beach. Using a traditional sunscreen is goopy and is difficult to reapply once you are already sandy. The spray sunscreen comes in clutch out on the beach!

leave the beach towels behind you hack

Next, the best thing I have found to do is to leave your beach towels in your car. What?! Yes. Trust me on this one. There isn’t room for them in the book bag anyway and you want to keep your hands free as possible. Chances are you will be dry before you make it back to the car or hotel room anyway. Save yourself space instead! Surprisingly, I have discovered swaddle blankets are perfect to use instead!

As I just mentioned, I like to leave towels in the car. But there are also other things I prefer to leave in the car as well! A change of clothes for both of us so the ride home so we can be as sand-free as possible. (Pro Tip- Cornstarch and baby powder also work really well at removing sand! Just sprinkle on the skin and it rubs right off!) Swimmy and regular diapers I leave in the car and do car diaper changes there instead if needed.

a couple things you might not have thought of

I pack a swaddle blanket tightly rolled up inside of a grocery bag. I put the swaddle back into the grocery bag after we’re through to keep my bag from getting as sandy! The swaddle blankets we use are actually ones I had DIY’d using a muslin cloth fabric. They’re lightweight and super compact. This makes them perfect to serve as a place to sit down for a few minutes while your little snacks.

Other items I have found make the list of critical items that need to be carried (outside of keys/wallet/phone) are: a small bucket to carry seashells (I use a carabiner to attach it to the book bag!), beach snacks, water, sunglasses (because squinting is no fun). Also, using a carabiner to attach flip flops to your bag keeps you from losing them. Personally, I let Princess L go out on the beach barefoot and don’t mess with shoes for her.

The Wagon Hack

If you are planning on staying out on the beach longer than just a few hours, a wagon is a must. I highly recommend this beach wagon! It has made our trips from the car to the beach much easier when we had a lot of things to carry! The wide wheels make pulling it in the sand a breeze and it gives ample room for carrying a cooler, some beach chairs, and all your other beach paraphernalia. Another pro tip- use an old quilt instead of beach towels to spread out on the sand. We always keep one in the trunk of the car since they’re perfect for picnics at the park as well!

Getting Shady

A blue umbrella stuck on the sand near the ocean with a towel and ball beneath it.

The shade is always on a mama’s mind while out on the sandy shore. It can be worrisom when our little ones are out in the Sun for extended periods of time. If you are going to be going the wagon route and planning to make a day of it on the beach, I recommend going for a large umbrella or shelter if you have someone there to help you set up your camp. Trying to set up an umbrella or shelter by yourself when it is just you and your toddler can be difficult. Try to plan ahead if you are going solo with your tot, and plan to pack as lightly as possible.

If you’re like me and making your trips without any help besides your toddler’s endearing excitement that is contagious enough that it revs up your energy reserves. Trying to figure out sunshade needs to be able to be conquered with one hand. I have found the best thing for this is a rain umbrella. Small and compact, it fits in the side pocket of my bookbag. I pull this baby out when Princess L and I sit down for our beach snacks on our blanket. Easy shade!

Keeping Toddler Entertained on the Beach

A blue pale and yellow shovel sitting on sand near a dune.

Awesome! You made it onto the beach, and your toddler has run straight out into their first wave, got knocked down, and now demands you to hold them in your arms while they cling on to you in heat of the unforgiving Sun. You attempt to encourage them to walk on the sand and hold your hand, but they prefer the way your sweaty arms feel instead. No, just me?

On days that I have a beach adventure planned for us, I like to set out some ocean-themed books at home the day before. I like to remind her once we are on the beach that we need to look for all the things we read about in our books. This piques her curiosity and usually leads to setting out on our conquest of finding a penguin (we still haven’t, sadly…)

A bucket is great for collecting seashells and is Princess L’s favorite thing to tote around out on the sand. On days we roll out our wagon, we love bringing out these beach toys for some fun. The B. Toys brand is one of our favorites, and our little one gets so much joy from toting around her bucket on the beach.

Once your little one’s legs are tired from running around chasing the waves and seagulls, it’s time for my favorite beach activity- snack time!

Perfect Beach Snacks for Toddlers

A great white shark jumping out of the water to eat some chips.

Packing snacks for a toddler is pretty much always a necessity, but even more so for a beach adventure. Our favorites are raisins, clementines, and Gerber Baby Crunchies. These are easy go-to snacks that I often pack in my diaper bag anyway. Sweet treats like raisins mix with the salty air for the perfect snack to enjoy out on the beach.

Don’t forget your beach trip’s most important item- WATER. Keeping hydrated out in the sun is critical. My dad gifted us with this kids YETI water bottle. Guys, let me tell you… this gem keeps liquid cold all day long. (Plus they come in a variety of fun colors!) It is awesome, and should totally go on a wishlist if you keep one. Don’t forget to pack yourself something to drink as well, mama!

Young Child Safety on the Beach

A bottle of sunscreen in the sand.

We just previously mentioned that water is vital to carry with you out on the beach, but let’s dive into some other safety considerations for your beach trip…

Sun safety: Advice from the CDC states five things to remember to bring with you anytime you are spending time outside- shade, covering up, a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. According to the CDC, it does not take but a couple of sunburns to increase one’s risk for skin cancer. Don’t take Sun safety lightly!

UPF bathing suits

We’ve already delved into how to manage shade and sunscreen while out on the beach, so let us jump into keeping our bodies covered up while still enjoying the Sun’s rays. Rash guards are the easiest way to do this for your little one. This totally darling little swimsuit has been our favorite! On top of it being so darn cute, it also boasts 50+ UPF protection! (Truthful moment here… before I was a mama, I had no clue about UPF grade clothing! Learning about these types of garments made me worry so much less while spending time out on the beach!) Since finding out about rash guards, I have also started wearing them myself when I’m out on the beach. This one comes in lots of colors and the option of short or long sleeves!

To wrap up the other necessities you need for you and your little one’s sun safety out in the sun, don’t forget to pack your hat and one for your toddler (this one matches the swim rash guard from earlier!) and some sunglasses!

Another paramount thing you must consider about your toddler’s safety while at the ocean is the fact you must supervise your toddler for the entire duration on the beach. This should honestly go without saying… Toddlers are curious and brave. Looking out at the ocean, they are excited and ready to explore this new territory. They do not realize that the water is completely unforgiving. I do not let my little one venture out past her ankles in the water- even while holding my hand. It is important to have fun while at the beach, but more important to stay safe. Know the water conditions before you go out and try to go out during low tide.

This post on Motherly offers some more guidance on other beach safety that I feel is definitely worth checking out.

Cherishing Memories

A clear vase filled with seashells sitting on a dock.

You and your little one have had a blast playing out in the Sun, getting sandy, and you’re ready to start your voyage back to the car or hotel room now… You’ve taken some pictures and perhaps a video or two, but if you’re looking for another way to remember your day just look for the perfect seashell to carry home with you.

I have started a tradition for me and Princess L… each time we go to the beach we find one special shell that we decide is perfect to bring home. Once we get it home, I like to take a sharpie and write the date on the inside of the shell. You can keep your shells in a pretty vase or mason jar. It will be fun to fill it up with all the shells you collect. You could also add rocks from other places you visit if this becomes your new way to collect souvenirs!

You’re ready to hit the beach!

Well, my friend, I appreciate you sticking with me here as we dive deep into all that I can share with you about beach trips! I hope that you and your one have a blast out on the sand! Hope these hacks here help you feel equipped for a stress-free day in the sun!

Now you’re ready to put your tot into the car seat, and hope they sleep for they sleep for the journey home!

Share with me tips and tricks you have found for your beach trips or anything else I may have forgotten! Let’s learn from each other!