Have you ever wondered which infant and toddler products out there actually work?  Which slippers stay on a babies feet, what shoes can a toddler successfully put on by themselves, where can I find labels that don’t come off in the dishwasher?  Today we are going to share some of our favorite infant and toddler products with you.  As you all know, we spend A LOT of time with children and their accessories and not all accessories/products are created equal.  Here are our favorites, in no specific order:
1.  Zutano Booties:
These booties for infants are the best we have seen in a while, for a variety of reasons.  Zutano booties are soft, and more like a sock.  This means that they do not restrict your child’s feet and still allow them to feel the floor and different surfaces, unlike a firm shoe.  In addition, these booties actually STAY ON THEIR FEET!!  Now I am not saying that they never fall off, nothing is perfect.  But the success rate of staying where they are meant to be, in our experience, is much higher than any other infant bootie/shoe/slipper we have worked with.  Lastly, they have a snap closure which means, it stays closed.  There are other booties, similar to this brand, but with velcro and thicker fabric.  They are just not the same.  In this case, brand matters.
(can also be found on Amazon)
2.  Neoprene Lunchbox:
Spills in lunch boxes, milk in lunch boxes, lost lunch box with containers still inside?  As busy parents, we all know these things happen.  And what are we left with? Smelly lunchboxes that we just can’t get clean enough.  A Neoprene Lunchbag is going to become your new best friend.  Things still spill in them, they still get misplaced, but the difference is, they are machine washable and able to be put into the dryer.  Not only that, but they are MUCH easier for the children to unzip themselves.  As you know, we encourage as much independence as possible in our program.  This includes the children opening their own lunchboxes, and unpacking their lunch.  These bags help the children  become successful with this task at an earlier age.  They can be found in stores and on amazon.  There are tons of brands and patterns, see below for just one example ( but one of the more durable brands).
3.  Camelbak Water Bottle:
In our Montessori classrooms, we transition children to open cups as early as possible.  Many of our infants drink out of glasses, with our assistance.  We also have had a few families who send in kids Camelbak water bottles, especially during the summer for consuming larger amounts of liquid.  These are nice because they do not leak, are easy to clean, and the children do not have to suck quite as hard to get the liquid to come out.   Straw cups also require a more mature mouth movement, which is better for speech development than prolonged use of bottles or “sippy cups”.   The entire valve comes out and you can clean inside of the spout.  We all know how difficult certain cups can be to thoroughly clean, so this is a very nice feature.  They also prove more difficult for the children to flip over, and squeeze the liquid out onto the table (I’m sure you have all seen that trick with certain cups or bottles).
4.  NameBubbles:
We are constantly asking everyone to label their belongings.  We have a lot of children, many of whom have identical coats, clothing, lunchboxes, and just about anything else you can imagine.  And it never fails, when items come in without being labeled, they are easily misplaced or go home with the wrong family.  Looking for an easy way to label your child’s clothes, bottles, lunchboxes, shoes, and anything else they may bring to school?  Try NameBubbles labels.  These labels stay on through just about anything.  We have had families use these through multiple children, and the labels are still hanging on.  Check them out, it looks like they are having a sale.
5.  Toddler shoes:
One of our many goals for the children in our classrooms, is for them to be able to put their shoes on by themselves.  This skill is also a requirement for moving up to our Children’s House program.  This skill also proves very challenging, especially when the children have shoes that make this virtually impossible.  Shoe laces, hightops, tight sneakers, tall boots, all of these things and more can lead to frustration and a delay in being able to achieve independence with their shoes.  In addition, cute shoes do not equal practical shoes for school.  We get dirty, we run, we go to gym, and the children need footwear that with help them be successful throughout their day.  The links below are examples of toddler shoes that we have found meet all of the above needs.  They are the easiest to put on and take off, while being durable and safe for the children to be active in school.