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What products, supplies, and gear do you need to get your child safely and happily from his first to his second birthday? We know, of course, that you want to give him the world – and your love and patience can get him partway there. But there are a few other basics you'll want to provide as well.
Your child is both easier and harder to dress at this stage. Easier because he may raise his arms for you when you pull off his shirt; harder because he's often squirming when you do it. So look for comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that are easy to get on and off. Avoid clothes you have to button – buttons require time and patience – and look for speedy snaps and zippers instead.
Now that your child is crawling, walking, and exploring, durability is important. You need clothes that hold up well to repeated messes and washings. Which brings us to another point: Get machine-washable clothes. Believe it or not, there are baby clothes that require dry cleaning. You don't need them.
Another tip: Limit yourself to a few basic colors for your child's wardrobe and you'll have an easier time putting together matching outfits.
The number of baby gifts you're getting has probably trickled off by now, so you're likely on the lookout for bargains. Check out our tips for finding bargains on clothes when you have a moment.
Here are some basics to have on hand:
Shirts: Look for cotton T-shirts and turtlenecks with snaps at the neck that will slip easily over your child's head. Undershirts are an easy way to add a layer of warmth.
Leggings/pants: Separates allow you to change one piece of dirty clothing without putting on a whole new outfit. Look for elastic waists, which are easier to pull over your toddler's big tummy.
Sweaters and sweatshirts: Many small children don't like pushing their head through a small neck opening – and will resist doing so. Buy big and look for sweaters with loose neck and armholes.
Warm jacket: A fleece jacket with a hood is a cozy and efficient way to bundle up your child. Layering allows you to quickly regulate your toddler's temperature by adding or removing a garment.
Hats: A broad-brimmed sun hat for the summer and a warm hat that covers the ears in the winter should do the trick.
Snowsuit and mittens: If you live in a cold climate, of course.
Swimwear: If your toddler's going in the pool, you'll need a bathing suit and a swim diaper or waterproof diaper cover that prevents leakage in the water.
Sleepwear: Fleece pajamas with feet are great because they'll keep your toddler warm after he kicks off his bedding during the night. Many parents also like wearable blankets – fleece or cotton sacks that zip over your toddler's sleepwear to keep him warm.
Shoes and socks: Your toddler will need "real shoes" – as opposed to booties or soft-soled shoes – once he starts walking. If you can, buy shoes from a store that caters to young children. They'll be better able to advise you on size, support, and comfort. Find out more about buying shoes for toddlers.
Diapers and toilet training
You're most likely not done with diapers. While some children begin potty training as early as 18 months, most have yet to cross this bridge. At some point in the coming year your toddler will probably outgrow the changing table, and you'll find it easier to change him while he's standing up or lying on the floor.
Potty seat: It's good to have one of these on hand so your child becomes familiar with it before he's ready to use it. (See signs of potty training readiness.) You have two kinds to choose from: a freestanding, child-size potty and an attachment seat that sits on top of a standard toilet seat.
Stool: If you choose a potty seat that fits on top of the regular toilet seat, you'll want a step stool for your child to rest his feet on. Eventually, it will also help him reach the sink to wash his hands afterward.
Stroller: At this age, your child is less likely to need a full-feature stroller that reclines for napping. Many parents of toddlers switch to lightweight, collapsible strollers that are easy to carry. Read more details on strollers and what's right for you.
Highchair: If you haven't purchased a highchair yet, you'll probably want to now. One with a detachable tray makes for easy cleanup. But some families skip freestanding highchairs entirely and opt for a seat that hooks onto the counter or table, or one that attaches to a regular chair. See our highchair buying guide for more information.
Booster seat: Some toddlers eat in their highchair for two years or longer. Others take an early interest in joining the family at the table. When your child is ready for shared meals, he'll need a booster seat, a plastic seat that fits into a full-size chair and brings your toddler up to table level. For safety's sake, choose one you can strap to the chair.
Plates: You might still want a bowl with suction cups to discourage your child from flinging it to the floor. Later in the year, plastic plates with separate compartments will let you offer peas, noodles, and applesauce – without any of them touching!
Sippy cups: These come with a lid and a spout for easy drinking, and don't spill when they tip over. Be wary of cups with attached straws because they're a challenge to clean. Find out more about sippy cups.
Spoons and forks: As your toddler gains fine motor control, he'll be ready to wield his own toddler spoon and fork. These have thicker handles so they're easier to grasp.
Crib and mattress: Your toddler's logged a lot of hours in his crib, and he's still got more to go before moving to a big bed. Children usually make the switch at around age 3. (Learn more about the transition from crib to bed.) Make sure the crib mattress is low enough that he can't climb out on his own.
For more details, see our buying guides on cribs and crib mattresses.
Bedding: You need a couple of fitted sheets and a soft blanket to keep your toddler warm at night. Note: Though loose bedding and stuffed animals are considered safe for your toddler to sleep with, it's still recommended that you avoid pillows until age 2 because of the risk of suffocation.
You'll need to rethink your childproofing now that your toddler's cruising or walking. Try looking at your house from a toddler's perspective and you may be better able to spot potential hazards. Keep all medications, cleaning products, vitamins, makeup, and other potential poisons locked up. See our complete guide to toddler safety.
Car seat: When your child reaches 22 pounds or so, he's too big for many infant seats, so you'll need to buy a convertible seat. To keep your child safe, experts – including the AAP – say to keep children rear-facing until they exceed the seat's rear-facing height and weight requirements. Most convertible seats can accommodate children up to 40 pounds or more, allowing them to stay rear-facing until around age 4.
Safety gates: If you have stairs, invest in safety gates for the top and bottom. And keep using them until your child can safely navigate the steps on his own. You can also use gates to block off other areas of your house that might present a danger to your child. For more, see our safety gate buying guide.
Cupboard and drawer latches: Choose from several types – the most common is a latch you have to push before it will open. Lock up all knives and cleaning supplies and every other hazard you can imagine in your kitchen and bathroom.
Toilet seat locks: These fasten on top of a closed toilet seat, and require you to press a button or undo a latch to open them. Note: Children can drown in as little as two inches of water.
Outlet covers: Exposed outlets are an attraction for the young and restless, so keep them covered.