Favorite Kitchen Tools for Parents

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The best kitchen tools for new parents

Kitchen gadgets to get you through the first three years

The Best Kitchen Tools for New Parents - Top Kitchen Registry Picks

Registering for baby gifts is hard, right? Knowing which products really work, which ones may break or even which ones will end up in a cabinet, never to be used. Not to mention the sheer number of items there are out there.

Here I’m laying out all the best kitchen tools to get you through the first three years of being a parent, from newborn to three year olds! You’ll find my favorite tools for both parents to use and a few bonus tools that your child can use once they’re a toddler.

Looking for more of my favorite kitchen gadgets and tools? This is the first in a series of my favorites for use for meal prep and beyond! I’ll be linking the rest of the posts as they come out here. So come back soon!

P.S., scroll to the bottom of this post for a super easy recap and links to each item!

Kitchen tools for the first year

Ah, new parenthood. Full of limitless time and resources. Ha! Just kidding. It’s a time of pure chaos, between endless feedings, adjusting to the new normal as parents, and everything in between. From bottle warmers the first few months to baby food makers and storage, here are my favorite baby kitchen tools.

Bottle warmers

There are SO many options for bottle warmers today. Some are relatively low-tech, while others even have digital displays, timers, and other clever functions.

Personally, I exclusively breastfed and had high lipase, so we didn’t freeze and reheat breastmilk; however, I would often pump and store in the fridge for others to feed my kiddo when he was a newborn.

Dr Browns Bottle Warmer - Best Kitchen Tools for New ParentsSince we didn’t use our bottle warmer every day, we went with a more basic model like this from Munchkin.

So far, it has lasted four years – we used it when I would babysit my niece, too! – and shows no signs of stopping. It comes with a few accessories to make things easier depending on the size of the bottle. Also, it’s currently on sale for under $20 on Amazon, it’s hard to beat!

This bottle warmer from Dr. Brown’s is a more advanced and high-tech bottle warmer and is amazing. It has an LCD display, one-touch start, and will remember your favorite warming settings. A bonus is you don’t have to fill up this warmer after every single use.

Baby food makers + Storage

While I would love to link several different brands of baby food makers, I was so incredibly impressed with my Beaba Babycook, I can’t recommend anything else.

This baby food maker does it all: Steams, purees, defrosts, and reheats. All in less than 15 minutes! And all of the pieces besides the base are dishwasher safe, so cleanup is always a breeze.

From when my son started purees until he could chew more solid food, I used this several times a week. I would prep several frozen fruits, veggies and even meats at a time to freeze and use later.

In the beginning, I would use the full steam and puree functions, but as he got a little older, I used the steam or defrost/reheat functions for small pieces of food.

The Beaba Babycook comes in two versions: A 4.7 ounce container (in on-trend rose gold and other colors!) and a 5.5 ounce glass container version, which comes in chic colors like midnight blue with gold accents, silver, turquoise, and matte black.Beaba Baby Food Maker - Best Kitchen Tools for New Parents

When I finished making his baby food, I used these handy storage containers from OXO. They’re the perfect serving size and freezable, too!

Baby food tips

Pick up these silicone freezer storage containers and once they’re frozen, you can pop the servings into a resealable bag for even easier storage!

Bonus tip: Make puree prep a snap, I recommend buying pre-chopped, frozen vegetables. They’re frozen at their peak freshness and all you have to do is pour the bag into your baby food maker!

Or, if you prefer fresh produce, pick up one of these handy produce choppers from Mueller. With its multiple attachments, you can chop fresh produce in seconds that’s the perfect size to place into your baby food maker! It’s also one of my FAVORITE kitchen tools for parents with arthritis!

Kitchen tools for the toddler age

Everything changes when your kids start eating real food with minimal prep; however, that doesn’t mean you don’t need special tools to help make their meals easier!

Chopping and dicing kitchen tools

The key, especially once children transition into solid foods, is cutting and chopping foods into manageable sizes to reduce choking hazards.

One of my first favorite tools in this transition period was a pair or three of these kid-friendly kitchen shears. Kitchen Shears for Babies and Toddlers - Best Kitchen Tools for New ParentsThey’re smaller than your typical shears, but just as powerful. Be sure to keep these out of reach of children. These kitchen scissors are great for cutting smaller fruits and even larger foods like pizza!

Next, if you’re old school and prefer a knife and cutting board, these cutting boards are my favorite. They’re lightweight, dishwasher-friendly, and don’t get food stuck or stained after they’ve been cleaned. Plus, the color-coding is a handy plus and helps older toddlers with color recognition!

Lastly, in terms of food prep, the Mueller vegetable chopper is my absolute favorite. Especially great for folks with arthritis, as you simply pull the handle down and boom, diced food in mere seconds.

This chopper is great for fruits and vegetables, whether they’re raw like blueberries and grapes, or lightly cooked like carrots. Just be careful with foods that are super soft!

Another kitchen tool I absolutely love are these fun “cookie” cutters. They can be used on ALL sorts of foods. Toddler Cookie Cutters for fruit, vegetables and other foods for picky eaters and mealtime engagement brendadalton.com

Toddlers can be a little… picky at times, but using these shapes to cut their food into makes 1) food prep engaging and 2) kids more willing to try new foods.

Without fail, my toddler is almost always willing to eat foods he wouldn’t normally eat, like cheese, certain fruits and vegetables, when we prep together and I let him cut the food into fun shapes like hearts, bears, and stars.

Engaging toddlers in the kitchen

Engage your child in food preparation once they’re able to stand and follow directions. Well, as much as a toddler will follow directions.

One of my favorite kitchen items I have ever bought has nothing to do with food. Crazy, right?Kitchen Tower Stool for Toddlers - Best Kitchen Tools for Toddler Parents

It’s this kitchen tower. Oh, I love it. It was my son’s “big” birthday gift when he turned two. He likely would have loved this about 20 months and older, too.

The kids’ kitchen tower keeps them safe (with supervision), engages them in the cooking process, and by doing so, makes them more willing to try out new foods. We bring the tower up to our kitchen island and to let my son bring a few small toys to play with while I prepare food.

There are a few versions of kitchen towers out there, but this one from Guidecraft had more features we were looking for, including a few more safety aspects.

P.S., if you’re visiting and haven’t created your baby registry yet, you can create a registry through my link and receive a free baby box filled with lots of goodies after your first $35 is purchased through your registry! If you’re past the baby registry phase, click here to get a free one-month trial of Amazon Prime on me! Ahem, free two-day shipping, anyone?

I’d love to hear some of your favorite kitchen gadgets you use with your babies and toddlers to make life a little bit easier. Leave me a comment below or let’s chat on Instagram!

Easy Links to Favorite Kitchen Tools!

Road Trip Tips for Families with Toddlers

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation if you choose to purchase any products linked below at no extra charge to you! Click here to view our disclosure policy.

This fall, we took a road trip to visit my brother and sister-in-law outside Dallas, Texas! It wasn’t our first road trip as a family of three, but it was definitely our first road trip with a toddler. We often drove the two hours to visit in-laws for our son’s whole life, but it was easy to plan those trips so he would nap nearly the whole trip. This trip was much longer, with each way being about five hours of drive time, including stops.

He was big enough to be easily entertained by a variety of toys and our Amazon Kindle for kids filled the gaps when toys were a no-go. He was also young enough that a nap or two on the trip was relatively easy.

I’ve rounded up some of my favorite tips, toys and items that made our road trip a little easier.

A few things to mention before we dive in. First, my husband and I typically rotate driving responsibilities every 2-3 hours. Whoever isn’t driving is typically in the backseat with kiddo. Second, I’m also working on a toddler road trip packing list, which I will link here when it is complete. Third, our kiddo was 18 months at the time of this trip, so these tips are great for kids about 18 months to three years.

Tire them out… but not too tired!

Our trip started out with a semi-tired kiddo. He went to preschool for two hours before we picked him up. This plan worked in our favor two ways: Kiddo got a little energy out before being strapped in the car for five hours and my husband and I both finished any last-minute packing and loading the car without having to worry about chasing him around!

Eat and nap on the road

We planned this intentionally: Pick him up from preschool at lunchtime, eat lunch, pass out. I hoped for the best and planned for the worst. My hopes panned out because not long after he ate his supervised PB&J, veggie chips, and fruit, he was asleep right at naptime at one. Had he not had a chance to run around and play at preschool, I have a feeling this step wouldn’t have been so easy.

He slept for about an hour and a half or two hours and not long after that, it was time for our first (and only!) pit stop. If your kid absolutely refuses to nap in the car… disregard this one. They’ll be overtired and frankly, make it a really, really rough trip. At the time of this trip, our kiddo was taking a small, 20-30 minute morning nap every now and then and a 2 hour afternoon nap.

Let them run and roam

This is the biggest piece of advice I receive before our road trip and the biggest piece of advice I pass onto other parents: Plan your pit stops at places they can get out, stretch their legs, be loud, and run (safely).

BrendaDalton.com - Road Trip with Toddlers

While stopping at a fast food restaurant with a play area is doable, it’s hard to easily supervise toddlers and kids under three since they are still pretty small and don’t listen to rules.

On our way there, we stopped in Paris, Texas to see the Eiffel Tower replica with its cute little cowboy hat. It added maybe 15 minutes to our total travel time, and it was completely worth it. Being a weekday in the fall, it wasn’t too busy, so we let kiddo have the run of the place. We all stretched our legs, took some selfies and got on our way.

Even though it seems natural to let them snack during any pit stops, we always use snacktimes as an easy way to pass the time (and not have to entertain!) in the car.

Pack ALL the snacks

Speaking of snacktime, come totally prepared when it comes to food. When I say pack ALL the snacks, I mean all of them. Okay, maybe not all, but not just your toddler’s favorite 2-3 snacks. I pack a little storage container similar to this one full of his favorite treats, healthy foods and things he very rarely gets, like candy.

Toddler Snack Storage Container - BrendaDalton.com

I use my storage box as his snack central for every trip, whether it’s a long weekend road trip or a weeklong vacation. Be sure to wash it well before adding foods! The one pictured above is sold out, so it’s a little different than the one I’ve linked for you, but it is still great!

This box so incredibly handy: It fits all sorts of sizes of foods, wrapped or loose. Second, toddlers (and even older kids!) can easily make their own decisions about what they want to eat. The one pictured is sold out, so it’s a little different than the one I’ve linked for you, but it is still great!

Third, you only have ONE container to worry about, rather than ten bags of different foods. If it’s a longer trip, you may have to refill before you make your journey back; however, the

I have linked has survived trips up to 4-5 days long (including traveling and duration of the trip) without needing a refill.

If you buy only one thing for your upcoming family trip, BUY THIS. It is my number one must have road trip item.

Keep things organized

And not just organized for your toddler. Trust me, your stuff, your partner’s stuff, food, drinks, magazines… it will be everywhere less than an hour into your road trip. With a toddler in tow, there’s no more room to toss the things you don’t need into the backseat (unless you want them chewed on or thrown out a window).

Toddler organization

I use a few different items to keep things organized. First, let’s talk toddler organization: I use a caddy like this to keep basic small toys in. We have an SUV with second-row captain chairs, so we use the area between the chairs to store our organizational items, plus the area in front of our toddler’s seat.

After the caddy, keep a larger bin for “toy rotation.” This bin is relatively out of sight from kiddo and a bit harder to reach in the floorboards. I typically rotate these toys into the smaller caddy during pit stops or when we come to a stop.

Next, we keep a toddler bag with spare clothes, snack refill, easy access diapers and wipes. This stays under the toddler’s seat since if you need it, you’ll most likely be getting out of the car. Coming soon: A detailed packing list for your toddler road trip.

Parent organization

Finally, keep a bag for each parent. I recommend a backpack (my favorite is linked here!) or a bag you can easily sling over your shoulder and wrangle a 20-40 pound child. Our bags typically include things like our favorite non-perishable snacks, things to do (magazines, books, etc.), electronics, printed reservation confirmations and backup addresses/maps in case of no signal on our phones, plus chargers for our devices. This makes it easier to put all of our items in one bag when we get to our destination.

Lastly, bring an ice chest and/or adult snack box. I’ll list what I pack in terms of food for our road trips in a later post (gluten free for adults and favorite toddler foods!), but this stays in between the seats. I also keep napkins (cloth or disposable) and wipes on top of the ice chest because… toddlers. P.S. Get a LEAK PROOF cooler. You will thank me later.

Leave room in your car to change diapers and clothes

If the trip is more than two hours, it’s almost a guarantee there will be a blowout of some type – whether that’s a bodily fluid or an applesauce pouch. You may need to stop at a gas station with sketchy bathrooms… or on the side of the road. Either way, it will happen when you are far, far away from a reputable changing table.

When we pack our SUV, we put our larger suitcases and bags in last. That way, when you need to change a wriggly toddler, you only have to remove one or two pieces of luggage. Make sure you don’t overpack to the point your luggage is too heavy to remove once or twice during your drive! Or if you’re a light packer… simply leave a little extra space to change your kiddo. If not, you’re looking at those difficult upright diaper changes, which is no fun with a blowout diaper.

Without fail, on one particular trip, after about an hour, we made a pit stop because we (okay fine, it was me) had a water explosion all over the backseat and a mandatory diaper change (that was not me). I highly recommend if you make a mess to time it with a dirty diaper 😉


What are some of your favorite road trip tips for kids under 3?

My favorite road trip essentials are linked below!

Transitioning to solid foods with Beech-Nut® Naturals™ — Arthritis-friendly jars!

This blog post is sponsored by Beech-Nut® Naturals. In exchange for this post, I may receive perks and/or compensation; however, all opinions are my own. Click here to view our disclosure policy.


It feels like yesterday I was getting into the swing of having a brand new bambino, figuring out the whole breastfeeding thing and wondering why in the world my kiddo wouldn’t take a pacifier. Now, he’s eight months old and we’re onto solid foods! And boy, does he love his healthy fruits and vegetables.

 

Beech-Nut Naturals Baby Foods - BrendaDalton.com

As good of intentions we have as parents, not every single meal is going to be perfectly made from home, especially when you have a new baby in the family. Whether it’s a matter of time, being out and about or — for many of us with chronic illnesses — energy, sometimes we need an extra hand!

When looking for baby food to take on-the-go, I wanted something made with real fruits and vegetables with ingredients I can pronounce — nothing else.

 

Beech-Nut Baby Foods - BrendaDalton.com

Baby food that’s inspired by homemade

In comes Beech-Nut® Naturals, which is inspired by homemade. I’m excited to partner with Beech-Nut® Naturals as I continue to introduce more flavors to my eight-month-old. We were given a few cute little glass jars to test out courtesy of Beech-Nut® Naturals, but know that my opinion is 100 percent my own (okay, and baby Grayson’s, too!).

It was a no-brainer to introduce him to Beech-Nut® Naturals, since it’s 100 percent natural, nothing artificial. With that, I know that I’m starting baby out on the best of the best when it comes to real food.

Being someone with several chronic illnesses, it is so incredibly important to me to start my child off with the right nutrition and set the stage for healthy eating habits. It’s never too early to start!

Flavors babies love

Hands down, my favorite flavor is pumpkin, but I find it way harder to cook and puree pumpkin than any other fruit or vegetable; however, my baby absolutely adores pumpkin. He gives me a run for my money when it comes to loving pumpkin!

Beech-Nut Naturals Baby Foods - BrendaDalton.com

We tried out Beech-Nut®’s Apple & Pumpkin puree and it was a total hit. In fact, had I let him, kiddo would have licked every drop out of the precious honeypot jar! A few other favorites are Just Carrots, Just Pear & Blueberry and Just Green Beans.

Depending on what flavor I’m feeding him, I’ll halve the four ounce jar and pop the rest in the fridge for up to 48 hours. Grayson loves to mix up flavors and have a little taste of several different foods at a meal. We love offering a green vegetable like Just Green Beans and an orange vegetable like Just Sweet Potatoes, then giving a little fruit like Just Apples for dessert. We can’t wait to try out more Stage 2 foods in the coming weeks!

 

Beech-Nut Naturals Baby Foods - BrendaDalton.com


Arthritis-friendly jars

Plus, there’s a bonus for my rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis mamas, papas and others: Their iconic green lid is so incredibly easy to open. I struggle with jars, bottles and even those foil safety seals on food and drinks, but Beech-Nut® Naturals jars are a breeze to open. You’ll hear the handy little pop to know it’s open and you’re good to go.

Find Beech-Nut® Naturals™ near you

To learn more about Beech-Nut® Naturals, visit their website. Beech-Nut® Naturals is available at national retailers like Target and Walmart, but you can click here to find a retailer nearest you.