Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Guest post: Top Ten IKEA Products for Toddlers

I met lovely Nicole and her husband Tom when I lived in Virginia, where we bonded over the fact that they, like Frank and me, got engaged after knowing each other for less than a year (and then we followed in their footsteps again and had a baby less than a year after we got married too!). With their love for Montessori education, DIY projects, and swing dancing, let's just say they're my kind of crazy. I've really enjoyed following their marriage and parenthood adventures over on their blog, For Want of Wonder. Following up my recent post about favorite IKEA toys, Nicole put together a list of her favorites for slightly older children. Take it away, Nicole!

I’m very grateful to Tess for letting me jump on her blog and chat about some more IKEA stuff! When I read her post on IKEA baby items, I got so excited, because we’ve recently discovered all the awesome-ness of IKEA things for our one-and-a-half year old. Everything is cheap, good-looking, and so useful. Can’t beat it. We also try to incorporate some Montessori principles in our child-rearing, and a lot of IKEA’s stuff really seems to fit the bill here. Just be prepared to make your way through a crazy maze to find your treasures!

1. Latt Table and Two Chairs

We knew we wanted a little table for Lucy to do crafts, color, and eat the occasional snack. At $20 for the whole set, this super light-weight table is perfect. Because Lucy is still a tiny little firecracker, Tom actually cut down the legs of the chairs and table so that she can get in and out independently. And when she outgrows this one, we’ll just gladly drop another $20 for the regular size.

Here’s Lucy in her pared-down Latt chair/table

2. Sundvik Crib

We originally planned to do a floor bed for Lucy, a la Montessori, and so we purchased a Vyssa Sloa mattress from Ikea, their thinnest mattress. However, with the move and living at my parents for 6 months, a floor bed wasn’t the best option and she slept in a Pack ‘n Play the whole time. So now we’ve upgraded her from that awful, hard “mattress” to her Vyssa mattress in the Sundvik crib. The great things about it are that it is on the smaller side and doesn’t engulf the room, and also that it easily converts to a toddler bed, which we will do in the near future. (Also, far less expensive than convertible cribs you’ll find in baby stores).

3. Bekvam Stool turned into a Learning Tower (soon!)

Lucy’s at the age where she wants to “SEE!” everything we are doing, especially when we’re cooking. We plan to take this popular stool and use this Ikea hack to make a very affordable alternative to the Learning Tower.

4. Kallax Shelf

This four cube unit works really well in our family room as Lucy’s toy organizer. It keeps everything at her level, and also ensures that we only have the bare minimum out at a time, which reduces clean up for us and makes it less overwhelming for Lucy.

5. Tunnel

This one was a gift from my parents. It’s colorful and fun, and keeps Lucy busy for at least 5 minutes at a time. :) It also folds up super flat and compact for storage.

6. Stacking Rings

An affordable version of a very “Montessori”ish toy.


7. Light Blocking Shades

These are invaluable in a toddler’s room, I think. They are much cheaper than custom blinds, and were pretty easy to install (Tom did it alone, which involved holding the blinds up with his forehead, so “pretty easy” is my glib observation...he might say otherwise!).

8. Hamper

Lucy enjoys running to this little hamper and putting her dirty clothes in it. It’s small enough that she’ll be able to carry it down the stairs when she’s coordinated enough to do that (at which point I will also commission her with loading the washer and dryer and folding all the clothes…).

9. Spice Rack Book Shelves

We actually had to order these online, because they are so popular they regularly sell out at the store. We mounted them at varying heights so that Lucy can access books as she grows.

10. Owl Hooks

It’s just super cute! We hung it at Lucy’s level in her room, and she can hang up her little jackets and sweaters there.

We’ve also got a few other Ikea products in use for Lucy, like the small clear bowls, and their tiny glass tumblers, which make great toddler-sized tableware. (Lucy’s already broken one of each, so we’re a big fan of their cheap price tag!).

I love this great list, Nicole! I sent it to Frank and he already bookmarked the light-blocking shades to buy on our next trip. We also have a set of the tiny glass tumblers you mentioned (full disclosure, Frank also uses them as shot glasses for his homemade limoncello). Down the road, we plan to get the Latt table and chairs, spice rack bookshelves, and tunnel.

What would you get for your house off this list? I would love to hear reviews if you already have any of them. Any recommendations for awesome IKEA products we missed?

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