Note: The following is a guest post written by my dear husband.

Father and son

I enjoy shopping for our food and other household stuff every week. I like getting out of the house, listening to some good music in the car and quite often I bring my son with me to give Mom a break.  I really enjoy hanging out with my little buddy, especially as his language skills are developing more and we can always have funny conversations. We also both love to go on the hunt for gadgets, tools and toys whenever we are at the shops.

My son is just over two and a half years old now and as I reflect back on the many things we have had to buy since becoming parents there are a few things that really stick out as having been extremely handy or successful in some way.  I think it would be pretty interesting to compare this list to other parents as I am sure everyone has found different things that really made a difference to them; especially considering how unique the personalities of each baby/toddler really are.

So in no particular order (except semi-chronological) these are some things that really made a difference for us:

  • Giant Rubber Exercise Ball

You know those big colored rubber balls you see at the gym for doing abs on? Well they also work as super effective baby burping machines!

There has been countless late nights/early mornings where I was able to coax a burp out of  our upset little baby by sitting on the ball and bouncing up and down with him against my chest. It was worked like magic to get the burbs out quickly and the baby back to peaceful sleep.

  • Diaper Genie

My college buddy and fellow Dad tipped me on to the wonders of the diaper genie. Before I had one I didn’t really get what the big deal was but once you start using it you can’t live without, especially once your baby is eating solids and generating an ungodly amount of smelly diapers.  The Diaper Genie seals away any odors and helps compact soiled diapers into a kind of plastic sealed tube bag. Very easy to use and maintain. We used it a lot during the first months of our son’s life before we started cloth diapering.

  • Mechanical swing

When our baby was quite young, maybe around two or three months old we had to go to a hearing specialist to check his ears. It was imperative at this testing that he be calm and not crying but he was really upset and inconsolable. Fortunately they had this Fisher Price mechanical swing that kind of looked like a lamb and once we put him in it he almost instantly calmed down.  We of course bought one immediately and it was unbelievable how often this worked like magic to keep him happy. He took many naps in it and we got to catch up on sleep as a result.

  • Fisher Price high chair

Another Fisher Price product that has been fantastic is the portable high chair they make. I think it only cost about $30 and it has allowed us to go to almost any restaurant or café and easily make the adult sized chairs safe for our toddler to sit in.  It folds to a very compact size and is just light plastic so it is easy to travel with. It has been on many trips with us as a result.

  • Travel potty

This is another fantastic plastic item that was quite inexpensive. When folded it  looks like a lunchbox but unfolded it becomes a really convenient potty you can use literally anywhere. We have avoided many accidents with this one and we don’t go anywhere without it now that our son is potty trained.

  • DSLR and fast lens

I have always really appreciated photography but was never much of a photographer. When our son was born I used it as a good excuse to finally invest in a decent DSLR.  In the past I had pretty cheap cameras and so there was a noticeable difference when I started using the Canon T2i. A combination of better lenses and much more sensitive sensor made all the difference for taking clear photos in low light. I took the advice from many other photographers and invested in a good quality  50mm prime lens (a lens with a fixed focal length). What’s special about them is that they are usually really fast which means you can take photos in extremely low-light and they will still come out bright. You can also more easily take photos of fast moving toddlers (who never sit still!!). Also they  make it easy to take photos with blurry background (bokeh) so that if you are doing portraits you can focus on your child and make a nice background out of almost any environment (including a messy room).

  • iPhone / Smartphone

The DSLR is fantastic but chances are the precious moment you suddenly want to capture came without warning and you don’t have time to grab your DSLR (or it is not with you). Nowadays almost everyone has a smartphone and the newest models (i.e. Apple iPhone 4 or newer) are totally worth just for the amazing cameras they now have. We have taken tons of totally decent photos and videos with our iPhones and some pretty special moments just because we always have our phones in close proximity.

We also try to avoid letting our son watch TV if at all possible but sometimes  in emergency situations your smartphone also makes a great entertainment device to keep your child happy or out of danger for a few moments. Our son likes to watch videos, take snapshots and play some simple games on ours.

  • IKEA dog

Our son has been fortunate to get lot’s of gifts from family and friends including several plush toys. Being the picky little guy that he is, only certain toys make the cut and his favorite by far has been a $10 dog from Ikea. He loves this dog and calls him “puppy”. It is very sweet to see him hugging the dog, kissing it and pretending it can talk (in a squeaky high pitched voice).

This dog has been on many plane trips and to several different continents by now! It gets dirty as you can imagine and has been through the wash many times. Fortunately we have not lost it yet but since it does come from Ikea and I take a bit of comfort in knowing that if he did misplace the dog we would probably be able to buy him a replacement!

– Dan

I really love all of my husband’s picks above. It’s nice to see what he has to say about his top products since I am usually the one picking  and writing about my favourites. What do you think YOUR partner’s top picks would be?

His list also gave me some ideas of what to get for him for Father’s Day.  Have you picked something special for Dad? If you haven’t then head to your closest Sears location during Sears Days. If you spend $50 on June 13-16th or June 21-23 you will get $10 in Sears Bucks to spend on your next purchase (between June 24-27), great deal! For more info click HERE.

Disclosure: I am part of the Sears The Baby’s Room Ambassador program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.