All stages of life are challenging in their own unique way—but entering parenthood for the first time? The toughest of them all. Babies, toddlers, and kids even have a way of coming up with the strangest stuff—stuff you may not be prepared to handle if you’re new to this whole parenting thing.
From monsters to inexplicable temper tantrums, kids are super-specific. And as the people responsible for these mini-people-in-training, we have to, well, adapt.
Here Are 11 Parenting Life Hacks
Luckily, a legion of parents came before us and figured this stuff out so we don’t have to. Instead, we get to reap the benefits of their innovative parenting life hacks—from medicine disguised as a juice box to fitted sheets at the beach. Check out our favorite game-changing ones below.
1. Hide liquid medicine in a juice box.
You remember from when you were a kid, don’t you? Once the Robitussin emerged from the medicine cabinet, it was all over for me. Kick, fight, scream—anything to avoid that disgusting liquid medicine that tasted like cherry hell. (And not just cough syrup either—it seems all medication is particularly yucky-tasting to kids.)
But some ingenious parents decided to share the world’s best trick with the internet. Dump out a juice box (or reuse a clean one someone has already enjoyed) and cut out the back with scissors. Face the juice box forward—toward your unwilling sick child—and stealthily, in the back where the cut-out is, slip in the carton of medicine. Your kid thinks they’re drinking juice. You, the parent, know that they’re being properly cared for.
Have an actual drink on the ready to help them wash it down once that taste hits them, though!
2. Use a fitted sheet at the beach.
Hear us out: a fitted sheet at the beach may sound like a bunched-up nightmare at first, but it’s actually a trailblazer of an idea. Use regular beach-day items like a cooler, large beach bag or chair to wrap the fitted part of the sheet around. Now your baby or toddler is inside the little makeshift pack-and-play, and all the sand is out of it.
3. Put tape over a toy’s speakers.
The very particular sounds of a certain toy will ring in parents’ ears during all hours of the day and night. We can’t stop that completely—unless you’re entirely against toys with sounds—but there is an excellent parent-friendly hack that duals as a compromise.
Toys are LOUD. Even if they don’t come with a volume button, you can make your own of sorts by sticking a piece of tape over the toy’s speaker. It muffles the sound so you can retain your sanity, but not so much so that your baby can’t enjoy their playtime.
To reduce a choking risk, you may want to open the toy up and place the tape internally, if possible. Plus, you can then control how muffled the sound is with a heavier-weight tape. Win!
4. Put Cheerios in the toilet.
Got a little boy? Potty training just became a whole lot easier because, well, it just became a game. Five or six Cheerios in the potty should do wonders for encouraging them to practice their aim.
5. Use hair ties for temporarily baby-proofing the cabinets.
Baby-proofing items can be expensive, and if you’re visiting someplace and just need a quick fix, it can add up. Go the old-fashioned route and make your own version with hair ties. Simply loop it around each cabinet knob twice with a twist—like an infinity shape. Babies can’t get past it—it’s like an actual child forcefield.
6. Line up baby bottles in a caddy.
Organization and repurposing an item? Yes, please! Do you have an old shower caddy shoved in a closet somewhere? Whip it out again because these things work wonders for organizing baby bottles. Line up your bottles all in a row and keep the rings and nipples all together! You can even use the additional hooks and space to keep pacifiers and teethers tidy and in one place. Never lose those baby bottles and other necessities to cabinet shelves and drawers again!
7. Use an upside-down cupcake liner to catch melting ice pops.
No baking is required. Turn a cupcake liner upside down and stick the ice pop handle through it. Now, the liner will catch any falling, melting ice pop debris and even prevent your toddler’s hands from getting too sticky.
8. Place a pool noodle on the door.
No more slammed doors! And perhaps more importantly, no more injuries related to those slammed doors. Solve this frustrating but potentially dangerous kid habit by cutting a pool noodle in half, right down in its middle. What you get is a foam barrier of sorts. Stick it onto the top of the door, and it’s impossible to slam it. In fact, it leaves the door open at all times, just ajar enough to protect precious little fingers from getting caught.
9. Keep rubber bands on the bathroom door.
Recreate the genius baby-proofing cabinet door hack on any door you don’t want to be locked. Whether that’s a bathroom door or your child’s own bedroom door, placing a rubber band on both the inside doorknob and outside knob (making an “X” that holds the latch inside the door) will keep kids from “accidentally” locking themselves in—or locking you out.
10. Hot glue the hole in bath toys.
Spoiler alert: They get mouldy. Instead of letting bath toys use the hole for drainage, plug it up with a hot glue gun. Trust us—you don’t want to cut those bath toys in half and see what grows inside. It’s enough to make your stomach turn.
11. ALWAYS open the flaps on the juice box.
There’s never been a toddler in history who didn’t touch a juice box and automatically squeeze it. Well, did you know that if you simply open the triangular flaps on each side of the juice box, this doesn’t happen? Yep—the two flaps are the perfect size for kids’ little grips. If they grip that part of the box and not the box itself, no spillage and no squeezing. #GENIUS.