How to Create a Toddler Friendly Home

How to Create a Toddler Friendly Home

Toddler-friendly homes are curated to give toddlers access to furniture, tools and resources that support their growth and development.

Creating a kid friendly home gives toddlers opportunities to do things for themselves. They learn that they are capable. And they become confident in their ability to try new things, make choices, and master new skills. They feel good about themselves!

And this confidence and self-esteem provides a solid foundation for how they will approach other people and the world around them for the rest of their lives.  

A Tour of Our Toddler Friendly Home

Over the past couple of months, I have been watching my 2 year old toddler blossom more and more into his own independent little person. I am often surprised by how much he is capable of and I constantly have to remind myself to let him try to do things for himself. 

So to accommodate and encourage his independence and growth, I started making some changes and additions to our home. Here is what we have so far!

The Kitchen

The main components of our toddler friendly kitchen are a learning tower, a bottom shelf in the pantry dedicated to toddler items, and a bottom dish cloth drawer.
The learning tower allows my 2 year old to cook and bake with me, be a part of kitchen conversations, and practice climbing skills as he gets in and out of his tower. He uses his tower multiple times a day every single day. 
The bottom drawer with dish clothes allows my toddler to grab a towel and help clean up messes, wipe sticky hands and clean tabletops.

And a low pantry shelf gives him the opportunity to choose his own snacks and get his own plate and utensils out at mealtime. He also helps put clean dishes away.

We also use the bottom part of the pantry for activity materials that he can choose from throughout the day. There is a rice sensory bin, a box of pom poms, markers, paper, playdough, and a paint set down there.

One aspect of his snack shelf that has been an interesting experiment is having his most desired snacks readily available. These desired snacks are usually on the sweeter side and not necessarily ones we want him eating all day long.

For example, he loves those little cups of peaches. Initially I thought I should put them on a higher shelf. But then I realized that giving him the opportunity to limit his peach cup consumption voluntarily could be a good learning moment.
Surprisingly, the peach cups have not become an issue. Yes he pulls them out a few times a day with pleading eyes, but he is easily redirected and puts them back when asked if he has already had a cup earlier in the day. 
I want him to learn how to make the choice not to gorge on sweet snacks all day long as he gets older. After all, soon he will be tall enough to reach all the pantry shelves! By making a variety of snacks accessible, he learns how to make the choice to regulate his consumption. Additionally, when easily accessible, that peach cup doesn’t have that forbidden fruit appeal. 
I like to think of those peach cups as an introduction to the idea of all things in moderation. We like to have lots of other snack options on this shelf too, so that even if we say no more peaches today, he still gets to make a choice about something else that he wants.

While most toddlers are pretty adamant about expressing their desire for independence and making their own choices, they don’t always have the right tools and structure to express it in a productive way. And this is when they resort to screaming and power struggles.

When we set up our homes in a way that kids can productively exercise their independence and make some of their own choices though, they feel less need to exert control at inappropriate times. Like at the grocery store or right before bedtime. 

The Bathroom

We have a second learning tower stationed at the bathroom sink so that our toddler can climb up and wash his hands independently. We just have to put a squirt of soap into his hands.

The sink also has a fun faucet extender so that he can reach the water more easily.

And his toilet seat reducer has a ladder with handles attached so that he can climb up to use the potty on his own. After our son was potty trained, it took a couple weeks for him to start using the ladder, but now he loves it!
We potty trained our son over the course of a weekend when he was 22 month old, and I think this gave him a big boost in his confidence and sense of independence. He is so proud of himself every time he uses the potty! You can read about our potty training process in my post How to Potty Train a Toddler

The Entryway

Our entryway is essentially our living room, but I still wanted to have a place where my toddler could easily access his coat and shoes. So we turned the bottom rung of our blanket ladder into a coat hanger, and he keeps his boots alongside ours under a bench by the door.

He hasn’t quite mastered putting things on hangers, but this is a good challenge for him. If he were younger, I would probably put some low hooks on the wall that he could easily hang his jacket on. At this point though, I know he is physically capable of hanging a coat on a hanger, so I want to provide him with the opportunity to expand his skill set. 

Encouraging independence in toddlers by offering them opportunities to take on new challenges is an important component of a kid friendly home.

I often have to remind myself that my toddler is capable of more than I realize. Toddlers are learning and developing at such a fast rate and I think it’s easy to forget this sometimes.

In fact, George Lucas Educational Foundation explains that there is a critical period of development between 2-7 years old where kids have twice as many connections between their brain cells as adults do. These connections are where learning happens. So your 2 year old is probably ready to take on more than you!

The Closet

Just like I reserved an accessible place for my toddler’s jackets in the living room, I dedicated a bottom shelf in a bedroom closet for his clothes.
My toddler’s undies, socks, shirts, sweaters and pants fit on this bottom shelf that he can easily access. This way he is able to pick out what he wants to wear in the morning and help put away clean clothes. 

The Living Room

The living room probably gets the most use in our house, so we built a toddler book shelf and toy organizer. I got this idea after seeing Montessori style bookshelves online. So if you don’t want to build your own bookshelf, just search for a Montessori one to buy. 
Our toddler can see all of his book choices clearly, and his toy bins are organized by function; cars, balls, stacking objects, blocks and puzzle board pieces.
Having his books and toys displayed simply like this, makes it easy for him to select something to read or play with and get right to it! This structure helps promote more focus and independent play. You can read about the benefits of independent play for toddlers in my post How to Encourage Independent Play.  
The books and toys on this shelf are just a small fraction of all the toys and books he has, but I keep the rest in two big boxes upstairs. And then we rotate new toys and books in as needed. 
When there are just a few toys and books out, this is a lot less overwhelming and stimulating for both my toddler and me. And less pick up to do at the end of the day too.
I hope you enjoyed a tour of our toddler friendly spaces in our home! Please share any ideas or experiences you have had setting up your home for toddlers in the comments below!


  • Gussi Ochi

    Just another mom learning and growing in motherhood everyday! | BA in psychology, MA in art therapy & counseling, former licensed massage therapist

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