DR. STEVE’S FAVORITE THINGS
As a pediatrician, I’m often asked which products are best for kids’ development or that make parents’ lives smoother. So here are My Favorite Things—a list of some of the items that have made my life as a pediatrician-dad easier or more fun. These are things that my family and I have used & loved—and I’ll tell you why for each.
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Enjoy & thanks so much for your support!
HOME & KITCHEN
At least one component of dinner in my house is made in the Instant Pot nearly every single night of the week. Seriously. Stews, soups, whole chicken, yogurt, cheesecake(!), hardboiled eggs, rice, pasta dishes—everything. Despite the name, it’s not always “instant,” but it’s easy and doesn’t heat up the house. Already have a 6-quart? Get an 8-quart (we have one of each!). And if you’re looking for some help—whether how to get started or what to make—check out my wife, Monica’s Facebook group Under Pressure: Instant Pot Recipe Sharing.
Get yours here.
Eggs are good for you again! Protein, omega-3s, and tons of vitamins make them a great way to start your kids’ day or an easy snack. With this accessory, you can make hardboiled eggs in your Instant Pot in minutes—without having to heat up the kitchen with a pot of boiling water. This is a winner in my house.
Get one here.
Sure, you can sneak fruits & veggies into smoothies & sauces—but a better way to get your kids to eat healthy foods is to make it fun! When my kids were toddlers, one of the easiest ways to get them to chow down on cucumbers & more was to let them cut veggie slices into shapes. Fine motor development + healthy plants = WIN! Heck, my kids are much older now and still enjoy doing this from time to time…
Start eating more veggies by getting one here.
Why is a speaker on my list of Favorite Things? Besides the fact that music is an amazing learning tool for kids, this speaker connects to your wifi network and has incredible sound for the price. BETTER STILL—this speaker makes bedtime easier & everyone in my house happy. How? With the included Sonos app, your kids can make their own personalized playlists to play in any room of the house. For bedtime, we’ve created a “Time for Bed” playlist—we put it on when it’s time for bed, the kids recognize it when the first song comes on & know that they have to be dressed, brushed, and ready for bed by the time the last song is done. Lifesaver!
Find one here.
Forget Kidz Bop! Introduce your kids to one of the greatest albums of all time. PRO TIP—My son used to fall asleep every time I’d play ‘Where the Streets Have No Name.’ Was I bummed that he’d sleep during one of my favorite songs? A little. Did I cherish having a go-to sleep tool that I enjoyed, too? Absolutely.
Get The Joshua Tree here.
TOYS & GAMES
$100 for a toy? Are you crazy?? No—absolutely not. Magna-Tiles have been played with EVERY SINGLE DAY in my house for at least 6 years (my kids are 9 & 12 and they still pull them out!). That’s a pretty excellent investment, if you ask me. Not only do my kids build with them, they’ve made creative designs with them and have even integrated them into play with other toys over the years. We love them so much, we bought a second set after the first two years to add to the mix. No other toy in my home has helped foster creativity, hand-eye-coordination, visuospatial skills, and teamwork more than Magna-Tiles. These are worth every single penny.
Get started on the fun here.
Kids (and adults!) can write on the screen with the included pen—and make no mess in the car, on the couch, on a plane… Erase with the simple push of a button. Think of the Boogie Board as a modern-day Etch-A-Sketch that lets you actually draw what you want. These are light and perfect for car trips or the airport.
Get one here.
Not only do my kids love this at home, my wife uses this with her preschool students to help them creatively develop fine motor skills. Put it in a sealable plastic box or on a baking pan to prevent a mess, then watch your kids enjoy the cool sensation on their fingers & build away!
Find Kinetic Sand here.
Want to teach an 18-month-old to take deep breaths to calm down? Or a 5-year-old how to focus on the breath to meditate? This is your tool. The Hoberman Sphere can be used as a visual + tactile tool to help kids learn to focus on their breath.
This is one of our favorite games in my house. It’s simple to understand, and teaches kids about strategy, trading, and transactions. But unlike Monopoly, kids don’t lose interest halfway through (the “Ghost Captain” keeps things interesting!). A great intro to the world of Catan.
Dive in here.
Outrageous card game that will have everyone in the family laughing! Think: Cards Against Humanity, but for the whole family. When I asked my kids what they wanted on this list, this was the first thing they thought of.
Laugh with your kids by getting this here.
This game is awesome. Simple to learn, it encourages kids young & old to think ahead and strategize. After a while, I had to stop taking it easy on my son because he started beating me! Ninety percent of this game’s 1,500 reviews are 5-stars, and it deserves every one of them.
Dive into the labyrinth of fun here.
BOOKS FOR KIDS
I LOVE this book! We all make mistakes. People who live happy and—dare I say—accomplished lives know how to bounce back from a mistake or even turn it into something beautiful. This book for toddlers through elementary school-aged children is a wonderful way to illustrate that message to children.
Pick it up here.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – The Illustrated Edition, by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay
Harry, Hermione, Ron, and the gang are dear friends in my household. The Harry Potter series is filled with lessons about friendship, love, acceptance, right vs. wrong, and more—in an expertly crafted world that you wish you could experience in real life. The illustrated editions with gorgeous pictures by Jim Kay shed a whole new light on the Potter series & are an essential addition to the collection of your favorite Harry Potter fan.
Get this treasure here.
Growth Mindset. Resilience. Grit. These are hot topics right now in the worlds of parenting and education. Everyone wants to help kids develop them—but how? Big Life Journal is one of the best tools I’ve found to do son. Stories of real people + creative activities help your child develop a mindset for success at home, school, and beyond.
Get a copy for your child here.
BOOKS FOR PARENTS
Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, by Lisa Damour, Ph.D.
If you have a daughter between the ages of 9 and 19, this book is REQUIRED reading. Our copy at home is full of dog ears, underlined passages, and notes in the margins. You’ll read it and lightbulbs will go off!
Pick this up here.
13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do: Raising Self-Assured Children and Training Their Brains for a Life of Happiness, Meaning, and Success, by Amy Morin
I’m not usually one to like lists of things NOT to do—they make parenting sound a narrow path filled with landmines. But Amy Morin’s parenting twist on her famous book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do is packed with keen insights into common missteps we all make, simple ways to prevent making them, and how to raise kind & resilient kids in the process. Top notch.
Get a copy here.
This book has been recommended by guests of The Child Repair Guide—and by me—more than any other. Faber & Mazlish present ideas and tools you’ll find yourself using from toddlerhood on up into adulthood. An excellent read for every parent.
Get yours here.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the lyrical genius behind Hamilton, has put together over 200 pages of positive, funny, and inspiring thoughts to start and end your day. My wife and daughter love to read this together each night. I’ve put it under “for parents” because there is occasional language here and there, but it’s great for tweens and teens, too. You can’t go wrong with Lin-Manuel!
Find a copy here.
Whether you like the tops best or the bottoms, you’ve got to eat your veggies! Make your belly happy (and your parents, too!) by picking up this shirt here.
Even if your baby spits out her first food, at least she’ll look cute wearing this. Get one for your favorite little one here.
TECH & GEAR
This is the camera I use for most of my videos. What do I love about it? Not only does it shoot 4K video & take 4K pictures, you can also control it from your smartphone! This makes recording videos for YouTube—and pics & video of me and my kids together—so much easier. Amazing camera at a (relatively) affordable price when compared to other high-powered cameras.
Learn more about it here.
What’s the use of taking high-quality video with your expensive smartphone if the final product is shaky? Even the steadiest of hands—like, say, those of a doc who performs bone marrow procedures ;) – will move with each pulse of the heartbeat. This gimbal is similar to the one I use, plus it’s cheaper and better-reviewed. Amazing tool for anyone shooting video with their phone, whether it’s professional or just for great memories of your family.
Get this great find here.
This is it! The official microphone of The Child Repair Guide Podcast! My trusty Blue Yeti has served me well since recording my first podcast episode in January 2016, and it is still the preferred microphone of many podcasters & performers. Super easy to use, just plug it into the USB port in your computer, and you’re on your way to recording amazing sound—whether podcasting, gaming, singing, or more.
Get one here.