Category: Toys + Playthings

A colorful toy mail bag for kids that’s ready to deliver fun

Since most of the mail I get in my own mailbox is junk or bills, I’d love to see my kids playing mail carrier and delivering me something really special using Miss Pretty Pretty’s colorful felt mail bag. Perhaps delivered to this cute printable mailbox we shared a while back? Coming from Julie the same Etsy artist that has given us the most creative and well-made handmade playhouses we may have seen, ever, Miss Pretty Pretty’s child-sized mail bag is ready to go to work. Or play. Through rain, sleet, snow, or just across a messy playroom. She can even customize it in whatever color combination your...

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A toy to help kids with autism (and without) understand more about their moods

Whether you call it Autism Awareness or Autism Acceptance like one of my good friends, April is a great month to learn more about autism and how to make our world more supportive to those families living with it. That’s one reason we’ve long supported Creative Kidstuff’s partnership with St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development to identify some of the best playthings for kids with autism. And it is on their special month-long Autism Awareness Celebration Sale page that I discovered a toy that could help kids on and off the autistic spectrum learn and understand more about their moods....

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The custom action figures for the woman who already is a superhero.

Since we’re always saying that moms are superheroes, it makes perfect sense to actually turn her into one this Mother’s Day. That’s why we’re doing backflips, and possibly leaping tall buildings in a single bound, over a new company that creates affordable custom action figures, complete with a custom face on them. Whoa. Related: The coolest personalized Mother’s Day gifts After a successful Kickstarter campaign, You Kick Ass custom action figures (love the name) created by two ass-kicking entrepreneurial women, are ready for preorder. They’ve got both adult and kid figures, but if you’re shopping for mom, pick one of the four...

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Because girls like dinosaurs. And well, boys like purple.

I just love when parents get fired up about not being able to find the kinds of off-the-beaten-path things their girls are interested in. Because really, that just inspires entrepreneurs to come up with such things and now we all get to reap the benefits. Such is the case with everything at mom-run shop Nawi Kids. – Don’t miss an exclusive discount below –  Moms Nas and Whitney started their company years ago when Whitney’s daughter was potty training and into dinosaurs. Surprise, there was no dinosaur underwear for girls anywhere to be found. So, smart mom that she is, Whitney decided she...

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Handmade kid-sized hammocks that rock. In both senses.

When my kids try climbing onto the huge woven rope hammock in their grandparents’  back yard, it inevitably flips over and leaves them dangling inches above the ground, hanging on underneath for dear life. It’s so hilarious. I mean…awful. Right, it’s awful. Either way, it’s not nearly as relaxing in awesome kid-sized hammocks from Sluice. This Etsy shop-turned-small-business out of North Carolina (where they know a thing or two about getting outdoors and enjoying nature) creates handmade hammocks that hold up to 400 pounds. Just in case the whole family wants to enjoy an al fresco nap together. But what I like is the Hammie, a kid-sized hammock, which makes it easier...

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Piki Piki: It’s a bike! It’s a trike! It’s the new top of your toddler’s wish list.

Vroom vroom! That’s the sound of one very happy 21-month-old zooming around in my living room on the Piki Piki from Gallo and Spence Toys, a great new bike-trike hybrid for toddlers and preschoolers. And with my own toddler (and soon-to-be toddler, eek!) am so happy to have found this! Made in the USA and created by a mom and dad who grew up in South Africa where they still get that independent play is more important than hovering over your kid every moment, the three-wheeled Piki Piki offers toddlers the independence they crave– while reassuring slightly nervous parents like myself with its solid...

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11 of our very favorite travel toys and books for kids to help make those miles pass quickly

If Spring Break or Easter has you heading out by plane, train, or automobile, you may be wondering how to keep your kids happily occupied beyond the iPad, as you travel from Point A to Point B. And since we all know how hard it is to hear “are we there yet?” for the 200th time, I’ve pulled together 11 of the most portable, fun, and quiet travel toys for kids that we can all vouch help make the miles whiz by. CMP is an rstyle affiliate   Related: Road trip help for families: Tons of sanity savers, tips and our favorite essential products    Magnetic Toys I...

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19 very (very) special non-candy Easter basket gifts kids will love.

Between school parties and Easter baskets from their grandparents, my kids will be coming home with chocolate bunnies and cream-filled eggs to last us till the Fourth of July. So I’ve been looking for some extra special Easter basket gifts for kids that go beyond what you might find on your drugstore shelves. They’re perfect for those of you who want to ease up on the sugar; or for kids like ours, who are already going to have more than their fill from other sources. Mix them in with some traditional Easter fare (it is hard to resist jellybeans after all), or limit...

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Cardboard food truck playhouses for kids just not satisfied with the same old cottages and castles.

We’ve seen lots of awesome cardboard playhouses over the years, from European village squares to castles to pirate ships. We even featured OTO’s gorgeously designed ice cream truck playhouse when it was a mere Indiegogo fundraising campaign, and now we’re thrilled to see that that dream became a funded reality. What’s more, the line has recently expanded to include an absolutely clever cardboard taco truck playhouse. Austin, Brooklyn, and Silverlake parents? You’ll totally appreciate this one. Related: 12 awesome toys you can actually make from cardboard boxes The design is amazing, with really beautiful non-toxic offset printing. I also love that these cardboard food truck playhouses are made in...

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The hipster ABC matching tile game, for parents who value reading proficiency and irony.

Most preschoolers can tell you that M is for Monkey and N is for Nut, but a hip preschooler may know that those letters also stand for Moustache and Narwhal. Since I’m pretty sure my three year old doesn’t, I’ve got my eye on this Hipster ABC matching tile set that should increase his cool cred faster than he can say, “The glasses-wearing narwhal played ping pong in a log cabin.” Mostly because he’ll first want to know what the heck a narwhal is. Related: A cool counting book for your hipster-in-training. I love children’s toys that speak to my own design sensibilities and I get a a...

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8 of the coolest Year of the Sheep baby gifts for your little lamb

I’ve always loved the Chinese Zodiac and not just because I’m a Chinese American. I am fascinated by the history of the signs and their meanings. So with the Chinese New Year just a couple of days away, we thought it would be fun to round-up cool Year of the Sheep baby gifts. If you happen to be expecting a little baby lamb (we’ll go with the lamb instead of the ram) in 2015 or know someone who is, here are some wonderful Year of the Sheep baby gifts to help celebrate. Kung Hei Fat Choi!   The beautiful knit dolls from BlaBla Kids have...

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A rainbow of handmade sorting games bringing beautiful, old-school play to kids

Ever in search for more colorful playthings to brighten up the dreary northeast weather, I am so happy to discover Laughing Crickets, an Etsy shop creating the most beautiful, bright, happy-making handmade toys for kids, with a focus on handmade sorting games. The shop overs brightly beautiful natural  sorting games featuring the likes of giraffes, hearts, birds, lady bugs, and rainbow clad peg dolls in their own little wooden beds. Plus, Easter eggs which should be a big hit in the coming weeks.I love that they’re painted with non-toxic paints and finished with natural beeswax and olive oil, by makers who clearly...

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Wood you be mine?

As I’m looking around the web for ideas for a little token Valentine’s Gift for my kids, I came across this adorable wooden stacking heart blocks toy from Natural Family Shop on Amazon and yes, I heart it. It comes with 8 natural, beautifully handmade and non-toxic wooden heart blocks for stacking and sorting, or it just looks pretty displayed up on a child’s bookshelf. Good news, Amazon Prime members–you can still get one in time for Valentine’s Day, too if you’re quick.   I see them available shades of pink too, and in rainbow sold by Magic Cabin; though you’ll have to wait a bit for delivery...

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Building a better bear with Bears for Humanity

It’s pretty easy to find a teddy bear that my kids will love. Cute and stuffed? Check. But finding one that I love for them is a bit trickier. Bears for Humanity is a winner for all of us. My favorite thing about Bears for Humanity is their buy one, give one business model which husband and wife team Vijay and Renju Prathap modeled after TOMS. Each purchase means an equal bear—not some cheaper facsimile–goes to one of their U.S. partner organizations, like Toys for Tots, pediatric cancer org Expect Miracles, and Save the Children, all to brighten up another child’s day. Beyond that, Bears for Humanity hits so many of my...

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A LEGO Hogwarts that’s not to be believed.

I am always a little proud of myself when I help my kids with a difficult LEGO design, or find just the piece they’ve been searching for in our big bin, but my accomplishments pale in comparison to what one dedicated mom in Seattle did with those little plastic pieces. She made an entire LEGO Hogwarts. Alice Finch’s labor of LEGO love took 18 months and more than 400,000 bricks. The finished version of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is so detailed and accurate, Hermione Granger herself would approve.  You can read the full story and see more of...

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The Mini Life: When you feel like you’ve seen every baby and kid gift out there, here’s where to go.

I’m always happy to introduce you to beautifully-curated independent web boutiques and here’s one more  new one that’s caught my attention since its launch just a few weeks ago. Mini Life is an exquisite children’s lifestyle boutique packed full of gorgeous toys, decor, home items and more, all cultivated from around the world. It’s definitely not the kinds of gifts you see in every shop in the mall. Founder Athena Rotolo has a modern sensibility I just love, and if you’ve got little ones to shop for–or maybe, splurge on–then you must look around this exquisite site. Here are just...

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Tree Change Dolls: Turning trash (i.e. Bratz Dolls) into treasure.

Like many parents I know, I have never been a fan of the pouty-lipped, heavy-lidded, overly-made-up Bratz line of dolls. But after I saw what this mother-daughter team has been doing to “rescue” the discarded toys, I was totally charmed by the sweet little dolls who it turns out were were hiding behind all those false eyelashes and lip injections. Renamed Tree Change Dolls, from an Australian phrase that refers to a move from urban glitz to a more down-to-earth style, these repurposed dolls aren’t even recognizable as their formerly wide-eyed selves. Their eyebrows are repainted to be more natural, their lips look less injected, and even their hair is reconditioned...

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Custom dolls from your kids’ drawings. Now that’s a keepsake.

My three-year-old son brings artwork home from nursery school by the armful — if you consider a couple of paint drops on construction paper to be art, that is. Every so often, however, he creates something that actually resembles a person, place, or thing, and I want to save it forever. The coolest way I’ve discovered to immortalize a child’s doodle is to turn it into a custom doll. We’ve covered quite a few impressive artists who make custom dolls from drawings that kids make and now there’s one more. Enter Yaela, a designer and mother of two. She runs an online studio called Dolls ‘n’ All...

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LEGO goes to the birds

It’s going to be a while before I can look out my window and see anything bright and colorful fluttering around my yard, so I’m especially pleased that LEGO has chosen to release LEGO Birds, a brand new set of feathered friends that is so realistic, I may just gaze at them instead. The set features detailed models of a hummingbird, blue jay, and robin, each standing between 5 and 7 inches tall and perched on its own stand with its Latin name in front. There’s even a pamphlet more more info on the species inside. It all adds up to a certain sophistication which means I...

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6 fun new family games to freshen up your stash. Or your stache.

When the holidays–and the cold weather–hit, it’s the time I make sure our games are in good shape. As in, half the cards from UNO aren’t missing and there is actually Monopoly money in the Monopoly game. As opposed to the play kitchen. (I know you feel me, mamas.) With more than a few kids and relatives visiting over the holidays, here are a few new family games made by smaller companies we’ve added to our repertoire this year. Plus, this is a great time to stock up, with all the last minute shopping deals, whether or not they make it in...

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Connect Four, only in wood. And gorgeous.

My husband comes from a family of players. Game players, that is. The next time we host a family dinner, I’d love to pull out this gorgeous four in a row wood game to engage in a bit of healthy competition. (Spoiler alert: I’ve always been awesome at Connect 4.) This wood game from Monkey Pod Games still requires strategy, just like the plastic version we all grew up playing. It’s still fast paced, and it still, I imagine, makes a satisfying “clink” when you stack one wooden disc atop another. Didn’t you just love that sound when you were a kid? The fact that this four...

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Four of the best multiple-solution puzzles for kids. Because there’s no one right way to play.

If you’re still puzzled (yes, I went there) over what to get some of the kids on your list, keep reading. Whether it is a small wooden puzzle for little hands to manipulate, or something larger and more complex that gets the entire family involved, a well-made puzzle is a great plaything that will never require batteries or a wi-fi connection. And if your kids prefer their play to be more open-ended, we’ve found four options with multiple solutions so that their finished product doesn’t have to look the same way twice.   Nene Imagination’s Puzzles Without Borders: Penguins and Friends (shown at top)...

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Gorgeous wooden toy cars that run on imagination

Some of the best toys don’t need a lot of bells and whistles, or even horns, to make them a plaything that kids will love for years. Our newest find is Candylab’s stunning, yet durable, wooden toy cars. After Candylab wooden toy cars received some acceleration from a super-successful Kickstarter campaign, six styles are ready to roll up to your house in time for the holidays for any vehicle-loving child and their mid-century-modern-loving parents. Designed in Brooklyn, made of solid beech wood, colored in water-based paints, and rolling on food-grade rubber tires, Candylab’s entire garage of toy cars are the kinds...

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Venice Beach-worthy skateboards for your little shredder

On a recent trip to Venice Beach, I wandered through skate shops and hung out at the skatepark. What can I say — I’m still a skatebetty at heart, even at my age. But unlike the old days when bumper stickers proclaimed Skateboarding is not a crime!, skateboarding has gone mainstream, which makes a skateboard a pretty rad holiday gift for just about any kid. Here are two cool models I got a chance to check out, and why I think each one could be a cool gift this year. First there’s Sunset Skateboards, which was started by two California skaters who’d been...

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Well Lottie da, the newest Lottie doll is a boy

We’re big fans of the Lottie doll line here at Cool Mom Picks. She looks like a real kid, has cool adventures, and encourages girls to be themselves, whether they dream of being pirates, soccer pros, or lighthouse keepers. So you can imagine our excitement when we learned about her new pal Finn, the first boy doll in the line. Lottie boy doll Finn is all set to join Branksea Festival Lottie dressed in a Kite Festival outfit, or dress him up in a Gone Fishing outfit for next year’s Shark Week. What’s refreshing to me as a mom is that Finn comes with no guns,...

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6 reasons why Micro Kickboard could be the best first scooter for your kids

Like many of you parents, I wanted to purchase the best first scooter for my little kids when they were old enough, but was overwhelmed by all the choices in the stores. But after reading a review of the Micro Kickboard Mini Micro scooter by our associate editor Christina ages ago, I purchased them for my own kids back in 2010. They even still have the pink and orange scooters I bought after they had outgrown the trikes and toddler bikes that kept them limited to our driveway. The second they hopped on these scooters, I was amazed at how quickly they could ride....

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Super nerdy blocks for super scientists

There aren’t many wooden toys for toddlers that I can imagine an older kid would love too, but these super nerdy ABC blocks from Uncommon Goods are a major exception. They’re made from locally sourced wood and printed with non-toxic inks, featuring letters, illustrations, and scientific vocabulary words. They’re safe for toddlers to gnaw on, sturdy enough for preschool architects, and offer such cool reading material that middle schoolers might use them as a study reference for science class. Or hey, maybe your kindergartner will wow her teacher with talk of buckyballs and the water cycle. It’s never too...

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Bunzi: A first balance bike for toddlers that doesn’t break your budget

If it’s not yet clear from the pages of Cool Mom Picks, the holiday season is upon us. And for a lot of us, that means time to come up with a standout holiday gift for the little guys and gals on our shopping list will be a hit without breaking the bank. You may know we’re big fans of balance bikes here, from the Y-Bike that grows with your child, to Christina’s top pick, the Micro-Mini 3-in-1 scooter which transforms from balance bike into a mini-scooters to grow with your child. Now there’s one tailor-made for the youngest biking enthusiasts, and get this: this awesome first balance...

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An adorable doll carrier for future babywearers

I’m a veteran babywearer, so it’s no surprise that the first thing my daughter thinks about when she wants to take her dolls for a walk is putting them into a carrier. We’ve always had cute little doll pouches for her babies, but with whyknotmom’s Reversible Doll Carrier, she finally has one that looks like the Ergo her little brother used to pretty much live in, and she couldn’t be more excited. These adorable customizable doll carriers come in a variety of colorful fabrics with black on the reverse to better simulate mom’s or dad’s carrier. With adjustable waist and shoulder straps, they’ll...

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TBT: Throwback teethers

Perhaps thanks to Sophie the Giraffe, teething toys have gotten way more fun than the rainbow plastic rings we used to rely on. That drooly baby stage now has its own array of accessories from chic teething jewelry for moms to handmade organic wooden teethers. And now there’s another fun option in the vintage character teethers by Oli & Carol which would be a great add-on to a big baby registry gift, or a thoughtful baby shower gift all on its own.   These adorable, pastel-shaded vintage animals–my favorite is the dusty blue seahorse–were created by two young Barcelona-based sisters from 100% natural Hevea latex. Plus they’re...

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