Tag: kids’ toys

French shopping, hold the airfare

I must say, despite the CPSA I still remain most confident by mass produced toys when they’re made in Europe. The standards are consistently high, and the products seem made to last more than one kid. Or more than one month as the case often is. Plus, the French know a thing or two about cute. Comptoir d’Enfance is a lovely little online shop filled entirely with French toys, decor, and wonderful baby gifts. You don’t even have to be a Francofile to love sweet Vilac pull toys or fun wall decals, but it would explain why I got...

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Earth Day Pick: Great outdoor toys for the great outdoors

The first thing I noticed about Colorado’s Sprig Toys is that they smell like fresh-cut wood, even while they look like strong molded plastic. Turns out I was right on both counts–their special “Sprigwood” is an eco-friendly, kid-safe material made from both recycled wood and reclaimed plastic. The toy dump truck, excavator and loader have all the functionality of more expensive trucks, only with no paint to chip and no batteries to replace. And the Sprig Hollow line of toys come with detachable, waterproof tools like chunky shovels and rakes making them perfect for the beach. This wonderful world of...

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Children’s blocks for all

I notice when I hit the mass kids’ toy stores that the blocks are always in the boys section. It’s bizarre to me because both my daughters love blocks like a frat boy loves Spring Break. And I can assure you they’d go flat out bonkers for the vibrant, children’s blocks at Quiet Hours Toys. Canadian educator Matt Hiebert designed these fair trade kids’ building blocks out of sustainable wood, all in unique shapes to get those fine motor skills going and help expand the idea of imaginative block play. Put one of those long pieces inside one of...

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Felt like Easter

Much as I love to color eggs with my kids, there are only so many hard-boiled eggs one family can eat.  And while the plastic eggs aren’t perishable, they aren’t particularly attractive or earth-friendly either. These felted Easter eggs from astashtoys are a great alternative.  Made by hand with colorful Merino wool, these eco-friendly eggs look great nestled in baskets or in a ceramic bowl as an Easter dinner table centerpiece. Or heck, hide them on the lawn. Then once they’re found, bring them inside and put them away for next year. Unlike the laid-from-a-hen variety, these eggs are...

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Full of “Yo Ho Ho” but no bottle of rum

As the only boy with two older sisters, my son knows that he may get stuck playing dolls or carrying his toy cars around in a sparkly pink bag. He has always been a good sport when playing dress-up, donning whatever his sisters put on him, but I think it’s high time he had some cool dress-up items of his own. Take this awesome Pirate Supply Kit by California designer Miss Natalie. With a red bandanna on his head, black patch over his eye and Polly the Parrot pin to perch on his shoulder, my son can easily transform...

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All along I was the puppet, I was the puppet

Why do babies seem to favor items that were never intended to be playthings? It never fails to amaze me how my kids spurn toys in favor of screwdrivers and old cell phones. But there’s one standby that I can always count on to charm a child: Hand puppets. And the ones from design group Noted that we found at Elsewares are some of the cutest I’ve seen.  Handmade by artisans in Nepal, these thick wool felt hand puppets feature a zipper closure at the bottom and are roomy enough to accommodate big hands or little hands. They’re adorable...

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The year of the owl

If you haven’t noticed, 2009 appears to be the year of the owl– at least when it comes to baby accessories. I suppose that it’s sort of fitting, seeing as how owls are awake all night long, not unlike some babies I know. Sigh. At least this lovely soft owl music box by Mimishop has extremely good intentions. Handmade from a combo of fabric and felt, this cute stuffed toy houses an old-fashioned music box. Just pull the chord and your babe will be lulled to sleep to a good couple of minutes of the Brahms lullaby. And if...

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Party animals

I guess I have birthday gifts on the brain this week after finding those cute crowns. Today’s pick: The Raplapas party animals. Each adorable stuffed pig, elephant, bird or rabbit is soft (ooh, cotton velvet), cuddly and topped off with a party hat, making it an awesome birthday gift for a kid in your life. They’re all handmade in Montreal by mom and costume designer Erica Perrot which might account for their dramatic personalities; I hear you should never feed the rabbit Jager after midnight. –Liz Find the Raplapas party animals and other great kids’ toys at Mahar Dry...

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What’s a Geemo? Good question.

It’s hard to entirely describe a Geemo, even after having played with it for a week. I can only assure you that this is the greatest new toy we’ve discovered in a good long time, thanks to our friend Tiffany at The Pajama Squid. Geemo was designed by a very cool Brooklyn toy company called Heroes May Rise which aims to promote learning through unstructured play and creativity (um, as opposed to voice chips barking multiplication tables at you). And they deliver in spades with this toy made of a set of soft, stretchy, sort of rubbery nontoxic pieces...

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Bunk Bots: Domo Arigato Mr Roboto

The other night, as my son crept into my bed, he hit me in the head with a robot. Thankfully, unlike the plastic trucks and action figures he has adopted as lovies in the past, this robot was a “crazy soft” Bunk Bot named Night-Vision Pinch. And that’s the point. Pinch is one of several plush robots created by a brilliant Portland, Oregon product design engineer who saw his sons cuddling up to hard, pointy robot toys and decided to make something a little more sleep-friendly. I love that each of the ten gray fleece robots comes with a...

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Watch your back, Monet

My daughter is an art fanatic, and would paint until she was blue in the face. Funny, she’s actually done that, with blue hands, arms, clothes…you get the picture. She’s a four-year-old with paints. So when she tried Mahar Dry Goods’ handmade watercolor kit, I don’t think I heard a peep out of her for a solid two hours. Created by self-proclaimed domestic scientist Cynthia Hellman, this set of six non-toxic food safe colors comes packed carefully in a silver tin, complete with a mini-brush, and a few small water color cards. You’ll need to wet the colors a...

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Nonstop to Spain

I love peeking across the ocean via the www to see what our European friends are doing as far as kids and design. Occasionally there’s some wacky baby tee featuring a wolf riding a unicycle with a pig on his head or something, but generally we’re in love with what we find. Like the baby and children’s gifts from the brand new Haciendo el Indio Spanish design studio. The most charming characters adorn everything from dolls and decor to kids wall art to “maxi bibs” which are one part giant napkin, one part craft apron, one part superhero cape....

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Girls just want to draw fun

My daughters draw the cutest things: Stick-figure women in triangle dresses, bulgy-eyed cats and larger-than-life flowers. Nothing could improve on what they dream up which is why I love artist Carla Sonheim’s new coloring book simply called, girls. Instead of trying to reign kids in by asking them to stay within the lines, this drawing and coloring book challenges them to stretch their imagination with whimsical illustrations of girls, fairies, animals and mermaids all surrounded by plenty of white space where anything goes. Older girls can write stories beneath the pictures, turning a charming coloring book into their own...

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Schlemiel! Schlemazel!

The picture that comes to mind when I hear “doll” and “completely recycled materials” together in one sentence has never quite looked like the spectacular looking Binky Buddies recycled dolls from Hasenpfeffer Incorporated. Using a variety of salvaged materials like recycled wool, cotton, and buttons, plus a hypoallergenic fill, Daniela Shelton artfully turns discarded old scraps into something adorably new. They’re the perfect eco-conscious companion for your little one and the best use of old wool jackets and cotton shirts I’ve seen in a really long time. Okay, try ever. -KristenCheck out the slew of adorable baby dolls and...

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The perfect New Year’s detox trick – lots and lots of water

After a busy time fraught with lots of be-booping electronics, rushing to and fro, and various shiny things, there’s really no substitute for a bit of Zen. While you’re decompressing, consider turning to the ingenious Buddha Board, spotted at Landbridge Toys. Theoretically you’d be buying this for your kid, but when I had a chance to play with one, I had a hard time giving up my turn. Because you’re painting with water and your images slowly fade out as they dry, it’s addictive in a delicious, slow-you-down kind of way. You paint, you sit, you paint, you sit…...

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Four hot toys for 2008 (says us)

Recently, Better Homes & Gardens’ Better.TV asked me to show them four hot toys for the holidays and while it was nearly impossible to cull it down from about 6 million, I did my best to oblige. I didn’t decide based on what was selling out at the megastores this year, but what I thought were cool toys from responsible companies who actually care about the environment and the quality of the toys they put out. Plus, my kids really dig them. -The Recycled Tea Set from Green Toys available at Kangarooboo-All-natural Anamalz from Hape available at Oompa Toys...

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Rosy cheeks and everything

I wrestle with the idea of what to get my two-month old daughter for Christmas, because well, she’s two-months and what the heck does she care about what’s sitting under the tree for her, right? But then I have to wonder if it’ll come back to bite me in the butt down the road. So when I saw the completely handmade dolls from Poppy Seed Tree, I figured I couldn’t go wrong. Artist Meredith Franz uses a variety of fabrics (some recycled, some not) to create adorable one-of-a-kind dolls that come with a name card, back story, and the...

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Idle Hands

My three-year-old must always be doing something with her hands – coloring, painting, or her current favorite, going through my entire jewelry box. Twice on a good day. So, when I saw these Maple Landmark Lace-A-Shapes I figured it was worth a try to save my sanity and my jewelry. Created from sustainably harvested local wood and covered in a completely non-toxic finish, your preschooler will have a heck of a good time lacing up the four different animal shapes included in this pack. Great for the car, the plane, or at home when you’ve simply exhausted all other busy work...

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Easter Baskets That the Tooth Fairy Approves of Too

Not every mom is a fan of doling out the high fructose corn syrup or imitation chocolate treats on Easter. It doesn’t make you a Sanctimommy – just a little more responsible than those of us who keep the crap around the house as an excuse to eat it ourselves. Behold, the handmade felt Easter basket at the Baby Gardner. The size is just right for little baby hands and the five "cookies" inside are absolutely 100% sugar-free. Not that it will stop your baby from sucking on them all day. Babies aren’t too particular that way. –Liz Save...

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