Halloween is over and the winter holidays are approaching. Whether you celebrate the Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, or another winter celebration, the coldest season is typical a time for exchanging gifts. Although I am sickened by the consumerism associated with the holiday season, I do like to give gifts. Of course, a handmade gift always comes from the heart and has special meaning.
Our 2008 Eco Child’s Play Green, Eco-friendly Toy Holiday Gift Guide is comprised of our favorite products we have reviewed during the course of the year.
Safe, Green Gifts for Baby
- Sophie the Giraffe: This très chic teething toy is made out of natural rubber and finished with non-toxic paint. Sophie is handcrafted in the French Alps and has been a favorite among infants since the 60’s. A definite throwback to my days (and beyond).
- Petite Miette’s Playtime Wrap: Organically grown and made in the USA, Petite Miette’s Playtime Wrap is soft and snuggly. Designed to be worn over clothing, such as a onesie, this kimono style wrap will keep your child warm on even the chilliest days. Let’s face it: our kids spend a lot of time on the floor, which is the coldest, draftiest part of the house. I only wish Petite Miette would make a playtime wrap in my size; I don’t think I would ever take it off.
- Under the Nile Organic Frog Wash Cloth: Made from hand-picked, 100% organic cotton grown in Egypt, the Organic Frog Wash Cloth, which is also available in duck form, makes bath time fun. Of course, I don’t have to worry about safety, since it is made by Under the Nile. The frog is dyed with natural, “metal-free” colors and is a fair trade product.
- Haba Baby Bear Ankle and Wrist Rattler: We really love our Haba Toys. They are safe, fun, and out of the ordinary. After our resounding success with the Haba Stroller Chain; we decided to purchase another Haba Toy. We bought this little delightful Haba Baby Bear Ankle and Wrist Rattler. It attaches like a bracelet so you won’t lose it and it won’t fall to the dirty ground. The smiling bear seems to incite a smile even from the fussiest baby. We love rattling it ourselves when our little one won’t settle down. It seems to work, because she stops fussing and starts laughing.
Eco-Friendly Gifts for Toddlers, Preschoolers, and Kids
- Tiny Decor’s felt buckets: These soft felt buckets are great for storage. My daughter keeps her Only Hearts Club dolls in her felt bucket, which may not be the most eco-friendly doll, but at least they minimize the plastic and look like girls instead Playboy models. Each bucket is made from 100% organic cotton, machine-printed by Mod Green Pod, water-based, non-toxic inks, Ecospun felt lining made from recycled plastic bottles, and handmade in USA. The felt buckets are collapsible for storage and machine washable.
- Maggie’s Organic Sock Monkey: Originally sock monkeys were created as a symbol of America’s ingenuity and perseverance during hard times. The first sock monkeys were created during the Great Depression by imaginative women (housewives). Today Maggie’s sock monkeys are also a symbol of hope and perseverance—with a modern, organic twist.
- CGKidz Stainless Steel Water Bottle: CynerGreen has launched an eco-friendly kids line of products, created for and by kids, CGKidz. “Green stuff for kids by kids.” The CGKidz website is even managed by 11 year old Riley Hoffer (daughter of CynerGreen Founders) who designed the CGKidz bottle. Proceeds from the sales of the official CGKidz bottle will be donated to schools across the country that need assistance to fund green initiatives.
- Kapla Blocks: Kapla creates safe, ecological, innovative alternative toys. The wooden planks inspire hours of imagination and learning, accompanied by the pleasure of accomplishment, discovery and creation. Quality wooden toys, such as Kapla Blocks, bring the quality of play back into children’s lives. We need to protect our children from the commericalization of childhood and bring imaginative play back into their lives. We will have smarter children as a result!
- Sun and Moon Jars: These LED lights in jars are powered by the sun, and they automatically turn on when it gets dark out. The light lasts for approximately five hours maximum, which is just enough time to put little ones asleep but not disrupt their rest all night long. Made from traditional mason jars, Sun and Moon Jars use a highly efficient solar cell to charge rechargeable batteries that power three LEDs. Leave the jar in direct sunlight for a few hours a day, and voila, you have an eco-friendly night light. The frosted glass gives off a soft light kids love.
- Natural Pod’s Chef’s Portable Kitchen: My children love the Chef’s Portable Kitchen. It was designed by Natural Pod and is made on Vancouver Island, British Columbia with a combination of Europly, Birch, Oak, Fir and Purple Heart and finished in natural beeswax. Dramatic play is really important for children. From solitary play to cooperative play, children go through many stages of play as they develop. As children mature, they are able to engage in more creative, dramatic play, which is usually based on observations of adults’ daily lives. Kitchen play follows naturally, as children love to “cook” for their loved ones. Encouraging and supporting children’s dramatic play, such as providing props and appropriate toys, will help their development.
- Aurora Naturally Plush: These plush toys offer an eco-friendly alternative to chemically manufactured stuffed animals. Handmade in Indonesia, Aurora Naturally is made from 100% soy bean fiber and stuffed with Kapok, which is a sustainable rain forest crop. Not only are these stuffed animals eco-friendly, they are very soft and nice. I have had extended family members comment on how nice they are without knowing they are eco-friendly. Furthermore, you can educate your children about the eco-plush’s ingredients by reading The Great Kapok Tree.
Great, Green Children’s Literature
- 10 Things I Can Do to Help My World: Fun and Easy Eco-Tips: Made from 100% recycled material, 10 Things I Can Do to Help My World has delightful illustrations and cut out pages. Each page features a tip with a simple explanation of why the tip is important for our environment. For example, “I try…to turn off the tap when I brush me teeth. Every time you do this, you save eighteen glasses of water.”
- Honest Pretzels: Ever since my daughter was a toddler, she has been interested in cooking. Now that she is seven-years-old, I decided it was time for her to give it a go in the kitchen with her own cookbook. My daughter’s source of inspiration: Honest Pretzels, a cookbook for children written by Mollie Katzen of Moosewood fame. My daughter hungrily reads the recipes in Honest Pretzels, which are laid out in an illustrated, very kid (and adult) friendly way, including a section “Ask an adult for help with”.
- Looking for Miza: The True Story of the Mountain Gorilla Family Who Rescued One of their Own: This heartwarming book by Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Dr. Paula Kahumbu was born out of the true story of Miza, who’s mother was killed, and a need to educate children, teachers, and parents about the mountain gorilla crisis. The beautiful photographs by Perter Greste of Miza and her family help tell her incredible tale. Miza is a young gorilla living in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where just over half of the world’s mountain gorillas live. In June 2007, park rangers Innocent and Diddy discovered that Miza and her mother were missing from their family group. They immediately began looking for Miza, as her survival was at stake. What surprised the rangers was that Kibirizi, the family group’s silverback, also went looking for Miza and her mother.
- Gaia Girls: Both Enter the Earth and Way of Water are my daughter’s favorite all time books!
What would you do if you could hear the Earth asking for help? In the Gaia Girls book series, that is what happens to four girls, each from a different region of the world. They are approached by Gaia, the living organism of the Earth. Each is endowed with powers over one of the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. They must learn to use their powers to help Gaia survive the effects of modern humanity.
You may find other great ideas for eco-friendly gifts by visiting our 2007 Green Toy Gift Guide.
More great eco-friendly gift guides from blogs we love: