Friday, November 22, 2019

The Best Non-Toxic Gifts My Kids Have Received ...

Sarah W Olsen (Baeo Baby) , Suze Swope (Gurl Gone Green),  Anna Schafer (BAeo Baby), Dr. Zelana Montminy (Dr. Zelana) and Amy Ziff (Made Safe) tell me all about the best (non-toxic) gifts their kids have every received

You will undoubtedly run across numerous holiday gift guides this holiday season.  Every year I publish my own Non-Toxic Munchkin approved Holiday gift guide too.  This year, however, I thought I would do things a bit different.

I enlisted 5 mamas I trust, admire and genuinely like, to look at their kid's toys and favorite items and tell us which items have proven to be amazing, engaging, beloved and truly fun and which have stood the test of time.   

The idea?   Include gift ideas that are real-kid approved and loved,  and not necessarily items that an adult marketing executive or adult blogger think are cool and good gifts... which might often end up ignored, donated or thrown away.

As always, all of these items have been  researched by me and confirmed to be Non-Toxic Munchkin approved! 

So grateful to these special mamas for sharing these with all of me (and you!).  I can't tell you how these women influence my daily life with their posts, their work and, in some cases, their friendship!  If you are not familiar with their work make sure you look them up and give them a follow - they will undoubtedly add value to your life!   

(PS. these super star mamas are listed in alphabetical order! Links included are mostly in my 'Holiday Gift Guide' list/  Amazon affiliate links that support my work- however, I also love supporting your local favorite book and toy store so remember, when you can, shop small too)

Amy Ziff
Founder of Made Safe
Mother to twin girls, ages 8, and a 10 year old son

"Of course there's the standard non-toxic gifts we love giving to babies and toddlers which are things from the Bioserie toys which are MADE SAFE approved!

My kids love art, and at ages 8,8, and 10, have more control for finer motor skills. A new set of colored pencils and a beautiful book go a long way to entertain us. A favorite of mine are the books by Jo Situ Allen which are engaging while fostering a love for natural creatures. They've even inspired us to try and create a mural in my daughter's bedroom! 

For gifts, I am also into creating and fostering experiences with my children. So along with these gifts I wrap up a gift a note with the promise to do something whether it's taking a special nature walk, going for a beach excursion, having a sunset picnic, or taking for a rowboat in central park... Just taking the time to think of how to share something I love in a way they'd find special and getting that time to be together.... Those are my favorite gifts. And when done well, they're the gifts they'll remember and treasure most. 

Anna Schafer

Actress, Co-Owner Baeo and mother to Jaylen, 16 month old, and Lila, 5
These felt fruit are from Pottery Barn Kids

"When it comes to shopping for my kids I want to get something that is a) timeless b) environmentally friendly and c) can be used by all the kids at some point.

Some of my (and their!) favorite purchases to date are:

1. A wooden farm with little wooden farm animals. This has been one of my daughters favorites from age 2 onward and now that my son is 15 months he loves it as well and it’s a great way to teach him all the animals.

2. Our little toy kitchen ! It’s been such a huge hit over the years with play dates and imaginative play. It’s definitely on the pricier side but it is the gift that truly keeps giving.

Both Hape and Camden Rose  offer similar, Non- Toxic Munchkin approved kitchens! 

3. Vegetables and fruits - cause every kitchen needs produce. My favorites are the wooden ones that you can cut open and the felt ones (Camden Rose also makes cute knitted ones) 

4. These little wooden toys from Rostok Toys on Etsy have been used a lot in our house and I think they are beyond adorable

wooden animals from Etsy seller ROSTOK
5. Now, I’m not a huge fan of slime, but my daughter is. I think the craftiest gift I ever got was a self made slime kit. I went to Michaels got tubes and filled them with color and glitter and sparkles. Got all the necessary ingredients and packed it in a Michaels Kraft box. My daughter loves it so much and we keep refilling it and reusing it.

6. Melissa and Doug ice cream counter is a favorite of my daughters, and now, my sons as well. (Tenderleaf also makes a similar item  and is sold at The Tot


Sarah Wright Olsen
Actress, Co-Owner of Baeo, Author (new book on preorder now!)   
Mother to Esme, age 3,  and Wyatt, age 6 
Esme loves her Maileg Dollhouse

"Papoose toys are my daughter's favorite! They are made in Australia and made
from felt and wood. We buy them at Little Moon and Sprout San Francisco. She loves the little people that she can play with in her Maileg doll house. 

Wyatt loves the Grimm's rainbow set and the Melissa and Doug wood blocks. He builds “cities” with these blocks. 
He could also spend hours with the name train set. He loves to build and then recreate and play. We have also always loved the green toys bath toys!! 

Suzi Swope
Cosmetologist and Clean Beauty expert, Founder of Gurl Gone Green
Mother of 3 kiddos ages: 5,3 and 7 weeks old!

"I'm Suzi from Gurl Gone Green and I have 3 kiddos.  My oldest is 5, then I have a 3 year old and a 7 week old.  I
have been through a lot of toys over the past 5 years but there are several non-toxic toys that stick out.  
These are toys that my kids have gravitated towards and consistently play with.  

Their Hape kitchen is one of their favorites.  I love that they're an eco-friendly company and use real wood.  

My kids also love magna tiles.  They are made of a non-leaching ABS plastic. 

A recent favorite is their new Cuddle and Kind dolls.  For every doll purchased, they feed 10 children. They're embroidered by hand with natural cotton. My girls have Skye and Ella and they're so cute! I would recommend these toys to anyone looking for a holiday gift for their children. "

Dr. Zelana  Montminy
Doctor of psychology & Behavioral Scientist, Author
Mom to a 7 year old boy, 5 year old girl and a baby on the way in 2020!

"I always look for something that can promote creativity and interest and definitely aim for non-toxic options.  As a behavioral scientist I really try to shy away from electronics and encourage my kids to engage in their own activities that they find interesting (not to say we don't use electronics because obviously that's part of our world but we do so intentionally and with limits)."

Books:  These are kids books for young ones, that I feel foster resilience and encourage kindness and empathy which is critical for their age. 

Beautiful Oops By:  Barney Satlzberg
The Most Magnificent Thing By:  Ashley Spires

Their New block set is amazing

Jenga never disappoints  I love to encourage games that promote taking turns and family time

Plan Toy's Creative Play House

Plantoys Creative Play House

This is the doll house my daughter loves!

Art Supplies

Both the kids and I love any art supply that foster free play and creativity and flexibility.  They love using:

Natural Beeswax Crayons by Ooly 

Eco Kids Non-Toxic Natural Paint

Aida Garcia-Toledo
Non-Toxic Living and Sustainability Expert
'Mami' to two Boys ages 6 and 9

My kids still love to play together and I find that items that allow them to use their imaginations are the items that stand the test of time. They are also extremely active and have more energy than I think I have ever had.   I find it so interesting that they still play with some key pieces of toys that they have had, sometimes, for years

Grimm's Large 12-Piece Rainbow Stacker -   works for little kids and for older kids too.  These wooden rainbow stackers can become ships, arches in buildings, bridges the list goes on.  Honestly, a great investment piece (and they look so pretty on display in a playroom)

Magna Tiles and Earthtile Wooden  Magnetic Tiles  Hands down the best investment toy I have ever made.  Magna Tiles are plastic but made out of a stable plastic which is not known to leach under normal circumstances, which I am comfortable with.  It is no secret I do not love plastic toys but if it is used for so many years I make an exception; these  have been used for 4 years and still
Earthtiles will join Magna Tiles at
home this holiday
going strong in our house- which makes me feel better since they did not just last one season like many plastic toys tend to do.     This holiday Santa is bringing Earthtile's Wooden Magnetic Tiles - a wooden magna tile- which my sons have asked for and are super excited to get!

Curved Balance Board 

We have only had this for a couple of months but it is already showing signs of becoming a long term staple in the playroom.   It blows my mind to see how it is used- sometimes they stand on it, sometimes the sit and rock on it, often its used as a bridge for pretend play or a ceiling in a "cave" "house" etc.   I have also seen it used as a slide and so much more.   Sometimes the simpler designs really make for the best toys.

Similar versions can be found at The Tot, Challenge and Fun and a similar version in my Amazon Page

Board Games

As a family we love playing board games together- its an activity that we all
enjoy equally.  Some of our kiddo's favorites include:
Dog Bingo (they also make Cat Bingo if you are a cat person!) 

Wooden Animal Figures
the Ostheimer Hedgehog

These have been a favorite in our home for years.  

Our collection started with 2 or 3 animals when my oldest was 2 years old and has expanded throughout the years. These wooden figures are amazingly well crafted and, considering the adventures they go through at our house, are remarkably resistant! Two brands we love are Ostheimer and Holztiger


Through the years, Santa has been known to bring all sorts of ride-on toys.  The favorite, and most used, have been their bicycles.  There is something so special about seeing a bike under the tree with a big bow and spending the morning riding it in the backyard! 

Our balance bike, made of wood, was used by both kids and still used on occasion for fun

Both boys choose a big boy bike and they have brought tons of hours of family bike rides which, for me, are what  makes bikes such a great gift.

No holiday is complete without a couple of great timeless books in my house.   I love curating our home library with books that are aesthetically gorgeous and have amazing messages uplifting messages.   The boys take out these books for their nighttime reading throughout the years as these books never get old.  Here is a sample of some of their (ok, and my!) favs are in my Holiday Gift Guide section and 'Books for Little Environmentalists' lists on my Amazon Shop 

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