Saturday, December 5, 2009
Here it is! My annual gift guide for safer toys and children's products, good music and books, all Non-Toxic Kids approved. Since starting this blog over 2 years ago, I have reviewed numerous quality online stores (often run by green mamas), safer toys and products for children, and quality books and children's music. There are no mass produced items from China here. I've listed several categories of recently reviewed items on Non-Toxic Kids, and I'll follow this post with some of my favorite green and safe gifts for 2009 this week.
*Eco-Friendly, Safe and Non-Toxic Toys and Gifts
*Great children's music that won't drive you crazy
*Books to read for adults (toxics, pregnancy, and more)
*Safe Body Products for babies and children
*BPA free gear
*No waste lunch kits
*Eco-Friendly Baby and Kid Clothes (many with adorable green messages!)
(and add to this Little Green Star, who makes a sweet line of green messaged Ts which I will be reviewing soon)
Here is a list of my favorite online retailers and small businesses. In almost every town there is a Toys R Us, a Target or Walmart, or a KB Toys. Many of the products in these places are not safe (although this is improving). Lots of toys still on shelves have been recalled in other countries, contain banned toxic substances, and are simply unsustainable and harmful to children and the environment.
Not these businesses. You'll see that I tried to include a focus on U.S. made toys. Some of these retailers carry toys made in other countries, and all pledge high safety and environmental standards. Many of the businesses I've ordered from myself. All are owned by parents, with strong environmental, ethical and safety practices. You'll see that some are the same as last year, and some have changed. Readers, please list your favorites in the comments section.
1. Nova Naturals: Okay, I'm biased. This is a Vermont company. But they carry the most beautiful, creative and engaging natural toys for a wide age range of ages. Just the catalog is a work of art. We have the four elements arches, which are so simple and creative. I love playing with them, and they can become the scene of any imaginative play. They also carry many plastic (and BPA) free teethers for toddlers who need to chomp and chew.
2. North Star Toys: This family makes non-toxic, safe wood toys and is a green, responsible business. The toys are simple, beautiful and encourage creative play. We have the camera (which my 3 year old loves- it helps that her dad is a photographer), and this people mover (which both my one and three year old push around and load and unload the people). The prices are reasonable, too. This the best of all worlds: made in the U.S., a family run, green and responsible business, non-toxic and safe finishes, what could be better?
3. Down to Earth Toys: Over 90 percent of Down to Earth's toys are made in the U.S. If you want to stick with that, this link is their selection of toys made in the U.S., with non-toxic finishes. You'll find games and puzzles, imaginative toys, wood toys and active toys. I recently reviewed a cool wooden bath boat from Down to Earth Toys. They also have beautiful play kitchens made in the U.S. The rest of their toys "meet or exceed the established North American and European safety standards" according to their website. They have fabulous customer service, and this is a great family business to support.
4. KidBean: A site full of "Earth-friendly, labor-friendly vegan products for your family". You'll find all sorts of stuff here, bath and body care, bedding, clothes, diapers, furniture, footwear, toys, maternity and nursing wear and more. Most of the products on the site are made in the U.S., and all of them have been researched heavily for their sourcing, ingredients, labor and trade practices. They share specific information about each product, such as where is was made, and what it is finished with. We have a Honeysuckle Dreams Organic Cotton Nursing Doll that I reviewed last year. You can buy North Star toys at this site, and you can order them completely unfinished. North Star toys normally uses food grade mineral oil for a safer toy finish.
5. Natural Pod: Another newcomer to this list, Natural Pod is an extensive natural online toy and daily living items for children. I love the doll with the baby sling on the home page! They have some great specials on organic baby clothing, and a lovely selection of imaginative toys made from natural materials.
6. Rosie Hippo: This family run business sources products from around the world, but mostly the U.S. and Europe, with some fair trade items from places like Peru and Kenya, where support for local communities and improving the lives of families is paramount. Their goal is "to find unique products made from unique materials – sustainable wood, organic fabrics, recycled materials – that are made in a way that is kind to the planet and, wherever possible, helps support Fair Trade around the world." They do have a large selection of toys made in the U.S., thankfully. They also have a great book selection of unique themes that you will not find on Amazon.com!
7. MightyNest: A newcomer to the scene, MightyNest is building a one stop shop for everything you need to make your home safer and greener. From BPA free drinking and feeding gear, to air filters and organic mattresses, to safe toys, MightyNest is growing everyday, keeping your safety and the environment as the highest priority. All of their products are well researched, and the site is chock full of informative articles and some really great blogging (oh, did I mention I also blog for them?). That said, I share my independent judgement and maintain full disclosure, no matter who I am writing for!
8. The Soft Landing: If you are looking for any safe, chemical free feeding, drinking, or lunch greening gear, The Soft Landing is a great place to go. Mama and family owned and operated, The Soft Landing has a wide variety of necessary gear for taking care of babies and kids. Alicia (mama owner and expert in the toxic and safety landscape) is super positive, informed, and active in chemical safety and reform. You can read her blog here, and it is always full of giveaways and great information. Full disclosure: The Soft Landing is a sponsor of this blog. I believe in their mission and products, and that is why they are included here and as a sponsor. The site has been recently updated, including guides about plastic and toxic free living. There is a wealth of information here, and lots of resources.