Mothering’s Natural Toy Guide and Giveaway 2014!

Welcome to the annual Mothering Natural Toy Guide: a collection of the highest quality natural toys and gifts available this holiday season! We’ve carefully selected each item based on its superior materials, uniqueness, ethical production, value and, of course, its fun-factor. Check out the items found in all guide categories below for our full review, pricing information and where to buy.

Looking for our big Toy Giveaway? Find it at the bottom of this page!

Top Picks for 2014

The choice wasn’t easy, but we’ve settled on our very best picks for 2014! We hope you’ll love them as much as we do!


20 Toys Under $20

You don’t need to spend a fortune to grab high quality toys for your little ones. Here are our favorite gifts under $20.


Toys to Splurge On

Looking for that super special “big” gift that will last for years to come? Here are some great toys worth spending more on.


Sweet & Special Friends

Snuggle, laugh and play with this delightful selection of dolls, accessories and their fanciful homes.


Shake, Rattle and Roll

From organic rattles to natural blocks, trucks and cars, this category is full of gifts perfect for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.


Imagination is the Limit

Delightful silk scapes, beautiful wooden kitchens, whimsical mobiles and more to spark the imagination of children of any age.


Get Creative!

You’ll adore these creative craft kits and art supplies that are constructed using the safest and highest quality materials on the market.


Special Mentions

These items didn’t meet all of our eco-friendly or ethical qualifications, but they still deserve some attention for their dedication to eco-packing, educational quality, value and/or contributions to non profit work. 


2014 Natural Toy Giveaway!

We’ve teamed up with three very awesome small businesses to bring you an amazing toy giveaway this year. Take a look at the prizes below and then follow the instructions to enter to win. The giveaway runs from Nov 25th through Dec 8th. We’ll be drawing three winners on Dec 9th and each winner will receive one of the prizes shown below. Good luck!!

Prize #1: Hardwood Kitchen and Accessories from Elves and Angels ($324 Value)

kitchenOur Natural Hardwood Abbie’s Kitchen features an area to the left of the sink with enough room to dry dishes, cut wooden veggies, or load up a cookie sheet with cookies! With its classic Elves and Angels 4 burner cook top, metal sink, peek through window oven, and all that added counter space, Abbie’s Kitchen is sure to be a customer favorite for years to come. The shelf above the cook top adds a nice place to store all those spices or display your best dinnerware! To compliment the kitchen we’re also including our Lil’ Chef’s Set, which includes everything your child needs to get cooking!

About Elves and Angels: Elves and Angels had its humble beginnings in a tiny workshop in Scarborough Maine.  It was out of necessity that I began making the first kitchens, cribs and highchairs over 24 years ago.  It was a family venture from the beginning and it was always my vision that it would become the fabric of our life, a way in which we could work as a unit with a common family purpose. I was then, and am today, determined to create the very highest quality wooden toys available anywhere.


Prize #2: Handmade Doll from Bamboletta ($250 Value)

bamboletta_doll

Here’s your chance to secure a much sought after Canadian made Bamboletta Doll!! Over ten hours of handwork goes into creating each doll, from hand sewing the bodies, stuffing them with gorgeous Canadian wool, hand dying their hair to sewing their little underpants and shoes – it’s all done here with love! We at Bamboletta are so happy to be able to offer a doll to one of you lovely Mothering readers. Mothering has been an important part of our lives and to do this giveaway with Mothering is such a blessing. Each doll is unique so the doll you receive will be diiferent than the doll in the picture at left.

About Bamboletta Dolls: At Bamboletta Dolls we put a modern twist on an old doll making tradition. Handcrafted using only the finest materials such as wool, cotton and mohair we create dolls that your child will pass along to their child. Lovingly made by talented ladies in the Cowichan Valley in Canada. About Bamboletta | Dolls for Adoption | Gallery of Dolls

 


Prize #3: Sweatpea Doll from A Toy Garden ($120 Value)

20140116_161233

Our exclusive SweetPea Baby Doll is heavy and huggable. It is filled with about 4 pounds of millet and wool to make it feel like a real baby. This is a beautifully made baby- whom all children (and adults) love to care for. Every adult who holds this one immediately puts it over a shoulder and rubs its back or holds it and rocks it! Children smile when they pick it up and realize how heavy it is – they quickly get busy caring for it.

About A Toy Garden: www.aToyGarden.com has an extensive selection of handmade, USA-made, fair trade, natural, and open-ended toys that inspire your child’s creative play. They have gifts for newborns, children, and even some treasures adults will love. A Toy Garden offers Free Gift Wrap and quick shipping.

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How to Enter

First Entry: Like Elves and AngelsA Toy Garden, Bamboletta Dolls and Mothering on Facebook and then leave a comment at the bottom of this guide to enter. Sorry, comments on Facebook cannot be counted. If you do not have a facebook account please find another way to follow these sites, such as via Twitter, Pinterest or a newsletter before leaving your comment here on Mothering.

Second Entry: Share this giveaway/guide with friends and then post a second comment letting us know that you did.

Rules: Must be a US or Canadian resident to enter. Two entries only per person. Giveaway ends Dec 8th and three winners (one for each prize) will be drawn randomly from all comments on this post and announced on Dec 9th.  To be fair, please only leave two comments on this post, one after “liking” the pages above and one after sharing this giveaway. Those with more than two comments will be disqualified. Winners will be notified by email. Good luck!

Thanks for entering and Happy Holidays!!

The post Mothering’s Natural Toy Guide and Giveaway 2014! appeared first on Mothering.

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Top Picks: Mothering Natural Toy Guide 2014

The choice wasn’t easy, but we’ve settled on our very best toy picks for the 2014 holiday season based on quality, uniqueness and value. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do! Don’t miss the other categories in this year’s guide or our big toy giveawayFind them both here.

Image of: Fairytale Castle Deluxe Set

Fairytale Castle Deluxe Set

Talk about a fairy tale! We can’t tell you how much we love this amazing, wooden castle from master craftsman David Smalley of Elves and Angels. Its distinctive design, gorgeous construction, large size and functional drawbridge make it an heirloom quality piece that is well worth the investment.  The deluxe set pairs the castle with a full compliment of Fortress Walls. These two items together only increase the imaginative fun that is sure to come from playing with such high quality, made in the USA items!


Image of: Mobile Crane Truck

Mobile Crane Truck

This gorgeous crane is huge and so well made it sure to provide many years of creative fun. Kids will delight in being able to actually pick up and deliver objects during play! Made in Germany of beechwood.


Image of: Natural Handmade Doll Family

Natural Handmade Doll Family

We’ve been blessed to have reviewed many small dolls over the years here at Mothering, and these amazing little finds are the most gorgeous and well made we have ever seen. The construction is super strong, the materials natural and simple, and the detail astounding. They are a joy to hold and will give any gift giver some serious pride. Each doll is handmade in the US by a talented craftwoman and is a unique work of art. This set is a family of four, with the mom holding a fifth little darling. Look for more examples from this line elsewhere in our guide.


Image of: Really Magic Markers

Really Magic Markers

Create a picture with these markers and then use the magic wand to transform the colors. Or write a secret, invisible message with the wand and reveal it with one of the many color options. These sturdy and long lasting markers are a unique way to provide hours of creative fun at just about any age.


Image of: Street Roller

Street Roller

This gorgeous wooden street roller is truly a one of a kind construction toy. Made by skilled craftsman out of maple and beechwood it is sturdy and ready for play.


Image of: Blocks in a Box

Blocks in a Box

We love these blocks! The sizes, shapes and colors are just right for building towns, towers and train stations! Made in Poland, the large set comes in a handy wooden box for storage.


Image of: YOXOBug Dragonfly Construction Kit

YOXOBug Dragonfly Construction Kit

There are as many reasons to love the new YOXOBug as their are pieces in this creative set. Kids can create a huge 3 foot long dragonfly and then use the durable 100% recycled links to build an endless array of other items. Add in items from around the house, such a paper towel tubes and food containers, to increase the fun and possibilities. Awesome price and made in the USA!


Image of: Felt Airplane Mobile

Felt Airplane Mobile

This magical mobile is made from 100% merino wool felt right here in the USA. Each mobile is made by hand with care to ensure that your little one has a truly special gift this holiday season. Several varieties available.


Image of: Pine Train and Tender

Pine Train and Tender

This tiny train and tender are made of sustainable pine in Minnesota and are sure to add an extra spark of excitement to any floor play. A perfect stocking stuffer or reasonably priced gift for toddlers and older children.


Image of: Train Set

Train Set

Another new addition to the Green Toys line, this train set comes in two color options and is sized right for small hands. Sturdy and offered at a great price, you’ll love gifting this 100% recycled toy.


Image of: Natural Waldorf Inspired Knight

Natural Waldorf Inspired Knight

A knight like no other! Finely crafted and ready for any fairy tale castle, kids young and old will delight to play with this special friend.


Image of: Dolly's Diaper Bag Set

Dolly’s Diaper Bag Set

What a fun gift for the dollie lover in your family. This cute set comes with a diaper bag, a quilted changing pad, two dolly diapers, and a soft cotton wipe. Handmade with care in the US.


Image of: Suzanne's Kitchen

Suzanne’s Kitchen

If you’re looking to splurge a bit on a wooden toy kitchen this year, this exquisite option is not to be missed. Made with your choice of maple or pine and backed with birch, the quality of this kitchen is unsurpassed. Each one of these heavy duty cooking centers is handmade in Maine by master toymaker David Smalley. Standing 40″ tall and 28″ deep, it is plenty large for more than one child to play with simultaneously. A sink and stove, oven, cabinet, counter space and two gorgeous styled shelves make this kitchen functional and beautiful to look at.


Image of: Matryoshka Dolls

Matryoshka Dolls

The Matryoshka doll from Little DeMoura Designs is a beautifully crafted doll at a great price. This huggable girl is the perfect size for toddlers and offers a choice of several colorful hair colors and dress designs. Constructed from 100% cotton, handmade in the USA. Two sizes–the smaller version is also a rattle.


Image of: Winter Pocket Fairy Kit

Winter Pocket Fairy Kit

This new kit from A Child’s Dream will allow older children to create two magical winter fairies. It’s an art project and toy all in one! No sewing required and the materials are all natural, including the acorn caps.


Image of: Silk Scape

Silk Scape

The possibilities for play are seemingly endless with this silk scape from Sarah’s Silks. Use it in a fort, on a castle, as a cape or as a dress…you get the idea.


Image of: Dewdrop Washable Doll

Dewdrop Washable Doll

What a unique idea from A Toy Garden. This doll is designed to be completely washable, a must for toddlers who put their toys through so much! 13″ tall and handmade in California, this sweet dollie is sure to delight.


Image of: Groovy Lab in a Box Subscription

Groovy Lab in a Box Subscription

Looking to bring some science into your home? Need a way to spread the gift giving throughout the whole year? This is the perfect combo. Subscribe and you’ll get an exciting and educational science experiment kit in the mail every month, or buy the kits individually. Best for older children.


Image of: Wooden Slingshot with Wool Felt Balls

Wooden Slingshot with Wool Felt Balls

A classic toy with a safe twist. This wooden slingshot is just the right size for kids three and up and comes with a canvas bag to contain the many colorful wool felt balls. Made in the USA.


Image of: Hardwood Rattle and Teether

Hardwood Rattle and Teether

This teether rattle is as simple as it gets, but that’s what makes it so special. This toy is made in Oregon of remnant wood, meaning no living trees are ever cut down for production. It’s eco through and through. Perfect!


The post Top Picks: Mothering Natural Toy Guide 2014 appeared first on Mothering.

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20 Toys Under $20: Mothering Natural Toy Guide 2014

You don’t need to spend a fortune to grab high quality toys for your little ones. Here are our favorite gifts under $20. Don’t miss the other categories in this year’s guide or our big toy giveaway! Find them both here

Image of: Kindness Elf Girl

Kindness Elf Girl

What a sweet and wonderful idea, a kindness elf! This beautiful little girl would make an excellent stocking stuffer. Handmade so that each is unique in the USA.


Image of: Kindness Elf Boy

Kindness Elf Boy

Brother to the delightful kindness elf girl seen above, this boy doll is truly a one of a kind creation. Fine detail and excellent craftsmanship make it well worth the price.


Image of: Good Maine Eggs

Good Maine Eggs

An egg hunt for the holidays anyone? These wooden eggs are simple but oh so much fun. Cook them up in a play kitchen, decorate them with crayons and markers, or hide them around the house for an indoor treasure hunt. Made in Maine.


Image of: Set of 2 Cotton Flannel Doll Diapers

Set of 2 Cotton Flannel Doll Diapers

What a great way to teach little ones about the environmental importance of cloth diapering! These darling little diapers are made in the US of natural materials.


Image of: Felted Bookmark Kit

Felted Bookmark Kit

Another creative craft kit from A Child’s Dream. This one includes everything your older child will need to make three rainbow wool felt bookmarks. The resulting product makes a lovely gift for friends or family as well.


Image of: Really Magic Markers

Really Magic Markers

Create a picture with these markers and then use the magic wand to transform the colors. Or write a secret, invisible message with the wand and reveal it with one of the many color options. These sturdy and long lasting markers are a unique ways to provide hours of creative fun at just about any age.


Image of: Matryoshka Dolls

Matryoshka Dolls

The Matryoshka doll from Little DeMoura Designs is a beautifully crafted doll at a great price. This huggable girl is the perfect size for toddlers and offers a choice of several colorful hair colors and dress designs. Constructed from 100% cotton, handmade in the USA. Two sizes–the smaller version is also a rattle.


Image of: Small Starry Night Playsilk

Small Starry Night Playsilk

Whether your child is using this as a doll blanket or cape, this small play silk will surely give them a smile. Beautiful design is perfect for nearly every need.


Image of: Joe's Wooden Finger Bow

Joe’s Wooden Finger Bow

This tiny wooden bow is made in the US and comes with two blunt arrows and an extra string. A cute and sturdy little gift for a stocking.


Image of: Classic Teething Buddy

Classic Teething Buddy

Stylish and versatile, the Classic Teething Buddy has everything needed in a teether. The natural hardwood maple ring is finished with a beeswax/organic jojoba oil polish and the 100% cotton teething cloth can be removed for easy washing. This teether from Little DeMoura Designs is handmade in the USA and available in a variety of prints.


Image of: Animals on Wheels

Animals on Wheels

Green Toys has long been a favorite of ours. Their toys are made from recycled milk jugs in the USA, are reasonably priced, and are high quality items. These new animals on wheels are a sweet little addition to their line– check out the different styles on their site.


Image of: Natural Wood Baby Rattle

Natural Wood Baby Rattle

Simple, beautiful and natural, it’s the perfect wooden rattle at the perfect price. Comes in two designs and made in Idaho.


Image of: Pine Train and Tender

Pine Train and Tender

This tiny train and tender are made of sustainable pine in Minnesota and are sure to add an extra spark of excitement to any floor play. A perfect stocking stuffer or reasonably priced gift for toddlers and older children.


Image of: Winter Pocket Fairy Kit

Winter Pocket Fairy Kit

This new kit from A Child’s Dream will allow older children to create two magical winter fairies. It’s an art project and toy all in one! No sewing required and the materials are all natural, including the acorn caps.


Image of: Silk Soft Sword

Silk Soft Sword

A safe sword for any little tot, this will make just the right addition to castle play or any dress up box. Great price and made of lovely, colorful silk.


Image of: Eliephant Rattle & Teether

Eliephant Rattle & Teether

Looking for a rattle/teether with some style? Then you’ll love this little elephant. Finished with jojoba oil and beeswax, this little guy is handmade in Washington. Great price too.


Image of: Stockmar Decorating Wax

Stockmar Decorating Wax

Wax! It is so much fun. Children will spend hours and hours coming up with creative items from this delightfully colored set, from animals and dolls to play food. And there’s enough here for more than one child. Safe and non-toxic.


Image of: Rubberband Racer

Rubberband Racer

Solidly made in the US of birch and maple, this simple yet exciting racer will give tots a taste for speed while teaching them a bit about physics. A great price for such a fun and well made toy.


Image of: Wiggle Worm Pull Toy

Wiggle Worm Pull Toy

What an adorable wiggle worm. Made in the US of natural wood, little ones can pull this guy all around the floor and watch him move. A unique and attractive gift at a good price.


Image of: Wooden Sewing Needle

Wooden Sewing Needle

A simple tool to help younger children get acquainted with sewing. The blunt tip removes the worry of your child getting poked and the large eyes make it easy to thread. You’ll likely need to prepunch holes in wool felt, or use a crocheted piece, for your child to work with.


The post 20 Toys Under $20: Mothering Natural Toy Guide 2014 appeared first on Mothering.

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Toys Worth Splurging On: Mothering Natural Toy Guide 2014

Looking for that super special “big” gift that will last for years to come? Here are some great toys worth spending more on. Don’t miss the other categories in this year’s guide or our big toy giveaway! Find them both here.

Image of: Suzanne's Kitchen

Suzanne’s Kitchen

If you’re looking to splurge a bit on a wooden toy kitchen this year, this exquisite option is not to be missed. Made with your choice of maple or pine and backed with birch, the quality of this kitchen is unsurpassed. Each one of these heavy duty cooking centers is handmade in Maine by master toymaker David Smalley. Standing 40″ tall and 28″ deep, it is plenty large for more than one child to play with simultaneously. A sink and stove, oven, cabinet, counter space and two gorgeous styled shelves make this kitchen functional and beautiful to look at.


Image of: Keep 'Em Rolling Bridges and Tunnels Set

Keep ‘Em Rolling Bridges and Tunnels Set

Looking for a great transportation set? This pairing of Elves and Angels Colored Mites with their Keep ‘Em Rolling Bridges and Tunnels is the perfect combo for tons of imaginative fun at many ages.


Image of: Natural Handmade Doll Family

Natural Handmade Doll Family

We’ve been blessed to have reviewed many small dolls over the years here at Mothering, and these amazing little finds are the most gorgeous and well made we have ever seen. The construction is super strong, the materials natural and simple, and the detail astounding. They are a joy to hold and will give any gift giver some serious pride. Each doll is handmade in the US by a talented craftwoman and is a unique work of art. This set is a family of four, with the mom holding a fifth little darling. Look for more examples from this line elsewhere in our guide.


Image of: Bambino

Bambino

This sweet dollie is not only jointed, it is surprisingly proportional and comes with a cloth diaper for realistic play. Soft and made from natural materials in a social outreach cooperative in Peru, this little love is the perfect eco-gift for any boy or girl.


Image of: Fairy Tale Castle

Fairy Tale Castle

We can’t tell you how much we love this amazing, wooden fairy tale castle from master craftsman David Smalley of Elves and Angels. Its distinctive design, gorgeous construction, large size and functional drawbridge make it an heirloom quality piece that is well worth the investment. This castle is sure to be a dream come true for any child. Made in Maine.


Image of: Sam's Stable

Sam’s Stable

Moving stable doors and a real ladder are only the beginning of the fun with this large finely crafted stable. This versatile creation would be the perfect home for a family of farm animals, as an animal rescue center or as a more traditional doll house. As with all items from Elves and Angels, the quality of these stables cannot be beat. Made in Maine, it is sure to last and last.


Image of: Julianna's Kitchen

Julianna’s Kitchen

A simple and supremely well made wooden kitchen, this toy looks great and will withstand years and years of play. A sink and stove with working knobs, an oven, and a storage cabinet and shelf make this play kitchen realistic for tots. Plus, the height is just right–not too tall or short like some other kitchens we’ve seen. Considering the quality construction and the fact that it is made in the US by hand, this kitchen is a steal.


Image of: Mobile Crane Truck

Mobile Crane Truck

This gorgeous crane is huge and so well made it sure to provide many years of creative fun. Kids will delight in being able to actually pick up and deliver objects during play! Made in Germany of beechwood.


Image of: Fairytale Castle Deluxe Set

Fairytale Castle Deluxe Set

The perfect pair, this is the Fairy Tale Castle from Elves and Angels with the Fortress Walls seen elsewhere in this guide. These two items together only increase the imaginative fun that is sure to come from playing with these high quality made in the USA items!


The post Toys Worth Splurging On: Mothering Natural Toy Guide 2014 appeared first on Mothering.

Posted in Sling Mom Communities | Leave a comment

Dolls and Doll Houses: Mothering Natural Toy Guide 2014

Snuggle, laugh and play with this delightful selection of dolls, little friends and their fanciful homes. Don’t miss the other categories in this year’s guide or our big toy giveaway! Find them both here.

Image of: Bambino

Bambino

This sweet dollie is not only jointed, it is surprisingly proportional and comes with a cloth diaper for realistic play. Soft and made from natural materials in a social outreach cooperative in Peru, this little love is the perfect eco-gift for any boy or girl.


Image of: Organic Natalie Ragdoll

Organic Natalie Ragdoll

What an adorable doll! This little girl has a classic design with a modern flair and is made from 100% organic cotton. She is certified by Organic Exchange, meaning her journey is fully traceable, and is stuffed with PET recycled bottles. Gotta love that.


Image of: Autumn Elf Doll

Autumn Elf Doll

Another unique and gorgeous doll from Wildflower Innocence. This detailed autumn fairy would be a truly magical addition to any play set.


Image of: Natural Waldorf Inspired Knight

Natural Waldorf Inspired Knight

A knight like no other! Finely crafted and ready for any fairy tale castle, kids young and old will delight to play with this special friend.


Image of: Kindness Elf Girl

Kindness Elf Girl

What a sweet and wonderful idea, a kindness elf! This beautiful little girl would make an excellent stocking stuffer. Handmade so that each is unique in the USA.


Image of: Pink Flower Fairy

Pink Flower Fairy

What could be more magical than a tiny pink fairy? Absolutely beautifully made right here in the US, this winged friend is sure to add a touch of magic anywhere she goes.


Image of: Natural Handmade Doll Family

Natural Handmade Doll Family

We’ve been blessed to have reviewed many small dolls over the years here at Mothering, and these amazing little finds are the most gorgeous and well made we have ever seen. The construction is super strong, the materials natural and simple, and the detail astounding. They are a joy to hold and will give any gift giver some serious pride. Each doll is handmade in the US by a talented craftwoman and is a unique work of art. This set is a family of four, with the mom holding a fifth little darling.


Image of: Kindness Elf Boy

Kindness Elf Boy

Brother to the delightful kindness elf girl seen above, this boy doll is truly a one of a kind creation. Fine detail and excellent craftsmanship make it well worth the price.


Image of: Set of 2 Cotton Flannel Doll Diapers

Set of Two Cotton Flannel Doll Diapers

What a great way to teach little ones about the environmental importance of cloth diapering! These darling little diapers are made in the US of natural materials.


Image of: Dolly's Diaper Bag Set

Dolly’s Diaper Bag Set

What a fun gift for the dollie lover in your family. This cute set comes with a diaper bag, a quilted changing pad, two dolly diapers, and a soft cotton wipe. Handmade with care in the US.


Image of: Fairy Tale Castle

Fairy Tale Castle

We can’t tell you how much we love this amazing, wooden fairy tale castle from master craftsman David Smalley of Elves and Angels. Its distinctive design, gorgeous construction, large size and functional drawbridge make it an heirloom quality piece that is well worth the investment. This castle is sure to be a dream come true for any child. Made in Maine.


Image of: Fairytale Fortress Walls

Fairytale Fortress Walls

Used alongside the Fairy Tale Castle from Elves and Angels, or as a standalone toy, these fortress walls are heavy duty and will provide an endless assortment of possible play scenarios. So much fun!


Image of: Fairytale Castle Deluxe Set

Fairytale Castle Deluxe Set

The perfect pair, this is the Fairy Tale Castle from Elves and Angels with the Fortress Walls seen above. These two items together only increase the imaginative fun that is sure to come from playing with these high quality, made in the USA items!


Image of: Sam's Stable

Sam’s Stable

Moving stable doors and a real ladder are only the beginning of the fun with this large finely crafted stable. This versatile creation would be the perfect home for a family of farm animals, as an animal rescue center or as a more traditional doll house. As with all items from Elves and Angels, the quality of these stables cannot be beat. Made in Maine, it is sure to last and last.


Image of: Matryoshka Dolls

Matryoshka Dolls

The Matryoshka doll from Little DeMoura Designs is a beautifully crafted toy at a great price. This huggable girl is the perfect size for toddlers and offers a choice of several colorful hair colors and dress designs. Constructed from 100% cotton, handmade in the USA. Two sizes–the smaller version is also a rattle.


Image of: Dewdrop Washable Doll

Dewdrop Washable Doll

What a unique idea from A Toy Garden. This doll is designed to be completely washable, a must for toddlers who put their toys through so much! 13″ tall and handmade in California, this dollie is sure to delight.


The post Dolls and Doll Houses: Mothering Natural Toy Guide 2014 appeared first on Mothering.

Posted in Sling Mom Communities | Leave a comment

Shake, Rattle and Roll: Mothering Natural Toy Guide 2014

From natural and organic rattles and teethers to fun stackers and cars – this category is full of gifts perfect for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Don’t miss the other categories in this year’s guide or our big toy giveaway! Find them both here

Image of: Silk and Wood Teether

Silk and Wood Teether

What a great combination of materials, this wood and silk teething ring is safe and beautifully designed. A lovely gift for any little one.


Image of: Mobile Crane Truck

Mobile Crane Truck

This gorgeous crane is huge and so well made it sure to provide many years of creative fun. Kids will delight in being able to actually pick up and deliver objects during play! Made in Germany of beechwood.


Image of: Rubberband Racer

Rubberband Racer

Solidly made in the US of birch and maple, this simple yet exciting racer will give tots a taste for speed while teaching them a bit about physics. A great price for such a fun and well made toy.


Image of: Street Roller

Street Roller

This gorgeous wooden street roller is truly a one of a kind construction toy. Made by skilled craftsman out of maple and beechwood it is sturdy and ready for play.


Image of: Felt Airplane Mobile

Felt Airplane Mobile

This magical mobile is made from 100% merino wool felt right here in the USA. Each mobile is made by hand with care to ensure that your little one has a truly special gift this holiday season. Several varieties available.


Image of: Pine Train and Tender

Pine Train and Tender

This tiny train and tender are made of sustainable pine in Minnesota and are sure to add an extra spark of excitement to any floor play. A perfect stocking stuffer or reasonably priced gift for toddlers and older children.


Image of: Animals on Wheels

Animals on Wheels

Green Toys has long been a favorite of ours. Their toys are made from recycled milk jugs in the USA, are reasonably priced, and are high quality items. These new animals on wheels are a sweet little addition to their line– check out the different styles on their site.


Image of: Train Set

Train Set

Another new addition to the Green Toys line, this train set comes in two color options and is sized right for small hands. Sturdy and offered at a great price, you’ll love gifting this 100% recycled toy.


Image of: Hopstic Chinese Jump Rope

Hopstic Chinese Jump Rope

This little stocking stuffer puts a whole new spin on the game of jump rope. The rope actually wraps around the body of each child on the end to provide a unique jumping experience for the child in the middle. Requires three kids to play. Made in the US.


Image of: Colored Mites, Set of Six

Colored Mites, Set of Six

These are the cutest little cars we’ve seen in a long time. Classic style and just the perfect size for tunnels, bridges and block towns. They are made by hand right here in the US and the price is perfect.


Image of: Keep 'Em Rolling Bridges and Tunnels

Keep ‘Em Rolling Bridges and Tunnels

This one of a kind pair of tunnels go together to create an imaginative bridge. Super sturdy wood construction and great size, they are perfect for cars and trucks of many styles.


Image of: Keep 'Em Rolling Bridges and Tunnels Set

Keep ‘Em Rolling Bridges and Tunnels Set

Looking for a great transportation set? This pairing of Elves and Angels Colored Mites with their Keep ‘Em Rolling Bridges and Tunnels is the perfect combo for tons of imaginative fun at many ages.


Image of: Plush Hammer Rattles

Plush Hammer Rattles

This plush hammer rattle from Little DeMoura Designs is a cuddly and colorful addition to a little one’s imaginative playtime. Handmade by mom, Gina, in her home studio, each toy is crafted with care and is one of a kind.


Image of: Classic Teething Buddy

Classic Teething Buddy

Stylish and versatile, the Classic Teething Buddy has everything needed in a teether. The natural hardwood maple ring is finished with a beeswax/organic jojoba oil polish and the 100% cotton teething cloth can be removed for easy washing. This teether from Little DeMoura Designs is handmade in the USA and available in a variety of prints.


Image of: Natural Wood Baby Rattle

Natural Wood Baby Rattle

Simple, beautiful and natural, it’s the perfect wooden rattle at the perfect price. Comes in two designs and made in Idaho.


Image of: Wood Toy Trucks with Mountains

Wood Toy Trucks with Mountains

Made in the US of natural wood and oils, this cute little truck and mountain set is simple and fun for any preschooler. Personalize them for an extra special touch. A tree is planted for every toy sold.


Image of: Wooden Slingshot with Wool Felt Balls

Wooden Slingshot with Wool Felt Balls

A classic toy with a safe twist. This wooden slingshot is just the right size for kids three and up and comes with a canvas bag to contain the many colorful wool felt balls. Made in the USA.


Image of: Hardwood Rattle and Teether

Hardwood Rattle and Teether

This teether rattle is as simple as it gets, but that’s what makes it so special. This toy is made in Oregon of remnant wood, meaning no living trees are ever cut down for production. It’s eco through and through. Perfect!


Image of: Eliephant Rattle & Teether

Eliephant Rattle & Teether

Looking for a rattle/teether with some style? Then you’ll love this little elephant. Finished with jojoba oil and beeswax, this little guy is handmade in Washington. Great price too.


Image of: Wiggle Worm Pull Toy

Wiggle Worm Pull Toy

What an adorable wiggle worm. Made in the US of natural wood, little ones can pull this guy all around the floor and watch him move. A unique and attractive gift at a good price.


The post Shake, Rattle and Roll: Mothering Natural Toy Guide 2014 appeared first on Mothering.

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Arts & Crafts: Mothering Natural Toy Guide 2014

You’ll adore these creative craft kits and art supplies–constructed using the safest and highest quality materials on the market. Don’t miss the other categories in this year’s guide or our big toy giveaway! Find them both here.

Image of: Really Magic Markers

Really Magic Markers

Create a picture with these markers and then use the magic wand to transform the colors. Or write a secret, invisible message with the wand and reveal it with one of the many color options. These sturdy and long lasting markers are a unique way to provide hours of creative fun at just about any age.


Image of: Needle Felting Kit

Needle Felting Kit

Every Artterro craft kit we’ve ever reviewed has been well crafted and a huge amount of fun, and this one is no exception. These kits are assembled in the US and designed to provide older children with many hours of learning and play.


Image of: Winter Pocket Fairy Kit

Winter Pocket Fairy Kit

This new kit from A Child’s Dream will allow older children to create two magical winter fairies. It’s an art project and toy all in one! No sewing required and the materials are all natural, including the acorn caps.


Image of: Premium All Wool Felt - 12 Color Set

Premium All Wool Felt – 12 Color Set

These premium wool felt squares in a range of colors are just right for any child’s craft project. High quality.


Image of: Stockmar Decorating Wax

Stockmar Decorating Wax

Wax! It is so much fun. Children will spend hours and hours coming up with creative items from this delightfully colored set, from animals and dolls to play food. And there’s enough here for more than one child. Safe and non-toxic.


Image of: Felted Bookmark Kit

Felted Bookmark Kit

Another creative craft kit from A Child’s Dream. This one includes everything your older child will need to make three rainbow wool felt bookmarks. The resulting product makes a lovely gift for friends or family as well.


Image of: Wooden Sewing Needle

Wooden Sewing Needle

A simple tool to help younger children get acquainted with sewing. The blunt tip removes the worry of your child getting poked, and the large eye makes it easy to thread. You’ll likely need to prepunch holes in wool felt, or use a crocheted piece, for your child to work with.


Image of: Groovy Lab in a Box Subscription

Groovy Lab in a Box Subscription

Looking to bring some science into your home? Need a way to spread the gift giving throughout the whole year? This is the perfect combo. Subscribe and you’ll get an exciting and educational science experiment kit in the mail every month, or buy the kits individually. Best for older children.


Image of: Art Dolls Kit

Art Dolls Kit

Kids ages 8 and up can get crafty making four unique dolls with this inspired kit. 100% recycled paper, real wool felt and more natural materials make this an eco-friendly and safe gift.


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Special Mentions: Mothering Natural Toy Guide 2014

These items didn’t meet all of our environmental or manufacturing qualifications for toy guide inclusion, but they still deserve some attention for their dedication to eco-packaging, educational quality, value and/or contributions to non profit work. Don’t miss the other categories in this year’s guide or our big toy giveaway! Find them both here.

Image of: Puzzle Without Borders

Puzzle Without Borders

Looking for a simple toy that can provide hours of complex thinking? This magnetic puzzle has endless possibilities and is a wonderful way to inspire scientific thinking in even very young children. Plus Nene Imagination is working hard to find ways to make their products more environmentally friendly.


Image of: Tiles of Infinity

Tiles of Infinity

Another great puzzle from Nene Imagination. These magnetic Tiles of Infinity allow your child to explore a whole range of patterns and promote the kind of complex reasoning skills needed from future movers and shakers. Plus, they’re just plain fun.


Image of: Tangram Soft Blocks

Tangram Soft Blocks

Rouxroo believes in making thoughtfully created products that are eco-friendly and they’ve made a great effort here. The 5 soft and stimulating blocks in this set are made from 100% organic cotton and would be just right for babies and toddlers.


Image of: Braided Slingshot

Braided Slingshot

This creative kit is a science lesson and art project in one. Kids get to create, and use, a braided slingshot. We don’t know one child that wouldn’t love that.


Image of: Yarn-Storming Machine

Yarn-Storming Machine

Part of the new Thames and Kosmos Geek & Co line, this set is priced right and will provide many hours of creative play for an older child. Well made and easy to use.


Image of: Wishbone Flip Ride-on

Wishbone Flip Ride-on

We adore toys that grow with your child since they save money and space! This one of a kind wooden ride-on converts from a rocker to a roller quite easily and is sure to delight any toddler. Designed in New Zealand.


Image of: Suzuka E-Racer

Suzuka E-Racer

Made from bamboo with water based paint, this modern racer is delightful to zoom about and to look at. Good price.


Image of: Hopscotch Play Carpet

Hopscotch Play Carpet

What a great way to bring a traditionally outdoor game inside for the winter months. With over 6 feet of hopscotch fun, this colorful and durable play mat would look great in any room.


Image of: Elegant Baby Pink Cable Knit Teddy Bear

Elegant Baby Pink Cable Knit Teddy Bear

A sweet pink bear that is sure to promote some serious snuggling. Made from 100% cable knit cotton, this classic teddy is both stylish and durable.


Image of: Skip Hop Hug & Hide Activity Toys Owl

Skip Hop Hug & Hide Activity Toys Owl

Hours of fun for baby are to be had with the soft and adorable Hug and Hide Owl. Open the mama owls’ wings to reveal a baby owl inside. This toy offers an array of sights, sounds and textures to delight and educate.


Image of: Wheely Bug Ride-on

Wheely Bug Ride-on

Perfect for indoor or outdoor spaces, this little bug is ready for action! It comes in two sizes to suit tiny and growing tots and is as cute as can be. Wood construction means it’s sturdy and will last.


Image of: yoMOTO Ride-on

yoMOTO Ride-on

Innovative and artfully designed, YoMoto by Prince Lionheart is a beginner bike like no other. Its four wheels and low center of gravity give YoMoto a feel of safety and stability, while the intuitive lean and learn steering design gives riders confidence and control. Add YoMoto’s super cool look and unbelievably easy assembly and this ride-on really stands out in the crowd.


Image of: Everywhere Playmat

Everywhere Playmat

The Everywhere playmat by Prince Lionheart is more than your average playmat. This thoughtfully designed toy is perfect for babies and big kids alike. The lovely artwork that adorns both sides is bright and bold for babies and yet detailed enough to keep big kids busy. The mat is wonderfully thick and large, just under 5×7 in size, but can be folded to fit into smaller spaces.


Image of: Go Glider

Go Glider

Who says balance bikes are only for toddlers! It is well known that balance bikes are the perfect pathway to learning to ride a pedal bike with ease and now older kids, and those with special needs, can benefit as well. This sturdy and attractive glider is a great choice for those 5 and up.


Image of: Sparkup Magical Book Reader

Sparkup Magical Book Reader

Finally, an easy way to record short stories for your little one. Great for busy times as an alternative to TV, or when you’re away. Comes with everything you need to get started, including a demo book.


Image of: 3

Sticker Maker

This inexpensive sticker maker from Xyron is the prefect gift for the crafty child (or adult) in our home. It creates stickers 3″ in size and in a wide variety of styles. What fun!


Image of: PBS Kids Emperor Penguin

PBS Kids Emperor Penguin

This soft and fuzzy baby emperor penguin, by PBS kids, will encourage kids to learn more about how to protect and care for the earth and the animals who live here. This huggable friend is free from BPA, phthalates and PVC. Packaging is made from recycled materials. This baby penguin is being made available at Whole Foods Markets across the nation through a partnership with PBS Kids. 1% from all sales of these products will be donated to Whole Kids Foundation and all proceeds from PBS Kids products go to support children’s educational media.


Image of: PBS Kids Wooden Toy Produce Shape Sorter

PBS Kids Wooden Toy Produce Shape Sorter

It’s a classic wooden pick-up truck and educational shape sorter in one. An array of colorful produce and a removable sorter makes this versatile toy hours of fun. The Produce Shape Sorter by PBS Kids is being offered in partnership with Whole Foods Market and is available at Whole Foods nationwide. All of the proceeds of PBS Kids toys support children’s educational media and Whole Foods Market will donate 1% of sales of these products to the Whole Kids Foundation. Made from FSC certified wood with packaging made from recycled materials.


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Imaginative Play: Mothering Natural Toy Guide 2014

Delightful silk scapes, beautiful wooden kitchens, whimsical mobiles and more to spark the imagination of children of many ages. Don’t miss the other categories in this year’s guide or our big toy giveaway! Find them both here.

Image of: Horsie Reins

Horsie Reins

One of the most unique toys we have seen, these horsie reins are designed to be worn by one child while another follows along behind. Perfect for imaginative outdoor playtime.


Image of: Blocks in a Box

Blocks in a Box

We love these blocks! The sizes, shapes and colors are just right for building towns, towers and train stations! Made in Poland, the large set comes in a handy wooden box for storage.


Image of: YOXOBug Dragonfly Construction Kit

YOXOBug Dragonfly Construction Kit

There are as many reasons to love the new YOXOBug as their are pieces in this creative set. Kids can create a huge 3 foot long dragonfly and then use the durable 100% recycled links to build an endless array of other items. Add in items from around the house, such a paper towel tubes and food containers, to increase the fun and possibilities. Awesome price and made in the USA!


Image of: Toddler Wooden Maple Blocks

Toddler Wooden Maple Blocks

Beautifully made from maple in Minnesota and just the right size for toddler hands, what more is there to say! Little ones will love this set.


Image of: Flatout Frankie Little Roar Head

Flatout Frankie Little Roar Head

What a unique idea! Build this sturdy cardboard dino head with your child and attach it to the end of a stick or broom for some active fun. Made of recycled cardboard in New Zealand.


Image of: Joe's Wooden Finger Bow

Joe’s Wooden Finger Bow

This tiny wooden bow is made in the US and comes with two blunt arrows and an extra string. A cute and sturdy little gift for a stocking.


Image of: My Activity Clock

My Activity Clock

We love this unique idea from Elves and Angels. Solidly made of wood, the colorful activity clock is eductional and fun. It comes with 12 removable activity disks that are blank on the back so children and caregivers can add their own activities as well. US made.


Image of: Basic Chef's Set

Basic Chef’s Set

A perfect compliment to any play kitchen, the basic chef’s set includes everything your little cook will need to get started. Great price for a high quality US toy set.


Image of: Good Maine Eggs

Good Maine Eggs

An egg hunt for the holidays anyone? These wooden eggs are simple but oh so much fun. Cook them up in a play kitchen, decorate them with crayons and markers, or hide them around the house for an indoor treasure hunt. Made in Maine.


Image of: Wooden Egg Holder Tray

Wooden Egg Holder Tray

What are a set of wooden eggs without a wooden holder to go with them? This item is the perfect way to keep those Good Main Eggs looking neat, and the kids will love serving them up in style. Plus, you can’t beat the price.


Image of: Julianna's Kitchen

Julianna’s Kitchen

A simple and supremely well made wooden kitchen, this toy looks great and will withstand years and years of play. A sink and stove with working knobs, an oven, and a storage cabinet and shelf make this play kitchen realistic for tots. Plus, the height is just right–not too tall or short like some other kitchens we’ve seen. Considering the quality construction and the fact that it is made in the US by hand, this kitchen is a steal.


Image of: Suzanne's Kitchen

Suzanne’s Kitchen

If you’re looking to splurge a bit on a wooden toy kitchen this year, this exquisite option is not to be missed. Made with your choice of maple or pine and backed with birch, the quality of this kitchen is unsurpassed. Each one of these heavy duty cooking centers is handmade in Maine by master toymaker David Smalley. Standing 40″ tall and 28″ deep, it is plenty large for more than one child to play with simultaneously. A sink and stove, oven, cabinet, counter space and two gorgeous styled shelves make this kitchen functional and beautiful to look at.


Image of: Silk Cape

Silk Cape

Dress up and let the imagination flow with this beautiful and natural silk cape. Will fit just about any child.


Image of: Silk Scape

Silk Scape

The possibilities for play are seemingly endless with this silk scape from Sarah’s Silks. Use it in a fort, on a castle, as a cape or as a dress…you get the idea.


Image of: Silk Soft Sword

Silk Soft Sword

A safe sword for any little tot, this will make just the right addition to castle play or any dress up box. Great price and made of lovely, colorful silk.


Image of: Silk Crown

Silk Crown

Another perfect addition to the dress up box is this sweet crown. Will fit many head sizes and is available in a wide variety of colors for just about any style.


Image of: Small Starry Night Playsilk

Small Starry Night Playsilk

Whether your child is using this as a doll blanket or cape, this small play silk will surely give them a smile. Beautiful design is perfect for nearly every need.


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The Two Hardest Weeks in My Pregnancy

breech

I am lucky and I know it. I have had two very healthy, normal pregnancies. Getting pregnant was no problem and I honestly had very little pregnancy symptoms. I mean, not to say I skipped through it all, but I rarely felt nauseous, my blood pressure always remained very low and my energy levels were steady. Overall, I really had very little to complain about during my pregnancies. Well, except for the fact that I was enormous….I mean, really large. And rightfully so.  I had two large babies. My first son was 9.6 lbs and my second, a whopping 10 lbs!

Each appointment, while exciting to see the progress, was actually a little boring. I mean, they would weigh and measure my stomach (always 2 weeks ahead of time) and take my blood pressure. We’d talk about my birth plans and if I had any concerns. Up until about 35 weeks with my second, everything was progressing smoothly. Yet, by the 35th week, Owen still hadn’t gotten into the right position for birth. His head was actually under my left rib, instead of heading down. You could tell from looking at me. My belly, instead of being the typical shape, was wonky. I looked all misshaped and could tell things were not right.
They guessed that Owen was about 8 lbs at this point and at that size they told me he most likely wouldn’t move on his own. They said there just wasn’t enough room for him to do so. These words took my breath away. My textbook pregnancy had just taken a very different turn.

Up to this point, I had only seen my midwives. Once they realized the baby was breech, a whole new team of specialists were introduced to me. They started talking to me about what being breech means and about scheduling another ultra sound. They started talking about scheduling a version (ECV, external cephalic version) to try and move him. They explained all the complications that ensued with agreeing to do this. Everything was so matter of fact. They acted as if it was no big deal, if he didn’t turn they would just schedule a C-section. It was so cut and dry in their world.

After we left the doctor’s office, I had my two year old’s hand in mine as I called my husband to tell him the news. I was sobbing, telling him about it. He calmed me down, told me to relax, and kept repeating ‘But we have a healthy baby, that’s all that matters.’ Yes, that matters immensely and everyday I am grateful to God for our two healthy sons. But right now I am angry that my child is breech and it feels so unnatural to be so mad at my unborn child. Seriously, I had done everything right. I ate the right foods, I hadn’t gained too much weight, I took my prenatals. Why couldn’t he do his job and get in the right position? My dreams for a natural birth were slipping through my fingers. I was upset, mad, and confused, and I felt ashamed for feeling this way. I began to mourn my idea of birthing my baby. After my first birth, I was so empowered, so amazed with myself and my body. I craved to do it again, as crazy as that sounds. But how could I have such angry feelings towards my unborn child. What kind of horrible person am I?

I called my mother sobbing. I always turn to my mom for mothering advice. At first she tried to do what everyone else was doing, reassuring me that everything would be fine because the baby was healthy. But then she said, ‘I’m sorry this is happening to you. I am sorry that the baby is not cooperating and I know how much you don’t want to have a C-section.’ It was what I needed to hear and it was from the person that I needed to hear it. I needed to be mothered. I needed it to be about me, if for only a brief moment. I decided I would allow myself some time to mourn my ideal birth. I let it out, and released the guilt and the anger. When I did this, I realized as his mother, it was my job to help my child as best I could. He wanted to get in the right position, I felt that with every fiber of my being. I sweetly whispered to him, ‘I am going to help you get there.’

I devoured all I could find about turning a breech baby, and there is quite a bit out there! The next few weeks, I immersed myself in helping my baby turn. I did inversions daily (funny thing watching a pregnant lady do this!) I burned moxie (moxibustion) around my pinky toes. My mother in law was visiting at the time and my husband and I sat out on our deck, burning this large incense cigar. It smelled a little reminiscent of marijuana, which made the whole thing funny to watch. I set daily intentions for the baby to move. I even went as far as to have my husband talk to the baby near my vagina. Yea, that was a little strange! With clothes on mind you, he shined the flashlight at my crotch and said, ‘Baby, you need to move for your mom so she’ll stop making me do crazy things like this.’

Every thought seemed to revolve around getting this baby to turn. I learned more about breech births and read story after story of spinning babies. I had to put up a good fight before conceding. I owed it to myself, my body, and my baby. I didn’t want to have major surgery. I knew that if I had to have a c-section, everything would be fine. But I wanted to know that I tried everything to avoid it.

All throughout my pregnancy, I had seen a chiropractor that specializes in prenatal care. I called her and made an emergency appointment. My version date was scheduled for 4 days after my chiropractor appointment. Versions do not have a very high success rate and can be a very painful. ECV has about a 58 percent success rate. There can be complications including inducing labor, the placenta can detach, or the cord could wrap around the baby’s head. Needless to say, I was nervous about having one.

At my chiropractor appointment she gently felt around my pubic bone and told me she thought that his foot was too low and possibly stuck. “Take a deep breath on the count of 3. One, two, three.” And just like that, she un-stuck his foot and I felt him move. With her help, I immediately did an inversion. Once I came down from the inversion, I knew it was all going to work out. I felt different right away. Within a few hours, my wonky, misshapen stomach, began to look like a regular pregnant belly. I felt more comfortable and breathing was easier. I was elated. I knew that little body naturally wanted to get in the right position and all he needed was my help getting him there. I went in for my version, just in case and sure enough, Owen was perfectly positioned, ready for birth. The bugger still made me wait 4 days past his due date, but his birth was exactly how I imagined it to be.

Having this experience helped me have so much empathy for other mothers. We all imagine how we want our pregnancies to go and in a blink of an eye, it can all change. It’s almost the first cruel lesson in motherhood, which is we are not always in control. We can plan but just as in life, we have to be able to adjust when the plans go astray. If I had to have had a C-section, I know that I would have had just as wonderful of a birth story, just one with a different ending.

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