I've had a few people ask about our boys' toys, and I've been meaning to share about them for quite some time! Ever since I found out that I was pregnant with Emmet I have been researching (specifically into montessori), DIYing (see a list of my DIY's below), and shopping for the best kid's toys. I LOVE it. I get told that I am too picky , perhaps even a little snobbish, but I would rather have fewer, quality kids toys for our kiddos that a) they love to play with, b) teaches them something while they play or encourages imagination, c) last a long time, and d) look good even when scattered all over our house. We really only buy the boys toys at Christmas time and for their birthdays (with a few other toys scattered throughout the year). We've also been really lucky to receive some awesome toys as gifts! We are so grateful to everyone who loves our boys (and also to those who give them things too).
Our main "rules":
-Natural Materials if possible. Wood, Fabric, etc. Silicone is an iffy one. But preferably, limited amounts of brightly colored plastic (unless they are from green toys, which are made from recycled plastic!)
-Preferably no batteries (we have a few things). I'm cruel I know. But they break. or kids swallow batteries. or they just make god awful sounds all the time and turn their little brains to mush. no thanks.
-Little to no character toys or short term interest toys. I catch myself on this one ALL THE TIME. Emmet went through a big incredibles phase and I found myself eyeing the action figures of them at the store more than once. OR sesame street, or frozen, moana, etc. Unless they love it so much that they are going to love it for a really long time, like truly obsessed with it, It will probably just get played with for a short amount of time and then thrown out.
-Avoid having TOO many. If we already have one of something, I try to assess if we actually NEED an additional one. For instance, I've found a few shape puzzles that I love, but we already have a shape sorter and shape flash cards, so they aren't necessary as they won't teach them anything new. Or if we already have a set of blocks or stackers, we don't need another set (even if they are cuter). My goal is to avoid expansion packs for things. Wish us luck when we hit the lego stage.
Below I've made a list of all of our favorite toys, brands, and places to shop. I even put a few of our wishlist things on here too (for more ideas for you!)
What are your favorite kids toys?
Our Favorite Toys
Stacking, Sorting, & Puzzles:
Things that Move (or help them move!):
Dress Up: I love the idea of having a large basket of dress up clothes for the boys' minds to run wild with! We have a few items so far and we plan to build it up slowly. We have found a few hats already at local thrift shops and we hit them up again around halloween time for more ideas.
Bathtime: a tip, avoid ANYTHING that water can get trapped in. Squirty toys, foam, etc. Mold is a huge problem no matter how diligent you are. Plastic is your friend here.
(have)(we also love...)
Finding the right toy can sometimes be a trick! For Christmas or birthdays, or when Emmet reaches a new milestone and is ready for a new toy OR when he gets a new interest, I usually start by looking at some of my brands or at some of my favorite stores. I typically look around until I find a few options and then narrow down when I find my favorite one (and for a decent price too!)
Our Favorite Brands:
Places to Shop:
Looking for more ideas? I keep the boy's wishlists updated on my pinterest page! Come pin with me!
You: Are nine months old. Love your mama (a lot). Snuggle on occasion, but mostly are on the move. Rarely play with your own toys. Would rather play with Emmet's toys, random bits of trash, Moose's things, etc. Can crawl (sort of - you are very quick, but aren't up on hands and knees yet). Like to stand at the coffee table, but fall on occasion. Eat almost anything your mama gives you (except pureed pees, you don't like them pureed). Love it when Emmet pays attention to you. Love it when dada gets home at the end of the day. Aren't quite sleeping through the night yet, but might soon? please?
Mama: Is obsessed with you. Loves it when you snuggle, your little head nuzzled into my shoulder is my favorite. Loves your giggle, especially your fresh-up-from-nap giggle. Loves watching you play with your brother. Can't quite keep up with you, you always manage to get into something before I find you. Is trying to feed you lots of fruits and vegetables. Is honestly tired of sharing a room with you, but knows I'll probably miss you when you are gone. Can't wait to get to know you as your personality develops!
Emmet has been playing with his cars pretty consistently for over a year now. Racing them all over the house, off tables, under couches, and I've been meaning to find him the perfect play mat to drive them on for quite some time. A spot that had just enough of a concept for him to add a new layer of play to his cars (i.e. roads) but was still very open to creativity. I found a lot of different mats, most were super tacky and awful colors and the ones I loved were way to expensive. So I decided to make my own! And as soon as I had a mat planned out to make I began dreaming up trees, street signs, and more to go with it! I thought I would share DIY's for how to make the mat and the trees seen here. I'm sure I'll make and share more for his city some day!
Wooden Spheres (large, medium, small)
1/4 inch Dowels (cut to 2-2.5 inches)
Wooden Tree Bases
Drill and 1/4 inch Drill Bit
1. Use your 1/4 inch drill bit to drill a whole in each sphere and cone about 1/2 inch deep (as straight as possible).
2. Paint each sphere/cone 1/2 at a time, allowing the other half to dry before turning it over, at least two coats
3. Paint on a layer of mod podge on top of each painted sphere.
4. Apply wood glue into each hole on the wooden bases and press one side of a wooden dowel into each.
5. Once dry, apply glue into the wholes of each sphere and cone and glue them onto each tree base.
Faux Leather (I bought 1 yard)
1. Trim off the selvedge on the sides of the leather and round the corners
2. Plan and sketch your "map" - I decided to make mine loosely based on our neighborhood so I looked at google maps as I drew. I chose to have a track that went all the way around the outside, and then have streets fill the inside that are almost the same as the streets in our neighborhood.
3. Using a yard stick or ruler as a straight edge start drawing on your streets, making them at least 4-5inches wide (or measure your child's cars and make them slightly larger than their cars) and be careful to leave openings where one street meets another. Check in with your sketch often!
4. Add in little details! Add texture, like stripes, dots, grass, etc in the open spaces. Or add buildings, street lights, people, trees, the options are endless! I chose to leave ours fairly plain so that that could be added on top with blocks, etc.
Once they were both done I rolled it out on his floor and set up a few houses and trees. I showed him the roads explained that the roads were for driving on, just like how we see cars drive on the road when we are on our walks. And then I let him play. Sometimes it is hard to tell how much to help with play and how much to just let him explore. So far I have found though that if I give him just enough to get him started (or sometimes to redirect) his little imagination will do the rest.
If you've been following me on social media, you know I've added new plants babies to my home. My goal being to both add to the aesthetic of my home, clean up the air, make me happy, AND keep them alive. As I add new ones I research how to care for them and add them into my house plant care journal. Now that I have multiple plants its getting a little harder to keep track of all of their names, so I made these handy house plant labels! They were super easy and I got to use my favorite new label maker (and I'll make any excuse to use my new label maker).
DYMO Label Maker
Jumbo Craft Sticks
Plants (my favorites: Croton Petra, Lemon Button Fern, Silver Pothos, Golden Pothos, Ingrid Liz Ivy, Blue Star Fern)
I call this a 20 second craft. Follow the directions on your label maker to create a label with the name of your plant. Peel and stick the label to one side of a jumbo popsicle stick. Stick your new house plant label into the dirt and voila! You'll now be able to identify your plant by name. Easy Peasy.
(more label maker uses coming soon!)
We're over here in teething season and willing to try anything to help relieve some of Henry's pain as his little gums begin to swell. I don't remember Emmet being this fussy with it, but it really seams to bother Henry! Rather than overdoing tylenol (which we do give him some, especially before bed so he still sleeps), we're trying out this whole baltic amber trend with this DIY baltic amber anklet!
These photos were taken after my first attempt at making it. Which I then found Emmet standing in the kitchen looking at the floor saying "uh oooooh" and noticed a trillion little beads all over the floor. He then helped me pick them all up and I remade it, this time tying a double not between each and every bead.
Cut a long piece of cord (far longer than you would imagine needing. String on the beads one at a time tying a double knot between each and ever bead (see note above). Make your anklet long enough to wrap around your babies ankle twice, without falling off AND without being so tight that it leaves a mark on their skin. Test it a few times before tying it off and cutting off the ends.
Babies should never be left unattended while wearing this anklet. Keep a close watch of them while they wear it and never let them wear it while sleeping as it could fall off and become a choking hazard. Store in a safe place out of reach of children. It is NOT toddler proof (see note above). Keep away from little toddler hands too!
Baltic Amber is said to have anti-inflamitory qualities to help with teething. They are meant to have contact with the skin, which allows the beads to release small amounts of their healing oil into the skin. They are not meant to be chewed!