Sonal Gerten, founder of Minnesota-based Tumblewalla and Play Activist, put together her personal holiday gift buying guide for 2014.
The Gift List:
- Indestructibles ($5.95)– this isn’t new for 2014, but one of my all-time classic favorites as it’s water-proof and tear resistant and has bright colors/pictures for babies – babies can eat these (literally)! It’s a great stocking stuffer priced at $5.95.
- Skwish Stix® ($24) a table-top update to a Manhattan Toy classic (Minnesota based company). Inspired by Skwish®, this table top activity toy features the same elements of colorful wooden rods, beads and stretch cords that “Skwish” and spring back to entertain and engage baby. Also introduces the concept of cause and effect. Love the stay put suction feature – so parents aren’t always picking up toys from the ground! Parents Mag top toy of 2014 pick. TOTY top toy of the year 2014. FYI – this is on my toy list for my 8mo old – can’t wait to get it!
- Beesewax Crayons and Case ($15) I love these super jumbo natural crayons for your little artist – perfect for travel and the diaper bag with velcro carrying case (and the price is right)! 8 beeswax colors made by a local Minnesota Company (Old Mill Candles).
- Tumblewalla splashing elephant organic one-piece ($22) This adorable elephant just might become your little one’s new favorite friend. Name this little splasher (just like you do a beloved stuffed animal) and your little Tumblewalla will want to wear it everywhere! The best part: a portion of the proceeds goes towards non-profit organizations helping to make play possible for little ones everywhere.
- Janod Stacking turtles ($26)– this colorful stacking toy is excellent for developing motor skills – kids can mix and match colors and stacks for endless combinations – a great puzzle AND stacking combo toy for little ones.
- Oh Dier Proportional Counting Blocks ($30) – I just discovered these and fell in love. Made by a local Minnesota company, they are excellent for learning how to count. The 10 block is the same size as stacking the 8+2 blocks or 9+1 blocks together – genius!
- Uncle Goose Elemental blocks ($36) – many styles of blocks are on this list simply because they have lots of play value for different age groups (and you can never have too many sets). Uncle Goose makes some fabulous block sets – this colorful one is the periodic table – they also make blocks in a variety of languages from Italian to Spanish to Chinese.
Overall tips for buying Holiday gifts:
- Choose gifts that let the child do the work of creating and imagining and don’t come with lots of bells and whistles – you can find gifts that are not boring! Gifts that nurture imaginations and creativity have scientifically proven benefits from increased self-confidence/self- esteem to better focus, problem solving, etc.
- Choose gifts that don’t come with complex instructions and pages of manuals – if it’s too difficult for kids to figure out (let alone parents) – they’re likely not going to be using their imaginations, creativity in interacting with the toy.
- Choose gifts that grow with the child and have extended play value beyond just a few months or years – like blocks – infants love banging these together and being stimulated by colors where older kids can start to build forts, castles with blocks – you name it!
About Sonal: Sonal is a Play Activist and Founder of Tumblewalla, a deliciously soft organic line of kids clothes based in NE Minneapolis, MN designed to encourage play, exploration, and the freedom to really move. She often consults with media and speaks to mom groups about age appropriate gifts/toys and the importance of play and how free play helps children develop critical skills that will carry them years into the future.