April 5th, 2013
How many of us have vowed not to fill our houses with plastic baby junk?
The Bobbin Triple Play Centre should make sticking to that a bit easier. The wood activity centre is made in Canada for busy babies and their design-loving parents. Rather than coming stocked with obnoxious noise-making whirligigs, it lets you add your own cute (read: quiet) developmental toys. Then, when your tot outgrows it, it converts into tables of two different sizes – one of which even has a chalkboard top.
That's the kind of multitasking we love. —Kelsey Dundon
$549 at www.ellaandelliot.com
January 25th, 2013
As soon as she’s old enough you’re putting her on skis.
Until then, get her accustomed to the alpine with the Snow Mountain Wool Felt Toy Box. Handmade in Toronto, it has toddler-friendly soft corners and a fabric top that won’t slam on little fingers. We especially love it for its cute look, which is infinitely more décor-friendly than all those bright plastic toy chests.
Soon she’ll be up on the bunny hill working on "pizza and French fries." But for now she can work on putting her toys away. —Kelsey Dundon
US$149 at http://www.etsy.com
July 20th, 2012
This editor was totally against sandboxes until her son’s daycare mentioned that he was content playing in it for an hour straight. What they didn’t mention, was that a water table would keep him entertained for 90 minutes. It was a done deal.
The water table is safer than a kiddie pool, less dirty than a sandbox (albeit wetter, but water dries fast in the heat) and can be set up in a yard or on a patio or balcony. Pick one up from Toys "R" Us (pictured, $25), or make your own. A large under-the-bed-storage plastic box works great balanced on two cement blocks. Stick a few bath toys in there, and let the fun begin.
Just be careful if you do have a sandbox, too. This inevitably turns the water table and sandbox into two mud pits. Great for the production of tasty mud pies, less great when it comes to cleaning up. —Alexandra Sunher Isenberg
$25 at www.toysrus.ca
December 3rd, 2011
We’ve got the perfect solution for kids who like to make tents out of our sofas, cushions, throws, and furniture.
Dexton’s canvas teepee is not only the perfect hideaway for the little ones, it is also the most stylish alternative to a fort. And don’t worry if they decide to draw all over it, the canvas is made to be decorated with oil-based paint. We found it on Hip Baby’s new online store, which sells a whole bunch of other good looking kids’ gear. In fact, we’ll be needing two teepees to store all our cool new stuff. —Alexandra Suhner Isenberg
Dexton teepee, $148 from Hip Baby.
June 3rd, 2011
When we discovered the Vancouver-based designers Akimbo, who uses great Euro fabrics to make washable covers for their Mung-bean-filled toys, we called them up to brainstorm all their great creative and developmental uses:
1. Ask family members to balance one on their head all through dinner, thus perfecting posture.
2. Create a target toss for your kids, with high and low targets for age 2 to adult and see how many different ways you can throw them.
3. Throw the beanbags, pat your tummy and your head before catching them.
4. Put them in the freezer for instant “owie” relief.
6. Use a stack of them as a chic doorstop to the playroom.
7. Toss them back and forth with different emotions (happy, sad, silly, sleepy).
8. Toss beanbag into the air, do a pirouette, catch.
9. While your kids lounge on their FatBoys, their dolls can lounge on these.
10. Beaning your brother over the head.
$20 for set of three at Dilly Dally, 1161 Commercial Dr., Vancouver, 604-252-9727, www.dillydallykids.ca and Molly’s Furniture Salad, 4055 Macdonald St., Vancouver, 604-732-7712, www.furnituresalad.ca or email firstname.lastname@example.org
May 6th, 2011
Picking toys up off the living room floor is inevitable, but aesthetically pleasing toys make the job much more enjoyable.
P’Kolino started as a project between two dads who wanted to improve play at home. Their design philosophy is “playfully smart,” which means all of their children’s toys are fun and engaging—and look good, too.
Our favourite is the multi-solution shape puzzle ($20, pictured), which is both challenging and entertaining because there are a multitude of solutions, unlike a standard puzzle. Even smarter is that each piece is non-toxic and durable.
Just don't try to pronounce the name. —ASI
March 25th, 2011
Imagine a family of Italian craftsman gathered around a wood stove carving toys in the mid 1800s.
That was the beginning of the Sevi toy brand, now known for their beautiful wooden toys, puzzles and games. Our favourites are the little helicopter (so cute and only $5!), the rattle butterfly (an infant toy that actually looks interesting, $10) and the incredible village train set ($84).
And yes, the paints are non-toxic and saliva resistant. What else would you expect from one of Europe’s oldest toy companies? —ASI
December 11th, 2010
When you have kids, shopping for them can be over-the-top exhausting. Here are six holiday presents you can order online to make your gifting season easier.
Craft-time gets creative with kid-friendly do-it-yourself bath and body products from Kiss Naturals. Kids can create soap, bath fizzies, lip balms and solid perfume (from $14.95) using all-natural products free from dyes and synthetics. Now that’s good, clean fun!
Kids in grades 4 and 5 can ski for free-ish ($20 administration fee to sign up) with the Canadian Ski Council’s Snow Pass, entitling them to up to three free ski passes at 93 ski areas (from Bromont to Tremblant!) in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
Pre-order the Harry Potter Signature Edition 7, scheduled for release on January 12, 2010 ($66.47). This will give you (and your little one) just enough time to re-read the entire series before the final movie is released in July. At Amazon.ca
Kids bouncing off the walls? Let them jump both indoors and out on this padded Kids' Safety Trampoline that folds flat for storage. Energy busting and good exercise, nap time is just around the corner. Now that's a gift. $99 at www.gosafetrampoline.com
November 19th, 2010
Your youngster caught you watching a KISS documentary and now all he wants to do is wear black and white makeup and bang on a drum all day. To keep the peace, trade rock for blocks.
With ShapeMaker blocks and a little imagination, he can still build a replica of Gene Simmons’ painted face (or another wild thing from the animal kingdom). Designed by award-winning Miller Goodman, a UK twosome who creates kids products for the Tate, the 25 block set is made of environmentally friendly rubberwood and hand-printed with non-toxic paint.
May 7th, 2010
Nuclear family, blended family, dysfunctional family…every clan is one of a kind.
Which is why we love the Modern Play House ($20.56) and Modern Play Family ($14.14) kits from MoMA. Your brood can create a miniature house with over 50 design options for walls, furniture, flooring, lighting and décor and a bespoke family (2 adults, 3 children, 2 dogs, 1 cat and a doghouse) with the 150+ mix-and-match hair and accessories pieces.
Now that’s putting family first.
Modern Play House and Family (sold separately) at Amazon.ca