Gift Ideas for the Green Mum

great-gift-ideas-green-mum

great-gift-ideas-green-mum

If you’re seeking inspiration on what to buy girlfriends or female relatives this Christmas, we’ve got you covered. We’ve put together lots of ideas for green gifts in lots of different price ranges. Read on for inspiration!

Green Gift Ideas Under $20

Hurraw Lip Balm ChocolateHurraw Lip Balms

Hurraw lip balms are all made from raw organic ingredients with cold pressed butters and oils. They’re vegan and gluten free, too, so they’re a perfect little gift for just about anybody. The range of flavours is delicious – chocolate, coconut, pink grapefruit and vanilla to name just a few. Stock up on a few of these little lovelies and you’ve always got a suitable last minute gift!

Price: $6.95

Benecos Nail PolishesBenecos Nail Polish Hot Summer

I love nail polish, but I don’t love how toxic it can be! So when I saw these little beauties from Benecos, I immediately ticked off a few Christmas gifts in my head. They’re a bargain at $10.95, and I love that fact that they’re 5 free. There’s no nasties like formaldehyde, toluene or camphor. No parabens, no phthalates, no petrochemicals, etc. And it’s long lasting, and chip free, too!

I reckon that Hot Summer is the perfect summer shade, and I’ve got a feeling it will be seeing a few beaches and BBQs this year!

Price: $10.95

Benecos Natural Lipgloss  Benecos Natural Lipgloss – Natural Glam

Benecos is a German brand of all natural cosmetics, and they’re an absolute bargain. I can’t believe they can do such good quality for such great prices. There’s no catch, they’re BDIH certified so you know they’re natural, and the products are awesome. These make great stocking fillers.

I love the Natural Glam shade – it’s neutral, and it suits just about everyone! I think they’d make a great gift for a friend, and at this price they’d be perfect for a teen or tween, too.

Price: $11.95

Badger Balm Tension Soother StickBadger Balm Tension Soother Stick 

I reckon just about every mum could do with one of these! Badger’s beautiful aromatherapy stick is perfect for anyone who’s ever had a stressful day. It’s packed with calming, soothing essential oils that naturally smell divine.

And I love the fact that it’s in a base of organic olive oil and beeswax, so it’s super moisturising, too. Ideal for popping on pulse points or your temples, and the compact size fits perfectly into a handbag.

Price: $16.95

Green Gift Ideas Under $35

Butter London Yummy Mummy Nail Polish

Butter London Yummy Mummy Nail Polish

Another one of my favourites! This bestselling shade suits just about every skin tone. It’s neutral, yet classy and it’s professional enough to wear to work. The Patent Shine 10x formula 7 free formula is long lasting and chip resistant, too.

Great as a gift for a girlfriend, and there’s lots of shades to choose from.

Price: $24.95

Andalou Naturals Brightening Get Started - 5 Mini's

Andalou Naturals Get Started 5 Mini’s

These cute minis are a brilliant gift idea. Perfect for travelling, and if you’re trying to encourage a friend to make the switch to natural skincare, this will do the trick!

There are packs for the 1000 Roses Sensitive Skin range, the Age Defying range and the Brightening range, so you’ll find something to suit everyone!

Price: $24.95

Weleda Pomegranate Hand Cream Gift Pack Weleda Pomegranate Hand Cream Gift Pack

Perfect for dry, hardworking hands! This beautiful gift pack from Weleda is made with nourishing organic pomegranate seed oils to repair cuticles and dry skin. It smells divine, too.

I’ve told you before that this is my favourite handcream, and I have to admit that I’ve got my eye on one of these gift packs for myself!

Price: $35.90 $29.90

Acure Body Lotion & Body Wash Acure Natural Beauty Kit

Always a popular gift, why not give a set of Body Lotion & Body Wash from Acure Organics? My favourite is the Energizing combo, with a citrussy mandarin scent that’s so refreshing to use in the morning!

We’ve got discounted combo packs at Hello Charlie, so you can mix and match your favourite body lotion and body wash!

Price: $36.90 $32.95

Simple As That Exfoliant and Matcha MaskSimple As That Exfoliant & Matcha mask

Simple, organic ingredients that really work. It’s Simple As That. Why not combine the Facial Exfoliant with the luxurious antioxidant rich Matcha Mask? Beautifully packaged in simple glass containers, this would make a gorgeous gift!

Price: $54.90 $49.50

eco-tan-himalayan-salt-scrub-and-invisible-tanEco Tan Invisible Tan & Himalayan Salt Scrub

For the sensible sunlover who wants that bronzed look without the long term skin damage! How about this certified organic, Australian made Eco Tan duo? The Pink Himalayan Salt Scrub preps and exfoliates your skin, and the Invisible Tan will give you a golden bronze tan without the nasty chemicals.

Price: $69.90 $63.50

Practical Gifts for the Family

Aroma Bloom Diffuser and essential oil blendAroma Bloom White Pearl and Relaxation Oil

The Aroma Bloom is a 5 in 1 ultrasonic diffuser, air purifier, night light ioniser and humidifier in one. Add a relaxing essential oil blend, and this is a perfect gift for any busy mum (and aren’t we all?).

Use it in winter with a Breathe blend to help with coughs and colds, and to add moisture back into dry air. Use it with a Vitality blend to help with concentration and focus, or add a Romance oil blend and the soft night light for calm and relaxation.

Price: $121.90 $117.95

Skip Hop Outdoor Blanket & Cooler Bag - ChevronSkip Hop Outdoor Blanket & Cooler Bag

Perfect for picnics or for an impromptu play in the park! This outdoor blanket from Skip Hop has a water resistant canvas backing, so you won’t get a wet bum from sitting on the grass.

It’s also got a built in cooler bag for snacks and drinks, and you can detach it from the blanket and carry it separately. The whole thing packs down to the size of a messenger back and slings over your shoulder, leaving your hands free. It’s a practical, stylish gift that will get years of use.

Price: $79.95

Best Toys for Three Year Olds – A Guide from Hello Charlie

Best Toys for Three Year Olds

best-toys-for-three-year-olds

By the age of three, your child may be demonstrating self-care skills by putting on his own shirt, washing and drying his own hands, and brushing his own teeth.

He’s learning so much, so encourage him even more with these great ideas for toys and play ideas!

Play time activities like memory games and arts and crafts offer new and exciting challenges for your toddler. He is also becoming more confident in gross motor skills – walking, running and jumping, and might even be able to balance on one foot for a couple of seconds. Sports equipment and structured games will be new and exciting for your child, and inviting a friend or two along will develop his social skills and his ability to share with others.

As your child gets older, he will be developing a strong imagination. He will start creating his own story lines, characters, plots and adventures that are separate from his physical world. Foster this wonderful imagination by providing clothes and props for make believe – something as simple as using a paper towel roll as a telescope will help encourage this area of development.

Puzzles

melissa_and_doug_toys_alphabet_floor_puzzle

 

Three-year-olds are developing their logical reasoning skills as they play. Your child can put together simple puzzles, and understand that a whole object can be separated into parts. Encourage his reasoning by asking him about the pieces and describing the pieces he is working with, “The cow’s head goes with the cow.”

At this age, toddlers are developing their hand-eye co-ordination and problem solving skills. A great way for your child to encourage these skills is by using puzzles with large pieces and recognisable pictures.Djeco Magnetics Crazy Animals

Melissa & Doug Wooden Vehicle Puzzles in a BoxYour child may be ready to graduate from puzzles that have pieces with knobs that fit into individual slots to more complicated puzzles with multiple pieces.

 

Shape Sorters and Beginning Board Games

Melissa & Doug Wooden Shape Sorting ClockYour toddler’s brain development will benefit from learning how to play and practicing simple games such as Dominoes or Tic Tac Toe.

Your child is increasing his spatial awareness and should be able to identify things by size – small, medium and large.melissa_doug_pattern_blocks_boards

Expose your child to a wide range of topics. If he takes an interest in a particular subject, find activities, books and movies that are about the topic.

Toys for Imagination

Everearth Fairy Tale Wooden Doll HouseA play kitchen is a place where your child can whip up imaginary concoctions. Include yourself in the fun and ask your child, “What will you make? What will you put on your pizza?

Plan Toys Fairy Tale Castle Building BlocksIf your child needs a few ideas to get his imagination started, act like the customer and give “the cook” a meal order. “Can I please have a strawberry milkshake with extra whipped cream?”

Take turns playing imaginary games with your child, and listen carefully to what he says in each role. You’ll gain new insight about his personality, and he’ll gain new confidence playing different roles!

Practise, Practise Practise

Your child might have mastered stacking several blocks, but that doesn’t mean the game has lost its appeal. Help your child try out all the different things a toy does, and take notice of which activities he seems most comfortable with. Repeating things over again, and then adding a step further is a great way to consolidate skills he’s already learned, and develop them further.

A great fine motor activity is to work on lacing and threading beads, or using skills boards where your child can practice zipping, buckling, snapping, lacing and tying.

A fun way to learn is to get down on the floor and play right alongside your child. Bring vehicles and other toys to the game and then find yourselves in a race or a parade!

Djeco Cuddly Lacing         Melissa & Doug Latches Board     Im Toy Slope Tumbler Roller 3 in 1 Toy

Art & Craft Materials

Tiger Tribe Piccolo Oodle DoodlesYour child will love to experiment with arts and crafts of all kinds. Introducing crayons, Play-doh, collage supplies like magazines and old mail, glitter, and sticky coloured shapes are all sources of endless fun. Just make sure everything is washable and non-toxic.

Select a special box just for your child and fill it with a variety of interesting craft materials. You could add colourful paper scraps, fabrics, pipe cleaners, pom poms and sticky project paper. Your child now has an easy and organised way to make fun creations independently.djeco_poster_paint_bottles

If you can, stop what you’re doing and show interest in your child’s creations. Setting aside this special time so you can focus on your child will build a connection of caring. Your child will simply love that you notice the details by telling him what you observe, “Look at the big blue circle you made!” and “The glitter makes the ocean look so sparkly!”.

If you’re looking for great, age appropriate ecobaby toys for three year olds, check out Hello Charlie’s range !

First published September 2013, updated October 2016. Copyright © Vanessa Layton

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Best Toys for Two Year Olds – A Hello Charlie Guide

Best Toys for Two Year Olds

Best Toys for Two Year OldsTwo-year-olds are full of energy, enthusiasm, and growing independence. A great deal of time is spent exploring his environment and testing his limits. Your child’s emotions take on a roller coaster-like quality as he can go from happiness to anger within a few moments. Your child has the desire to try out new ideas and test his independence while still staying close to you as he still needs your support and comfort.

Along with independence, your will recognise new language skills developing in your child. He can now speak in short sentences and has become more decisive; telling you what he needs or wants. His memory is improving and he may be able to tell you at the end of the day about an activity he did, or what he had for lunch.

Your child’s social skills are growing which gives him the desire to interact with other children. Toddlers are energetic little people, so look for toys and activities that give yours a way to channel his energy.

Ride on Toys 

kinderfeets-trike-and-balance-bikeAlthough your two year old will probably find pedaling a little beyond him, ride on wheels where he balances on the toy will help develop his gross motor skills.Im Toy Walk and Ride On Cow Sorter

Children love to take items along with them on rides and store them in the compartments of the riders. Help your child select a “friend” to take for a ride, or pack a little snack to enjoy on a break.

Im Toy Debut Wooden ScooterGive your child a “parking spot” where he can park when he is finished playing. Say, “This is your special parking spot—just like mummy and daddy park the car.”

Puzzles and sorters

At this age, your toddler’s hand-eye control and ability to think and plan is developing at a rapid rate. Providing quality shape sorters in bright colors allows your child to fit the shape through the slot and take the lid off to start all over again.

Your child’s new dexterity allows him to more easily stack toys and organise cups so that one nestles inside another. Provide activities like Melissa & Doug Wooden Geometric Stacker to encourage his improving fine motor skills.

Providing more complex puzzles with at least four or five pieces encourages problem solving skills and helps your toddler develop concentration.

      Melissa & Doug Wooden Shape Sorter Cube        Green Toys Build a Bouquet     Petit_Collage_Beginner_Puzzle_Pets_Pieces

Toys for creation and play

Your child will love exploring his creativity using his hands (and body if you are willing to clean up a mess!). Providing art supplies like finger paints is a way for your child to express his inner artist. Roll out some paper, put a smock on him, and let him dive in! Another easy way to create is simply providing a set of crayons and paper. Let him strengthen his fine motor skills, and you can work on drawing shapes and identifying his colors, letters and numbers.

Your child may become interested in construction and building toys. Toys with pieces that can be linked or snapped together are particularly interesting. Your child may be able to create wonderfully unique houses, towers, bridges, castles.

Your two year old will still love balls, and may even be able to throw to you. Use a ball in the backyard to kick into goals and practice doing gentle throw and catch games.

    Im Toy 7 in 1 Activity Centre       
          Dject_Finger_Paint_in_a_great_gift_box        melissa-doug-wooden-abc-block-cart

Imitate real life

Green Toys Chef SetProvide toys that encourage your child to use his imagination and develop his creativity and social skills. Kitchen toys, tea sets, tool sets—they all help your child learn about the world around him by bringing it down to size.

Everearth Large Wooden WorkbenchCreate a selection of dress-up clothes in a special box just for him. Dress up right along with him! Drape some sheets over the furniture and make a space station as you explore the moon together.

Let your child participate in household tasks by providing washcloths, brooms and a little vacuum cleaner that are sized for his little hands. He will be very satisfied helping mum take care of the house, and it’s a fun activity to do together.

Musical instruments

Children love to sing along with, dance to, and control the music – blasting the volume and turning it down low. Providing some child-appropriate CD’s and a durable CD player are highly recommended for easy fun and a tool for distraction if your little one needs a new activity.

Songs with actions are particularly important – they improve coordination and stimulate the memory and imagination. Playing familiar tunes over and over establishes a comfortable routine with your child and he will inevitably learn the words and movements to the song – adding to the fun.

This is the age when music inspires your child by jumping, clapping, spinning, and hopping. Why not add to the fun by handing over a tambourine, or drum, or maracas? Experiment with different genres of music and invite your child to join in.

Im Toy Tutti Tunes Plan Toys Clatter Wonderworld Rainbow Sound Blocks

If you’re trying to decide on the best toys for your 2 year old, why not check out Hello Charlie’s great range of toys? We’ve got lots of wonderful, eco friendly and education toys for toddlers!

First published September 2013, updated October 2016. Copyright © Vanessa Layton

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Best Toys for 18 Month Olds – A Guide from Hello Charlie

what-to-buy-for-an-18-month-old

what-to-buy-for-an-18-month-old

Your toddler is becoming more independent at this age, and “I do it myself!” is her mantra. She is embracing every opportunity to learn and do things on her own.  She is using her hands to explore her environment and her natural curiosity will herlp her to learn at every opportunity. If a door knob is there, she’ll turn it. If there’s a door, she’ll open it!

The best toys for 18 month olds are toys with interlocking parts like nesting blocks, sorters and trucks with doors to open and shut will provide endless opportunities for your toddler to explore and push her limits.  Your toddler will love to be busy, and offering opportunities for unstructured play by keeping toys available to use will enable her to thrive.

Your toddler is on the move, climbing over, under and up, and onto things. She will squat to pick up toys, and she even might enjoy hauling objects in vehicles and bringing them place to place.

Your toddler needs plenty of space free of obstacles. With time, she will develop better coordination and learn to steer around obstacles.  Creating a route for her to follow, with flags or guides along the way will challenge her coordination and thinking skills as she figures out how to reach the next destination.

           Im Toy Quad Bike Ride On           PlanToys Hopping Rabbit       Im Toy Walk and Ride On Cow Sorter

Fine Motor Skills

Working with blocks lets your toddler build her fine motor skills by grabbing, stacking, and sorting. Large bricks can become toddler-size forts and hiding spaces. Small wooden ones can be sorted and organised into towers and organizational designs.  Your toddler will enjoy opening and closing the doors on toy vehicles, and putting objects inside and “driving” them to their destination.

Melissa & Doug Wooden Rainbow Stacker Im Toy Construction Vehicles Set                 Petit Collage Stacking & Nesting Blocks

Problem Solving Skills

When playing with your toddler, strengthen her problem solving skills by talking about what you are doing and asking questions like, “I wonder what happens when we put the ball there? … What do you think will happen when we pull this handle?” Put words to what’s happening with a toy so your toddler can understand the concepts behind language. Putting pieces together using toys like Mix and Match Magnetic Wooden Animals allows your child to experiment with different animal parts to see which ones fit; a problem solving opportunity, indeed!

           Everearth My First MultiPlay Activity Set Im Toy Five Activity Stacker Wonderworld Natural Shape Sorter

Colour and Shape Recognition

This is the prime age for your toddler to be making connections between colors, shapes, etc. and their names. You can help your toddler reinforce these connections by pointing to an object and saying the color and/or shape, and also the features, “You are putting the blue triangle in the triangle slot”. Provide gentle encouragement for your toddler as she explores how to use a toy. Your enthusiasm now will give her the confidence to tackle bigger challenges later on.

      Wonderworld Natural Shape Sorter       Everearth Shape Sorting Puzzle     Im Toy Busy House

Imagination Skills

Using your imagination with your toddler opens up a whole new world of fun. Pretending will help her understand new experiences. Foster imaginative play with your toddler by creating a scenario and having her participate in it. “We are driving on our big tractor, can you buckle your seatbelt?” You can use play food to bring along for a picnic and bring stuffed animals along for the ride. Encourage your toddler to role play by pretending to be things your toddler is familiar with. “Swing your trunk like an elephant”, “Fly like a bird”, “Sway side to side like a giant tree”.

      Everearth Ramp Racer      PlanToys Cone Sorting            Green Toys Sand Play Set

If you’re looking for age appropriate, educational toys that are eco friendly and non toxic for your toddler, check out Hello Charlie’s range of toys for 18 month olds.

First published September 2013, updated 2016. Copyright © Vanessa Layton

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Best Toys for Twelve Month Olds – A Guide from Hello Charlie

what-to-buy-for-a-12-month-old

what-to-buy-for-a-12-month-old

By 12 months, your baby is not so much a baby, but a toddler. She’s very active and is always on the go. Her world is more exciting than ever before and your baby being on two feet takes playtime to a whole new level for both of you. She will be exploring her environment, going on excursions around the house, and becoming more independent but she’s still sneaking in cuddles during play.

Plan Toys Baby WalkerMost toddlers are courageous and driven to experiment and explore. Through constant activity, they begin strengthening large muscles and improving fine motor coordination.Im Toy Deluxe Block Walker

Although your baby looks stable on her feet, she will need help with climbing, and getting on and off mobile toys, and especially up and down steps. Explain to what is happening as you go, “We are going up the steps”, “You’re pushing the cart”, “You’re going fast!”.

Cause and Effect Skills

Wonderworld Tower BlocksYbioserie-2-in-1-stackerour baby loves working on her cause and effect skills – seeing what happens when she pushes this or empties that. Your baby will do things over and over again until her memory is developed enough to remember what happens next.

Providing toys like blocks and nesting containers will help her develop problem solving and fine motor skills by sorting, stacking and spilling with these toys. Larger building blocks are great for building tall towers and then your baby can knock them over.

Communication Skills

Your baby might be saying a few words and stringing together ideas. Her communication is developing everyday and reading is such a great way to improve speech and language development. Story time can include big picture books and you can point out objects and ask your baby to name them with questions like, “What’s the name of that animal?”, “What sound does a cow make?” while pointing to the picture.

Babies are fascinated with animals, and sometimes can only make the sound of an animal before being able to say the name. Introduce puzzles with fun pictures and knobs so your baby can easily pick up the pieces. Ask your baby if she can find where the missing piece belongs looking at the overall picture. She might be able to spot the missing cow piece that goes to the farm puzzle.

     Everearth Wooden Farm Puzzle            QToys Wooden Sorting Bar

Musical Skills

There is no such as thing as too much singing and dancing with your baby at this age. She might stand back and observe you for a little, but soon enough she will start moving right along with you when she gets the hang of it. Incorporate musical toys to your play so your baby can use her coordination and fine motor skills to beat the drum or the xylophone.

           Plan Toys Xylophone            Im Toy Tutti Tunes            Plan Toys Solid Drum

Your baby is a copycat

Your baby wants to be just like you so don’t be surprised if she is imitating your every move. If she sees you talking on the phone, your baby wants to do that too. Provide your baby with items that allow her to use her imagination such as toy phones, tools, tea sets, and articles of dress up clothing which allow your baby to pretend to be just like you. You might also invite your baby to help clean up after meals and put away her own toys. This will raise your baby’s confidence that you trust her to complete tasks along with your family.

         Plan Toys Baby Phone           Green Toys Tea Set Recycled Plastic

If you’re looking for age appropriate, educational toys for toddlers that are eco friendly and non toxic, have a look at Hello Charlie’s range of toys for 12 month olds.

First published September 2013, updated October 2016. Copyright © Vanessa Layton

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Best Toys for Six Month Olds – A Guide from Hello Charlie

What to Buy for 6 Months Old

What to Buy for 6 Months Old

Your baby is hitting some pretty incredible milestones at 6 months old, from learning language and developing motor skills to discovering exciting ways to play. Instead of being the tiny helpless baby she was as a newborn, she is blossoming into a little person that needs lots of stimulation and learning opportunities. Choosing the right toys for your six month old will help her to learn and develop essential skills.

Your six month old baby should be smiling, laughing and babbling away, and there is nothing better than to help your baby along on her language development than reading stories together. Soft books and board books are durable even against baby dribble and new teeth, and are a great way to introduce objects and simple themes. Your baby will love books about animals, food and babies making different expressions: laughing, pouting, crying, eating. Your baby spends most of her time looking at grown-ups laughing, pouting, crying, eating, she will be thrilled to see baby faces for a change. You can let your baby hold the book and “read” it back to you. You can also make up stories as you read along, your baby will love this!

Toys to Develop Communication Skills

Since you are regularly talking to your baby, why not make it even more fun and sing to her? Playing light music and singing along is a fun way to encourage baby’s communication skills and development. You can grab some instruments and have your whole family join in.

QToys Ball Falling Tower Rainstickcolour-star-tumbler-from-melissa-dougEverearth Colour Rings Rattle Toy

Your baby is starting to develop her motor skills, and may already be starting to sit up alone and roll from her back to stomach. Her motor skills are developing at a rapid pace, and she may be able to pick up small objects like raisins and pass toys from one hand to the other. You can encourage development of your baby’s motor skills by providing toys for her like blocks or other objects like spoons and plates so baby can bang them together. Placing toys just out of reach on the floor encourages your baby to start crawling towards the objects. Practice rolling a soft ball back and forth between you, or perhaps roll it a short distance so your baby will reach, roll or crawl towards the ball.

Toys to Develop Motor Skills

plantoys-clapping-rollerplantoys-square-clutching-toy  caaocho-rainbow-sensory-ball
Your baby is learning object permanence, becoming aware that objects still exist even when she can no longer see or feel them. This means when you hide her teddy while she’s looking, and she’ll find it right away – and be very proud when she does. Games like peek-a-boo and hide-and-seek are fun for you and your baby to play together. They will also help her to develop her problem solving skills – helping her to work out a way to find teddy.

Toys for Problem Solving

You can also start baby on basic jigsaw puzzles, showing her where the pieces fit, or perhaps a shape sorting puzzle where she needs to turn the pieces around to get them to go into the hole. All these toys will help your six month old exercise both her brain and her little body.

Melissa & Doug Peek a Boo PandaEverearth Shape Sorting Knob PuzzleGreen Toys Shape Sorter

 

Cause and Effect Toys

Your baby is beginning to learn that she can do things to objects – so poking, twisting, squeezing, shaking, dropping, and opening things will fascinate her. Your baby will love playing with toys that can be pushed around or things that pop when your baby hits them in the right place. Make a tower with blocks or nesting bowls, and then knock them over while using your words to describe what you are doing – such as “big”, “little”, “top”, “bottom”.

Plan Toys Baby Car    BioSerie 2 in 1 Stacker im-toy-triangle-activity

Softie Favourites

Your baby at six months old will start to become attached to objects, and will miss them when they are gone. When you leave a room, your little one might start crying because they realize you are not there. Your baby might comfort in a favourite toy that is soft and familiar. For this reason, it’s a good idea to ensure that you have duplicates of any favourite toys, in case of mishaps or washing time outs. Look for high quality, age appropriate toys that are free from small parts that can be pulled off by little fingers or teeth.

Apple Park Boxer The Dog Organic Plush Toyunder-the-nile-big-soft-owl    keptin-jr-organic-cotton-comforter-zmooz-natural

Toys for Teething

Babies start to get their first teeth somewhere between around 4 and 7 months old. And when they’ve got teeth – they want to work them! Teething babies seem to bite, chew and mouth everything they can get their little hands on, so make sure that you’ve got some safe options for them to chew.

As these toys are going straight into baby’s mouth, it’s really important to make sure that you choose safe and natural materials. Wood, natural rubber, organic fabrics or even a safe, BPA free plastic is a good idea.

bioseriestar-teetherim_toy_frisky_froggy__76710-1416452503-1280-1280 green-toys-first-keys

Other Creative Ways to Play

Learning opportunities for your six month old baby don’t necessarily have to be toys. Household objects like plastic bowls, and wooden spoons can be big hits. It’s worth keeping some safe household items in a low cupboard where your baby can reach them and play with them while you’re cooking or are otherwise busy.

A baby-safe mirror provides endless entertainment for baby since she loves looking at herself and hearing her own voice. Babies are naturally attracted to human faces, and her own is fascinating to her!

Fill a box full of interesting and baby-safe treasures and let your baby rummage around inside and explore the objects.

If you’re looking for age appropriate educational toys, have a look at Hello Charlie’s range of toys for six month olds.

First published September 2013, updated October 2014. Copyright © Vanessa Layton

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Best Newborn Toys – A Hello Charlie Toy Guide

best newborn toys

best newborn toys

Let’s face it, the only thing newborns really need is loving parents. For the first month or so, it seems that they’re pretty much baby blobs, doing nothing but eating, sleeping and messing nappies (oh, and keeping you up nights!).

There’s a lot going on in that tiny newborn brain, however. The brain develops faster in the first 12 months than it does at any other time of life, and there are lots of things that you can do to help your baby develop essential skills.

Books for Newborns - MesmerisedNewborn babies are learning to focus their vision, and they are naturally attracted to faced. You’ll find that you instinctively put your face close to your baby’s, as a newborn has a vision range that is only about 20 to 30 cms. Everything else for a tiny baby is just a blur, or a shadow.

Books for Newborns - Baby FaceWhile your newborn is working on that fuzzy vision, high contrast colours are great, as they are easy to see. Black and white is perfect for newborns, as are brightly coloured objects.We love the Books for Newborns range of black & white and high contrast images – it’s a great way to help develop baby’s eyesight, and it’s never too early to start baby on books!

Melissa & Doug Flip Flap Baby MirrorBabies’ fascination with faces includes their own. A baby safe mirror is perfect for developing a sense of self. Although your baby won’t know it’s her own face she’s looking at, she will be drawn to it. You may even find her laughing and smiling at it.

Noisy items are great for newborns, too. Not too noisy, though – you don’t want baby jumping out of her skin! Anything with a gentle rattle is good, or perhaps a musical mobile. Soft sensory toys with different sounds, such as a squeaker and crackly fabric, are great too, as they’ll not only develop baby’s auditory skills but also their sense of cause and effect.It’s best to keep mobiles away from baby’s cot, as you don’t want to overstimulate a baby that should be learning to go to sleep! However, mobiles are great to put above the change table as they can often distract a wriggly baby at nappy change time.Mobiles are great for newborns, as it’s another way to help develop their vision. The movement will attract baby’s attention, and you may find that baby is fascinated by shadows cast in bright sunlight, and things that move and chime in the breeze.

Cause and effect is when baby realises that if she does something, like grab the soft toy, that something else will happen, e.g. it will make a squeaky sound.

Auditory skills are when baby reacts to a sound, for example, if you shake the rattle baby should turn her head in the direction of the sound. As baby’s auditory skills develop, she will turn her head to the sound of your voice.She’ll combine these skills to work out that when she grabs for a toy, she’ll get to hear the sound. Move toys to within her line of vision, so that she can focus on them. Although she might not be able to get them yet, you’ll find that she bats at the toys she likes.

dandelion-organic-duck-squeaker

apple-park-organic-farm-buddies-rattle-cow

bioserie-round-rattle

 

 

 

 

Try laying your baby on a playmat with a baby gym above her. As her muscles develop, she’ll learn that she can swipe at the baby gym with her hands or her feet to make the characters move. The same principle applies to a pram string – it’s great for keeping little ones entertained in the pram or the car seat, and they’ll soon learn that a whack at it will make the bell jingle.

finn-emma-wooden-play-gym-feathersEverearth Wooden Pram Leaf Toy hess-spielzeug-pram-toy-kim

As baby learns to grab for things, she’ll start shaking them, rattling them, and of course, putting them in her mouth. It’s important that baby has lots of different textures, shapes and sounds to stimulate her senses. It’s also important that anything she puts in her mouth is safe for her to chew.Try laying your baby on a playmat with a baby gym above her. As her muscles develop, she’ll learn that she can swipe at the baby gym with her hands or her feet to make the characters move. The same principle applies to a pram string – it’s great for keeping little ones entertained in the pram or the car seat, and they’ll soon learn that a whack at it will make the bell jingle.

Try to choose toys made of natural materials, with non-toxic finishes. If you’re choosing a plastic toy, make sure that it’s free from BPA, phthalates and PVC.

Plan Toys Wooden Teether Keys

Not only is a newborn baby rapidly developing all these different skills, they’re also learning to get themselves off to sleep. Some babies find it very comforting to have a fabric toy, aptly called a comforter! Parents can wear a fabric comforter next to their skin, then pop it next to baby in the cot so that baby has a familiar smell with them.

As baby gets a little older, the comforter can also become a teether and you may find that baby loves to suck and chew the ends of the fabric. It’s a good idea to choose organic for these, so that you know there is nothing nasty going into little mouths.

keptin-jr-organic-cotton-comforter-doggo-blu apple-park-farm-buddies-organic-blankiemy-natural-organic-sleepytime-lovie-blanket-bunny
First published September 2013, updated October 2015. Copyright © Vanessa Layton 2014.

Don’t forget to check out Hello Charlie’s great range of newborn toys if you’re looking for some more inspiration!

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Best Children’s Toys: Art & Craft Activities

Best Children’s Toys Art & Craft Activities

How do you choose great art & craft toys?

When you’re choosing creative materials and tools for children, pay attention to the age ranges. Although it may be safe for children under three to use, it may not be developmentally appropriate, which will lead to frustration, and an unwillingness to try the activity. It’s also important to look at the safety aspects of the toy – safety scissors are a good example!

Always buy a reputable brand – look for non-toxic craft materials that are safe if your child ‘accidentally’ eats it. Finger paints just look so yummy!

Take all the usual precautions that you would when you’re buying toys – make sure they are BPA free, PVC free, lead-free and phthalate free. If you’re buying jewellery kits, make especially sure there’s no lead or nickel, as children’s jewellery is notorious for these contaminants.

What are the benefits of playing with art & craft?

There are so many benefits for children when they play with art and craft toys. They may look like they’re having fun, but they’re really learning all sorts of essential pre-school skills that will help them with writing, reading and using their creative abilities.

Djeco Finger Paints at Hello CharlieFinger Paints
Just the words ‘finger painting’ brings back memories of early artistic endeavours! Toddlers love to get messy, they love the bright colours, and they just love to express themselves on paper. You’ll be proudly presented with a smear of colours that you somehow have to translate to ‘that’s the day that you, me and daddy went on a picnic and the dog chased the ducks.’

As a way for children to express their creativity, finger paints are second to none. Make sure that you choose non-toxic paints, because you just know that they’ll be taste tested.

Oh, and make sure they wear a smock!

tiger_tribe_piccolo_oodle_doodle_crayon_set_animalsCrayons

Chunky crayons are a great way to get little fingers ready for writing. It helps to develop muscles in their hands and get those fine motor skills working.

Even if your toddler looks like they’re just scribbling, they’re developing their creativity by choosing colours and seeing how they can make swirls on the paper.

Of course, the trick is keeping the drawings just on paper, and not on walls or furniture. Supervise your child, and make sure that you put crayons out of reach when they’re done.

no_nasties_nancy_deluxe_purple_play_makeup_boxFace Paints and Play Makeup

Face paints and play makeup can be a great way for children to develop their creativity. Just make sure that the face paints and play makeup that you choose is natural and non-toxic, of course!

We love the No Nasties range because it’s all natural, and also because it washes off with soap and water. No need to scrub little faces when they’ve been having a great time being a fairy princess, a butterfly or a superhero.

Wooden Bead Activities at Hello CharlieBead activities
Stringing beads together is a great way for children to develop hand-eye coordination and to develop strength in their hands, which is essential for learning to write.

Copying patterns is great for early mathematical skills, making patterns is great for developing creativity. Some of the bead sets have letters, which helps to develop reading and writing skills. All this from some wooden beads and string!

Most children love to make necklaces for dress ups, too, and it’s a great rainy day activity for when you’re forced to stay inside by inclement weather. And once they’re done with making the beads, they can have fun sorting them all back into the boxes and developing even more essential pre-school skills.

im-toy-activity-centre-7-in-1Activity Centre

An activity centre like this one from Im Toy can be a great way to get children using their creativity.  This toy has a chalkboard, a whiteboard and a roll of paper for drawing, painting and imagination.

There’s also an abacus, a clock, a bead maze and an alphabet set in case they want to do different activities.

There are loads of different art and craft activities for children to choose from. We’ve given you a sample of some of the creative toys we have here at Hello Charlie. See more of our great art & craft toys here. Happy creating!

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Best Children’s Toys: Building Blocks

Best Children’s Toys Building Blocks

Best Children’s Toys Building Blocks

Building blocks are a classic children’s toy, and rightly so. There’s so much to be learned from playing with building blocks. They’re perfect for imaginative play as children get older and learn to make castles and forts, but even very young children will get a lot of benefit from blocks. Many blocks are great for sensory stimulation, and toddlers will develop motor skills as they grab and bang them, and derive great joy from toppling towers of blocks over!

How do you choose great children’s building blocks?

  • Take all the usual precautions with the materials that you choose, and avoid toys with bisphenol-a, PVC, lead and phthalates.
  • Make sure that the size is appropriate for your child. If you have a child under three, ensure that the blocks can’t be swallowed.
  • If you’re choosing wooden blocks, go with wood from sustainable sources and always check that the dyes and finishes are non-toxic.

What are the benefits of playing with building blocks?

wonderworld_sensory_blocks_with_coloured_perspexSensory development

Blocks don’t have to be just for stacking and sorting. The Wonderworld Sensory Blocks have different colours for visual stimulation, blocks with beads inside for auditory stimulation, and blocks with different textures on them for tactile stimulation.

There’s a block with a child safe mirror, and blocks with different coloured Perspex to look through. Children can match the textiles on the board, and parents can talk about how they feel. “This one feels soft”. “This one feels rough.”

Of course, you can also build with these blocks, or just do the time honoured favourite activity of stacking them and knocking them over!

Everearth Wooden Building BlocksThink logically

Everearth building blocks have lots of different shapes, including triangles, rectangles, columns, cubes, half circles and blocks with half circles cut out. Children can stack these blocks high and knock them down, or they can use the blocks to make castles, forts, houses and anything that their imaginations can conceive.

Parents can help teach toddlers about balance and shapes. “If you stack the triangle on top of the half circle, will it stay?”

“If you stack the triangle on top of the rectangle, will it balance?”

Wonderworld Rainbow Sound BlocksSound blocks

First sound blocks are like a discovery tour. Not all the blocks have the rattle, but it’s such good fun working out which ones do! The coloured blocks in this set are the ones that make a noise, and it’s a great way for testing your child’s power of recall to see if they remember which ones will rattle.QToys Wooden Sound Blocks

The solid natural blocks in the QToys Wooden Sound Blocks don’t make any noise, and they’re chunky enough for banging and building.

Wonderworld’s Rainbow Sound Blocks are also designed for auditory stimulation. Each block has different sized beads inside, so they all make a different sound as they bang against the wood. These blocks were my children’s favourite blocks, and they look absolutely gorgeous, too.

Blocks with walkers

Im Toy Deluxe Blocks WalkerIf you’re looking for nice big chunky blocks for toddlers around 12 months old, the Plan Toys Baby Walker has a heap of wooden blocks that fit beautifully into the walker for construction on the go. Ideal for little guys who aren’t quite walking, the walker will give them a bit of a guiding hand. The blocks are solid enough for some joyful banging, or if parents have the patience – for endlessly knocking over stacks of blocks!

The Im Toy Deluxe Blocks Walker has blocks with different sounds, textures and shapes for sensory stimulation, as well as lovely bright colours for visual stimulation.

Learn the alphabet

melissa_doug_wooden_abc_block_cartWooden building blocks can also be used for learning the alphabet, colours and numbers. You can build with them of course! But you can also use them for learning how to recognize letters and how to spell basic words. The Melissa & Doug Alphabet Blocks Cart is a great example.

green_toys_block_setRecycled Plastic Blocks

If you want blocks that can be used indoors or out, or even in the bath or paddling pool, you don’t have to go with toxic plastics. Have a look at Green Toys recycled blocks. They’re made from upcycled milk cartons and yoghurt pots, so they’re all HDPE, food grade plastic. It’s non toxic, and perfect little guys. They’re super easy to clean and can even go into the dishwasher. The beauty of plastic blocks is that they won’t get ruined if they get left out in the rain.

There are loads of different blocks to choose from. We’ve given you a sample of some of the lovely building blocks we have here at Hello Charlie. To see more of our great stacking, sorting and building toys, take a look here. Hope you have fun!

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