Bilibo

VERSATILE. DIFFERENT. OPEN-ENDED TOY.

 

 

We are just starting to discover the Bilibo in the last few weeks and we are already having so much fun with it. It really is a super versatile toy and I believe it can grow with the kids age and imagination. Another inspiring toy which goes against the common trend towards more electronic gadgets.  Its a toy that gets children to move and explore.

So, the Bilibo is basically a hard-shelled plastic “bowl” with a curved edge, and a size and weight a little toddler can handle easily. It’s a very unique shape, which allows for curiosity. On one edge it has 2 little holes, perfect for playing ghost (Booooo) or grabbing it easily by putting 2 fingers through the holes.

It’s unique shape can be used in a multitude of ways. It’s seems super durable too. So far, we have used it for spinning (I even fit into it and spun around the living room), rocking, sitting and sliding. It served as a crib for a little siesta of Mila’s toys, as a bathtub for her toys, as a drum (not my favorite part!) and her favorite usage is as a ”messing up any room with water” toy. It’s for in– and outdoors. And as a design conscious parent I love that its not an obvious toy at first sight, well designed and therefore ok when it is just laying around the house. Kids imaginations are being stimulated to invent their own games while learning, exploring and discovering.

To no surprise, it has won multiple awards, all around the world.  They also offer it at the MoMa in NYC in the PLAY & LEARN section.  It’s made by the Swiss company MOLUK. You can get your Bilibo for unlimited play possibilities at Amazon. There is also a mini version available. And it comes in a variety of colors.

Good to know: Bilibos are non-toxic, BPA, phthalate, and latex free and is 100% recyclable. Each one is made from high-density polyethylene, making it resistant to shock at low temperatures and light.

PETSTOOLS

Furniture with humor

 

 

How freakin’ cute are those petstools designed by Hanna Ernsting? She is a German-American designer who transforms the concept of a regular stool into a completely fun and cozy experience.

Her petstools look like your new pet at home. Ella, Fin and Daisy have padded bodies of quilted fabrics with a fold right at their “mouths” so you can snuggle your hands or feet right in for some extra coziness or plunge them into the soft material to warm them.

And don’t worry if your little ones get some ice cream on it, the cover is removable. Which animal will you adopt? I think I will go for Ella, the elephant….

You can adopt your petstool here.

Kid O MAGNATAB

ENGAGING FUN FOR ALL AGES

 

 

Are you always looking for cool toys for on the go, too? The ones, which are easy to grab, fitting in your purse and not too heavy and that are just endlessly entertaining for the little ones? Check out the magnatab from KID O.

It’s a board with little magnetic balls enclosed, which you can pop up to the surface with the magnetic pen (which comes with the toy). Then you can simply erase with the tip of your finger. It’s that simple. Yet, kind of addictive.

My daughter, almost 2, is constantly playing with it since she got her hands on it. But also older kids love it, they play differently with it but with the same level of fun and enthusiasm. Drawing, learning shapes and numbers, even writing. It allows children to be creative in a different way. Mila’s favorite thing so far seems the erasing part, pushing the tiny balls back down. She loves to make music with it too. Kids are easily entertained for hours and its perfect for traveling and restaurant visits due to its size and weight.

My husband Drew loves it almost as much as Mila. Its relaxing and takes your mind off things. I might have to get a second one...

You can find it at these [ online ] retailers or at Amazon.

SAILING WITH KIDS

San Blas, paradise on a boat

 

 

San Blas is a group of 365 islands in the Atlantic, part of the Caribbean coast off Panama.  In Panama you’ll here it marketed as “An island for every day of the year,” and it’s true!  It’s the home of indigenous Kuna Indians, who inhabit the district called Kuna Yala (also called Guna Yala). Only 50 islands are inhabited. To get a clear idea of what it looks like, picture a children’s drawing of a sandy little island with a few palm trees on it – that’s a typical San Blas island. My dad and youngest sister were visiting us in Panama and we decided to discover the islands by boat.

I was kind of nervous prior to our departure how Mila would be reacting to the waves, the limited space on a boat, new foods & more. My mind was all about safety – how can we manage to watch her at all times, that she doesn’t fall off the boat or slip off or fall out of the bed at night – will she accept the swim vest? A 1,000 questions were running through my mind the days leading to our departure.

And I am so happy to report, that once you get there, all worries are forgotten. Mila was the happiest she’s been out in the Caribbean paradise. She slept perfectly, she loved the waves while on the boat (fell asleep on the “lancha” (small boat) ride bringing us to the sailing boat and back). She actually had some serious “sea legs” right off the start. San Blas is the home of millions of coconuts and coconut water is one of her favorite things in the world. So it was a perfect match.

This trip just confirmed to me again, that if your gut tells you something (sometimes only very deep down, covered by plenty of worries), go for it. Keep your mind open, take safety measures for sure, but go for it. Your kids are much more flexible, adaptable than you think.   If you give them the opportunity to surprise you with the adaptation, they will.

Some tips: bring your kids favorite snacks (to overcome some hunger till mealtimes (cooking on a boat can take longer than at home, patience is key), kids water bottle to keep refilling (lots of extra fluids needed out in the tropical heat), a few easy & quiet toys which can withstand salt water & sun, something familiar for bed time (favorite blanket or stuffed animal), and in our case a potty. Mila always had the best view while on the potty those days…. And of course a swim vest.

Infant Self Rescue Swimming

Starting as early as 6 months

 

 

Living in Panama comes with living close to water. Pool, ocean, waterfalls etc. So we decided early on that it would be great to introduce our daughter to water asap. We started looking at "swim classes" which were usually directed to getting the baby familiar with water and enjoying some play time. A horrible accident that happened to friends years ago still on our minds we were looking for something more. We wanted to be more at ease when being around the pool with her. We wanted her to gain the confidence when being in the water. We discovered there were actually lessons for babies as young as 6 months to teach them skills to potentially save themselves if they find themselves in the water alone. The program is called ISR - Infant Self Rescue.

For young babies between 6-12 months old they will learn how to roll onto their backs to float, rest and breathe. They learn to maintain this life saving position until help arrives.

When Mila was 9 months old we signed up for it and everything changed. Now, almost 2 years old and after 2 rounds of courses she is so confident and independent in the water, its astonishing. Each lessons is 10 intense minutes long, every day from Monday to Friday for 4-6 weeks. Its a time investment on the parents side too, but more worth than anything. It gives parents the peace of mind and children the confidence and first major accomplishment without the help of mom and dad.

I have to say though, that most babies, including our daughter, do not enjoy the lessons, at least the one for under 1 year olds. But as much they might cry in the water during lessons with the teacher, they usually never cry once when they practice with their parents. So, the lessons for under 1 year olds are straight up self rescue training and you won't use it much when spending time with your child in the pool (emergency only). But the second course is very much different as it gives the child the ability to be independent in the pool, move from A to B and totally doing its own "thing". When those little bodies manage to actually flip back into swimming position coming out of floating position, its so impressive to see and they really understand what they just learned and did.

Kids between the age of 1-6 years will learn the full ISR Self-Rescue® sequence of swimming (see first video at the top) until they need air, rotating onto the back to float, then rolling back over to continue swimming. ISR students are taught to repeat this sequence until they reach the safety of the steps, side of the pool, or the shoreline.

First video below is Mila's "check out" class (hence her wearing cloths to prep for real life situation) when she was 10 months old and the second video is her at 20 months - Sorry both are grainy iPhone videos only. But a special thanks to her amazing, talented, patient and motivating teacher for teaching her this amazing skill which has even further developed.

A different crayon

Not just for art…

 

 

Crayons are the go-to tool for children for anything art. It’s the child’s first writing tool and those crayons should be those that encourage kids to use a tripod grip (thumb, first and second fingers) to develop excellent hand writing skills later in life.

Our daughter’s grandma is visiting from the US right now and brought along those super cool stackable crayons. They are so versatile. Sure, foremost they are crayons to paint, draw and color but they are also fun to stack into towers, arrange into patterns, line them up etc. They can be turned into puppets and at the tip they have a little hole so you can even thread them onto twine for a rainbow necklace.

What parents love: They do not break and therefore can NOT become a choke hazard and also it means less pieces to pick up at the end of the day. The crayons are basically hollow cones which makes them not only a great shape for little hands to easy grip, draw and paint, but with the help of the cone shape they spin around in playful circles rather than rolling off the table and are gone forever under sofa and cupboards. Every side of the crayon can be used to draw. Of course: They are non-toxic, odorless, and what I love most colors will not smear (clean hands) and they are washable.

You can get your sculptural crayons at Amazon.

 

ZOE ORGANICS

DO GOOD TO YOURSELF (and your baby)

I am really into healthy eating & a healthy balanced lifestyle in general. Part of this is also beauty & skincare products. The skin is our largest organ and a reflection of your overall health. The body absorbs toxins (like the chemicals in your skin care products) that can clog your skin. We all know how this can end up looking… And toxins and chemicals and all those bad boys are the last thing you want on your baby.  For my daughter’s first year of life we barely used any skincare products on her. We used a very mild soap and a diaper rash cream once or twice. There were no rashes to clean up, no dry skin, eczema or other needs.

Anyways, there is a decent selection of organic skincare brands out there and even here in Panama you can find a few. But Zoe Organics (a dear friend introduced me to the brand) takes it a step further. And that’s how they inspired and won me over. Not only are they using the most pure, organic and 100% natural ingredients and materials but each and every product is handcrafted. Now that is a devotion that speaks a different language.

I also like how they picked their brand name, as Zoe means "life," and they made it their mission to celebrate and protect the lives of our children, family, community and planet. 

You can get your “peace of mind” skincare products (for yourself, your baby, your friend, your mom, you name it) right on their website.

BATH TIME

Water fun with Oli and Carol

 

 

The highlight of our daughter’s bath time is for sure playing with her duckies and getting water, literally, on every possible surface. It always bothered me that although I squirt out the water of any duck and squeeze toy at the end of the bath time, the mold & bacteria eventually build up again and again. Sure, a good boil in hot water kills it all but wouldn’t it be nice to have the fun without that extra step?

Check out the (bath) toys by Oli and Carol. They are fun and happy rubber toys in original designs in bright monochrome colors. Since they do not have a hole (but still float), they stay mold free! Made of 100% natural rubber from Hevea Malaysian trees and hand painted with food grade dyes and therefore they are non-toxic. It is completely safe for your baby to chew on them (they are also free of any yucky stuff such as PVC, BPA & Phthalate). They are even biodegradable.

They have mini duckies, XL duckies (great also as a decoration object for grown ups) and spotted duckies. But they do not only have duckies, their collection ranges from fruits ( a great teething toy), other animals, geometric figures, origami boats, beetle cars, balls and more.  

Fun to know: Behind this cool new brand are 2 young sisters from Barcelona who started the business together. Designed in Barcelona. Made in Morocco.

Contact Oli and Carol directly for store info.

 

PINOCCHIO

Felt balls everywhere

 

 

This rug has been on my “wish list” for a while now – Its from the lovely Danish design brand HAY and is made of 100% pure wool. So, each single ball is felted by hand and then strung on a cord, sewn into a circular rug. The rug even has a fun name “Pinocchio” – it’s named after a Danish brand of liquorice, which combines a colorful sugary glaze with a salty liquorice interior.

Anyways, the rugs are all created in local workshops using traditional crafts methods and thus help provide jobs in low-income areas of India and Nepal. So not just the colors of the rug make you smile….

Good to know: Pinocchio comes in four different colors (here shown is the multi colored one) and four different sizes (Diameter ranges between 90 and 300 cm) – so plenty of choices to find the one matching your room style the best.

You can shop Pinocchio directly with HAY (worldwide shipping).

HOLZTIGER

Quality toys for quality play

 

 

The Holztiger brand, another wonderful example of German craftsmanship and passion for sustainable and eco-friendly manufacturing (in the past we also wrote about the eco-fashion label Macarons), creates large wood figures, which are great to grip for children's hands. They are individually handcrafted out of solid maple wood with softly round edges. All figures are painted by hand using nontoxic, water based paints and they are sealed with a nontoxic water lacquer to protect the toys from perspiration and saliva.

You can find all types of trees, animals from far away, animals which live on farms & safaris or under water to kings & castles and even an Noah’s Ark. Create fantasy worlds - over the years - complete with people, animals, trees and plants. Holztiger so far offers the following worlds: Wilderness Adventure, On The Farm,  Woods & Meadows, Water World, Age of the Dinosaurs, Proud Indians,  Fairy Tale World,  Heroic Knights and the Magic of Christmas. Its one of those items you will collect over the years and then be able to hand down to generations.

Usually the Holztiger's animals are reduced to their basic shapes to stimulate and encourage the children’s imagination through playing and learning. You will notice all their animals have friendly faces, which also does a great deal to accommodate the children's play instinct. Most figures are about 2.5 cm (1” inch) thick with a smooth feel to them, they are sturdy and perfect for every day play time. It’s a classic kids toy in Germany.

Recommended for kiddos ages 3+

In the USA you can find Holztiger @ Normaln&Jules, Amazon or FineWoodenToys.

HAND-PAINTED WOODEN DOLLS

Friendly faces from Donna Wilson

 

 

Donna Wilson, known for her quirky and colorful knitted lambswool creations, which can be a bit odd but charming at the same time (see below) now hand-paints wooden dolls as well. She is the winner of the "Designer of the Year" award at Elle Decoration's British Design Awards.

Inspired by her trips to Scandinavia and Japan, her wooden dolls (made of European oak) come with personality. Each hand-painted doll has its own name and embodies a certain person Donna has met and known in her life. They have friendly and curious faces and come in all different shapes and size. Their height varies between 22 - 29cm. Meet the entire family over at her website www.donnawilson.com.

Donna’s products sell in more than 25 countries by now but she is still determine to keep her production locally, in the UK, to support local craftsmanship. That should be supported!

Visit her store – they ship worldwide.

MADE BY MOSEY

Geometric aesthetics

designed and handmade in Melbourne, Australia

 

 

I discovered the “forever balloons” by MADE BY MOSEY and fell in love. Instantly. With those you can have a super pretty party decoration up all year, without getting tired of it. Then I went to her website and found those amazingly pretty feathers which you can buy on their own or already put together as a garland.

Made_by_Mosey_Feathers_Garland.jpg

The owner, Madeleine Sargent, creates definitely bold, colorful pieces perfect for a child’s room but can also appeal to grown ups. She created a series of fun & colorful fruit-inspired cushions, which are based on original patchwork designs, and then digitally printed on 100% white linen. The filling is an eco-based stuffing made of recycled PET bottles. And the best part is the cushions are all double-sided, i.e the print is the same on both sides.

Everything is handmade, so no two pieces are identical, and each is uniquely special. Don’t miss her arrow plushs – They are ready to take flight but do absolutely no damage!

You can visit the MADE BY MOSEY online store (ships worldwide) or visit any Australian stockists listed here

PS: Madeleine also produces custom pieces upon request for local and international customers and stores. Everything is designed and handmade in Melbourne, Australia.