Although the classic teddy bear is an adorable little guy, we've found a few quirky twists on soft companions that your tot is sure to love. From crocheted critters to plush penguins, these stuffed toys are perfect for snuggling or pretend play. Since many of them are handmade, they also make unique gifts for new moms-to-be. Click through for our 12 favorites guaranteed to make playtime plush.
The world of eco-friendly toys is filled with plush animals, reclaimed wood, and natural dyes, but it's not every day that I come across a green toy that has packaging that is just as exciting as the product inside it.
San Francisco-based Apple Park's line of Picnic Pals ($48 each) is five soft animals made with organic cotton "fur," sustainable corn fiber, organic cotton, and recycled, non-toxic plastic pellet stuffing, and recycled, non-toxic plastic, child-safe eyes. Each pal comes in a red hatbox illustrated with a make-believe park from which the toys gather and play. There is also a book ($8) to accompany the toys – a story about the importance of playing outside – with more books planned for the future. Manufactured in China's first soft toy factory to be certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard, the playthings are not just sending good messages, they're safe.
Monsters beware! A new gang of six plush animals are ready, willing, and able to ward off the scariest monsters that lurk in a lil one's room at night.
Any mama that has been called into her wee one's room to search for offending creatures in the middle of the night will want to meet the Scare Me Nots ($25 each). Led by Defender Dave, the six plush dolls are designed to help tots sleep worry free through the night. Each Scare Me Not has its own unique personality and means for keeping monsters at bay, like Watchdog Wally who uses his high-tech nose to sniff out the troublemakers. With extra-long Velcro tails, the Scare Me Nots can be fixed onto a doorknob or mattress springs, allowing them to keep an eye out for monsters throughout the night (especially those that hang out under the bed)!
Being a kid in this big, crazy world is hard work and with the hustle and bustle of growing up, comes a lot of feelings. It's a parent's responsibility look out for their child's emotionally stability and an inventive product might help you and your youngster in this process.
Kimochis ($25 each), a line of cuddly, plush dolls are designed to encourage children to express their feelings in a fun and comfortable way. Created by Marin-based mom Nina Rappaport Rowan, the dolls each come with a pocket where kids can tuck one of three little pillows bearing the name of an expression on one side and a drawing of a face expressing that emotion on the other. Sets of additional, more advanced, emotions – such as jealous, uncomfortable or embarrassed – can be purchased separately. The dolls are cute enough to be placed right on a wee one's bed and provide a great way to open the dialogue between generations.
Tots love to smother their stuffed animals, it makes a mama wonder what the plush pals toys are made from. miYim Storybook characters ($25 each) are made from 100 percent organic cotton dyed with plant and mineral pigments. Soft as can be, the six animals in the collection are all embroidered, meaning no hard buttons or plastic pieces that can fall off or end up in a wee one's mouth. The adorable characters make snuggly bedtime companions and will ease parents' worries about their youngsters breathing harsh chemicals.
Stuffed animals can overwhelm a mother as they multiply, but I've got a soft spot for Sak-O, the one hundred percent handmade sock puppets. The cuddly creatures ($49) are all artfully made from a single or pair of socks. Using stitching and buttons, the animals come to life in a whimsical way for people of all ages.
My son is smitten with his Eco-friendly pal, Peeko, who arrived in a box complete with a birth certificate and card describing the crocodile's curious personality. There are eight designs to choose from and no two stuffed animals are exactly alike. Parent of babies and toddlers should use caution in giving the toy to their tots, as small buttons can be a choke hazard.