When shopping for children this holiday season, how about thinking outside the gift-box? I remember unwrapping multiples of the exact same toy on Christmas Day, and it’s almost more disappointing for the gift-giver than the child! You want to offer something they will love, something that won’t wind up at next year’s garage sale, something by which they will always remember you. One of the best ways to do this? Shop small. Shop local. Shop handmade. Shop Canadian!
Colouring Apron from Sew Bright Creations
A gift that is functional and fun? I remember as a kid I had a teddy bear that came with washable markers. I loved colouring that bear, washing him and then decorating him all over again. Colouring aprons made by Sew Bright Creations can be customized with either permanent or washable markers (available in her shop). The aprons are also reversible—colour in a princess, paisley, construction, floral or owl print on one side and go freestyle on the other! Available in toddler, child and adult sizes. Cub has a Sew Bright Creations trick or treat bag, and the quality is fabulous. I am sure crafty kids of all ages would love to receive a Sew Bright Colouring Apron!
Mei Tai Doll Carrier from Louloumini & Minilou
Who doesn’t love a mini me?! Well, it depends on what they’re doing. Swearing like his Papa or being a picky eater like me … not as cute as babywearing like us. Louloumini & Minilou is owned by the mother of one of Cub’s former daycare-mates in Montreal. Her mei tai doll carriers are reversible and perfect for any child who wants to carry his stuffies or dolls just like you do! Cub likes to wear his puppy when I’m wearing his sister at the grocery store. Little Miss has also started playing with it and gets a kick out of looking just like Mommy!
Wooden Toys from Treeclub Kids
Treeclub Kids has been a Maman Loup advertising partner since this summer. Their lovingly crafted heirloom toys are the kind of gifts that will be passed down through the generations. Treeclub Kids is a family-owned business started by a mom of two, and their toys are designed to support developmental milestones: their push-and-pull toys encourage crawling and walking and their solid wood puzzles encourage problem solving. Their wooden toolkit is perfect for pretend-play. The ruler is to-scale, so your little Bob the Builder can really do some serious construction work!
Exclusive coupon code: use MAMANLOUP to save 10% on your purchase at Treeclub Kids! (expires 12/31)
Dolls and Plushies from Little Luckies
When I put the call out for made-in-Canada dolls and plush toys, I had so many people suggest Little Luckies that I had to check them out! My mom is a seamstress, so I know what it takes to produce such exquisite dolls, and Sue’s dolls are simply stunning. The dolls are handcrafted with premium quality materials and double-stitched for added durability. Each doll’s outfit comprises a fun, removable twirly skirt, a cozy crocheted sweater/cape and a head accessory. Their adorable hairstyles are made from the softest, plushest minky. Every doll has beautiful dark eyes and a sweet, heart-shaped mouth expertly painted by hand with non-toxic paint. Firmly filled with hypo-allergenic polyfill, she is ready for a lifetime of hugs. The dolls are approximately 16–17″ tall. This is the kind of keepsake gift that will be treasured by the child who receives it!
Blankies and Lovies from Papoum, papoum
We know what babies and toddlers do to their lovies! They put them in their mouths, wrap them around their fingers and lay them next to their heads every night. Papoum, papoum’s blankies are made of natural fibres and stuffed with sheep’s wool or recycled polyester, making them the perfect companion for the little one in your life. They’re easy for little hands to grasp and are tender and velvety for cozy snuggles. Papoum lovies inspire imagination and bring comfort: a faithful friend for any child from birth to five years old!
Wooden Teething Toys from Re-Wood Toys
Re-Wood Toy’s teethers are made with non-splintering cherry wood and finished with flax oil. Packaged in a reusable cotton-muslin bag, no gift wrap is required! My favourite thing about these teething toys are the little holes for tiny fingers! Each teething toy is made with love in Re-Wood Toy’s home workshop. They measure between 4–6″ and would make great stocking stuffers for the little chompers in your life!
Harem Pants from Eenvoudig Simply Unique
Little Miss Cub is a proud Eenvoudig ambassador. Her first pair of harem pants were newborn-sized, and they were adorable! The soft waistband doesn’t dig into belly chub, the spacious bum means the pants don’t ride up in the baby carrier and the cute prints have the kids lounging in style. The seams are surged for a professional finish, and while you don’t have to use them with cloth diapers, they’re definitely perfect over a fluffy bum. Delray makes harem pants to fit newborns up to about five years old. We have also reviewed her wool diaper covers and her cuffed shorts!
Car Seat Poncho from Mouse & Hatter Designs
Oh man. We don’t have a Mouse & Hatter poncho, but I have tried one on Little Miss thanks to my pal The Monarch Mommy. The quality is undeniable, and the function is impeccable. Your child can wear his poncho out to the car, and once in his car seat, you lift up the back of the poncho so his back can be flush against the carseat. Fasten the harness easily thanks to the front opening of the poncho. No bulky layers interfere with the harness, and your child stays cozy and warm! Available in sizes 0–12 months, 2–4 years and 5–8 years, you can also customize the design by adding pockets or ears.
Custom Undies from Mouse & Hatter
Okay. I get it. You might think giving underwear for Christmas is lame. But not THIS underwear. The photo above shows the exact pairs I had made for Cub—prints you’d never find in store! I’ve only given him the Paw Patrol and PJ Masks pairs, and his level of excitement was pants-dropping. Literally. He had to put on a pair right away! I really dislike the regular underwear he has: he complains about the itchy waistband, they sag and stretch out over the day and they just don’t seem comfortable. His Mouse & Hatter Scrundies fit him so nicely, plus, he’s excited about them! Every bum needs nice undies!
Slippers from Wullyz
Little Miss wears her Wullyz slippers every day! I adore how easy they are to put on and secure thanks to the laced toggle, and she loves how toasty her toes are. Wullyz slippers are handmade in Nova Scotia with 100% super soft sheep & lambs’ wool and have a thick, fluffy shearling insole. The soles are hand cut and crafted with durable leather and suede for long-lasting quality. Available in baby, youth and adult sizes, there’s a colour for all the feet on your shopping list!
Printed Tops from Momo & Sammy
You otter know that I am a big fan of puns. I also really think otters are one of the cutest animals on the planet. So ya, when I spied Momo & Sammy’s otter-inspired prints on Instagram, I was in love. Our world needs more love, more smiles and more kindness … and that’s what Erica’s designs are sure to inspire in wearers big and small. Her otterly adorable prints are available in onesies, baseball tees and sweatshirts. Based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Momo & Sammy launched this spring, and I think this brand is going to go otter this world!
Pajamas from Wee Woollies
Wee Woollies’ made-in-Canada pajamas are made with 100% New Zealand merino and are great as pajamas AND base layers. Wee Woollies uses the world’s best ZQ™ merino wool fibre, which has its own certification process to ensure sound farming and animal husbandry methods. All dyes and processes used in finishing the fabric are Bluesign® approved: their products only contain components that pass through processes that are harmless to people and the environment. Children’s sleepwear sold in Canada must pass stringent flammability testing, and some clothing is treated with chemicals to comply. Merino wool is naturally fire-resistant and Wee Woollies’ fabrics have passed the fire testing without any chemical treatment. How awesome is that? Gosh I love wool. So breathable, so cozy, so warm for cold winter nights!
Hooded Bath Towels & Bath Ponchos from Öko Creations
When people ask me what I buy for the babies and children in my life, the answer is always an Öko Creations towel. For newborns up to about one year old, I always give an Öko hooded towel. For toddlers up to about three years old, it’s the Öko poncho. What’s so great about these towels? Well sure, they’re made in Quebec with organic cotton under exceptional work conditions (I know, I’ve been to the workshop), but they’re also so incredibly durable. Why wouldn’t I want to give a gift that lasts? My son’s onto his third year with his poncho and it is still perfect. It’s the only towel he uses. We even use it at swimming lessons. My daughter’s hooded towel is a year old now and still pristine. Because Öko’s towels are so thick and absorbent, you’ll never want to use any others! (I could easily dry myself with the baby-sized towel—if that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is!)
Wooden Bath Toys from Atelier Cheval du bois
I honestly didn’t think I would be able to find a made-in-Canada bath toy. I’m so glad I put the call out to my readers and discovered Atelier Cheval du Bois! Their wooden boats are made of pine and stained and dyed with non-toxic paints, then sealed with a natural oil. The little mariners pop out of their vessels, and they are made of maple. Their hats are leather. Of course, these boats really float! One of Cub’s least favourite things is taking a bath, but when I showed him our two new boats, he insisted on taking a bath before dinner. He even let his sister get in the bath with him so she could use her boat! They both love these boats so much. Any time I can find an alternative to plastic toys that are just as much fun (if not more fun) than what my kids are used to, I’m on board! (See what I did there?)
Exclusive coupon code: Save 20% with code mamanloupsden20 (expires 11/24)
Bubble Bath from Souris Verte
What child doesn’t love a bubble bath? What parent doesn’t love a bubble bath that is totally safe to be swallowed? Why do kids love to put bubbles in their mouths?! Souris Verte’s bubble bath smells divine, with just the right touch of lavender. Ideally, the scent will calm your kids down before bedtime. But if they’re like my kids, they’ll probably just get hyper as they make bubble hats and beards with the suds.
Exclusive Coupon Code: Use the code hohoho to save 15% on Souris Verte Shea Body Butter, Boo Boo Cream and Bubble Bath! (valid until December 31, 2016)
Bath Bombs and Bath Fizz from Garden By the Sea
Remember how our wooden boats got Cub into the tub without a fuss? When we got our bath bombs in the mail earlier this year, he was equally excited! Garden By The Sea’s natural care products for women and babies are lovingly crafted in New Brunswick, and we love every Garden by the Sea product we’ve tried. Their Happy Kiddo bath bombs and bath sands are formulated to help “children with sensory overload, nervous tension or anxiety.” But really, any child will love to watch the fizzing in their tub and will benefit from the gentle relaxation of a white grapefruit-scented bath.
Bows by Baby Bird Creations
Baby Bird Creations’ super soft, stretchy headbands won’t hurt little scalps, and they come in a huge variety of bow styles and colours. Bows are made of vegan faux-leather, lace, or cotton. You can purchase individual headbands or coordinating sets, and Baby Bird has just introduced faux-leather hair clips to keep those wispy hairs out of little eyes. Little Miss wore her first Baby Bird headband at about 6 months old, but they stretch to fit even me! (And I look adorable!) If you’re shopping for someone at a distance, why not give them a bow subscription? You can choose from bows or clips, single packs or three packs, on a subscription term of three, six or twelve months. All bows sent out in subscriptions are exclusive and cannot be purchased separately!
Sensory Necklaces by Between You & Me
As a teacher, I saw kids putting a LOT of nasty things in their mouths: pencils chewed down to the lead, pens cracked and ink leaking onto lips … even adults are prone to fidgeting and chewing when nervous! Between You & Me makes sensory necklaces for boys and girls, and they can simply be a fun and safe piece of jewellery, or a tool for kids with any type of anxiety or special needs. Chewing on these textured and colourful necklaces is much gentler on children’s teeth and much healthier than chewing on hair, nails, fingers, pencils, clothing, or any other object you may not want your child to find comfort in. Childhood psychologists have found that many children chew as a distraction or to regain mental and emotional balance. Children also find comfort in handling or fiddling with the beads and stroking the different textures when put into situations that cause anxiety or overwhelming emotions such as being in a large crowd or being called upon in the classroom, during tests or long car rides, or in dark rooms, etc. Sensory necklaces are intended for children three years of age and older. They are designed with BPA-free, FDA approved 100% food-grade silicone. Silicone is free of heavy metals such as lead, it doesn’t encourage the growth of mould and it is easily washed with soapy water or can be thrown in the top rack of the dishwasher. Sensory jewellery features a thick, strong satin cord and a safety breakaway clasp that will pop open with a firm tug.
Drool Bibs from Jane+Lou Baby
There are a lot of drool bibs on the market. We’ve tried quite a few. Want to know which one is my absolute favourite? Our Jane + Lou drool bib! It’s just so thoughtfully designed! With the cutest, most drool-worthy organic cotton knit prints (get it?!) and backed with absorbent organic fleece, they actually keep baby’s clothes DRY! The draped design catches drool and helps to hide the wetness, and I think it really makes the bib hang so nicely over my daughter’s outfits. With a nickel-free snap closure, Jane + Lou’s design will fit from about three months and up.
Hats, Neckwarmers & Mittens from mimiTENS
When I put the call out for my fans’ favourite Canadian-made mittens and hats, I got a lot of votes for mimiTENS! We love our mimiTENS accessories, from their booties, to their mittens, neckwarmers and hats. Not only are the designs super hip … they’re also PRACTICAL. Mittens and booties that stay put? Pretty much anyone who has had to dress children for winter will appreciate the long sleeves on mimiTENS mittens that mean they stay on and tuck in perfectly under jackets.
Bummis Best-Ever Bibs
The name doesn’t lie: these bibs are the best ever! Available in long sleeved and sleeveless versions, mealtime is just that little bit less messy thanks to these brightly coloured, waterproof and wipeable bibs. Babies and toddlers can use this gift as soon as it’s unwrapped: spare their Christmas best the mess of gravy, cranberry sauce and chocolate cake! (Or whatever delicious dishes will make up your family’s holiday feast.)
Disclosure: The products included in this guide were carefully selected by yours truly. Companies were charged a nominal fee to appear in this post.