It’s here! Black Friday sales are here! And so are some great deals from small businesses. These are all the ones I know, if you have a company I should, comment below or instagram me @bindisandbottles.
As always, many of the links below are affiliate. This means I make a tiny commission if you buy something through the link. It costs you nothing but helps pay my hosting bills and to keep writing. Thank you for the support!
Danny & Luca – 20% off over $100 purchase. Few items left, subscriptions are sold out though. There will be a restock in a week or two.
Lollipop Sky – Grimms blocks, the dwarf village, pink pebbles, stacking boxes, fire and earth, and large rainbow are available.There are also some Holztiger and Ostheimer left too. Be sure to use my referral code and sign up for the newsletter to get a coupon code.
Dearest Diapers – 20% off with DDBFSALE20, some exclusions. Grapat bowls and nins still in stock, Glückskäfer, Grimms, car seats and lots of other brands.
Meenal Patel Studio – 15% off eligible orders, free shipping on most products. I love Meenal’s illustrations and books. An Indian American, her stories resonate with children of color and anyone who loves a good story.
Orlando Wooden Toys – Etsy – Free shipping on all purchases. Sale currently on, date ending unknown. Know for their elements stackers, rainbow stackers, and vehicles. Can come finished or unfinished.
Happy Tree Store – 20% off wooden toys AND free shipping. Trees, rainbows and lovely open ended wood toys from Russia is hot. Be sure to confirm ship out date to arrive to you by Christmas.
TheWoodPeckerFactory – 10-15% off, free shipping on most products. Great collection of wooden animals.
Wooden Caterpillar – 10-20% off and free shipping on most. German toy shop on Etsy. They have a massive collection of wooden animals. Particular favorites are the animal sets and trees.
Heir Loom Kids USA – Made in the USA wooden toys. They have a few classic Montessori toys: the stackers and shape puzzles along with custom name puzzles, and push toys.
Your Little Doves – Current 20% off sitewide with code SHOPSMALL (exclusions apply). Special Black Friday products will be 50% off (cannot be stacked with sitewide code). Also, you can use my discount code for $10 off (ymmv)
Studio Yali on etsy – Indian goddess peg people! Looking to add diversity and a little mythology to your wooden toy collection? Studio Yali has divine goddesses like Durga, Saraswati, and Lakshmi. You can also buy peg dolls wearing different Indian outfits.
Jens Pretty Pegs – Free shipping for most purchases. Jen’s hand-painted pegs are TO DIE FOR. Seriously, if you want beautiful peg people, go to her.
The Natural Baby Co – 15% OFF STOREWIDE* Fri., Nov. 29TH(12:01 AM ET) Through Mon., Dec. 2 (11:59 PM ET). *Excludes Jellycat, Grimms, Veer, Lilly & River, Wobble. GroVia 20% Off. Sale Category 50% Off. Referral code here should give you free shipping. Gluckskafer, Ostheimer, and more.
LOVEVERY – Sale over but plenty of things around!
Sanskar Teaching – Needing to learn Gujarati? Or freshen up? Enjoy 50% all week on the long and short classes. Use code HALF
Dyper – Not toy related, but diapers! Not any old diapers, bamboo diapers that are compostable. They can go in a home compost or be sent off for composting. (I’m not sure if they can be used in the city compost bin. Still, a way more environmentally friendly than any other company.
Why and Whale – 15% off sitewide with BLACKFRIDAY.
I also want to mention Nest.ca as a lovely store too. They aren’t doing Black Friday sales per se, but they have fantastic service and great prices.
That’s all for now! Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for supporting me!
It’s that time of the year to shop for the loved ones, and little people, in your life. To help support small businesses, I have put together my favorite products from Etsy and other small retailers (though a few are from Amazon for sheer convenience).
As I am part of several wooden toy and open ended play groups, these products come highly recommended.
This Christmas gift guide is ALL about wooden toys. It’s difficult to shop at, and find, businesses that foster a more environmentally friendly, sustainable method of production. Most of the toys listed below are made in Germany, Poland, Russia, and Thailand by small businesses.
This list *isn’t* about the big box manufacturers, it’s about the small, family grown companies that want the toys to last generations.
Skip the beeping and batteries, the branding, the fast fashion and return to the simplicity and elegance of wooden toys.
Share this list with your friends and families needing advice on what to buy for Christmas.
Also check out the Montessori toys & development small business list (coming soon) and the desi/South Asian toy and book lists (coming soon).
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate. It doesn’t cost a penny to you to click and shop, but I get a small commission by purchasing through the links below. This help fuels my sleep-deprived mom of 3 self with caffeine, fruit, and nuts.
Please note that some of these sellers are overseas so shipping times may vary. Also be sure to communicate with the seller if you want a custom order or need rush shipping.
It’s ridiculous how cute these peg dolls are. You can buy ready made peg people or have Jen custom make dolls to look like you. Exclamation point!
The Blockbuster Brands of Wooden Toys
Grapat – Made in Spain
Grimms – Made with love, and by hand in Germany, Grimms wooden toys is by far the powerhouse of the wooden toy world. Loved by children in endless open ended building of ball runs, peg people, and whatever landscapes a wooden block can bring, the Grimms toys are loved.
I own only a few Grimm’s toys, but expansion is on my horizon. The toys have a higher price point, but if you want quality, know the source of the materials, handmade items, then they are worth every penny.
We LOVE the large rainbow, 1001 nights, building boards, and semi circles. I plan to buy the stepped roofs, large stepped pyramid, moon houses.
Ostheimer – Made in Germany by hand, the gorgeous wooden animals and people are treasured in households across the globe. There’s something magical about holding a handmade wooden animal.
Holztiger – Also a German company making wooden toys by hand, Holztiger is a household name. Available at a more economical price point than Ostheimer, Holztiger animals are uniquely special.
Tegu – Tegu opens the world of wooden builds through magnetic play. Each wood piece have magnets on the ends and can connect with each other. Safe for one year olds and up, Tegu toys hit the stride with 3-6 year olds. While they are on the pricy side, they have good resale value and can be used for years. Like Lego, the Tegu block sets can be combined and built to make massive creations or pocket sizes bits.
Plan Toys – Made in Thailand, these wooden toys are made from rubberwood, a renewable resource.
You guessed it, they sell wooden trees. Different shapes and sizes and colors, pair them with wooden blocks, a cityscape or roadway, and the kids are good to go.
These rainbows are SO popular that as soon as they appear for sale on Etsy, people snap them up. These toys are made in the USA and are oh so gorgeous. Like Grimm’s rainbows and Ocamora rainbows, Myers have a special place in people’s hearts.
Skandico Toys is a Russian toy shop with a focus on blocks and puzzles. Their colors are from Germany and the wood is lime wood, a popular tree used for block making. They have several block sets so they worth investing if you want to keep the same color scheme.
A made in the USA shop, outside everywhere features lots of different wooden animals. Some are highly detailed in painting while others are simplistic. You’ll find favorites for sure.
An up and coming woodworking shop from Russia, their whale, penguins, and ducks have phenomenal detail. Some of their products are one faced painted, so may disappoint if you want them painted on all sides.
Want a ball run that is made from wood AND made in the USA? Look towards Amish country and you’ll hit the spot.
Russian Nesting Dolls – ROSTOK Toys
Paint your own Russian Nesting Dolls. These are beautiful and are worth the price tag and the shipping. I have a couple sets and love them…now to just finish painting them!
Star and Moon Stacker – Timber Wolf Concepts
Teaching children how to balance, this stacker will delight little ones (2+ years old). Made in the USA wooden toys.
Wood Toy Car – Timber Wolf Concepts
From the same toymakers as the star stacker, these wooden cars are handmade and perfect for little roadways.
Weather Peg Dolls
wooden dinosaurs with magnets
More toys to be added to the list!
I love being an ABCD (American Born Confused Desi). Why? Because our children today have SO many more options to blend their mixed heritages and learn about them in creative ways than we ever did.
30 years ago I never had cool matching cards or puzzles or even beautiful hard bound books to learn about India, Hindi, Gujarati and religion. If you are Generation Xennial, you know what I am talking about.
This generation is the South Asian renaissance. Our immigrant parents have firmly planted themselves into the diasporas, the children (us) have grown up as American and Desi, and now our children live multicultural lives on all levels.
Today I’m super excited to introduce you to indigrow, a small business publishing company based in Singapore serving the global community.
They have created their first collection of learning and play materials for children 0-5. Each of their products ties into the A to Z alphabet yet in different ways. There is a book, a memory match game, on the go flash cards, and a floor puzzle.
Indigrow was sweet and sent me their launch collection to play with. Our children loved them!
The puzzle was the most popular with my 3.5 year old. We did it once together and then he did it on his own. There is a mini poster of the puzzle in completion and it *really* helped us know how to place the pieces (yay!).
Little missy, who is 1.5 years old, was crazy over the matching card coins. I like how they are round instead square, it’s something unusual and fun to hold. I will admit Little Missy did not get the concept of matching but she love looking at the watercolor drawings and asking, “what’s dis? what’s dis? what’s dis”… “OHHHHHHH”
What I love about indigrow’s products are the paper quality, drawings, and diversity. The drawings are watercolor style yet so detailed and exquisite. The card stock for the matching coins and puzzle pieces are thick and heavy – perfect for little, destructive hands!
And, the alphabet takes inspiration from ALL over India, not just the well known cities and things. I even learned about different areas of India, like Nagaland.
Photograph on right: Retlaw Snellac Photograph
Did you know the outfit above is traditional to the Nagas? Me either. I ended up doing some fascinating reading on the state, which was enlightening. Turns out, we adults have plenty to learn from A to Z too!
It’s a symbol that we find daily in our lives as Hindus, Jains, and even secular Indians. Thousands of years old, spanning cultures and continents, the swastika has been a symbol of goodness, wishing evil away, and inviting the good spirits.
The irony then, one of our most auspicious and defining symbols as a Hindu was STOLEN, PILLAGED, and RAPED by a group of people bent on waging total war to eradicate an entire religion, groups of people, and anyone in their way.
I don’t remember when I first learned about the swastika, but I remember when I mentioned in grade school that it was a holy symbol, I was a called “Nazi”, an anti-Semite, and was nearly outcasted by classmates. It was the 1990s when the first generation of Indians in America were growing and attending public schools and learning to balance their lives as American Desis.
For a community of people that stays relativity out of the limelight in the US, and being known as doctors and engineers, we were on the front lines. We were targeted, we were screamed at and we were confused. How could an entire country not even know that while the swastika was used by the Nazis, it is also the defining symbol of Hinduism? As it turned out, Americans possessed zero education on world religions, let alone poor education on the geographic location of India itself.
My son is only three years old and his religious awareness is limited because both my husband and I are secular. However, we have a toran on our door where swastikas can be found, occasionally attend temple, and read books on the Hindu gods (cute stories) that all have the swastika. He hasn’t asked me yet, but when he does, what do I say? When he does he become old enough to learn of the evils in the world that stole our precious symbol and attempted to destroy another civilization at the same time?
It’s all rhetorical right now, but I would love to hear your thoughts on how you educated your children on the swastika and how they can effectively deal with ignorance and anger around them.
Finding toys for your one year old is a daunting task. Their personality is just blooming and you don’t quite know what their likes and dislikes; although clearly from their tantrums, they HAVE opinions.
With two children in tow and speaking to a lot of moms, here are my favorite toys. They are non battery operated (except for the piano) and foster creativity, innovation and independent play.
Cheer’s to baby’s first birthday and hoping they love these gifts!
PS: These are affiliate links. I may make a small commission (that doesn’t affect your cost) that keeps this site alive. Thank you! <3
Melissa and Doug Pounding Bench
Nothing beats pounding the daylights out of something. And you know your young toddler will go nuts for beating something – legitimately!
Several brands make push carts and strollers. Pick the one that fits your budget. On the easy wallet side, there is IKEA (though the cart itself is small) and Brio. For wood based strollers/prams, there is Moover ($177) and HABA ($149), both on the more expensive side.
You should also stop a Home Goods store and see what is in store in the toy section. I found several wooden push carts/prams for under $50; what a steal!
If you have space for a small Yamama type keyboard, go for it. We have the Fisher Price Baby Grand Piano – it is absolutely silly but a LOT of fun. The music it plays isn’t annoying and you can flip the switch to play pre-recorded music or music notes. For something a bit more mature and more minimalist, the Melissa and Doug 25 key set is nice.
There, I said it. Find the tupperware or yogurt containers that you don’t want anymore and create a space in YOUR kitchen for them. This is the key, you need to sacrifice a cupboard to your toddler. They feel they get to be part of the kitchen while you get to interact with them. It’s a win win. I store unloved tupperware, a few old pans and spatulas we don’t use anymore in our shelf space.
Again, it doesn’t take much to entertain a young toddler. They are on their feet for the *first time ever* and using those feet mean exploring! We have several dressers in the house (ALWAYS bolt them to the wall) and we keep two drawers available for the little one. Each drawer is in a dresser in a different room. This provides ample opportunity to move things from drawer to another, while working on gross and fine motor skills (opening, closing, picking up, walking, placing/throwing items).
I think my baby spent three months walking back and forth between the rooms just opening and closing the drawers. Be sure to keep an eye for safety reasons (climbing in) and for when your phone disappears (true story).
This unassuming rainbow wood stacking blocks is magical. At first, we didn’t know what to do with it. Soon, we figured out how to stack them, mix them with other toys, and create art pieces. Made in Germany of solid wood, this is a present that will last years.
Montessori Infant Coin Box
This teaches a baby about object permanence. Your little one is well on the way of understanding object permanence, this coin box helps reinforce that idea. If you want to be very budget friendly, grab a shoe box, cut a hole and use a few blocks. Baby will go nuts! If you are feeling inspired by Montessori education, check out my post on Montessori toys for 0-4 years old.
Dropping a ball and watching it go down tracks doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing, unless you are a baby, then it is THE MOST EXCITING THING EVER. When looking for ball runs, make sure you find one that is age appropriate for age 1+. Most ball runs are in fact marble runs, and they are not safe for babies. My favorite ball runs that are for one year and up (but please double check before buying) are the Hape Derby Track, HABA build your ball run, Battat – Pound & Roll tower, and the Hape Switchback Racer (age: 18 months+).
Magna-Tiles Clear Colors 74 Piece Set
On the pricey side, magna tiles are awesome. Build in three dimension with triangles, rectangles, square, and trapezoids. A classic STEM/STEAM toy, your toddler, and their friends, will love these. For a budget friendly version, you can buy the off-brand tiles.
Large and easy for small hands, the Melissa and Doug knob puzzles are a great way to get your little one started on the world of puzzles. Teach them about matching, animals, and shapes. My kids got into them around 15 months even though they were introduced them at 10 months, it was mostly throwing at that age.
Any book that has flaps or lift up features will be a hit. Something about them enthralls young toddlers. Matthew Van Fleet books are always a hit, Moo, Dog, Cat, and Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings (so loved by my children it is in pieces, hehehe!) are just a few of his most popular.
Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go
by Richard Scarry
A classic paper book with all sorts of crazy cars, trucks, buses, and boats. For a baby, you can get the
Cars and Trucks, from A-Z.
I will keep updating this list as time goes. For now, I hope you enjoy! If you have a favorite toy (rather your baby does), post below.
Made a quick printable to celebrate equinox and the harvest moon (full moon).
You can print a moon phase with text or without text on 8.5×11 letter paper.
Moon phases with text. Click on the image and save as. They are .png and not .pdf’s. Sorry, I didn’t have time to convert them!
Moon phases without text
Images are courtesy of NASA. Please feel free to print for your own personal use or home school classroom. Link to this post if you want to give a shout-out online. Thank you!
It’s the time when I post a question from a mom and crowd source answers.
I want to read to my baby. She is 6 months and when I try to read to her, she snatches the book and puts it in her mouth. She does this every time!
Her tiny hands have an iron grip, recovering the book is nearly impossible. How do you read to baby without them stealing the book?
The short answer is that at the six months age, they will eat anything. Like zombies. Just chew and hold tight onto they find. The 6-9 months is tactile learning where they have control over their hands and mouth; nothing is more fun than understanding what an object tastes like.
There are a couple ways to combat this. Let little baby eat a book of her/his own choosing while you read another book. Or give her a chew toy while you read a book.
Either way, baby is going to do what baby knows how to do best: chew and eat things!
Keep persisting and reading to baby, you’re helping to develop thousands of neurons and get her brain going. Eventually baby will listen to you and you will be able to read 1-2 pages to eventually a whole book.
High five for reading! If you want inspiration on favorite baby books, check out my list.
I’ve been inspired with the marble “ring bowls” people have been making with Sculpey clay. I love the marble look of these bowls but I don’t have a purpose for them myself.
Since I have been looking to buy some classic Montessori/Waldorf toys, I thought if there was a way I could do an art project with my toddler, make a Montessori toy, and have something beautiful.
That’s how I came up these Montessori marble bowls with matching string beads.
I was so impressed with my son who followed the directions from this post. He’s almost three years old and the directions are simple enough to follow. There’s also no mess in coloring the clay or painting (I did the gilded edges myself).
There are several elements of learning your child experiences on top of the fun and satisfaction of making your own toys!
What your toddler learns:
Mixing colors – color theory
Baking – adult supervision of course
Creating something from start to finish
How to make Montessori inspired marbled colored bowls with matching balls
Here’s a video in hyperlapse speed – it’s my first ever video, so be kind!
What you need:
Scupley clay in different colors (affiliate links!)
Large block of sculpey clay in white, 8oz
Bowls to shape with – they should be oven safe
Gold pen or gold paint to paint the trim
Bamboo skewers to make the holes in the balls
1. With a knife, cut out a large block of white clay.
2. Cut out small blocks of 3-4 color clays. If you look at the video, I cut out a pretty small piece, 1/4in thick. You don’t need much color to give the bowl that beautiful marbled look.
I let the kiddo choose the colors and encouraged him to pick 2-3 similar colors and one contrasting color. We are currently in a phase where everything is “orange” or “green” even though he knows the colors are different. Hahaha!
3. Roll out each block of clay into a snake. Yes, that is the technical term.
4. Combine the snakes with the white clay into a super snake.
5. Roll and twist the super snake. Then twist the snake into a ball and roll it out again. I figured out to get that beautiful marbling effect is to roll out and squish into a ball a few times. If you look at the photo, we only lightly twisted the purple bowl – it has more of a mid-century modern look. You know, if you feel like work with 20th century art styles with your little one.
6. With a rolling pin, roll out the bowl to an 1/8th” thick.
7. Use bowl to trim dough.
8. Fit clay dough into bowl.
9. Bake according to the Sculpey instructions. It will be around 15-20 minutes.
10. Let cool down. You can paint the bowl to seal and gloss or leave it as it.
11. Paint the edges with gold, silver, or nothing at all! Up to you. You can see I haven’t done this yet, but I will!
The bowls are delicate, we already cracked one (but hey, there’s glue), but they are a hit in the house. Our son loves stringing them and cooking with them.
Have a photo of your project? Share it on instagram and tag with #bindisandbottles
It’s that dreaded moment in parenting. Ranking up there with letting your teenager drive a car, move away and attend college, it is time to potty train.
I have been stressed out about potty training since I was pregnant four years ago. Yes, pregnant! Perhaps the thought of peeing on my carpet or pooping on the floor seriously grosses me out.
We’ve been doing on/off potty introduction to our toddler since he was 2 years old. For a while he was enjoying using the little potty and the regular toilet to pee in. Life happened, and second baby showed up, so the training stop – too much new stuff for a little brain is stressful.
I also had a few yelling matches when my toddler peed on the toys, floor, sofa because he refused to wear a diaper; and then thought it funny to pee on everything.
This time around, we are more serious and calm about what is to happen. To crowdsource answers, I took my question to my Facebook community: What potty training books should we use?
Here are my friend’s favorites along with a few excerpts from Amazon reviewers. Remember, this post contains affiliate links. I make commission from the sale of product through them – they don’t affect your cost at all. It’s a win for everyone!
Potty Training Books for Parents:
Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right
Early-Start Potty Training
“I agree with complaints about it, though. It could be a more in-depth “how to”. The author feels very strongly about this and tends to come off as a bit hostile- likening diapers to starving a baby. Although I agree with the idea of diaper-less babies in theory, it’s not always possible and diapers aren’t hugely damaging. The severity of the author’s position can be off-putting. I agree whole-heartedly with the idea behind EC and wish we had been able to start it from birth, and I still found the author to be a bit heavy handed. Someone who is on the fence or even not convinced may be put off by it.
I found the personal accounts to be the most helpful part. Seeing a variety of descriptions about what this has looked like and how it worked for people was encouraging.”
Once Upon a Potty — Boy
“This book is perhaps a bit graphic to the uninitiated, but then again, so is potty training, especially with inquisitive toddlers. I purchased this to read to my son when he sat on the potty for longer periods of time when he was first potty training, and he loved it. He helped read some of the funny parts–“Was it a hat? No, it wasn’t a hat. Was it a milk bowl for the cat? No, it wasn’t a milk bowl for the cat. . .It was a potty!” and he was fascinated by the straightforward explanations. I was blessed by a child that potty trained early, but this book certainly helped him understand some of the tougher questions of potty training. Cute illustrations, pleasant storyline, all around helpful. I even purchased an additional one for a friend’s son who was not showing any interest in potty training, and he loved it too.
One addition: We personally choose to say “pee” and “poop” at our house, rather than the other descriptors like “pee-pee”, etc. used by this book. In other reviews people seem to really have a gripe with having to change the wording, but I own several other potty training books and even an Elmo DVD, and none of those use “our” wording for all parts and processes, either. I like to personalize books for my son, and, as in this one, I changed not only the “pee”-type words, but also changed the little boy Joshua’s name to my son’s name instead. It’s not a big deal, that’s just how I choose to read books. Also, the tone of this book is pretty tongue-in-cheek funny for the adults reading it, or at the least to me. I got pretty sick of reading the other potty training books we owned, but this one was always welcome.”
Potty Training in 3 Days: The Step-by-Step Plan for a Clean Break from Dirty Diapers
Oh Crap Potty Training from Me to You
This website blog is from certified consultant Jen L’Italien. NOT related to the Oh Crap Book, this blog has great pointers and resources from training to issues.
Potty Training Books for Toddlers:
Lift-the-Flap Very First Questions and Answers: What is Poop?
There is a British version of this book called What is Poo. The only difference is that they use ‘loo’ and ‘nappy’ instead of ‘toilet’ and ‘diaper’. This book is geared towards potty training toddlers and talks about food, digestion, the human body. It’s fun and a lift the flap style book.
This is a simple but well drawn book from Leslie Patricelli’s board books series. I would reserve this for younger toddlers, under 2 years old, as the older ones may find it a little boring.
Next up will be potty training products you need to get started on this adventure!