What child doesn’t love to listen to stories?! Here at Hazelnut Kids, we decided it was time to offer some audio entertainment to our collection of inspiring toys for children.

We were pleased to discover Smart Dreamzzz, and we think you will be too! Smart Dreamzzz was created by a parent of two young children, and an expert in child psychology. Dr. Kristen Race is committed to helping families create a strong foundation that will lead to children making good decisions as they grow. Her CD’s guide children through age-appropriate meditation that help with sleep, and stress management.

Animal Dreamzzz provokes a relaxation response in the brain, making it easier for children to fall asleep. It includes 3 stories (about 15 minutes long each) about a giraffe, a baby elephant, and a cuddly bear.

Day Dreamzzz stimulates the memory, attention, and problem-solving areas of the brain. This CD includes 7 stories that help children relax during their stressful day – and is great at home, the car, or in the classroom!

Stories include The Magic Bottle, A Day Dream, The Sky Ride, The Relaxed River Otter, The Sleigh Ride, The River Ride, and Fireside

Dino Dreamzzz includes 3 stories (about 15 minutes long each) about a long neck, a stegosaurus, and a triceratops.

Each Smart Dreamzzz story begins with a soothing voice instructing your child to find a comfortable position and listen to their breath. She leads them to a state of relaxation and complete stillness. This in itself is worth the price of the CD. The bonus is a series of creative and imaginative stories that allow your child to experience adventures in their mind.

From Day Dreamzzz…. “The Magic Bottle”

“Imagine far off in the distance you hear the sounds of a waterfall. Pretend you are walking down a path in a beautiful mountain forest. As you walk, the sound of the waterfall gets louder and louder. You continue to walk down the dirt path and you start to feel a mist on your face. You’re getting closer! The sound gets louder and you find yourself coming to a clearing in the forest. Before you is a big beautiful waterfall cascading down layers and layers of rocks as the water makes its way down to the river below. You walk to the edge of the river and discover something amazing that has just washed up on the bank. It is a beautiful magic bottle!”

I play Day Dreamzzz in the car on the way home from school when I sense boredom, restlessness, or arguing between my two children. It works like a dream (no pun intended) to relax them and make them forget what they are arguing about. (Tracy)

You can find other testimonials HERE.


So for the July 30th giveaway, simply comment on this blog telling us which Smart Dreamzzz CD you would like. You can receive extra entries by following Hazelnut Kids on facebook and Twitter, and subscribing to the Hazelnut Kids newsletter. (sign-up is on the bottom left of home page) You can also tweet about our giveaway or share a link with your facebook friends for additional entries. Just remember to tell us with additional comments.

Good Luck and thank you for reading!

Bridgett – Manager, Hazelnut Kids

Tracy – Owner, Hazelnut Kids

So, as the holidays are behind us, and the gift wrap has cleared – the true test begins.  Do the kids actually play with the quality toys they received from Hazelnut Kids, or do the Legos and Barbies prevail?  As we had many new products this season, I updated my kids’ wishlists and watched as their grandparents ordered the new products.  Would they be a hit?  A break from school has allowed for much time at home for Jack and Isabelle to explore their new gifts, and I decided to describe their experience with each below to perhaps help with some gift giving decisions for our customers.

Received by Jack, 6 years old

Jack received this Kinderkram – Wooden Race Car, and I have to admit – I was skeptical.  Does it really work?  Will it be boring?  I was astonished how fast it zipped across the wooden floor!  He giggled with delight, and I am sure he will put many miles on this classic automobile!  Downside:  Jack wound it up a bit too much and the rubber band snapped.  However, it only took once to learn how much was too much, and with 3 extra rubber bands included, it was no problem at all!

Both kids have been interested in checkers lately, so I thought a Chinese Checkers inspired elf game would be lots of fun.  We gave it to Jack, but Isabelle is the one that has been playing it with me!  She seems as addicted to the strategy of the game as I am.  It is hard to pull yourself away.  As soon as we finish one game she is already saying, “let’s play again!”  It is a great game that adults can really enjoy with their children, and kids love improving on their skills.  Downside:  The pieces are pretty small, so sticking to the age suggestion of 5 + is a must.  You have to have good fine motor skills to place the little pieces where you want them to go.  Isabelle is 8 years old, and it suits her age very well.

Maple Landmark - Made By Me - Racer

My kids love creating things, so Santa was smart to but the Made by Me vehicles in their stockings.  The design is so simple, my 6 year old had no problem putting it together by himself.  He was very proud that he created the car.  Decorating is fun and easy to – crayons, markers, paint – whatever you have works on these car canvases!  Downside:    You’ll have to buy more once the kids are done creating theirs – because they enjoy it too much!

You can never have too many pieces for your ball track set!  This Basketball Hoop Set was a welcome addition to my son’s collection.  It comes with everything you need, so it makes a great set to be played on its own – but it also adds much excitement to your existing ball track.  This set scored major points with Jack!  Downside:   Do I have to find one?  Quality wood and the excitement of scoring big on a small scale – what’s not to love?


My kids have received far too many cheap attempts at ball catchers, all of which have broken within minutes of use and ended up in the trash – leaving them disappointed and saddened.  It is such a fun concept to kids, yet it was always over before it started.  Well, they both received a beautiful wooden ball catcher this year – and there is no disappointment in sight!  These toys will last for years, and are a fun, challenging way for kids to have fun on their own.  I even caught Nana giving it a try!  Downside:  Keep your distance from the child playing with this toy!  Or wear a helmet . . .

Received by Isabelle, 8 years old

A few years ago, Isabelle received a Kathe Kruse Waldorf Doll.  She adores it – to say the least.  There is something special about these dolls.  I know she will have it forever.  She has since been wishing she had another doll like “Sarah.”  This Christmas we decided to give her just that.  This Mini It’s Me doll seemed just right.  It comes in its own little carrying bag, and has an adorable hat!  Isabelle was ecstatic when she opened this present, and quickly named her “Molly” – Sarah’s little sister.  She is easy to bring along, and fun to change outfits with.  Downside:   She technically does not fit our 10 inch doll clothes, but Isabelle received a set and made it work.  She rolled the pants up a bit and made the skirt into a shirt!  It’s almost better, because she has been able to get creative with it.

This was a great gift that both Isabelle and Jack can enjoy with us.  The Haba Keep It Steady! Game is lots of fun for all of us, and is great when you wanna play something fun but not think too hard while doing it.  Really great for many ages, and doesn’t seem to get old fast.  I have to say I lost many times already – which is always fun for the kids!  Downside:  Not as exciting if only 2 players play, I rather play with 3-4.  But the kids still enjoy it with 2 players.

Isabelle has her own locker at school, and is quite interested in decorating it!  This Haba set of magnetic pins was a perfect fun little gift for her.  She can’t wait to bring them to school and adorn her locker.  When school is out, they will be perfect to hang artwork on the fridge.  Downside:  I want my own set!

Second grade really vamps up the vocab!  That’s why I was so glad Isabelle was very interested in playing this game that encourages word building.  The Haba Wooden Letter Dice is a fun way to practice spelling.  It was fun to play with two players, has a few different ways to play so it doesn’t get old, and was challenging for both my 8 year old and myself!  I’m sure her teacher will be pleased that she played this over break, too.  Downside:  I may have a wounded ego as Isabelle starts to beat me at this one!

Sarah’s Silks are not new to many of you, but they are to us!  At 8 years old, let me tell you they are still enjoyed.  The possibilities are endless, and Isabelle never tired of creating new dress-up ideas with her gold silk.  She loved the texture, the color, and the many ways it could be used!  Downside:  None!  Sarah’s Silks are the best, that’s all there is to it.

Well, that’s it.  Another successful gift giving season with Hazelnut Kids toys!  I hope this helps some of you who were wondering how these toys actually fair in the real world.  My children have yet to be disappointed by any Hazelnut Kids gifts they have received.  I hope your children have experienced the same joy this holiday season!

Bridgett, Manager – Hazelnut Kids Natural Toys

 Plan Toys Wooden Punch and Drop

In an age where kids have everything imaginable – toys that have more lights than Vegas at sundown, and a mind of their own – it’s nice to know that the classics still have their place.  We recently went to a family member’s first birthday party.  He had received a couple gifts from Hazelnut Kids.  One was the Plan Toys Punch and Drop, and the other was the Plan Toys Walk n Roll.  Both were a big success!  In fact, Oliver, the guest of honor, was so enthralled with the Punch and Drop that he seemed slightly uninterested in some of the other gifts in its comparison.  I may be partial, but the boy lit up with that toy!  He loved punching the balls through the holes, and also enjoyed sticking them in his mouth!  It was nice to have peace of mind knowing the size and finish on the balls made it safe for him to do so.  Oliver’s mother has said that since the party, he has found some new ways to use the toy and likes to turn it on its side and try to punch the balls through that way.  Sometimes, it is the simple toys that allow kids to flourish in their creativity – what a joy to watch!

Plan Toys Wooden Walk and Roll

He enjoyed the Walk and Roll as well, but at 1 year old, that is a toy he will grow into.  It is always nice to receive a gift that he will love in 6 months!

I was happy and pleased to see our quality toys received so well!  I found myself, once again, proud to be a part of such a wonderful company that does more than just sell toys.  Hazelnut Kids inspires and encourages creativity and growth, and offers confidence in purchasing safe toys to be enjoyed for years to come!

So next time you have a party to attend or a gift to give, think about what you want to give that child, and if it is a whole lot more than just a toy visit our site and let us send a gift with love.

Bridgett, Manager – Hazelnut Kids Natural Toys

As I sit here writing my first official blog as owner of Hazelnut Kids, I am thinking of all the beautiful toys I have purchased from Hazelnut Kids over the last five years for my two young children, Jackson (age 5) and Ivy (age 3).

Plan Toys Wooden Walk-n-Roll Push Toy

The first toy that comes to mind is a wooden push toy similar to this one by Plan Toys. Jackson received his for a first birthday gift and I’m convinced he put a few hundred miles on it before he passed it to Ivy who put a few hundred more. I can still hear the “clickety-clack” across my floors, but for now it is put away for my future grandchildren.

Plan Toys Wooden Deluxe Road System

The next toy that comes to mind is the Plan Toys Road System that has grown over the last few years. Jackson started with the Deluxe Road System with a couple of cars. About the time he got bored with that, we added the Airport, and later the Fire Station and Parking Garage. By just adding a new piece once in a while, it becomes his favorite toy again and and again. I can say the same about his Ball Track.

Elves and Angels Wooden Sylvie's Kitchen

Another favorite Hazelnut Kids toy in our home is the Elves & Angels Kitchen. I love it because it’s beautiful, natural, and blends well in our home. My children love to take meal orders, prepare their “wooden entrees,” and serve them with a smile. And what great spelling and math lessons as they write out their grocery lists and calculate the costs.

The Sarah’s Silks Playsilks are a hit around our house as well. Just last week Jackson used one as a cast for his imaginary broken leg, and Ivy used one as a superhero cape and later a princess dress.

Haba Yahtzee in a Tin

And lastly, we love the Haba games and play with them almost daily. Three of our favorites are Yahtzee, Mini Bingo, and Ivy adores the Horse Memory Game.

Now that I have over indulged in product promotion, I would like to end by saying how delighted I am that Sheri trusts me to uphold the commitments she has made to parents, children, and the environment. I share the same values, and Hazelnut Kids will continue to be a trusted resource for safe and natural toys.

Tracy Coe owner – Hazelnut Kids

Customer Question: “When are you getting more Sigg water bottles? I have been looking everywhere and can’t find the one that I want.”

Our Response: This has been a crazy year for Sigg, as they have grown so much that they are having trouble keeping up with demand. They closed their online store earlier this year and are now selling only through retailers. They are also not accepting new retailers in an effort to help keep their current retailers stocked with Sigg water bottles.

We are able to order a set dollar amount of bottles from Sigg every two weeks, and the minute it is time to reorder, we do! But, the pickings are slim, and this week, for instance, we are only able to receive two different styles of bottles. So, the short answer is that we receive more bottles every couple of weeks, but we don’t know which ones we’ll receive until they arrive. We wish we could send more details, and we wish we could get more bottles in, but we know that Sigg is doing all that they can do. Their water bottles are fantastic, and they deserve their success – they are just working through some growing pains right now.

On a related note: We have had a certain reseller purchase large quantities of our Sigg bottles through Amazon.com. Our contract would not allow us to cancel the order without getting seriously dinged on reviews and on our statistics, but we tried. This reseller then marked $20 Sigg bottles up to $50. I think it’s horrible that this person is taking advantage of the strong demand for a product by doing that. We would much rather sell one Sigg bottle to 100 different people who really want a bottle than to sell 100 to one person who is buying them to make a huge profit at the expense of others. That same reseller later tried to purchase large quantities on our site, and we cancelled his order (that felt really good!).

So, I know how wonderful Sigg bottles are, but please don’t encourage this type of dishonest behavior by purchasing bottles at huge markups. Sigg will eventually begin meeting demand, and then everyone will have the opportunity to buy one of their bottles at the correct price.

Thanks for reading. I’m now stepping down off my soapbox…

Sheri Novak, Owner – Hazelnut Kids

Haba and Plan Toys wooden play foods

At Hazelnut Kids we carry two brands of wooden play foods: Haba and Plan Toys. Since we believe that wooden play kitchens are one of the best toys to give children, it was important to us to find a large variety of wooden play foods. But, sometimes customers are surprised at the size of the foods, so I’d like to talk about that today.

Our Plan Toys sets are much larger than the Haba sets. Some come with a cutting tray and have velcro in the middle of the foods so that children can practice cutting foods. You can order most items individually as well.

We have a large selection of Haba foods which are sold individually (except for the Fruit and Vegetable Set that we put together and comes with two shopping nets). They are smaller than Plan Toys foods, and actually quite petite.

When I first bought Haba foods for my sons, I was surprised at the size. But, as I saw them play with them I realized how appropriate the sizes are for kids and the way that they play. If a child is preparing a feast for their friends, they may want to add several foods together in their play pan. Larger foods (such as Plan Toys) would only allow one or two foods to fit in the pan, but the child can add several of the smaller Haba foods together in the pan. They also fit on child-sized dishes more easily. As adults we are so used to larger foods and cutting them down to child sizes that we expect larger things. But it’s more fun for a child to have a whole apple that fits on their plate than it is to just have a piece of apple. Just as kids like having a play kitchen because it gives them the feeling of having their own perfectly sized world in the middle of this very big world, they like having play foods that are kid-sized, too.

Some customers ask if they can mix Plan Toys foods and Haba foods. Our response is that their sizes aren’t similar, so placing a Plan Toys apple on a plate next to a Haba banana may look a little strange, but we’ve found benefit in having foods from each brand. Both sets are designed for children 3 years and older, so if you had a child who just turned three, he may enjoy cutting the larger Plan Toys foods apart while an older child may like cooking with the smaller Haba foods. If you are just looking for one set of foods that you may not want to expand on, a Plan Toys set is nice because it is a complete set in one box (and a couple of them come with trays). But if you are looking for a set that you can continue to build upon (i.e. gifts for each birthday or holiday), Haba is a great way to go because there is so much variety.

We’ve had a great response to our new line of Kids SIGG Water Bottles. They are selling well and we’ve received a lot of positive feedback. There have been two common questions about them that we’ve been asked, so I thought I’d post them for everyone’s benefit:

  1. Q: How do you clean the bottles? Do you need special tablets or cleaning brushes? A: Cleaning tablets and brushes are not necessary to clean SIGGs. Our family has had SIGGs for years and the way that we clean them is to wash the top by hand with soap and water, then place one drop of liquid dish soap in the bottle and fill the bottle halfway with hot tap water. We then put the cap on and shake the bottle vigorously. Then we rinse with more hot tap water and let it air dry. We sell the cleaning brushes at Hazelnut Kids because some people like the convenience of scrubbing with a brush (and there is a smaller brush attached to clean the top, which is nice), but they aren’t necessary.
  2. Q: I’ve noticed a dimple or small dent in my bottle. Is this normal? A: Although they are incredibly strong, it is normal for them to get some dents or dings over time. Our kids have dropped their bottles and have taken them everywhere, and the bottles have a few small dents, but they are minor. The thing to keep in mind is that Sigg has engineered the bottles to be safe. According to SIGG, “The proprietary SIGG bottle lining is a water-based, non-toxic coating that is baked into the interior walls and remains flexible and crack resistant for the life of the bottle.” So even if the exterior of the bottle gets small dents or dings, the interior wall will not crack.

We are expanding our line of SIGGs, including a few more for older kids and adults, and expect them within the next few weeks. If you have any questions about SIGGs or anything on our website, please let us know!

We’ve gotten a lot of calls lately asking two things: If a certain toy is on backorder, and how quickly orders will ship.  If a toy is on backorder, our site will not let customers put it in their shopping carts, so unless it says “backorder”, it will be in stock.  Very rarely it happens that our records show that we have an item in stock when it is actually sold out, but we discover that very quickly and contact the customer to let them know immediately. 

We recently heard from a Canadian resident who ordered items from a different online toy store and their site said the items he chose were in-stock.  He received an email 10 days later stating that the items were on backorder and that they would refund his money.  That would be awful no matter where you lived, but because he lived in Canada where it takes much longer for packages to arrive, he can’t get those items in time for Christmas now.  We were shocked to hear his story, and thankful that our website has measures in place to let customers know as they are shopping whether or not a toy is in stock.

As far as when orders will ship, we are shipping within one business day of order and payment receipt.  The only exception is for residents of Canada, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Alaska, as we ship those orders as soon as the customer accepts the shipping charges that we email to them once the package has been weighed.

There is still time to shop for safe, natural toys and stocking stuffers at Hazelnut Kids!  Please visit our “Holiday Ordering Deadlines” page to determine the ordering deadline for your state, and as always, feel free to contact us with any questions that you have. 

We recently added a new toy category on the HazelnutKids website called ‘Made in America’, for those customers who prefer to only buy toys made in the United States. We currently have four pages of toys in that category, and intend to continually expand our selection.

We often receive emails asking which toys are made in America, and if any are made in China. In the wake of so many toy recalls, we understand the concern. On each product’s page on our website there is an orange box which shows where the product was made. Additionally, our ‘Toy Safety’ page lists each brand that we carry, where the toys are made, the materials used, their safety standards, and much more.

Although the majority of our toys are made in Germany, Thailand, and the United States, we do offer some toys that are made in China. However, there are several key differences between the companies that we buy from whom make their toys in China, and those involved in recent recalls. The biggest difference is that our companies maintain strict oversight of the production process. Several even own the factories and employ the workers themselves, to ensure that they have complete control over the production process. All of our manufacturers are dedicated to toy safety, and test the supplies that are used to make their toys. Additionally, our manufacturers create only thousands of their products, compared to millions as companies like Mattel do. Because they produce much smaller quantities, our manufacturers are able to oversee the creation of their toys, and to test the final products.

If you ever have any questions about our products, please do not hesitate to contact us by emailing info@hazelnutkids.com or calling us toll-free at 888.869.1901.

Customer Question: “I love your wooden toys, and was wondering if you have a print catalog?”

Our Response: “Currently, we do not have a print catalog at HazelnutKids, but we are considering having one printed in mid-to-late 2008.  We are researching printers that offer recycled paper and soy ink, and will only mail catalogs to customers who request them, so as to minimize waste.  In the meantime, many customers have found that creating a wishlist at HazelnutKids is a nice way of gently suggesting to relatives that their children would enjoy natural toys (without plastic or batteries).  Plus, relatives are usually relieved to have a short list to choose from while knowing that what they choose will be well-received by both the children and their parents!  Our wishlist service allows you to create separate lists for each child in your house, too.

On a related note, Bridgett (the manager of Hazelnut Kids) found the following excerpt from the book “Garbage Land” by Elizabeth Royte: “In 2001, American companies sent out seventeen billion (catalogs) – fifty-nine for every man, woman, and child in the United States – weighing a total of 7.2 billion pounds.  Only six out of the seventy-four catalogs surveyed by the advocacy group Environmental Defense used recycled paper in the body of their mailings.  Switching to just 10 percent recycled content, the group said, would save enough wood to run a six-foot-high fence across the country seven times.”

Isn’t it amazing that a small change like that can make such a difference?

Customer Question: “I’ve never heard the term “cooperative play game”. What does that mean?”

Our Response: In a cooperative play game all players are playing together as a team, so if the game is won, it is won by everybody, not just one person. When you play (or watch children play) a cooperative game, you will notice a difference in the energy in the room. Everyone is excited, cheering each other on, and nobody is worrying about losing the game. It doesn’t mean that the players always “win” the game, but even if the team doesn’t reach their goal, they still have fun because they are in it together. It’s even fun to groan in unison as the raven reaches the cherry tree (when playing the Haba Little Orchard Game ), for instance)!

Our favorite cooperative game is The Yoga Garden Game. The goal is to plant all of the flowers in the garden before nighttime falls. Players take turns moving the bumblebee along the path, and if they land on a flower, they can plant one of the flowers. If they land on a star, they place a piece of night in the center of the earth. If they land on a sun, they choose a yoga card and do the yoga pose (which are perfect for young children). Plus, there are a couple of bonus spaces. We play this game with our sons a lot, and we all enjoy playing it (and getting the physical benefits of the yoga poses).

Although we have several games that are designated as cooperative games, with a little creativity many games can be turned into cooperative games. They are wonderful for families, and are great to break out when a touch of sibling rivalry hits.

Customer Question:  “Which beeswax crayon set would you recommend for a two year old?”

Our Response:  We would recommend the Stockmar beeswax block crayons for a two year old, as they are easier for small hands to hold.  Also, since a two year old’s fine-motor skills aren’t extremely precise, they can make big marks with them, or color in large areas which would otherwise be tiring for little hands (if they are using them on a coloring book).  Additionally, the block crayons are perfect for using with rubbing plates if you have them.

Older children and adults enjoy using the block crayons, too, especially for free-movement drawings (i.e. big swirls and marks instead of drawing a cow, for instance), and can use the edge of the blocks to draw fine lines.

Parents of more than one child often choose our Stockmar beeswax combination set (8 block crayons and 8 stick crayons), as the stick crayons can be used by older children for more precise drawings, while still being suitable for a 2 yr old.  Stockmar beeswax stick crayons are much thicker than standard crayons so they are more break-resistant and easier to hold than standard crayons.