Sigg Simply Eco-Logical Water Bottle

We’ve added a new “Featured Sale Item” category at Hazelnut Kids. Every few days or whenever they sell out (whichever comes first) we’ll change the item, and the featured item will always be at least 35% off.

I just changed the item to the Sigg Simply Eco-Logical 1.0 Liter Water Bottle. Regularly $25.40, it is now on sale for only $15.24. That’s 40% off!

We’ll post the featured sale items here, but in case we’re delayed, it’s always a good idea to check the category often 🙂

Sheri Novak, Owner – Hazelnut Kids

I’ve had a Twitter account for a few months, but it took me a while to start posting on it. Now that I have, I am committed to updating it frequently (although most likely not every day). If you’re on Twitter, I hope you’ll follow me, greentoygirl, as I send quick updates on what’s going on at Hazelnut Kids and in the natural toy world.

Sheri Novak, Owner – Hazelnut Kids

Plan Toys Animal Dominoes

When we received our shipment from Plan Toys with their new Animal Dominoes I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them! They looked so inviting with the fun animals and variety of colors. I decided I couldn’t wait for a special occasion, and brought a set home right away. They quickly became the game that we didn’t leave home without. They have many qualities that lend themselves well to travel:

  • They are very sturdy and able to withstand being dropped in the parking lot if they are not packed very well! You’d think a 5 year old would be able to handle his suitcase better…
  • They are substantial, which is good news when they get lost in a sea of bags in a packed-to-the-brim car. Yes, my kids love these so much they even found a way to play with them in the car! Which meant there were more dominoes on the floor of the car than on their laps. But, they were easy to find and grab, unlike smaller and duller-colored dominoes which could easily be eaten up by the seat cracks.
  • They come with a great cotton bag, so you don’t have to figure out how to pack a large box that will most likely get smashed. We threw ours in the beach bag without a second thought!

So far, our dominoes have accompanied us to many destinations, but a couple that stand out are a Northern Michigan Resort and a friend’s cottage on Lake Michigan.

Plan Toys Animal Dominoes

The dominoes were a great activity for our hotel room, and even though the resort had a huge outdoor slide and a great, fun pool area, the kids couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel room and have some family fun with the dominoes. Oh yeah, did I mention we parents enjoy playing as much as the kids do? Which, to be honest, we can’t say about all games! The dominoes were a great fit for our day trip to Lake Michigan, too. When the kids tired of swimming and needed something to do while we visited, they just pulled out their bag of animal dominoes and entertained themselves. I wasn’t concerned about them getting wrecked at the beach because they are so durable.

So, if you are looking for some good old-fashioned family fun that is convenient enough to throw in the trunk, I highly recommend Plan Toys Animal Dominoes!

Bridgett Beckwith, Manager – Hazelnut Kids

Phew! It’s taken me all day, but it’s been fun, and now the Hazelnut Kids Press Room is finally ‘open’ on our site. If you want to check in on where Hazelnut Kids has been featured (online and in print magazines), read articles we’ve written, or read a little bit about the features at Hazelnut Kids, it’s all there. I hope you’ll visit our Press (Media) Room soon, and I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions.

Sheri Novak, Owner –

We are excited to announce that the Hazelnut Kids Affiliate Program has been launched! Now friends of Hazelnut Kids can promote natural toys while earning 6% commission on sales resulting from their referrals. We also offer a selection of fun banners, an affiliate account area where affiliates can review their referral stats at any time, and more.

If you’d like to read more about the program, please visit our Affiliate Program page, or go directly to Share-A-Sale to sign up now!

If you have any questions about our Affiliate Program, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sheri Novak, Owner – Hazelnut Kids

Anamalz wooden donkeyAnamalz wooden emu

We’ve recently expanded our collection of Anamalz by adding the following new (and adorable) wooden animals at Hazelnut Kids: a goat, kangaroo, panda, tiger, emu, rhino, donkey, brown bear, black ram, and camel.

Anamalz are designed in Australia and created in China in an eco-certified and ethically-certified factory. They are made of maple wood, cotton, wool, water-based colors, and formaldehyde-free glue. They are created under European license so they meet EN71 and ASTM safety standards.

Each Anamalz bears a unique code, allowing the proud new owner to register his or her new pet online, name it, and print out a personal certificate on the Anamalz website.

They fit nicely in Christmas stockings, and at only $5.90 – $6.90 each, they are an affordable set to begin collecting. Have fun!

Sheri Novak, Owner – Hazelnut Kids

Maple Landmark Spinny Critters Maple Landmark Spinny People

Our Maple Landmark Spinny Speller has been so popular that we were excited to see Maple Landmark’s newest additions: Spinny Critters and Spinny People. These are perfect toys to keep in the car. They are compact and there are numerous combinations to create, so they will keep your children interested for a long time (i.e. they may significantly reduce the “Are we almost there?” questions that you’ll hear if you have a six year old like mine). Two more great selling points: They are only $7.50 each and they are made in America!

Sheri Novak, Owner – Hazelnut Kids

Co-Op America Business Logo

Woo hoo! After many months of applications and screenings, Hazelnut Kids has been accepted as a Co-Op America Green Business! To explain what this means, here is the definition from Co-Op America:

Members of Co-Op America’s Green Business Network have made extraordinary commitments to fair treatment of their employees and workers in their supply chain, to promoting healthy communities where they do business, to preserving the environment, and to delivering quality products to their consumers.

We are so honored to have been accepted. Thank you, Co-Op America!

Sheri Novak, 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 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

We just found out about a voluntary recall that involves 22 different Haba toys. 7 of the toys involved incidents where a small piece on the toy could detach, posing a choking hazard. No injuries occurred. The other 15 toys have similar designs as the ones involved in the incidents, so Haba is proactively recalling those toys.

Following are toys that have been involved in incidents and which we have carried at our store:

  • #0973 Little Heart Clutching Toy
  • #1037 Bunny Pacifier Chain
  • #1048 Bear Pacifier Chain

The toys proactively recalled that we have carried are:

  • #0917 Speedy Clutching Toy
  • #0919 Clutching Toy Pixie’s World
  • #0974 Bonita Clutching Toy
  • #0975 Rally Clutching Toy
  • #1067 Triola
  • #3572 Discovery Ball with Rattle
  • #3571 Discovery Balls, set of 4

The reason these are being recalled is that the glued-on mirror and/or prism can detach, posing a choking hazard.

For a full list of the products recalled, pictures of the products, or for more information about the recalls, please visit these pages:

If you have any of the involved products, please take them away from your children immediately. Haba has created an easy to submit online form which shows the products recalled (see “Recall Application Form” above). On the form you can choose to receive a refund of the MSRP of the product, and in some cases you will have the option to choose to exchange the toy if you would prefer. As stated on the recall application form, Haba will reimburse your US Postal costs to send the products back to them.

If you have purchased any of these toys from Hazelnut Kids and have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to contact us. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.

Sheri Novak, Owner –

I just created the “Back to School or Homeschool” category at Hazelnut Kids, and it was tough! When I look at our toys, every one of them qualifies as a toy that would cause a child’s imagination to grow or that would help them to learn something new. Although choosing which products to include wasn’t easy, being so beneficial for children’s minds is one of the beauties of natural toys.

We are a homeschooling family, so we are constantly looking for the learning potential in everything.  Here are a few examples:

  • The Balancing Cactus set by Plan Toys may just look like a fun game to some, but it teaches children physics as they learn to see in their mind how removing or adding a piece to one side would affect its balance.
  • A set of blocks (especially Unit Blocks) or a ball track set teaches spatial reasoning and mathematics.
  • Any board game that you play with your children teaches them social skills, memory (‘what do we do first and whose turn is it next?’), counting (if you are moving a piece based on a roll of the dice), the lesson of the game, and more. For instance, our Enlightened Play EcoRanch game has kids adopting (play) animals, taking care of them, and learning about taking care of the earth.
  • Art supplies let a child’s imagination shine, and two of the many things they can learn from them is to differentiate colors and how to create new colors.

Back to school time is a magical time of year for our family as we get excited about all of the possibilities of the coming year, and all that we can learn together. And after going through our catalog of toys at Hazelnut Kids, I am even more excited to begin.

Sheri Novak – Owner,

Kathe Kruse Waldorf dolls are part of the family

I knew the Kathe Kruse dolls were the best handcrafted dolls I had ever seen, I knew they were safe for my children, and I knew they were cute as could be. What I didn’t know was that when I brought them into my home, they would become treasured friends to my 5 year old son and 6 year old daughter. There is something special about each doll. As if all the love that was put into making the doll translates into love it has to give the child as a treasured friend.

Sammy and Sarah (as my children have affectionately named their Waldorf Dolls) have become an irreplaceable part of the family. They are bedtime companions and bike ride passengers. They most recently accompanied us to fireworks down by the bay in Northern Michigan. Sammy and Sarah had front row seats, and my children loved sharing the experience with them!

Kathe Kruse Waldorf dolls at the fireworks

For those of you considering a special gift for a special child, I just wanted to share a bit of what Kathe Kruse Waldorf Dolls can mean to the child in your life. A treasured friend they shall become!

Bridgett – Manager of Hazelnut Kids

Mother Earth News understands why we chose to locate Hazelnut Kids in Traverse City, Michigan. Traverse City was named one of the “9 Great Places You’ve Never Heard Of”
in its August/September 2008 issue. After reading the article I think you’ll understand why this city (and all of Northern Michigan) inspire us to do what we can to support the earth through the choices of the toys we carry, our green office practices, and the donations we make to land conservancies and Trees for the Future.

Congratulations, Traverse City!

This is a reprint of an article I wrote for last year. It’s a topic that comes up often, so I thought it would be good to share it here.

Wooden Toys – the Economical Choice

I often hear parents say, “I’d like to have all wooden and natural toys in our house, but they seem to cost so much more than plastic toys.” But, once parents hear how economical wooden toys really are, and how easy it is to make the switch, most parents can’t wait to get started.

The most economical aspect of wooden toys is that you need fewer wooden toys to replace plastic ones. Why? Because wooden toys can be and do more than one thing, as they stimulate the child’s imagination and allow the child decide how to play with the toy. For example, our sons have a wooden cone sorter that cost less than $20. But it’s not your average sorter with a pole and five plastic rings. It has a base and eight other shapes in various colors, so a child can create all sorts of different shapes and designs as he stacks the pieces, and he doesn’t even have to stack them at all! Our sons use the pieces in their building activities, which would be hard to do with wobbly plastic pieces. One of the pieces in the sorter is a long cylinder, so that has been used as a flute, a flag pole, a (pretend) goo squirter, and more. So by purchasing one $20 toy, we’ve replaced several plastic toys that each had only one purpose.

I’ve also heard many frustrated parents say that they have a house full of plastic toys that their kids never play with. Well, that’s not very economical! Here are a few reasons why this happens:

  • Children feel a stronger connection and respect for wooden toys since they are made from a natural, living thing, so they are treated better and last longer. As an adult, you probably feel the same way. If you were offered your choice of a wooden bookshelf or a plastic bookshelf, which would you choose?
  • When kids have too many toys around, it can be overwhelming to them. Rather than choose one toy, they either quickly cycle through several of the toys, not spending much time with any one toy, or they feel like they can’t choose a toy at all. When a house has fewer toys, the children can easily see them all, and they appreciate them more.
  • Plastic toys are easy to crack and if they are battery-operated, the motors and parts seem to break easily. My son’s birthday was this week, and within one day of opening plastic presents that he received from friends, two of the presents were broken, and no rough play was involved. And now where are they? Filling our landfills.

Finally, since wooden toys last, they can either be saved and passed down to future generations or given as a new baby gift (the toys will likely look new, and even with minor blemishes the new mom will be thrilled to receive natural toys). They can also be sold on ebay for a large percentage of the toy’s original cost. And because they are so beautiful and made from a living thing, it is very hard to throw away a wooden toy, yet surprisingly easy to toss a plastic toy. This means there are tons of plastic toys in landfills, but far fewer wooden toys. So, in addition to the economic benefits that a family gains by purchasing wooden toys, perhaps the greatest benefits are the immeasurable savings to the earth.

– Sheri Novak, owner of

Hazelnut Kids is moving to a new office/warehouse location within Traverse City on June 13. We’ve outgrown our current space, and the new location will give us plenty of room to expand whenever we need to. So effective June 16 Traverse City orders can be picked up at our office at 807 Airport Access Rd (near Parsons), Unit 100, Traverse City, MI 49686, and that will be our new shipping address.

Wooden Toy Camera 

We’ve decided to frequently highlight a favorite natural toy of ours, as certain toys are customer favorites when they see them in person, but are harder to appreciate on a computer screen.  So, today’s featured toy is our Wooden Toy Camera from North Star Toys. 

Since kids love cameras (playing with them, not necessarily being on the receiving end of the bright flash), it just makes sense to save your camera by giving your child his own play camera.  And this camera is a work of art.  It is made of various hard woods so the natural color differences give it depth.  The button on the top presses down, so the child can feel like she’s really taking a picture, and the pretend lens on the front rotates so the child can focus the camera.  Ok, so most of that stuff is done automatically on cameras now, and no, this is not a camera phone, but we like the simplicity of it!  It is made in America by a wonderful family business that has been creating natural toys for over 20 years.  At only $22.90, it’s a great deal for a toy that will be played with for years, plus it will build your child’s confidence as he proudly uses his very own camera.  

Sheri at

We at Hazelnut Kids love to read reviews of our products, our customer service and our website, so now through June 30, 2008 each approved product review will earn one entry into our $50 gift certificate drawing, and each approved customer testimonial will receive two entries into the drawing. The drawing will be held on July 1, 2008 when three entries will be drawn and each winner will receive a $50 gift certificate to Hazelnut Kids.  Our customers seem to love spreading the good word about our natural toys, so now those words will earn entries!  And, as always, each review also earns 30 Loyalty Rewards Points.

Why do we say ‘approved’ review or testimonial? No, we don’t sort out any negative reviews (they are helpful, too)! We approve reviews based on their descriptiveness. A review that says ‘Great product!’, wouldn’t be very helpful to a visitor to our site, so that review would not be approved. But, a review that says, ‘Great teether! Our 11 month old has been chewing on this for 5 months and it still looks like new.” would benefit visitors, so it would be approved.

There is no limit to the number of reviews you can submit (and entries you can earn), so let’s hear what you think about all of our toys that you own!  Please visit our Gift Certificate Drawing page for details. Good luck!

At Hazelnut Kids we always donate 1% of our sales to land conservancies and have one tree planted for every product purchased, but now through Earth Day 2008, we will donate 2% of our sales to land conservancies and have three trees planted for every product purchased. So, if you buy 4 toys totaling $100, we will donate $2 to land conservancies and have 12 trees planted through Trees for the Future!

What else are we doing (every day)?

  • Carrying toys that are made with the health of children and the Earth as the primary focus. The materials used to make our toys include wood, bamboo, organic cotton, wool, and non-toxic colorings. Our toys will last a long time so they can be passed down to future generations, donated to organizations such as Goodwill, or resold, and when the time comes to dispose of them, most can be recycled.
  • Using 100 percent post-consumer-waste, recycled gift wrap and gift cards from Earth Love’n Paper Products (which utilizes chlorine-free processing). Not only is the paper recycled, it is recyclable, and it is made so well that it can be used again.
  • Using 100 percent recycled gift boxes.
  • Using packing boxes with a 100 percent recycled exterior and a liner made of 20-30 percent recycled material.
  • Using 100 percent recycled kraft paper as our packaging fill.
  • Minimizing printing, using 100 percent PCW recycled paper when we do print, recycling in our office, and using staple-less staplers.
  • Using recycled paper with vegetable-inks for marketing materials.
  • Constantly looking for ways to make an even greater difference.

Thank you for helping us to support the Earth.

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.

Earth Loven recycled gift wrap logo

We are proud to announce the newest addition to Hazelnut Kids – our new gift wrap from Earth Love’n Paper Products. This paper is made with 100% post-consumer recycled paper, and uses vegetable ink for printing. In addition to that, no harmful bleaching compounds are used in its production. By choosing this recycled gift wrap alternative, no new trees are cut down, less energy and water are used, and less pollution is produced. Earth Love’n Paper and Hazelnut Kids are both Trees for the Future partners, so when you purchase a gift with Hazelnut Kids and have it wrapped in our new recycled gift wrap – you’ll get the benefit of supporting new tree planting – 2 fold!

Earth Loven recycled gift wrap

Beautiful, fun, and colorful designs!

As an Art Student, I’ll be the first to admit – it takes a lot for gift wrap designs to impress me. So many seem boring and uninventive. Not true for Earth Love’n Paper’s designs! Bright colors and whimsical figures help make this much more than gift wrap – they are works of art! Unwrap carefully – you’ll want to use this paper over and over again! And when the time comes to dispose of the paper, it is completely recyclable.

Included with our new gift wrap will be matching gift cards, also 100% post-consumer recycled paper and vegetable ink.

A great value for your pocket book, and an even greater value to our earth!

written by: Bridgett – Manager of Hazelnut Kids

thepurple book Green edition

Hazelnut Kids is honored to have been chosen as one of the web’s top earth-friendly retailers and included in thepurplebook: Green Edition. Of all the stores on the web, only 420 were chosen for inclusion in this book, so we are thrilled! Thepurplebook Green’s Press Release states,

“Consumers are eager to live a more eco-conscious lifestyle, but the complexity behind “living green” can cause an overwhelming sense of confusion that holds many people back from taking positive steps forward,” said Hillary Mendelsohn, author of the thepurplebook series. “The goal with thepurplebook green is to simplify Earth-friendly shopping by focusing on the growing number of web shops that turn our good intentions into reality by offering environmentally sound products. It”s a valuable resource for veteran eco-consumers as well as those newly dedicated to making better choices.”

It’s mind-boggling to think of all the work that Hillary and Ian did to create this book, yet its price is less than $10 – quite a steal for so much information. It really is a fabulous guide, so if you are interested in purchasing a copy of thepurplebook: Green Edition follow this link to

Thank you, Hillary, Ian and thepurplebook!

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!



Sigg kids water bottles at HazelnutKids

Hazelnut Kids is now an authorized retailer of Sigg Swiss Engineered Water Bottles. Since we are a natural toys store, we weren’t sure about branching out into water bottles. But, since our focus is on the health of children and our Earth, and our customers were asking for alternatives to kids plastic sippy bottles, we agreed that they would be a good fit at Hazelnut Kids. Our family has used Sigg bottles for years and I’ve always been impressed by the company’s focus and the durability of the bottles, so it was an easy decision to choose Sigg.

We carry a variety of Sigg kids bottles, and a couple that will appeal to adults, too. We also have Sigg carrying straps to make it easy for kids to carry their Siggs anywhere, and ‘Kids Grips’ so even the littlest children can easily drink from a Sigg.

In case you’re unfamiliar with Sigg, here is the information from the Sigg brand facts page we’ve created on our site:

Hazelnut Kids Brand Facts: Sigg Water Bottles

Why we love Sigg: Besides being beautiful and indestructible, we love how these products can so positively impact the health of people and the planet. According to Sigg, “American’s are adding 30 million PET water bottles to our nation’s landfills every day”, yet many Sigg bottles are still being used 10 – 20 years after they are purchase. We also appreciate that the company donates 1% of sales to helping to preserve the environment.
Country: Switzerland
In business since: 1908
Materials and Safety: Extruded from a single piece of pure aluminum. The exterior is created using a solvent-free, eco-friendly,powder-based coating which is baked on to create a vibrant finish. The 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. Due to the finish of the liner, there is much less chance for bacteria build-up with a SIGG as opposed to plastic containers. Sigg bottles exceed FDA requirements and have been independently tested to prove 0.0% leaching. Because the liner is baked into the inner walls of the bottle, it will not flake or chip even if dented on the outside.
Awards: They were called the “World’s Toughest Water Bottle” by Backpacker magazine (June 2006) (they shot golf balls out of a 100 lb cannon at them and Siggs dented but didn’t break!); Included in Time Magazine’s “Most Amazing New Inventions of 2005” list.
A message from Sigg: “Environmentally speaking, Sigg bottles get an A+. Not only are they designed to be reusable, they are 100% recyclable at the end of their very long lives. This is a far cry from single use, disposable water bottles (PET plastic), which create millions of tons of unnecessary waste each year. In fact, according to the Container Recycling Institute, less than 15% of plastic water bottles used in the U.S. are actually recycled – most wind up in landfills where they can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade. Besides reducing our reliance on petroleum-based PET bottles, Sigg USA donates 1% of all sales to helping to preserve our environment.”

To view our selection, visit our water bottles page at HazelnutKids. Cheers to healthy children and the Earth!

We just received a large Plan Toys order, and have added several new Plan Toys natural toys to our site. A few of the highlights are:

  1. We’ve expanded our wooden dollhouse furniture to include the Neo line (more colorful and modern than the traditional line). We’ve also added a modern doll family, so now you can choose from four different wooden doll families for your dollhouse.
  2. Since the Oval Xylophone is so wildly popular, we have added the Melody Xylophone which has more keys for more musical variation, three music sheets, and a longer, sleeker look.
  3. We’ve added an adorable vegetable set (there is even corn on the cob!) and a food and beverage set that compliment the other Plan Toys wooden play kitchen foods. Some customers love the small Haba wooden play foods, while others prefer the larger Plan Toys foods, so if you’re a fan of the larger foods, you’re going to love these.
  4. Bee Maracas and Frog Tambourines are back in stock! They were so popular that we were surprised and disappointed when Plan Toys decided to discontinue them. Fortunately, we were able to buy up some of what was left in their stock so that we can continue to offer them for a little while (but they’ll sell out fast!).
  5. For the full list, check out our new arrivals page.


Between all of the ordering of new natural toys and restocking after the holiday rush here at Hazelnut Kids, I have neglected our blog this month, but I promise to make up for it in the next few weeks as I announce our new vendors and products. We have found several new vendors whose beliefs and passions match ours (co-operative play, supporting the environment through our businesses, reducing waste, safe toys, avoiding plastic).  I look forward to introducing them to you soon!

 Trees for the Future logo

I love the end of each calendar quarter, as that’s the time that I send our donations to land conservancies and Trees for the Future.  It feels great to be giving to organizations that do so much for our Earth.  At Hazelnut Kids we donate 1% of our sales to land conservancies and have one tree planted for every toy that we sell.  Based on our sales in the last few months, we were able to have 5000 trees planted through Trees for the Future this month!  So a big THANK YOU to Hazelnut Kids customers who help us to care for the Earth through their purchases.  If you’d like to learn more about Trees for the Future, please click here.

We received a notice yesterday from eeBoo that they are issuing a voluntary recall of their Tot Towers. According to eeBoo, “There have been reports of isolated incidents involving the plastic film laminate being peeled off Tot Tower blocks. Although no report of any injury has been received, we are concerned this could present a choking risk to small children. We therefore have voluntarily notified the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and have agreed upon a course of action to remedy the situation.”

eeBoo will be sending a letter to customers who have bought a Tot Tower in the past.  We have sent an email to all of our customers who have purchased Tot Towers in the past, but if you have purchased a Tot Tower from us and we do not have your current email address in our system, or if you’ve purchased it somewhere else and just want some information about the recall, here are some details:

eeBoo asks that you take the Tot Tower from your children immediately and either:

1) Discard the product, or
2) Return it to the store you purchased it from for a full refund, or
3) Send it to eeBoo for a suitable replacement eeBoo product. In exchange for the return of the toy directly to eeBoo, they also will send you a small gift to thank you for your cooperation. For more information about the recall and the return form, please follow this link to the eeBoo website:

If you purchased a Tot Tower from us and would like to return it to us for a refund, please contact us for the address to return it to (we included the address in the email that was sent, but spammers love to grab addresses from blogs, so we’re not posting the address here).

If you have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to contact us or to contact eeBoo at (800) 791-5619 or

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. 

This is going to sound strange coming from someone who sells things for a living, but before you shop this holiday season (or before you buy more), please visit this website and watch the video that launches: The Story of Stuff.  It tells the full life cycle of products including how they are made, priced, sold, consumed, and trashed, but more importantly the far-reaching impacts of production, overconsumption, and waste.  It’s wonderful.  It’s fairly long (maybe 15 minutes or so, but it goes by fast), so make sure you have the time before you sit down (and if right now isn’t the time, please make the time later today).

I can’t help but think of Hazelnut Kids when I watch programs like that.  There is more that we can do at Hazelnut Kids, and we always remain cognizant of what we might be using too much of or what we can do differently.  For instance, my husband just read that if 10 million office workers were each to use one fewer staple each day, it would save almost 120 tons of steel a year (thank you to Ode magazine for that article).  Wow!  So, we at Hazelnut Kids are trying to staple less, and I’m buying staple-free staplers for the office.  We are constantly thinking of ways to reduce the amount of paper we use, and our first priority in 2008 is to map out ways of streamlining our processes to do so.

A video like that helps explain why the wooden toys that we sell cost more.  The companies we buy from pay fair wages, care for the environment, and do things right.  They create toys to last, rather than engineering them to last only a limited time so parents buy more, or creating a new version of an item so kids will “NEED” the latest version.  (This is referenced in the video in case you’re wondering why I sound so conspiracy-theorist about big box toys.). 

There is a part of the video that shows a cartoon man working (sometimes even two jobs), coming home to plop down in front of the tv, seeing ads for what he “needs”, going back to work, going shopping, coming home to watch tv, going to work…  AAARRRGGHHHH!  We don’t need as much as we think we do.  I mentioned this in an article I wrote for Modern Sage magazine (see it here), but one good toy can replace a lot of little toys, and will be cherished by a child.   Since well-made toys last, a great earth-friendly choice would be to find one at a second-hand store or garage sale.  But, if you want to buy a new toy for your child, buy one really nice toy.  It will last, it will be cherished, and you won’t be contributing to the overconsumption of our planet’s resources.   One fact that was mentioned in the video is that only 1% of the stuff we buy is still being used 6 months later.  So, 99% of the products we buy have gone through the cycle of using natural resources, being made in a factory with toxins that are hurting the workers and the environment, being shipped to the stores (using more natural resources and creating more pollution), being bought by consumers, and then being added to our landfills (and I’m missing several key points here so please watch the video).  99%!   The good news is that we can do something about all of this, and create happier lives for ourselves in the process.  Let’s start by shopping less, spending more time with our families, and watching the video for inspiration and tips.  Happy (shopping less) Holidays!  

We weren’t expecting more Plan Toys Oval Xylophones or Solid Drums until 2008, but we received an order today.  Yahoooo!  They are selling like crazy, so if you are interested in them, order today.  We have received a lot more Plan Toys natural toys and haven’t sorted through them yet, but the stock should be updated on our website by the end of the day. 

An update for those of you watching certain backordered toys:  A large selection of Haba toys, Anamalz wooden animals, and Eeboo products arrived yesterday. Today we received more Selecta Spielzeug and Chelona wooden toys and Kallisto and Lana Organic Stuffed Animals, and we expect to receive more Plan Toys on Friday (Dec. 7).  We are expecting a shipment of Waldorf dolls from Kathe Kruse any day now, and a large stock of Sarah’s Silks playsilks and silk toys should be delivered next week.  Phew!  That’s a lot to write, let alone inventory it all!  But, we love to see it coming in, and are trying to keep everything we can in stock.  Happy shopping at Hazelnut Kids!

What a wonderfully busy holiday season this has been in the world of natural toys (and it’s barely begun)!  Here are a few updates about toy safety, shipping, order deadlines, and backorders at Hazelnut Kids:

TOY SAFETY AND INFORMATION LINKS: If you are new to our site or if you’d like to encourage family and friends to buy natural toys, here are a few links that discuss the safety of our toys including where they are made, the benefits of natural toys, and information about Hazelnut Kids.

SHIPPING:  Orders are shipped within two business days of receipt, usually within one day.  We have added a UPS time-in-transit map to our website so you can estimate the time it will take for your toys to arrive once your order has been shipped. 

ORDERING DEADLINES:  We have added a ‘Holiday Ordering Deadlines’ page on our site which states the dates that orders should be placed to ensure Christmas delivery.  It is broken down by state, so the closer you are to Michigan, the longer you have to order.  No matter where you live in the contiguous U.S. you can use 3-day select service by noon on Tuesday, December 18th, or 2nd day air service by noon on Wednesday, December 19th, to ensure Christmas delivery.

BACKORDERED TOYS: At this time of year there are bound to be toys on backorder, but we are placing orders for more toys daily, so don’t be discouraged if an item that you want is on backorder.  There are some products that we do not expect to receive from our manufacturers until 2008, but when that is the case we have stated it in the toy’s description.  Since manufacturers of specialty toys only produce toys in the thousands, they are not stock-piled in warehouses, so it takes about 2 weeks for the manufacturer to deliver their toys to Hazelnut Kids.  But, as soon as we receive them we put them on the website and notify customers who have asked to be notified when a certain toy arrives.  If you’d like to be added to our backorder-contact list, simply email us with the item name and item number that you’re interested in, and we will let you know when they arrive.

As always, if you have any questions about anything on our website, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Again this year, Hazelnut Kids’ natural toys were featured in Mothering magazine’s “Santa’s Workshop Rediscovered” toy guide (November/December 2007).  Mothering magazine chooses only natural toys for its guide, so it has always been one of our favorite holiday shopping resources.  Included this year were:

 Plan Toys Vegetable Garden Set for a dollhouse – $14.90

 Haba Wooden Clutching Toy ‘Bonita’ – $10.90

Also included on the list was one of our newest best sellers: Plan Toys Wooden Shopping Cart – $59.90

Thank you to Mothering magazine for another beautiful toy review!

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 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?

Hazelnut Kids is now carrying Anamalz, beautiful, unique wooden toy animals. Each animal has a wooden head and body, bendable cotton legs (and neck, depending on the animal), and wool accents (ears, manes, etc.). They range from 2 – 5 inches tall x 2.4 – 6.3 inches long, and are priced at only $5.90 – $6.90 per animal!

Anamalz are created by HaPe (see our September 18, 2007 blog post for the HaPe Safety Statement), and are manufactured to the highest European and American safety standards using renewable resources, non-toxic glues and paints. Additionally, Anamalz donates a percentage of their sales to wildlife organizations around the world (how great!).

Now through October 31st receive a FREE Anamalz Calico pull-string bag (4.75 x 6 inches) and a FREE set of Anamalz collector cards with purchase of four or more Anamalz wooden toys at Hazelnut Kids (no coupon code necessary).

I recently read the very inspiring magazine, “Motto”, which I highly recommend reading.  It featured an article called “Where Green Meets Gorgeous” and it was about Linda Loudermilk’s eco-luxury fashions.  In it, Loudermilk was talking about how consumers throw things away without considering the impact on the earth.  But, because they are beautiful, well-made, and they last a long time, she points out that “there are very few Gucci purses in our landfills”.

Immediately I thought of the parallel to wooden and natural toys.  I can’t imagine throwing away any of our sons’ wooden toys or games.  They are either being saved for their children, passed on to friends, given to goodwill, or resold on ebay.  And whoever inherits them next, will likely do the same.  Yet, it’s easy to throw away the little plastic trinkets that they are given at their friends birthday parties.  And what a waste!  Those trinkets cost laborers in China their time (and at a low wage), they cost our earth plenty between the chemicals and energy used to make them, and now they are taking up space in our landfills.  Plus, there is the negative health impact they can have on children.

So, why do parents buy them?  Most likely they feel that the party guests will be disappointed if they aren’t given a certain amount of “goodies” to take home with them.  Yet, if given one nice toy that will last a long time, wrapped to show how special it is (rather than being put in a plastic gift bag), the child will not only love it, she will appreciate it.  And the current generation of children wants to do what is right for the earth.

One of my friends and her daughter tie-dye t-shirts for their party guests, and all of the kids love them.  A Hazelnut Kids customer recently bought several Haba magnifying glasses as party favors.  Another bought several Plan Toys moving mice.  Bridgett, our manager at Hazelnut Kids, gave her daughter’s party guests silk rainbow streamers, and she couldn’t get over what a beautiful sight it was to see all of the children running and playing outside with their streamers.  Each of these gifts cost more than plastic toys, but if you add up the price of all of the junky trinkets, monetarily it often evens out.  And as far as the Earth is concerned, there is no comparison. 

We recently received the following letter from HaPe to its retailers. HaPe is the manufacturer of our Bamboo Toys line and Anamalz, which we will begin carrying within the next few weeks. HaPe is one of the few lines that we carry that are manufactured in China, but as you will read, they own the factory in China and manage the entire manufacturing process to ensure toy safety:

Dear Valued HaPe Customers,

In response to recent and numerous toy recalls that suggest there’s trouble in toyland, we want to reassure you of HaPe’s commitment to the manufacturing of safe, quality toys.

We recognize the responsibility of producing a safe product for children. Since 1995 we have been producing HaPe toys in China using rigorous quality control principles adopted while manufacturing in Germany. Unlike other toy companies, we manage the entire toy manufacturing process from our wholly-owned Ningbo facility with HaPe employees thoroughly trained on process, quality and safety. With this formalized approach, we control design, production, testing and delivery of our robust range of award-winning toys to your store.

We are very quality-driven. In fact, we were one of the first two companies to receive the below certifications:

ISO 9001 (Quality Management Certification)
ISO 14001 (Environmental Management Certification)
ICTI (Social Accountability – audit by the International Council of Toy Industries)

We source top-of-the-line materials from responsible suppliers around the world.

Birch plywood from Russia (Note from Hazelnut Kids: birch plywood is not used in HaPe toys carried by Hazelnut Kids)
Lacquer from Belgium
Beech wood, glue and water stain from Germany

We are continually striving to improve the products we create. To ensure a 100% safe product, all HaPe products undergo rigorous international safety tests and have passed all EN71 and the North American Safety Standard ASTM. All HaPe products made in China comply with North American regulations for safe use by children and do not contain lead paint or hazardous materials. In the rare occurrence when HaPe uses a sub contractor, we use SGS, a highly regarded independent lab, to perform safety and quality tests prior to every shipment and conduct unplanned spot checks.

We are very proud of our HaPe collection and want you to know you are welcome to come visit our production facilities anytime. We look forward to supplying you with quality toys for years to come.

Sometimes new toys arrive and we say “Oh, that is really cute!”.  Other times, we say “Ohhhhhhhhh, that is really cute!”.  These organic cotton baby toy elephants deserve the long Oh.  They are chunkier than most of Under the Nile’s toys, and the colors make them perfect for a baby shower gift or a new baby gift.  They’ll look great on a shelf in the baby’s room as a decoration, too. 

They are only $13.90 and are created through fair-trade. To learn more about Under the Nile, visit our brands page here.

In order to provide toy safety information and other details about the brands we carry, we have added a new page to the HazelnutKids website called “Toy Safety“. It details:

  • Why we love the brand
  • The country where the toys are crafted
  • How long the company has been in business
  • The materials used
  • Safety information
  • Customer favorites
  • Staff favorites
  • Awards the toys and/or company have won
  • A message from the manufacturer

A link to it is in the footer at the bottom of every page, but you can also view it here.

Keptin Jr. is one of Hazelnut Kids’ favorite brands, as the company’s beliefs about child and environmental health so closely match our own. They are a fabulous company that makes the most adorable, soft, organic dolls and rattles. We carry their Organic Rattle Zmooz and Organic Cuddle Shirt Dolls.

What follows is information from Keptin Jr’s website. So impressive!

“Keptin Jr chooses to use responsible and natural materials.

Why organic cotton?

Cotton is made of the fibers of the cotton plant. This plant, which is cultivated in (sub)tropical regions, needs a lot of water and is sensitive to insect-pests. Organic cotton is cultivated without the use of chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Only biological controls and natural fertilizers are allowed for the production of organic cotton. In addition, organic farmers make use of the advantages of bio-diversity in order to keep the soil fertile.

• For reasons of health

We don’t want to expose children to toxic chemicals and pesticides, that’s why we choose to use organic cotton. In addition, organic cotton cultivation protects the health of the farmers involved and protects the environment.

• To protect the environment

If no pesticides and synthetic fertilizers are used, no harm will be done to the environment and surface waters. This is a major improvement for the mainly poor countries where cotton is cultivated.

• For reasons of fair-trade

Traditionally produced cotton is cheaper than organic cotton. This statement is only true if we disregard the hidden costs of traditional cotton cultivation. Hidden costs are the price the local community pays to fight for example the pollution of the environment or waters.

• Why pure sheep’s wool

Pure sheep’s wool has two important qualities. It absorbs body smell and adjusts to the body-temperature quickly; perfect attributes for soft toys for babies and children.

• For every baby, toddler, or preschooler

Because of the sheep’s wool our soft toys are warm and seem to be alive. The wool stuffing of the toy absorbs the child’s smell, that’s why our toys become trusted cuddly friends.

• For premature babies

Keptin Jr’s soft toys are a comfort to premature babies and will help them relax. How? The parents of a premature baby should wear the toy on their skin for a day. When the toy is left in the incubator with the baby, the baby smells the familiar scent of his parents.”

What follows is a safety statement from eeBoo.  eeBoo is one of the few brands we carry that is made in China, but as you will read, they maintain strict oversight over the production process.

August 30, 2007

Dear Valued Customers –

eeBoo understands the concerns many of you are having regarding the safety of children’s products made in China.  This is of particular concern at this busy holiday season and in light of the recent media attention.

eeBoo would like to take this opportunity to reassure all of its customers that we only use a limited number of factories in the production of our products.  These are all factories we work with closely on a daily basis and do not outsource any product without our prior knowledge.

The factories we use are certified with safety testing on each component of our products.  Any product with a painted component is independently safety tested at each printing.  We also randomly test individual items using an independent source.  All items tested are tested to ASTM and CE standards.

I hope that this helps to reassure you.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.


We just did a fun project with our sons’ friends, and thought that those of you with Stockmar Beeswax Crayons might be interested in it. We made pictures by melting beeswax crayons on paper, and now it is a Rorshach test – what do you see in the picture above?

Adults can shave off some of the block crayons with the Stockmar scraper that came with the crayons, or if you have the beeswax stick crayons and a large-holed pencil sharpener, the kids can make the shavings. Fold a piece of paper in half and then unfold it, and ask the kids to make a design by sprinkling the shavings on one half of the paper. When they are done, fold the paper again so the sprinklings are in between the two halves, and with a clothes iron heated on the lowest setting, the adults can press the iron on top of the folded paper. To prevent the crayon marks from streaking, pick up and set down the iron as you move it, rather than ironing it as you would a shirt. When you’re finished ironing it unfold the paper and then lay it flat to dry. Voila! A lovely picture!

We are now carrying beautiful, hand-crafted Holztiger wooden dinosaurs and dragons. We loved them based on the catalog pictures and the description of how they are made, but when they arrived and we opened the box, we were in awe. I can’t wait to give some to our sons (thank goodness for a fall birthday – I don’t think I could wait until Christmas!).

Here is some information about them from Holztiger’s catalog:

Manufacture: Holztiger toys are all handmade. First of all, the contours are stamped out on wooden boards, then the figures are cut out with a saw. A number of different steps follow to smooth off the rough surfaces and edges. The wood is then primed and finish-sanded – a process which results in a particularly smooth and soft surface. Next, the figures are hand-painted with water paints. to make the figures resistant to perspiration and saliva, each figure is subsequently painted – also by hand – with a water lacquer. Once the Holztiger logo is burnt in, the final step is a trip to quality control before the wooden figure is released for its journey to the playroom!

Paints and colors: Holztiger paints its figures with water-based acrylic paints (so-called water paints), which are totally non-toxic. The grain of the wood is still visible even after painting, so that the full character of the wood is retained.

Product safety: Holztiger wooden figures conform with the European Directives for Toys (DIN EN 71). The non-toxic paints and varnishes are furthermore subject to constant quality controls by the state supervisory authorities. Over and above this, Holztiger makes additional voluntary commitments to quality and safety.

Materials: Holztiger wooden figures are made entirely of wood. To meet the challenges posed by hard playroom conditions, Holztiger uses only hardwood, whereby most of the figures are made of maple. Maple is not only hard and durable, but it is also characterized by attractive graining. Dependent on the requirements, oak, beech and birch are also used as well as maple. So when you buy a wooden toy made by Holztiger, you can be sure that it is not only durable and ecologically sound, but that it also meets the highest quality requirements.

View our entire collection of Holztiger Dinosaurs and Dragons here.

Shortly we will be adding a “Brands” page at HazelnutKids that will detail the philosophy, safety standards, country of origin, and additional information about each of the brands we carry. We recently received a letter from Plan Toys addressing the issue of safety in the wake of other manufacturer’s toy recalls, and we’d like to share it with you:

Dear Valued Customers,

In response to the latest concern regarding the use of lead paint in the manufacture of toys, Plan Toys would like to reassure all retailers and consumers that Plan Toys is manufactured with the highest safety and environmental standards in mind. We build 100% of our products within our own factory, so we control the entire process from wood selection, manufacturing, to shipping.

  • Plan Toys is manufactured from replenishable rubberwood.
  • Plan Toys uses a natural kiln dry process, in place of chemical treatment, to preserve and stabilize the wood, thus making the Plan Toys products preservative-free.
  • Plan Toys uses natural, water-based dyes in place of any type of paint to add accent colors.
  • Plan Toys has won the following standards and awards for safety, environmental sensitivity and innovative design:
    • ISO 9001 – Quality Management
    • ISO 14000 – Environmental Management
    • OHSAS 18001 – Occupational Health and Safety Management
    • SA 8000 – Social Accountability Management
    • ASTM & EN71 – Toy Safety Standards
    • Parents’ Choice Awards
    • Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Awards

Plan Toys takes tremendous pride in providing safe toys that are manufactured with sensitivity toward our environment.

Nittaya Zeugfang
Plan Toys, Inc

We are proud to carry Plan Toys at HazelnutKids!

In addition to the original Maya Wrap baby sling / carrier, we are now carrying the Maya Wrap LIGHTLY PADDED baby sling, which has quickly become Maya Wrap’s best seller.  I was apprehensive at first, as one of the many draws of Maya Wraps has always been that they did not have bulky padding at the shoulder, which in other carriers makes it difficult to tighten the wrap.  Well, obviously Maya Wrap’s founder, Susan Gmeiner, knew what she was doing, as she has created a carrier with enough padding to make it even more comfortable than the original Maya Wrap, but not too much padding, so it is still easy to tighten the wrap. 

The padding is the only difference between the slings, as the fabrics and features are identical to the original Maya Wrap sling.  I believe that a Maya Wrap is the greatest baby shower gift you can buy a new mom, as it will be used for years (my son is 3 years old and I was just wearing him in our Maya Wrap today), it promotes a strong attachment and has numerous health benefits for the baby.  Click here for more information about Maya Wraps.

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. 

“Are your wooden toys safe?”. It’s a question I had rarely been asked before 2007, but with the Mattel, Thomas the Train, and other toy recalls this year, it’s understandable that parents are asking now. Hazelnut Kids products have never been involved in a recall, and our family does not own any of the recalled toys. Yet, as a mother and a natural health advocate, I am deeply saddened and frustrated that our world’s children are being harmed by toys that should be bringing them nothing but joy. As a toy store owner, I am appalled that certain manufacturers are so focused on saving money by having their operations in China, that they are failing to oversee the operations and ensuring that their toys are safe.

As I was creating Hazelnut Kids, my vision was to offer toys that were gentle on the earth and healthy for children. I also wanted parents to feel comfortable buying from us, knowing that we have done the research on our toys. I made a list of the criteria our toys would need to pass in order to be offered at Hazelnut Kids, a few of which are:

  • The toy can not be battery-operated or made of plastic, which can negatively impact children’s mental and physical health.
  • Any baby toy we carry will be made of organic cotton or wood with non-toxic finishes. If it’s in a baby’s hand it will be in the baby’s mouth, which is no place for the chemicals in plastic and conventionally-grown cotton toys.
  • The manufacturers will adhere to strict safety standards and use the most ecologically-friendly materials and processes.
  • The majority of the toys will be created in the United States or in Europe (where strict safety guidelines are followed).

Although we carry a few toys that are made in China, they are made under strict oversight by the manufacturers, and are created in well-established facilities. Every product description on our site includes the country where the toy was made, so even though we feel comfortable with the few products we carry that are made in China, if a parent does not want to buy a toy made in China, she can easily see where a toy was made. Additionally, we have created a “Toy Safety” page which details the materials used, safety standards, country of origin, and much more about each of the brands we carry at HazelnutKids.

As devastating as the recent toy recalls have been, there is one upside: toy manufacturers will be forced to start focusing on children’s health, as they should have all along. As their toys are in our children’s hands, our children’s health is in their hands.