We are plan­ning on making birth­days and end-of-year about exper­i­ences more than about things, but we know that people will want to buy Harper presents. I figure I ought to have one spot to point people for things we’re after or at least brands that we think are desir­able.

General guidelines:

We’re hip­pies… ideally, choose products that are local, hand-made or fair-trade, made with nat­ural fibres (cotton, wood, paper, corn­starch). Reused is great! Second-hand means less land­fill — but see the notes of cau­tion below. Recycled is next best (we just found a ter­rific line called Green Toys that’s made from recycled milk con­tainers and a line of books and floor puzzles from Innov­at­iveKids that’s 98% recycled con­tent).

Items we’d like & online stores:

Real world stores

In Mel­bourne, shops that stock eco-friendly and fair trade toys are:

Some notes of caution

If you find some­thing you think is just ador­able and it isn’t on this list, there are a few things to watch out for:

  • Doug is allergic to wool, fur and feathers. This means: no felt, no woollen toys, even though they’re nat­ural.
  • We’d prefer not to expose Harper to toxic chem­icals, volatile organic com­pounds and other fun things, even when some­thing is second-hand. This means: choose wood and cotton first; no poly­ester filling or mater­ials; ask whether the plastic toy is BPA-free; no PVC if it’s some­thing she’ll hold or suck. Also, check “eco” toys care­fully: we’ve found 100% silk items that are filled with silk, but covered in poly­ester and toys labelled Bamboo! in big let­ters that are actu­ally 20% poly­ester.
  • We sus­pect Harper is gluten- and dairy-intolerant. This means: check that the gluten-free food you buy is also dairy-free (no milk, no cream, no butter, no yoghurt).

Thank you for helping us create a loving and safe envir­on­ment for our daughter.

PS: gifts to char­ities on her behalf are also a won­derful idea.