Grow with Gugu: Cool Toys & Books

This post is a part of our new Grow with Gugu series by Monica Banks, founder of Gugu Guru – the ultimate baby product discovery site for style-savvy moms.

We’ve taken a little hiatus from the baby registry series over the past few months and it’s been so fun to watch Sonny grow. As Sonny has matured, so has this series of posts; we’ll no longer be focusing on baby registry essentials but will be focusing now on the best products for toddlerhood and beyond. Even though Sonny is changing, Whitney’s preferences for high-quality, eco-friendly and minimalist products have not. So all of these product recommendations meet all or some of that criteria.

For this first post, we’ll be talking about cool toys and books – since these developmental items are some of the most common products that we get asked for recommendations on as baby grows. A couple of our recommendations below are most appropriate for a child around age 12 months, however most of these products will take families through the pre-school years.

Monti Kids
When you’re a first time parent, it’s very common (especially in the early months) to ask yourself, “What should I be doing or playing with my baby right now?” Well, Gugu Guru is very excited about a brand new developmental toy subscription service called Monti Kids that takes all of the guesswork out of the equation. A Monti Kids membership includes Montessori materials for your child and access to exclusive online videos and articles created by early education experts. There are 8 levels in the program and each level includes 6+ Montessori toys that are designed to grow with your child, presenting new challenges and skills as they play.

Bryson’s Books
We can’t underscore the importance of reading to your kiddos enough and you can start as early as birth. Gugu Guru is always a big fan of companies that are cause-driven. Bryson’s Books is a socially conscious children’s book company that pledges to give back 25% of its profits to organizations making real change in the U.S. from literacy programs and poverty alleviation to leadership and mentorship organizations. What we also love about these books is that they’re eco-friendly; they’re printed on-demand and reduce the waste common to traditional publishing methods.

Bannor Toys
Gorgeous, eco-friendly and safe for all ages, this brand creates handcrafted wooden toys from a workshop in the heart of Iowa. Each wooden toy is created with the intention of letting imagination thrive in children. Playing with modern wooden toys can inspire children to use their imagination and to develop their mind in a way that toys with manuals, batteries and Bluetooth will not.

Toki Mats
For your child’s playtime, it’s nice to have a padded, comfortable and safe spot for them to sit. Many of those foam play mats on the market are not only an eye sore in your home but are constructed with not so baby-friendly – sometimes even toxic -materials. Developed by a mom, Toki Mats are gorgeous, non-toxic mats that are cushioned and oh-so stylish to mesh with any home aesthetic.

Walking Wings
While this product isn’t necessarily a “toy”, it will be fun for your child to use (and you too!) When your baby is first learning to walk, there are can be tumbles, tears, and even boo-boos. Walking Wings from UpSpring is a pediatrician-recommended walking assistant for babies learning to walk. Baby will take fewer tumbles and therefore gain more confidence with those first steps – a win/win.

Pajamas That Are Not Footie
On that same note, when your child is taking those first steps, you’ll want to ditch those footie pajamas, else you risk slips and falls especially on hardwood floors. We just have to give a shout-out to the adorable new kids line from Pink Blush (yes, THAT Pink Blush.) The brand now offers an array of children’s clothing, including some adorable pajama sets.

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