A lovie that babies can safely chew on and snuggle up with? Sign us up. Super-sweet Meiya and Alvin lovies are made from natural rubber and cotton, and are even machine washable. $24. At Thinker Toys.
What’s black and white and red all over? No, not a newspaper, you sillies. It’s this sweet series of soft books from Wee Gallery, designed for visual development for babies. $12.95. At Polliwog and The Bull and The Bee.
We’re head over heels for these beautifully designed wooden blocks from Uncle Goose toys. As they play, your kids get exposed to a second language (Think Chinese, Danish, French, Arabic and American Sign Language, for starters). $43. At Piccolo Mondo and Kazoodles.
These Rainbow stackers from Papa Don’s toys are built to last, made from locally harvested Oregon red alder by a second-generation family of toymakers in Walton, Ore. $29. At Kids at Heart.
The iconic Haba Toys has updated its dollhouse characters for the modern age with its new Little Friends line. Kids will dig the bendable, posable figurines and the nicely constructed playsets. Prices vary depending on set. At Thinker Toys, Learning Palace and Piccolo Mondo.
It’s no coincidence that Islabikes, a beloved British brand that designs lightweight, amazing bikes solely for kids, has put its first U.S. store in Portland. The Cnoc bike is an investment at $309 and up, but it’s the perfect starter bike, and has great resale value, too. At Islabikes.
It’s a long winter in these parts. Let them get the wiggles out indoors with Gorilla Gym’s all-in-one swing/rings/trapeze/rope ladder system, easily installed in any doorway. $159.95. At Oodles 4 Kids.
Speaking of bikes, trick theirs out with the ChalkTrail attachment from FatBrain toys, and they can leave behind rainbows everywhere they ride. $19.95. At Thinker Toys.
You love Iggy Peck, Architect. You went nuts for Rosie Revere, Engineer. Now meet Ada Twist, Scientist, the latest in the STEM-inspired series from author/illustrator Andrea Beaty. $17.95. At Powell’s Books, Annie Bloom’s and Art of Stem. (For another great bedtime story, check out Portland author Nancy Tillman’s latest, You and Me and the Wishing Tree, $17.99. At Child’s Play and Powell’s.)
En garde! Let their imaginations run wild with these Made in the US, groovy sword/shield combos from Portland-based Mighty Fun! toys. (Psst, make them extra-special by personalizing ’em.) $45. We also love the company’s handmade Oregon puzzles, which are great gifts for Ducks, Beavers and everyone in between, ages 5-105. $45. At Kids at Heart.
Give your littles a soundtrack for imaginative play with Amy Lee’s new album for kids Dream Too Much. (You’ll recognize Lee’s big, powerful voice from the metal band Evanescence.) Lee’s 2-year-old son served as inspiration for the original tracks. And her rich, power-packed vocals lend a fresh twist on classics like Alice, Stand By Me and Hello Goodbye. Exclusively on Amazon.
6 & up
STEM toys are hot this year, and for good reason. Combine their love of arts and crafts with some “how does that work” whiz-bang with the Craftastic Tinkering Kit, then step back and watch them create up a storm. $24.99. At Kids at Heart, Learning Palace and Finnegan’s Toys.
Here’s our best-in-show for family game night: Dragonwood, from Gamewright, seems complicated at first, but you’ll pick it right up — and your kids get some sneaky lessons in probability and risk/reward. $20. At Cloud Cap Games. (Want more for math-inclined kiddos? Try Möbi, a numbers-based version of Bananagrams. $24.99. At Cloud Cap.)
Everyone on the Springwater Trail will get out of the way when your kid rolls past in a just-right-for-daredevils Ezy Roller. (So popular that they’ve added a pro series built for grown-ups, so you can hang, too.) $99. At Child’s Play.
BB-8 is so 2015. Let your kids program their own robot with Sphero, an app-enabled robotic ball that comes with fun, portable ramps perfect for playground outings. $129.99. At the OMSI gift shop.
Portland author Victoria Jamieson scores big with Roller Girl, her great graphic novel about the intersection of competitive roller derby and complicated friendships. $9.99. At Cosmic Monkey Comics and Books with Pictures.
Let the kids get out some energy by (safely) bashing each other with these best-in-show foam fighting sticks from Whombatz. $34.99. At Oodles 4 Kids.
Where to Buy
A Children’s Place Bookstore:
1423 NE Fremont St.
Annie Bloom’s Books:
7834 SW Capitol Hwy.
Art of Stem: 7429 N Leavitt Ave.
Blue Kangaroo Coffee
Roasters: 7901 SE 13th Ave.
Books with Pictures:
1100 SE Division St.
The Bull and the Bee:
1540 SE Bybee Blvd.
2305 NW Kearney St.
Cloud Cap Games:
1226 SE Lexington St.
Cosmic Monkey Comics: 5335 NE Sandy Blvd.
Finnegan’s Toys and Gifts:
820 SW Washington St.
Green Bean Books:
1600 NE Alberta St.
Islabikes: 2113 SE 7th Ave.
Kids at Heart:
3445 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Kazoodles Toys: 13503 SE Mill Plain Blvd. B-3, Vancouver, Wash.
9895 SE Sunnyside Rd. E, Clackamas.
Oodles 4 Kids:
7727 SE 13th Ave.
OMSI Science Store:
1945 SE Water Ave.
Piccolo Mondo Toys:
4768 NW Bethany Blvd., #C5 and 12345 SW Horizon Blvd., #43, Beaverton.
Polliwog: 234 NE 28th Ave.
Powell’s: 1005 W Burnside St.,
3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd., and 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton.
Presents of Mind:
3633 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
7784 SW Capitol Hwy.
Zenana Spa: 2024 SE Clinton St.
* All stores are in Portland unless otherwise noted.