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  • Writer's pictureMama Bear & Mama Wolff

Mama Bear’s Minimalist Toddler Gift Guide

Updated: Dec 17, 2019


I love toy shopping. I mean I LOVE it. One of the best parts of being a parent is reliving my childhood and sharing my favourite experiences with my daughter and creating new memories with her.

There are the go to classic and timeless toys like LEGO and Play-dough and colouring books. Those are great, but I want to do this list a little different. In keeping with our Thrifting Christmas Challenge (Sunday’s Upcoming Post) I want to challenge myself this year to spend as little as possible. In general, but especially in stores.

We also don’t have much room in our apartment currently for a lot of new toys and so that means this list might be a little short. This is not the list for all the new latest and greatest gadgets. This is the list for parents who are interested in toys made to last, encourage development in multiple areas and create life long memories for the family.

I have based the bones off this list from the inspiration of the following gifting ideal:

• One thing they want

• One thing they need

• One thing to wear

• One thing to read

• One keepsake item

• One family activity item

• One experience purchase

Let’s jump into it!

Please note: I am not getting paid for any of this. It’s truly all my own opinions and choices.


1. Something she wants: this is kinda tricky with young children like babies and early toddlers because they don’t really want for anything other than love and cuddles and food.

So you could easily go off that idea and select something for your little human related to eating like a bamboo dish set or a cuddly, handmade stuffed animal or doll.

I really appreciate the ethics behind the Cuddle and Kind dolls. This company is owned by a family of five who creates GORGEOUS artisan hand knit dolls and stuffed animals of heirloom quality. Each is made with natural, high quality cotton, AND for every doll sold, the company provides ten meals to a child in need. The hardest part is choosing which one!

2. Something she needs: to define what our children truly need is really quite simple. At the core of it all, our children want to know and feel loved, accepted and part of something. They desire to learn, to be encouraged and know that home is where the heart is.

I’ve chosen to interpret my belief this Christmas with an item that will make our lives easier, keep Baby Bear safe and bring her into the day to day moments of our family. I am linking the Guidekraft Kitchen Helper in particular as it’s the one most ideal for us. It’s able to collapse which is perfect for the apartment and our small space. There are many kitchen helpers for sale second hand I have seen that do not collapse, so if space isn’t an issue for you, you can definitely get one handmade or second hand.

This is probably the biggest ticket item on the list but I truly believe it’s worth it as we would use it multiple times a day and bring great value to our lives. It is also long lasting and would be something to resell or pass on in a few years.

3. Something to wear: Anyone who has kids knows the struggle of keeping a well stocked, seasonal appropriate wardrobe for their littles that actually fits. I was blessed with a HUGE clothing hall from friends prior to Baby Bear’s birth. However...she grew out of every single one of those pieces and more by the time she was a year old. Seriously, she’s not even 18 months yet and she’s in 5T/6T clothes.

It’s hard to link to anything specific she needs clothing wise. Especially since we do our best to thrift every item of clothing we can. Something we have had a really hard time thrifting is a good snow suit for her. Here’s one we know would be good quality and (hopefully) will last longer than one winter.

She has to stop growing so fast eventually...right?

4. Something to read: Books. Oh my goodness. Does anyone else have a baby or a toddler that just freaking LOVES books? Books are everything. At least they were to me as a child, and it seems to be the same for Baby Bear. The list of books that I want to get her is LOOOOOONG. I mean, it’s crazy long. I may be a minimalist, but I think it’s safe to say that every minimalist has a weakness of some kind. When it comes to motherhood, my weakness is books. They teach. They help us grow. Help make our imaginations stronger. I dare say I don’t think I’ll be able to stick to the ‘only one’ rule when it comes to books. So in honour of total transparency, here are links to the top 5 books I would love Baby Bear to have for Christmas.

Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History

If: A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers

Seuss-isms! A Guide to Life for Those Just Starting Out...and Those Already on Their Way

Isabella: Girl on the Go

This whole series, to be honest...for obvious reasons.

Astrophysics for Babies

(We have a four books from this author already, and they are some of the most read books in our home.)

5. Something to Keep Forever: so...if you know me personally you know that I am BIG into documenting pretty much everything about life. I mean, I didn’t choose photography and writing as my two main professions for nothing. There is something so powerful about looking at old photographs, reliving memories and reading words from those that came before you.

This year as our daughters keepsake gift, Papa Bear and I are doing our best to finish up her first year scrapbook. My goal is to have it finished by Christmas for a couple reasons. First of all, it’s not cheap to make and it’s a good gift I think. And secondly, I really want to get the thousands of photos we’ve taken of her under control from last year and this year before a new year begins. I know that if we don’t do it now. We most likely won’t ever get it done.

I am also planning on putting together a keepsake film for her of all the different clips we’ve taken since she was born. At this point, I’m not entirely sure which is harder to pull off with a demanding toddler at your side...

6. Something to Do as a Family: I am a big believer that time with your family and the ones you love can be very healing. Things like board games, family favourite films complete with popcorn and pajamas movie nights. And creating life long lasting traditions. That’s what really makes the holidays so special.

Papa Bear and I love board games, but our collection is a little lacking. And we haven’t really worried about it too much because we can’t really get through a whole game in this season of life. You best believe though, that when she is old enough, we will be implementing some kind of family game night. For now, we’ll hope Santa brings us this lovely book to inspire us to get outside in nature as a family.

(Yes it’s another book. No, it doesn’t count as a book that should be listed above. Shhh.)

Play The Forest School Way: Woodland Games and Crafts for Adventurous Kids

7. An experience for the New Year: Unfortunately for us, this summer saw a few favourite attractions in our city under construction for improvements. This meant we didn’t get to go out and see as much as we would have liked. Not to mention that between busy days and juggling nap times and feeds, etc it can get tricky getting out and about sometimes.

As Baby Bear gets older, fun outings will become easier and easier. Next year I think I’d like for us to spend more time at the Telus World of Science. Given how much she loves her books on science, I think she would really love to spend time touching all the things and learning. That is definitely an interest she has that I believe is worth exploring. Plus, there are some really amazing exhibits coming up for us too!


What is on your little one’s Christmas list this year? What do you think about the ‘gifting guideline’? Helpful? Or stifling? Let me know in the comments below. Happy Shopping!

Remember to shop ethically whenever you can.

-Mama Bear 🐻

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