Eco-Friendly and Relaxing Gift Ideas for Toddler Parents

by - Thursday, November 30, 2017

Has anyone else noticed that every "gift list for mom" has the same things no mom ever needs? Every single one has at least one mug and sweatshirt with stupid sayings on them (two kinds- "mommin ain't easy" or "rose all day"), personalized wine glasses (terrible), or some sort of home spa.

I hate to tell you this, but that foot bath is getting used once. Maybe. Guess who has to clean that out? And exactly which luxurious hour does the mom of a toddler have to fiddle around and prepare herself a spa day? This is not a thing!!!!!

And why are so many "mom gifts" white with some sort of metalic nonsense on it!? Would you like to guess how many white things I currently own that aren't vomited on?

These kinds of gifts play with some fantasy of motherhood and what mom lives look like. And don't even get me started on why Dads are not included on these lists. Because obviously a woman's identity and needs change the second they become a mother, but men don't need any of the same things (they couldn't possibly need some self-care too). In fact, I am pretty sure that dads only need accessories to go with their new grilling hobby.

Reality tells a very different tale. Parents are mostly facing the same battles (together and regardless of gender) and could really use the same kinds of stuff. And nothing white.

toddler mom christmas list

My friend Mindy is an amazing mom to three kids- (the picture is old, but it is one of my favorites of her) and a baby boy. She is also an amazing lifelong friend, and her list from 3 years ago continues to be my favorite.

I think her list reminds me that when your house is filled with toddlers, so much of what you want is not stuff. In fact, I can break her list down into one thing ANYONE shopping for a toddler parent needs to know.

Parents with toddlers need time. We have no time. Working moms, stay at home moms, working dads, stay at home dads. We all need more time. 

Buying gifts that will cost them time (white things, things to clean, etc) are nonsense.I

You know what else we want? A happy, healthy future for the wild child we love. 

For that reason, stupid foot bath gifts sting more. Because pointless consumerism, plastic-waste, and shipping nonsense halfway across the world are all major contributors to Climate Change. Climate Change is the realest and most immediate threat to our children and their lives. It will increase natural disasters, limit food sources, and create an existential threat to humanity.  That is what parents are having to consider as the future for our children. I know, that business is heavy! But. it's also real, and we have to face it. 

Want to give us an amazing gift? Take the world in the right direction, away from Climate Change and instead toward a healthy stewardship of our resources. This is how you do it: 

Buy Fewer Objects - Overconsumerism is a major contributor to Climate Change. Also, it is a major contributor to the giant mess in my house. An experience or service gift (like a date night or help with housework) is more useful and way less messy. Big win! Also, my house is already covered in tiny, cheap doodads. I would much rather have one gift than a pile of them.

Buy Secondhand Stuff - Secondhand is my favorite kind of shopping. It saves major money AND it keeps things out of landfills. Perfect for gifts.

Buy Things Locally - Lastly, the shorter a distance your gifts have to travel, the less fossil fuels they use. Buying things made near you also guarantees that the object was made ethically and that your money will stay in your neighborhood. If you are going to buy it new, but it as local as possible. 

Mindy's ideas for toddler parent gifts encompass all of these, and they are some of my favorite things ever asked for. So let's get to it!

This blog does include Etsy and Amazon affiliate links, but you will do better for the environment by shopping local. You can write the item down and go find it where you live. 


 I think Mindy meant it as a joke (she wrote "can I say that?!?"), but can I say, this is a KICKASS Christmas gift for the mom you know and love. No, I am not suggesting a longterm situation, but one afternoon of deep cleaning by a professional would probably cost around 100 dollars, and it could help keep everyone afloat.

One gift card for a cleaning person for that cost (or even part of it) seems like one of the best gift ideas ever.

100 dollars is still steep, but you could get it  for the couple or as a whole family gift. Then it isn't quite as bad. It's the kind of thing that seems to practical/ not fun to gift, but you know what is super fun? Having a clean house and not being exhausted because of it. Knowing that under the most recent pile of chaos, things are clean. If you are trying to be eco-friendly, you could look for someone who specializes in green cleaning too.

Seriously, A+ gift. I am stealing this idea. Everyone do this.

Opportunities to Exercise

Mindy specifically asked for a Fit Bit Charger. Sadly, this one is  impossible to find American-made, BUT you could still ask your Buy Nothing group, because people are tiring of fit bits, so they may have things to give away by now. A couple have gone up on mine. I also found 99 used ones on Ebay, so spend 3 dollars and keep things out of the landfill. Secondhand for the win.

Another great thing you could do for a parent trying to get fit? Make dates with them to come visit so she can go run, take a class, or do zumba. Even doing it once a month could be an epically great gift. Because I do my zumba with a toddler in my arms, and I am going to guess it is less effective.

Other options? Pay for a class or sessions with a trainer for them (just make sure they are the kind of person who would look kindly on the gift).

You could also get a cool hiking carrier- Tough Traveler makes their great ones in the US!

babywearing jacket
from babywearing

Babywearing Jacket

 Mindy is a genuinely spectacular baby-wearer (that girl has skills). If you are gifting for someone who is more of a novice, I recommend Solly Baby, or check out the list (Mindy helped me write) on the Green and American-Made Baby Registry. Check Ebay too, because there is a lot there.

My favorite babywearing jacket I saw was this fleece jacket from Babywearing on Etsy, though Mindy is really looking for something both front and back). I want to point to them because they look really cozy and chic, plus they are made in Toronto! Wrap your Baby has a lot of options to find what you like best, as does Fun 2 Be Mum, but they are based out of Poland, so not local to most of us.

As a side note, I also think the babywearing extenders like this one from Extenderher would be great, because it just gives more use to the coat you already have.

french press coffee maker
Tao Industry from Amazon

French Press

 Alright, the good news about a french press is that it is already an eco-friendly gift in comparison to Keurig's (please, friends don't buy friends Keurigs. Maybe the reusable cups, but that's it). The bad news is that most are made in China or Taiwan (a pretty long trip) with no good information on the ethics of their labor. But don't despair! I did find one from Tao Industry that is made in America. I also found two glass French Press companies- Bodum and Grosche that are at least partially made in Europe. Not clear.

Shopping for a mom or dad that is a coffee-lover? Of course, because they need coffee to live. Consider a reusable cup as well!

Yoga Mat

 So many choices, there is no reason to not get something eco-friendly. My yoga experience is all prego-related, when I could get out of Downward Dog judgement-free. I don't know anything about yoga gear, so I am purely looking for good reviews, eco-friendly materials, and domestic manufacturing (to cut down on fossil fuel use). My favorite is Hugger Mugger Yoga Mat. You can also check out Jade Harmony or Manduka. These ones from MantraMatsYoga would be perfect as well.

If you want to git yoga clothing, we have a whole list of yoga pants that aren't too terrible for the environment. My best hint is to stay away from all plastic fibers, even the recycled ones.

Again, could you come watch kiddos so they could take a class? Or pay for a class for them to attend? The yoga mat is a tool, but it is the issue of time that keeps her from yoga. Consider whether a gift of time is even better than a mat.

usa pan sauce pan made in america
from USA Pan on Amazon

Cookware Set

 A whole set could be very expensive to buy in an ethical or Made in America set, so I might buy a pot, pan, or two (that will last this toddler momma a lot longer than a huge set at the same price) and fill out the collection over a number of years. I think that is kind of nice, because you know just what you are buying for the next few years! If you want to get someone a pan that will last them forever (cutting down on waste), look at All-Clad. These pots and pans not cheap, but they are made in America, built to last, and absolutely beloved.

Want something a little more affordable? USA Pan offers a number of great sets of pans or you can gift each thing individually to fill in the blanks in your collection.Check their website- it's cheaper.  American Kitchen also sells each individually on their website.

Calphalon's nonstick pans are made in Toledo, Ohion, but their regular pans are made in China. I think nonstick is not very good for the body or the Earth, but helping parents survive is job #1 here, so if  that's what a parent wants, that is what they should get. Farberware also has a line of Earth Pans, which seems to be a great idea, but has some execution issues.

Day at the Spa 

If you are gifting to a massage or spa kind of person, a gift certificate makes an amazing gift. An offer to watch their kid while they goes makes it even better. Sometimes (ok always) the best gift you can give someone is a break. Offer to hang out with their toddler and let them relax for a minute. And they won't have to clean anything up afterwards.

A Few More Ideas

I have a few ideas to add to her list that might spark the perfect idea for you while you shop. Might be great!

Experience Gifts

An Instacart or Meal Gift Card- On the same wavelength as a cleaning lady or day at the spa, a parent with toddlers may be really happy to get a meal delivered every once in a while. A gift card to their favorite pizza place or take out restaurant might be awesome. Also good? Money toward instacart (if they live somewhere with that as an option) because a break from the grocery store can be a total lifesaver on a tough day or a travel day.

Take Out Gift Cards- On a similar note, there are nights where we have just done everything we can pull off. Then, we order out. Find out their favorite delivery spots and give them a handful of gift cards.

A Membership- We all want to give our kids some quality time, but it can be hard to get out of the house. Maybe buy the stay at home parent you know a membership to the zoo or a museum and then offer to be their date once in a while. It's way more fun chasing a toddler with company.

A Night Out- Movie or theater tickets and a babysitter. You can drag a little one along many places, but you can't take them to a theater. To us, going to the movies has become a huge treat. Treat them to something they loved to do, but they can't really more.

Just Babysit- Offer to come one morning or evening a month so they can just read a book or eat a meal. Switch the laundry and do the dishes. This would make me happier than any footbath ever could.

Donation Gifts

If you really want to help a toddler parent, invest in making the world a little better. I constantly worry about what the world will look like when my children are adults, and I don't think I am alone, so the best thing you can do might be to invest in a better world. Here are a few places you could donate (but think about what that mom cares about)-

The Arbor Day Foundation- Gift with a pack of seeds to plant with the toddler and invest in a cleaner, greener world.

Heifer International- One of the only opportunities you will have to donate an animal in a loved one's honor. Honor a mother somewhere in the world who DOESN'T have everything she needs. Gift with a restaraunt gift card or the offer to come make dinner.

Every Mother Counts- This campaign aims to reduce maternal mortality all over the world. Sadly (and somewhat surprisingly) those numbers keep going up. Moms take care of other moms, this is just another way to do it.

There are so many options out there- we all care about something, find out what her's is and make the world better! Here is a huge list of places to donate to as a gift.

And a Few More...

kids jumping on a trampoline

Gift cards for Pictures or Picture Books- Most people take a lot more pictures once they have kids in the house (I think I may take less- my hands are never free!). In the age of cell phones, it can be easy to never use those photos for anything, but I know most of us will wish we could look at pictures of our kiddos once they grow up. One of my friends makes a photobook with all of her instagram posts. You can get a gift card for somewhere cool like Blurb or Artifact Uprising.

toy storage basket
Colonial Mills from Amazon
Toy Storage- Not fun, not glamorous, but certainly helpful. You need to know the momma well enough to know what she needs, but I know I am always looking for storage that is not horrible to look at. You might be able to get them a bookshelf or some other wood shelving at your local consignment store for cheaper than you can buy a dress. I know I have been lusting over baskets to contain the toys, specifically Colonial Mills baskets that are made in America and look beautiful. You could also look into benches or ottomans with storage. But storage is beloved, at least at my house.

Handy Man Help- Our list of To Do's is seemingly endless, and we can never seem to get ahead of it. A few hours of help could make a big difference for lots of parents just holding things together.

Eco-Friendly and Useful Gift Ideas for Toddler Parents

Want more gift ideas? We have thousands! Check out the Green and Easy Gifts Page for sustainable gift ideas for everyone on your list. If you want more holiday ideas, check out the Green Family page.

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  1. I just love the thought that has gone into this post. It is so true that time is the most valued thing most moms could ever want given how hectic it often is. So many great ideas here.

  2. These are great ideas! I always love experiences the best, personally.

  3. These are really great ideas. I would die of excitement if my family gave me a maid for day! Although, I do think wine glasses are a great gift also, because my kids broke all mine ��

  4. I love this list! Gifts that serve a purpose or provide experiences are my favorite. Although, I'll be honest, now that I'm a mom of three, a maid would be quite handy!

  5. I love your list! I really would like a housecleaner for extensive cleaning. That would be a great gift. I also want to be a minimalist mom and I prefer gifts of experiences as opposed to *crappy gifts. I would love a mani-pedi day/ spa day.

  6. I would have loved that baby wearing jacket when my daughter was little!

  7. These are great ideas! I feel like often it's very appreciated if you receive things like cleaning service or maybe eco-friendly laundry subscription, or a babysitting evening by you while mom and dad are enjoying themselves somewhere :) Thanks for sharing, will use that for future ideas!

  8. I agree wholeheartedly with every aspect of this!!!! Give us more time and understand us - our lives ate chaotic, please don't fill it with stuff!

  9. What a great set of ideas!!! ESPECIALLY THE MAID!!! My girls are into "making" gifts this weekend, and asked what they should make for me - I suggested a family portrait hand-drawn by them...

  10. Yes! I don’t need a mug or a foot bath. I need TIME and sleep and things that restore my sanity 😂

  11. I really like that bin. It has a natural look to it and it's very pretty, but so useful too. Thanks for sharing these ideas!

  12. I've definitely given the parents in my life babysitting before as gifts! Also, I love the idea of giving a donation in someone's name. But Heifer International now won't stop sending us mail about giving again and again!



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