14 tech-free holiday gifts for kids that inspire imagination

No batteries. No bells and whistles. No bright lights or loud noises.

14 tech-free holiday gifts for kids that inspire imagination

No batteries. No bells and whistles. No bright lights or loud noises. If you're looking for tech-free toys this year to inspire imagination, spark creativity and encourage open-ended play, we've got you, mama.

Here are our 14 favorites for a quieter, more creative holiday season!

1. Classic Rattle

A simple, beautiful hardwood rattle that's easy for little hands to grip + shake and gentle on teething gums.

Colorblock Classic Rattle, Bitte Shop, $19.00


2. Pinch Toys Retro 80's Cars

Bring back the decade of big hair and wood-paneled station wagons with these awesome retro push cars handcrafted from alder wood and painted with non-toxic, water-based paints.

Retro 80's Cars Set of 3, Bitte Shop, $30.00


3. Kiko + And GG Wooden Camera

Smile! Your little one will love snapping photos just like a grown up with this imaginative pretend camera.

Wooden Camera, Maisonette, $30.00


4. PlanToys Preschool Big Drum

While we can't promise this one will provide lots of quiet play, we can promise little ones will love exploring their sensory skills and banging on this drum perfectly sized for preschool hands.

PlanToys Plan Preschool Big Drum, Amazon, $36.00


5. SensoryPlay Wooden Rainbow Stacker with Acorn Sorting Bowls

This handmade rainbow stacker can be stacked however your little one's heart desires. The acorns and sorting bowls teach colors and help with fine motor skills.

Wooden Rainbow Stacker, Amazon, $49.99


6. Kid O Free Play Magnatab

Get creative with this learning tool that provides sensory-reinforced learning and provides hours of free-play fun. Kids will love the audible click of the magnetic pen, and you'll love that the beads stay securely captured inside the board.

Kid O Free Play Magnatab, Amazon, $24.00


7. Maileg Mice

File this one under "toys we wish we could play with as adults." No detail is spared in the world of these whimsical mice, from beautifully stitched mouse clothes to ohh-inducing accessories. Your little ones will never want to leave this magical pretend world!

Maileg Mouse, Maileg USA, $27.00 and up


8. Prince Lionheart Balance Bike

Balance bikes teach kiddos how to balance, a crucial skill before learning to transition to a traditional bicycle. This beauty has a 100% birch wood frame and an adjustable height seat for easy customization.

Prince Lionheart Balance Bike, Amazon, $74.78


9. BEKA Traditional Wood Blocks

These solid maple, heirloom quality blocks are a staple of childhood and will be played with for years. Kiddos will love stacking them up, knocking them down and building their own creative masterpieces.

Beka Wooden Blocks, Amazon, $84.99


10. Peg and Awl Wooden Tree Swing

Let your little one feel the wind through her hair and the freedom to fly with this beautifully handcrafted tree swing. It's easy to secure to any large tree branch and comes with 20' of rope.

Round Wooden Tree Swing, Etsy, $120.00


11. Petit Collage USA Floor Puzzle

Work on your spacial skills and your geography skills while putting together this bright, vibrant floor puzzle.

Petit Collage Floor Puzzle, Amazon, $16.52


12. Hazel Village Dolls

Few toys inspire the spirit of play more than dolls. From whimsical forest creatures to exquisitely crafted dolls, these heirloom quality toys will inspire countless hours of imagination.

Hazel Village Dolls, Hazel Village, $40.00 and up


13. Seedling Design Your Own Superhero Cape Activity Kit

Unleash the power of creativity! We love this art project and dress-up costume all rolled into one.

Seedling Design Your Own Superhero Cape Activity Kit, Amazon, $38.10


14. The 50 States

One of our go-to gift books of the year, this fact-packed volume explores the 50 states through vibrant maps packed with everything you'd ever want to know about the U.S. of A.

The 50 States: Explore the U.S.A. with 50 fact-filled maps, Amazon, $20.40


Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.


Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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