I found Smiling Tree Toys with surfing Etsy for wooden teethers. I was drawn in by the cute descriptions and family pictures included in every listing. I clicked. I looked. I read their story. They nestled into my heart. The coolest part about it is they are just as wonderful in conversation as they seem to be in their store.
We’re Justin and Kathleen, the smiling faces behind Smiling Tree Toys. We’re fun-loving kids at heart with a deep appreciation for living simply, being kind to Mother Nature, and creating thoughtful, handmade gifts.
Our family business began in 2010 when we returned to the U.S. after serving two years with the Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa. After living in a small, strongly-knit community in West Africa, we wanted the same for our new home in the U.S. We chose Kathleen’s family roots in rural southwestern Minnesota as our little place to call home. That’s where you’ll find us, where Justin enjoys the prairie views from his woodshop window, and Kathleen is happy to return to the wide open spaces of her childhood. Best of all, we love sharing it all with our one-year-old daughter Amana.
When we’re not in our woodshop, the three of us are usually enjoying family time, playing games, camping, skiing, and helping out on our family’s organic farm.
We like to say that we “work hard to play hard,” although most days in the woodshop hardly feel like work at all — come on, we get to make TOYS for a living!
And when they say their family’s organic farm, they mean their family’s fifth generation organic farm! It’s where the 100% organic camelina oil and organic beeswax blend they use to seal all their toys, comes from. The say that makes their toys one of a kind wonderful, and well I certainly agree! They offer all sorts of amazing handmade wood toys including teethers, rattles, blocks, and a great assortment of stacking & balancing toys; all of which are sealed with the camelina and beeswax blend from their family’s organic farm.
Another cool thing about this family, they donate to youth projects for every toy sold. In general they support Peace Core projects that promote positive youth health, development and education. They tend to gravitate towards supporting African countries, too, since their “hearts belong there.” The most recent project being Camp GLOW, you can read more about that here.
I received a personalized teether (personalizing is feature they added just this year!) of a dachshund for Roghan. When we received it, Roghan and I were actually out of town and so I had Travis open it for me over video messaging. (Yeah, I am that neurotic about cool baby stuff. What of it?) It came in a super cute bag with care instructions and a personalized note from Kathleen. Roghan’s name is perfectly set. As Travis read me the care card and note, he held the teether in front of the camera and rubbed it with his thumb. He stopped at one point to exclaim about how smooth it is to me! I couldn’t wait to get home to let Roghan have it as he began cutting his third tooth while we were gone. (These pictures were taken post Roghan laying claim to it, so it’s a little lived with already!)
Once he got his little fingers on it, he was hooked! He gnaws on it a good majority of the day and even began cutting a fourth tooth, so it was GREAT that he had this to chew on. Each teether has a little hole cut out of the middle of it, perfect for little fingers! Roghan totes it around with him all over the place. Since it has that awesome organically grown beeswax and camelina oil seal on it, I thought I would give it a taste. Crazy, I know. But hey, my kid is going to lick it, too! To the point, I tasted nothing but wood. I don’t really know what organic beeswax or camelina oil actually tastes like, so I can make no distinction about that to you…
It also has a cute little Smiling Tree Toys stamp on the back foot, perfect for rubbing little gums with some texture. I would say his favorite thing to do with it is share; he holds on to it and bites it a few times and then puts it by my mouth so I can bite it. It’s a pretty cute and silly process! Because of this I have no pictures to share of him chewing on it with you… He is very fond of his little friend though, we take it everywhere.
All in all, I would say this teethers are a major win! They are super smooth and lots of fun. I like the idea that once he outgrows teething, Roghan can still have his little puppy as a friend for future adventures. These toys are also extremely affordable for being handmade, natural and amazing.
Now, check this out: Naturally Mamas and Smiling Tree Toys have teamed up to GIVE AWAY a personalized teether of choice! That’s right, you can have any teether you want as well as have it personalized with your little one’s name! Follow the instructions below to be entered. Winner will be drawn and emailed on June 1, and has 48 hours to respond by email or a new winner will be chosen.