Crib pleasers: The latest trends in baby gear are simple and green

Erinn Hutkin

There’s no shortage of all things cute, colorful and cuddly when it comes to baby toys and care products. This year, clothes and toys made from organic and natural woods and fabrics are trendy, as are vintage-looking stuffed animals and outfits, said Kristen Thakur, owner of Chicago baby and children’s boutique Bullfrogs & Butterflies. Here are a few favorites.

Roll Abouts

Jack Rabbit Creations


This is a set of three plush spheres — one sherbet-orange, one pale pink and one baby blue. Each sports a friendly animal face (a dog, a cat, a mouse) on the front and a chime inside. Each ball is 6 inches in diameter and washable. It’s not the most complex toy around, but as Jennifer Pope, owner of The Red Balloon Co., a Chicago children’s boutique, explained, it’s something babies can enjoy into toddlerhood.

Stuffed animal sound machines

Cloud B


It may look like a stuffed animal, but when this cuddly creature is clipped to a crib, it’s also a sound machine that lulls little ones to sleep. This soft lamb (the line also recently added a giraffe) plays sounds to drown out noise. Sound options include mom’s heartbeat, rain, ocean waves and whale calls. Cloud B also sells a travel machine that parents can clip to strollers for on-the-go babies.

Activity mat

North American Bear


This Chicago-based company produces a cloth briefcase that unzips to reveal rows of pockets, each printed with a letter of the alphabet. Inside each pouch is a tiny stuffed animal that represents each letter. The animals can be removed from the pockets for baby to grab, and the mat is soft enough for little ones to lounge on during tummy time.