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Teach Your Babies Well: Adorable, Life-Affirming Gifts for Little Ones

11/09/2012 01:18 pm ET | Updated Jan 09, 2013

There's no greater way to instill love for animals than through bright, colorful, earth-friendly gifts. Little ones and grown-ups alike will welcome these whimsical animal friends into their hearts and homes this holiday season.

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SAY "WHOO"

One of the sweetest gifts you can give a new mother is the gift of professional newborn portraits, and Monika's sweet hand-crocheted owl earflap caps are perfect for baby's first photo shoot. "Those adorable tiny fingers and tiny toes won't be so tiny for long, and once this time passes, it is gone forever," says photographer Christina Houser.
Bonus: The new mama will be forever grateful. Organic Cotton Baby Owl Earflap Hat Set for Twins, $64.00 (Photo by Christina Houser)

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BLOCK PARTY

Michelle Swingle sees blocks as "so basic yet so versatile." She handcrafts each set herself with the same high-quality, sustainable maple wood used for making baseball bats and butcher blocks with edges sanded for safety.
Bonus: A percent of each order goes to children's charities. Stackblocks Jungle Building Block Set, $55.00

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BFF IN MY POCKET

Catalina Mouse, Gracie Cat and Owen Fox are part of a collection of hand-crafted boy and girl animal friend characters. Organic cotton jersey or organic cotton velour, with hand-embroidered eyes and noses.
Bonus: You can also order your own custom characters. Hazel Village Organic Animal Friends, $36.00 - $85.00

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SHAKE, RATTLE 'N ROLL

Babies and parents alike will find these organic bamboo yarn rattles completely irresistible. Designed in the San Francisco Bay area by eco-mom Hillary Sciarillo in celebration of "the beauty and simplicity of childhood," they're made by artisans all around the world.
Bonus: Produced mostly by stay-at-home moms in a fair trade environment. Yellow Label Kids Lion and Friends Rattles, $29.50 (sold in sets of three)

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HOME SWEET HOME

Encourage a love for animals and a respect for natural habitat with this set of 12 baby-friendly board books by storyteller Sara Gillingham and Lorena Siminovich.
Bonus: Each book comes with a finger puppet to help bring characters to life. Chronicle Books Puppet Board Books, $8.99; chroniclebooks.com/kids

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FAMILY VALUES

Just one of many mid-century inspired mix-and-match treasures by award-winning artist and eco-mom Lorena Siminovich, this handcrafted nature mobile expands baby's worldview. Made from renewable bamboo and recycled paper, it arrives ready-to-hang, right out of the box.
Bonus: Pairs perfectly with In My Nest baby book. Petit Collage My World Nesting Birds Mobile, $32.00

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YOU'RE THE ONE

Turns out there are good and not-so-good rubber duckies. Who knew? These colorful bath time buddies are not just cute, they're also BPA-free, PVC-free, phthalate-free, "unlike those other mucky ducks." But don't just take my word for it, please look it up.
Bonus: These ducks don't hold water inside, which means they don't grow that yucky mold kids like to try to suck out. Boon Odd Ducks Multi-color Pack; $29.00

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GOOD COMPANY

This adorable cast of characters by award-winning animal photographer Sharon Montrose are perfect companions -- just look at those faces!
Bonus: A fine choice for decorating the conscious nursery. The Animal Print Shop Little Darlings Collection, $25.00 for small print. (Photo ©The Animal Print Shop by Sharon Montrose)

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A CHILD LIVES HERE

In Japan, koinobori (koi = "carp" and nobori = "flag") kites are proudly hung outside the home to wish children happiness, prosperity, joy, courage and health -- one kite per child. These gorgeous designer kites are 100 percent organic cotton.
Bonus: Encourages exploration into cultures outside the U.S. Madame Mo Organic Flying Carp Kites; $38.00

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MOTHER TO MOTHER

For eco-moms on the go, these adjustable and reversible pouches are a "total lifesaver." The company uses organic cotton and low-impact dyes to create a fanciful selection of colors and prints for style-conscious eco-moms.
Bonus: The Mother to Mother program provides a free sling to a mom in Haiti for each sling purchased, so Haitian mothers can wear their babies while gathering food and water for their families. Organic Rockin' Baby Sling in Leopard Print, $79.99 (Photo by Patricia DeLisa)

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BUNDLE IN THE JUNGLE

Adorable and clever infant swaddling blankets by Patricia DeLisa require no special wrapping and tucking techniques. Soft, stretchy organic cotton knit embraces baby just right, like a comfy, cozy stocking. CZ uses local organic fabrics whenever possible, and their products are made in the USA with a local manufacturer who works with stay-at-home moms. The company works around child caretaking schedules.
Bonus: No snaps, no ties, no straps, no Velcro. Cozy Cocoon Organic Baby Bunting and Hat Set, $51.00

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SAFARI DREAMS

Friendly appliquéd lions, elephants, giraffes and turtles inspire sweet safari adventure dreams with this organic cotton percale bedding. Set includes crib skirt and crib fitted sheet and quilt with optional personalization.
Bonus: Your purchace sends a positive message of support to big brands who are making the effort -- and that's important. Pottery Barn Kids Organic Safari Nursery Quilt Bedding Set, $209.00 (Photo by Joyce Schmalz)

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