Author Archives: Kirsten Chapman

Autism Toys Help Kids (and Adults) Regulate Behaviors

As of 2018, the prevalence of autism was one in 59 children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s reporting. A majority of people on the autism disorder spectrum have some level of a sensory processing disorder that makes it difficult to process sensory inputs like sights, sounds or touch.

If you’re the parent of an autistic child, you probably know that an autistic person’s brain receives and processes stimuli differently. Autism can make it difficult for your child to respond to stimuli the way a person who isn’t on the spectrum would.

Early intervention for autism using sensory toys

Early intervention with sensory integration therapy is remarkably effective at helping the autistic population handle everyday stimuli. Sensory toys that are fun and exciting help motivate kids (and adults) to engage in the world around them. Therapists use sensory toys for a variety of needs:

  • Occupational therapists use sensory toys, such as fidget toys, to develop fine motor skills, gross motor skills and social skills.
  • Applied behavior analysis therapists use autism toys for pretend play and to teach cause and effect.
  • Speech therapists use autism chew toys to encourage communication and for oral stimulation.

Fidget and spinning toys motivate autistic kids to modify behavior

Parents of autistic kids can use fidget toys or spinning toys to capture their child’s attention and deepen their relationship. They serve as a great reward when your child performs a task or modifies their behavior to be more desirable.

One prominent study showed that, after sensory integration therapy, kids ages 6 to 12 exhibited decreased autistic mannerisms, such as:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Repeating words or phrases
  • Being easily startled
  • Repetitive movements, like hand flapping or jumping

What makes Kleynimals products among the best toys for kids with autism?

Kleynimals Jangles®, Keys and Rattles are the ultimate toys for autistic children because they serve many needs — bracelet, rattle, chew toy and fidget toy. The interplay of the stainless steel materials is unexpected and delightful. As a result, with a single toy your child is processing multiple sensory inputs: Sound, sight and touch.

Helping people with developmental disabilities, like autism, is a core part of the Kleynimals mission. Since 2011, we have relied on the support of developmentally disabled adults at The Providence Center to help us prepare our product for retail.

If you are looking for autism toys, you can shop on our website. BTW, Kleynimals aren’t just for kids on the autism spectrum — they also make a great gift for adults on the spectrum. (For that matter, they’re great for any kid or adult who likes to fidget!)

Stainless Steel: A Modern Spin on Traditional Baby Shower Gifts

We’re in the thick of fulfilling orders for baby shower gifts right now — it got me wondering how baby showers came to be. Through a little research, it seems celebrations of mom- and baby-to-be have been building steam for millennia.

Baby Shower Gifts: How Did They Originate?

In ancient times, people honored moms with a meal on the tenth day following the birth of their baby. But they gave gifts to a ‘Birth Goddess,’ rather than to the mother. It was during the Renaissance period that new moms began to be honored with gifts such as food, clothing and paintings.

Food played a more prominent role during the colonial times when birthing parties were held in the home of the expectant mother. Guests would feast on ‘Groaning Cakes’ (the scent of it baking allegedly eased labor pains) and ‘Groaning Ale’ as a show of sympathy for what the mother-to-be was enduring.

Fast forward to the Victorian era: During this time new moms were honored during a tea after the baby was born (a welcome change, I’m sure, to hosting family and friends while in labor). By the early 1900’s the baby shower as we know it began to take shape. New moms received handmade gifts and grandparents would typically offer gifts of silver.

Timeless Gift Ideas for a Baby Shower

Today, the baby shower can be as simple as a few friends over for tea, or it can be an elaborate affair for the mom-to-be’s closest 400 friends. Food is rarely in short supply, but clever, unique gift ideas are harder to come by. Many shower-goers fear their gift might be outgrown before a baby even gets to wear it.

I find most people want to give a gift that will be cherished, without being untouchable (ahem, sitting on a shelf or behind glass doors). There is still an allure to silver, but it’s not as desirable a baby gift as it once was. At Kleynimals we honor the tradition with stainless steel jangles, rattles, keys and baby silverware.

And babies love metal items — they are shiny, they make noise when banged together or on a table and they are cool to the touch (a real treat for teething babies with sore gums).

Stainless steel Kleynimals give all the benefits of silver, including the timeless feel, without the impracticality, like endless polishing. Because you can personalize many of our Kleynimals with engraving, they make a treasured gift that will last a lifetime. And they are versatile: They make a great baby shower gift for boys or girls.

The Best Gifts for Baby Showers Come With a Stamp of Safety

I learned early on in this venture that not all stainless steel is created equal. Most stainless steel is made overseas (usually in Asia). Since babies and toddlers touch and mouth their Kleynimals all day long, I wanted to be sure I sourced safe steel from the USA.

Safety is important not only to me, but to the gift giver and to the parents-to-be receiving them. You’ll know you’re getting an authentic Kleynimal because we stamp them with our fun characters: Eli the Elephant, Gus the Giraffe, Leo the Lion, Pippi the Polar Bear, Scout the Snowshoe Hare, and Otto the Snowy Owl.

For your next shower, feel confident that, with Kleynimals, you’re bringing a safe, heirloom-quality gift.

You might also consider bringing a Groaning Cake for a good laugh. I found this recipe online, and I’m dying to try it (with or without the ale)!

Personalized Baby Gifts— Timeless and Classy

Spring — it’s a season of birth and renewal. Tree buds are ready to pop, birds are chirping, and flowers are starting to shower us with fragrance and beauty. With spring we look forward to Easter, Mother’s Day, Earth Day…and babies!

Personalized baby keepsakes don’t need to be ordinary

Spring babies are blessed with sweet dispositions (what baby isn’t?).  One study showed springtime babies are more likely to be optimistic and creative. We like to think our personalized newborn baby gifts are a perfect fit for those characteristics.

Kleynimals are a unique choice for your next baby gift. Why? For starters, they are not another:

  1. Embroidered baby blanket
  2. Personalized puzzle or step stool
  3. Set of booties (you get so many of these that babies only get to wear them once)

Instead, Kleynimals are something babies will want with them ALL THE TIME. Babies love the clinking sound and the cool feel of the smooth metal on their tongue and gums. Caregivers love that they are:

  • Non-toxic
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Durable
  • Not plastic

Engraved baby gifts aren’t a relic

In the good old days, baby gifts were cherished mementos: engraved baby rattles or silver cups. They were loved from afar while they sat on the shelf out of baby’s reach. And, frankly, a little annoying because without a regular polishing, they’d turn an ugly shade of brown. Those heartfelt baby gifts often ended up in a box in the attic.

Out with the old, in with the new: engravable, personalized Kleynimals made from USA-sourced 100% stainless steel. We can engrave your baby gift with up to 12 characters per line. For a more classic feel, we offer a traditional script monogram. A big plus, they’ll never tarnish — pop them in the dishwasher to clean them.

Kleynimals: Unique baby gifts with a personal touch

When shopping for that perfect baby gift, we know you want options. Our line of unique keepsake gifts is continually growing. Right now, you can choose from these Kleynimals baby gifts:

  • Flatware sets: A fork and two spoons in two different designs
  • Key toys: The practical keepsake gift with no sharp edges
  • Rattles:The sweet jingling sound keeps babies enthralled (note: we also have wearable bracelets for you that double as a rattle, they just aren’t engravable)

If you can’t decide, we offer four gift sets to choose from. But keep in mind, if you want your personalized baby gift to arrive “on time,“ (whether baby does or not) you’ll need to plan ahead. Engraved Kleynimals can take up to three weeks to appear on the doorstep since we work with a family-owned business to engrave our products.

Gender-neutral gift options for babies

Is it a boy? Is it a girl? It’s rare that the baby’s gender is a total surprise until birth day. But if you’re shopping for the unknown, Kleynimals are a great choice because they work for both genders. If you want it engraved, we recommend using the surname (which also makes it easily identifiable should they get dropped).

Personalized baby gifts are great for the second (third, fourth, fifth) baby. These babies sometimes get cheated out of personalized gifts because, well, they aren’t the novelty the first baby was. Regardless, if you buy Kleynimals for baby #1, you can rest assured the product will withstand years of use and abuse from any siblings (of any gender) that follow.

If you’re ready to shop, order online or check our retail locations. Need more info? Read our story and find out how Kleynimals came to be.

Consumer Product Safety Commission Testimony | Kirsten Chapman

Date of Testimony: February 16, 2011—

Thank you for allowing me to present to you today.  I am a mother of two young boys and a recent entrepreneur.  I have been working on a toy product for two years and just recently launched my toy for sales on December 1st 2010.  The toy is a set of keys for babies six months and up that are made entirely of food grade stainless steel (stainless 304).  

I want to give a little background on my motivation to create this toy prior to talking through the logistics of testing.  Over the past six years, really since the birth of my first son, I have become more and more aware of the various toxins in our environment that I truly believe are leading to increased rates of illness in our population – whether that be developmental delays, autism or cancer.  My evolution started with food, and then moved to cleaning supplies, skin/hair care products and eventually toys and consumer goods. I am not a scientist, so I am not here to present the facts behind how the various chemicals impact us, however, I am sure many of you have heard of the numerous studies – most recently about BPA and lead. I have become an incredibly skeptical consumer as a result, even if I don’t always have a study that proves my suspicions. What I know is that I have a friend who told me that in one week recently she learned of 6 people between the ages of newborn to mid 30’s who were diagnosed with cancer.  I hear stories like this all too often and I think that we should all be alarmed enough to insist on changes.

The reality is that most kids put toys in their mouths.  I was not as sensitive to this with my first son, who absolutely loved Thomas the train, but fortunately did not put them in his mouth.  When many of the Thomas products were recalled because of lead in the paint, I sent all of the affected ones back to the company. But, I did not worry too much from a personal standpoint because my eldest did not put toys in his mouth.  However, my second son has been a totally different story because he puts everything in his mouth. Therefore, as a consumer I find myself seeking toys that are from European companies because of the more stringent restrictions on toxic chemicals in their products (for instance, >90 PPM  of lead in a solubility test). So, while I am particular about what I purchase for my kids, they also have generous grandparents who don’t specifically seek out European restrictions. In fact, they more often purchase items from discount stores that come from China and that make me cringe when I see my youngest chomping on them.  

Thus, when the idea struck me that the market needed a better toy key alternative, I was committed to designing something that was absolutely safe for all kids, because in the end, it’s not just a personal thing – it’s not just my child that matters.  It’s also not just about making money. It’s about providing a product that hopefully is a winning business model, but that ultimately is safe for the individual kids enjoying it. It’s a product that does not lead a parent to cringe when their child inevitably puts it in his mouth.

So, how did I get from that idea for a toy and commitment to safety to actually launching my product?  I was lucky in that I knew I could make the product out of a safe material – something that we eat off of and cook with every day – food grade stainless steel.  Honestly, the material itself was the motivating factor behind my idea. When it came to the logistics of getting the toy to market, beyond the obvious cost of manufacturing, the other costs I had to consider were testing the product for compliance and liability insurance.  I never considered not testing, for that would have been a risk to my company for lawsuits and recalls. And back to individual children – it also would have meant risking their safety. I also never considered not doing the lead testing because I wanted to be able to assure parents that I was offering a completely safe product.  From a consumer perspective, I know I want the assurances (again, back to my desire for European standards). When it came down to the expense of it all, the liability insurance was what nearly led me to give up on my dream of producing the keys. It was not the testing. Liability insurance for someone like me was over $8000. Testing, including additional testing for cadmium, lead and nickel, was still less than $1000, and of note, I was not required to test for any of these contaminants because I used stainless steel 304, but I wanted to go above and beyond the requirements.

Realistically, had the test results come back and were shown to have lead in the toy, I would have been rather devastated.  However, I made it clear in my purchase order with the manufacturer that I wanted material certifications for the stainless steel, and specifically that it could not contain lead. This was not difficult to request, and it seems to me that all manufacturers could require material certification prior to purchasing the material used for the components of their toys.  

If Europe is holding companies accountable to safeguard their citizens by having more stringent restrictions, what makes it so difficult to do here?  Back to my story about Thomas the Train since that is the one that affected my family (and this is not to single them out, because I know it has happened to many companies, god forbid it happens to mine)…But, would that company not have saved money by finding out before manufacturing their product what was in the paint?  Could we not take steps to ensure that components are safe before they are made into the final product? Ultimately, I have to believe that the cost of a recall – both from the practical expense of performing the recall, but also because of the detriment to the brand – has to cost more than ensuring components are safe from the beginning.  And frankly, if it is a question of a company using a manufacturer who has misled them, a contract stipulating exactly what is expected as far as material should be part of the negotiations from the beginning. If the product does not meet the specified safety expectations, that contract should denote that the manufacturer needs to take the financial risk so that they are held accountable.

Why is it that we cannot offer the citizens of the US the same kind of safety protections as are afforded European citizens? I truly believe that a responsible company is one who is honest about the end result of their product on the individual – whether that be a direct impact through chemicals in the product or an indirect impact through deleterious effects on our environment (for example, water and air quality). In the end, what costs us more as a country is treating illnesses caused by the harmful effects of known toxins like lead, especially in the most vulnerable little bodies that are even more susceptible because of their small size.  In the end, don’t we all want our loved ones to be safe… and isn’t everyone someone’s loved one?