If you’re a frequent reader of (cool) progeny, you know I have a thing for smart, modern, eco-conscience design. Anything that helps make the crazy that can be the life of a modern mom a little easier.

So when Claudia (Charm City’s own toy maven) at aMuse Toys introduced me to Kleynimals, it was awe at first site. When she mentioned that they were created by a local mom, I had to learn more.

What are Kleynimals? Fun, stainless steel, non-toxic animal shaped keys designed for babies. A simply brilliant idea created by Annapolis area mom Kirsten Chapman.

Like most of us who are constantly trying to keep up on the “what’s right for our kids” information overload, Kirsten became slightly neurotic about things like organic food when her first son was born six years ago. But it wasn’t until her second child (he’s now three and a half) that she started to be concerned about plastic and BPA. So she invested in all stainless steel dish and cup ware for her kids.

In one of those cosmic ‘aha’ moments (that involved her looking at her stainless steel cup and her son clamoring to chew on her keys — whose baby hasn’t?), Kirsten came up with the idea to search for non-toxic keys online. But none of the products available online met her mom standards, or satisfied her son’s desire for ‘real’ keys.

Necessity IS the mother of invention, no?

“I’m not that creative and have never had a good idea,” said Kristen in an interview. “But I always said that if I did have a good idea, I would go for it. So I went.”

Welcome to the world, Kleynimals.

The great thing about this product is that it is functional, safe, and gorgeously designed. I don’t know about you, but those are the three top things I look for when searching for baby products. The quality of stainless steel is also perfect for engraving.

Kirsten chuckled when I asked about the more unusual engraving requests she’s received. Chuckled, but wouldn’t dish. Darn.

What might surprise you about Kleynimals?

“Most people have no idea how substantial they are. They have heft,” said Kirsten. “They’re well-made… and they make a fun noise.”

Kleynimals — which have only ‘officially’ been in existence for the last year — are already award winning toys. Dr. Toy named them a best vacation toy and they received a coveted Soft Landing Seal of Approval.

You can buy the keys locally at aMuse Toys in Baltimore,  Lil’ Lamp Shop in Annapolis, and Mumbles and Squeaks in Ellicott City. You can also purchase them right through the Kleynimals website.

(cool) tip: Kleynimals is (cool) approved! They’re featured in our 2011 Holiday Gift Guide!