KiwiCo vs Lovevery: Which is the Best Early Years Subscription Box?

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Lovevery play kit review - early years subscription box - activity box for toddlers - activity box for babies

Carrie Murphy

During the first five years of life, children’s brains grow faster than they do at any other time.

They are little sponges, soaking up the world and all of the rich sensory, emotional, and intellectual experiences they have on a day-to-day basis.

The early years are especially fun (and sometimes difficult) for exactly this reason. Your kiddo is literally learning everything about the world, including…how to learn!

Because of this explosive brain growth in the early years, I know how important it is for young children to have playthings that support their learning.

As the mother of a toddler, I’m always on the lookout for fun, creative, age-appropriate activities for my toddler. And as much as I love websites or blogs that are packed full of content for just that purpose, I don’t always have the time (or inclination!) to find and set up the kind of fun-brain building activities that I’d really love to have my son doing (see also: work, dishes, self-care…the list goes on!).

And while I do enjoy a deep research dive on kiddo stuff from time to time, it’s easy to lose hours on Google searching “best Montessori toys toddlers” or “educational toys 2 years old.” That’s time that I, as a working mama during a pandemic, don’t really have!

So, the ability to purchase already vetted toys that I know are made specifically for my son’s age and stage of development is truly wonderful and valuable for my family, both for our peace of mind and our lifestyle.

For that reason, I’m a big fan of early years activity boxes, like those made by KiwiCo and Lovevery.

Here I’ve tried and tested both of these subscription boxes. If you want to skip ahead to one in particular or to the comparison table you can link to these here:

What is an Early Years Activity Box?
Introducing Kiwico Panda Crate and Lovevery The Helper Kit
Comparison Table: KiwiCo vs Lovevery
Panda Crate Review
Lovevery Review
Which is Best KiwiCo or Lovevery?

What is an Early Years Activity Box?

Early years activity boxes are subscription-based boxes filled with age-appropriate toys and activities for young children. The activities and materials are generally research-backed and always developmentally-appropriate.

Most early years activity boxes come with at least four or more toys or activities. They also feature directions and guidance specific for parents, such as creative ways to engage your child in play with the toys, or other information about your child’s developmental stage. Many also include supplemental web content, like blog posts or videos.

Early years activity boxes can be beneficial for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Packed with fun, stimulating toys and activities, these boxes are specially-designed to help stimulate your kiddo’s growing brain.

Many of them also operate on a subscription model, so you can “set it and forget it.”

Every so often (usually monthly or at other designated intervals), a new box of professionally-designed toys and activities shows up at your door.

This allows parents to save both time and energy, while reaping all of the benefits of having amazing toys for their kids. What’s not to like?!

Introducing Kiwico and Lovevery

KiwiCo Panda Crate Review - early years subscription box - activity box for toddlers - activity box for babies

KiwiCo

KiwiCo was founded by a working mother of three kids, Sandra Oh Lin. Struggling with finding fun and educational toys, she created KiwiCo.

The company offers kits and boxes for a range of ages, from babies on up to preteens (they even say some of their boxes go up to age 104!).

KiwiCo have an emphasis on STEM-related activities.

I was impressed to learn that over 1000 hours goes into the design and development of each KiwiCo crate. And of course, each one is tested by kids themselves!

KiwiCo uses materials that meet or exceed toy standards. It’s great to know that the items kids are playing with are safe and non-toxic.

For older years the activity boxes arrive once a month, but for the early years (0-24 months) the Panda Crate arrives every 2 months. The subscription starts from $19.95 per month.

Each box has 3-5 activities in it with a booklet on different ways you can use the toys inside it.

KiwiCo Reviews

Kiwico has an average of 4.4 stars out of 5 from 3735 reviewers across 3 websites. Many parents praised their quick customer service and creative activities.

Any negative reviews said that shipping took a long time, however this can happen with any courier service. Our box arrived within a few days so we had no issues with this ourselves.

KiwiCo Panda Crate Review - early years subscription box - activity box for toddlers - activity box for babies

Lovevery play kit review - early years subscription box - activity box for toddlers - activity box for babies

Lovevery

Lovevery was founded by two friends and parents, Jessica and Rod.

The company makes Montessori-inspired products which help create developmental experiences in the lives of new babies and families. Their goal is to help parents feel confident in nurturing their children’s natural curiosity.

Lovevery products are designed by child development experts, specifically engineered to be exactly what children need at each stage.

Lovevery have subscription boxes for babies and toddlers called Lovevery Play Kits. These arrive every 2-3 months and have a range of high quality Montessori-based toys which are developmentally appropriate for your child’s age.

They also make a few stand-alone toys including a Wooden Play Gym (an all natural gym for baby’s first year) and The Block Set (70 Pieces Solid Wood Blocks).

All Lovevery toys are Montessori-inspired.  The Montessori learning style is rooted in the belief that children naturally seek knowledge. The environment emphasizes hands-on, realistic play.

This means that many of the toys in Lovevery kits are made from simple, natural materials like wood and cotton. Others are designed to mimic activities in everyday life, like stacking, pouring, and more.

Not all of the toys are Montessori-approved, but they seem to be designed with the  overall Montessori framework in mind.

How Do Lovevery Subscriptions Work?

Lovevery play kits are delivered every two months from ages 0-12 months, then then every three months for ages 13-36 months.

Each kit is titled with the “role” your child is playing at this stage of their learning, such as “The Explorer” or “The Helper.” The activities inside are in line with this theme and title.

They start from $36 a month. Most subscriptions can be paid for in advance at $120 for 3 months so they work out at $40 a month. They don’t run regular offers but if you prepay you can save up to 10%.

Lovevery kits are made with sustainability in mind. Cotton is organic, finishes are non-toxic and water-based. The wood is FSC-certified and all plastic items are BPA and phthalate-free.

Lovevery Reviews

Between the Lovevery Play Kits and their standalone toys, Lovevery have an incredible 4.9 star average rating from 9,655 reviews across 3 websites.

Parents enjoy the thoughtful activities and the quality of the materials used. They liked how sturdy the toys felt in their hands and how they could blend in with the home. Many parents found that their children would play for 30-40 minutes at a time with their favorite toys from each kit. This made it great for independent play while encouraging a child’s natural curiosity.

Praise for the quick and detailed customer service is evident, too.

Lovevery play kit review - early years subscription box - activity box for toddlers - activity box for babies

KiwiCo vs Lovevery Comparison Table

STEM Activities Yes Yes
Learning Activities Yes Yes
Creative Activities Yes Yes
Age Range of Box in review 0-24 months (Panda Crate) 25-27 months (The Helper)
Age Range of All Boxes 0-104 years 0-36 months
What’s Included 3-5 toys and activities 8-11 toys and activities
Price Starts from $19.95 per month.

Panda crates come every 2 months (approx $8-12 a toy)

Starts at $36 per month.

Early years come every 2 months (approx $7-10 a toy)

How Often Do They Arrive 1 crate every 2 months (0-24 months)
1 crate every 1 month (older years)
1 play kit every 2 months (0-12 months)
1 play kit every 3 months (13-36 months)
Shipping Cost Free within the US Free for $75 and above
Shipping Areas US and Internationally US and Canada
Termed Subscriptions Available. Yes, termed subscriptions available. Yes, and you can purchase individual kits.
Refund Policy Some returns for store credit. 30 days return policy if in original packaging.
Reviews 4.4 stars from 3735 reviews 4.9 star average rating from 9,655 reviews
Special Offers 50% Off 1st Month with BESTGIFT 10% discount when you prepay for subscription: Lovevery
Websites KiwiCo Panda Crate Lovevery

 

KiwiCo Panda Crate Review - early years subscription box - activity box for toddlers - activity box for babies

Panda Crate Review

When you order a KiwiCo box, you enter your child’s name (as the box comes addressed to them, which is a nice touch!) and birth month.

We ordered the Panda crate, which has activities for ages 18-24 months. It’s subtitled “Look With Me” and is designed to help toddlers develop visual tracking skills.

My toddler son was so excited to open the KiwiCo box! With the fun green packaging, he definitely knew that this box was something different.

KiwiCo Panda Crate Review - early years subscription box - activity box for toddlers - activity box for babies

What’s in the KiwiCo Panda Crate?

Each crate has different activities. Here’s a look at the 5 activities that we got:

  1. Ramp racer: Interlocking wood and felt activity where kids create their own ramp for a ball to roll down.
  2. Wooden rainbow: Each color in the rainbow is a separate piece, or arch.
  3. Rainbow path: A cardboard track for the wooden ball.
  4. Spin and slide board: A two-sided board with slide and spin details, such as wheels on a car and pinwheels in the air.
  5. Poppy’s Duck Chase book: Study board book featuring Poppy the panda as she searches for some lost ducklings.

There were also several booklets and informational materials in the crate.

  • Activity Magazine: A detailed 9 page magazine meant for parents, focused on building toddler visual tracking skills.
  • Three activity card: Three activity cards with suggestions for further activities to support visual tracking in children. Not all of the suggestions involve the activities in the box.

KiwiCo Panda Crate Review - early years subscription box - activity box for toddlers - activity box for babies

Did my son enjoy the activities? Were they age appropriate?

My son is technically 24 months old right now, but he’s almost 25 months (at the time of this writing) and this line of the Panda Crate is for 20-24 month olds.

Although the activities were technically too young for him, as he’s at the higher end of the age scale for this box, there was still plenty to enjoy. I still think we would have had a bit more fun with this a few months ago, around ages 20-22 months or so.

Still, the ball maze provided some fun times for him, as did the wooden rainbow. He loved setting up the ramp and watching the ball run down it.

We even put the ball into the wooden rainbow and did an activity where we rolled it through the different arches, which was fun.

We put the spin and slide board in the car and it’s been perfect for that, as it’s so portable. My son will play with it as we drive and sometimes bring it into public places. I like that it easily fits in my bag, too.

The rainbow path was not a fave for us—it seemed a little simplistic. We rolled the ball in it a bit, but didn’t get much use as a whole.

My son enjoyed following along with the book Poppy’s Duck Chase and spotting the ducklings on each page. I am sure the book will be pretty heavy in our rotation as time goes on!

KiwiCo Panda Crate Review - early years subscription box - activity box for toddlers - activity box for babies

Are KiwiCo Crates Worth It?

KiwiCo Crates start from $19.95 and you get 3-5 toys per crate. Although the other lines arrive every month, giving you good value at $4-7 per toy, the Panda Crate comes every 2 months. This means that the activities work out at about $8-12 a toy.

This could be because the early years toys tend to be larger and more sturdy, whereas the older years activities can involve more making and building.

Related: see review of the KiwiCo Koala Crate (2-4 years) here KiwiCo Koala Crate vs Green Kids Crafts.

It’s also helpful that they give you a magazine to use with the toys. It can give ideas of ways you can use the activities that you hadn’t thought of.

KiwiCo Panda Crate Review - early years subscription box - activity box for toddlers - activity box for babies

Special Offer with KiwiCo

50% Off 1st Month with code BESTGIFT KiwiCo

Lovevery play kit review - early years subscription box - activity box for toddlers - activity box for babies

Lovevery Review

I’ve been a fan of Lovevery products since the beginning of my son’s life, when we were gifted their play gym. My son used that gym throughout the first year. I loved the quality and versatility of the play gym, so I was very open to also purchasing the Play Kits.

We have been receiving a Lovevery play kit every 3 months or so since my son was six months old. That’s about eighteen months total!

As a whole, I’ve loved them, although occasionally I feel that the pieces don’t work for our lifestyle or are too similar to something we’ve already received.

I like that you can look on the website and see what items you’ll be getting in the future (which can help to plan for other toy purchases, birthdays, holidays, etc).

Every box includes a book (sometimes more than one book). The books are always quite sturdy and well-made, as well as being diverse in terms of race and identity. Diversity is a value that’s quite important to me as a parent, so I really appreciate this aspect of Lovevery.

In general, the boxes arrive a few weeks before my son turns the youngest age for the upcoming box (eg, we received the 25 26 and 27 month box during the month that he was 24 months old).

For this review, I’m going to concentrate specifically on “The Helper” play kit, which is for months 25, 26, and 27.

How To Order the Lovevery Play Kits

When you order a Lovevery box, you enter your child’s birthdate, which then triggers the appropriate box for you. There is the option of buying past boxes or buying all boxes at once.

Otherwise the appropriate box for your child’s age will arrive every 2-3 months.

The Lovevery box arrived from UPS in a branded Lovevery box. As usual, my son was thrilled to open it and see all of his new toys and activities.

Lovevery play kit review - early years subscription box - activity box for toddlers - activity box for babies

What’s included in the kit?

Here’s a look at the 7 activities in The Helper kit (25-27 months):

  1. Felt flowers in a row: exactly what it sounds like! Big, beautiful flowers made of felt, with a wooden board with holes to stick them in.
  2. Anywhere art kit: A zippered pouch with paper and five tempera paint sticks, kind of shaped like markers.
  3. Double-sided sunny day puzzle: Wooden puzzle with a different scene on either side.
  4. Drop and match dot catcher: A Connect 4-esque activity, with a plastic board, wooden pieces, and an attractive fabric bag for the pieces.
  5. Let’s map it out routine cards: Sturdy cardboard cards with photos of toddlers doing different activities such as eating, brushing hair, brushing teeth, etc.
  6. Super sustainable toy sink: Toddler-sized working play sink, complete with dish rack, dishes, and two cups.
  7. Making Muffins board book: Thick board book telling the story of a toddler boy and his dad making blueberry muffins. An emphasis on counting!

There were also several booklets and informational materials in the crate.

  • Parent guide: A detailed, laminated booklet that details each of the activities and ways to use them with your kid, plus specific information on motor skills, communication, social and emotional skills, problem-solving and more.
  • Booklet covering materials and care of each of the items.

As always, the kit was fun to open and it’s evident that all of the materials are high-quality and manufactured with care and intention. The felt flowers felt almost handmade, with amazingly bright colors and attention to detail.

Lovevery play kit review - early years subscription box - activity box for toddlers - activity box for babies

Did my son enjoy the activities? Were they age appropriate?

I had already seen that the sink was part of this kit, so I was anticipating the arrival of the box pretty intensely!

My son loves water play, so I was intrigued to see how the company could make a sustainable working sink that allows a toddler to do independent water play.

The Toy Sink

The sink definitely lives up to my expectations! It’s amazing quality, portable, and easy to use.

One of the coolest things about it is that it’s made using “bio-based” plastic that is free from BPA and phthalates. The sink uses batteries and comes with the first set of batteries included.

Detailed directions let parents know how to work it. In a nutshell, the water you put in it recycles as it drains out and comes back up through the faucet. So sustainable!

My son loves playing in the sink (even drinking the water from time to time…kinda gross, but oh well!) on the kitchen floor while I cook or do other kitchen tasks.

I just think it’s such a cool and useful toy, giving my son a big sense of independence without wasting water. It’s a big hit in our family.

The Dot Catcher

The other favorite in this box is the drop and match dot catcher with wooden dots. It’s much like a Connect 4 game, but the “goal” is to match the colors of dots and group them together.

My son will play with this over and over for quite awhile.

Making Muffins Book

We also really enjoy the book Making Muffins. It’s such a heartwarming story, with great emphasis on counting and number skills.

I also love that it shows a dad and son baking, rather than a mom (as is more typically depicted in children’s books and culture).

The Felt Flowers

The felt flowers are really beautiful, as I already mentioned, but we haven’t ended up playing with them much. I’m planning to look in the parent guide to find some fun new ways to try to engage with them, though!

The Wooden Puzzle

The wooden puzzle is pleasing to handle and beautifully-made. I don’t think my son, at almost 25 months, is quite adept enough to figure out the different configurations on each side, but he’s getting there. He enjoys trying, and I enjoy supporting him in that!

My son continues to find new ways to play with the toys and tools in the Helper kit. I find them very developmentally-appropriate for his age and stage.

Lovevery play kit review - early years subscription box - activity box for toddlers - activity box for babies

Is the Lovevery Subscription Worth the Money?

Although they can cost a bit more than other subscription boxes, the difference with Lovevery is that they bring quality toys rather than one-off activities. They also put an emphasis on having toys made from natural materials and treated in ways that are safe for babies and toddlers.

In terms of price Lovevery Play Kits cost about $40 a month. For baby’s first year you get a play kit every 2 months, making them $80 per box. For the following 2 years (13-36 months of age) you get a play kit every 3 months which works out at $120 a box.

As each box has a large number of toys in them (8-11 plus a magazine) this works out at $7-10 a toy for the first year and $11-15 a toy for the second and third years.

The toys themselves can be quite large, like the sustainable sink in The Helper box here.

The Lovevery subscription works more like a handpicked selection of Montessori toys that your child can play with over many months or even years. Other subscription boxes tend to offer activities like crafts or builds that are meant to be enjoyed for a few weeks, rather than for longer periods of time.

See Inside Lovevery Play Kits

Get 10% Off prepaid subscriptions: Lovevery Play Kits

Which is Best KiwiCo or Lovevery?

KiwiCo’s Panda Crate is awesome for families looking for fun and functional activities to switch up their normal routines. The activities in my Panda crate were well-made, but seemed a bit more on the “craft” and “make” side of things, rather than long-term playthings.

I don’t think that all of the activities in the box will last through the use of multiple kids, unless you take really good care of them. The wooden rainbow in the kit I ordered seems like it’s a bit more high-quality, although it did chip within about a day of use.

KiwiCo is great if you don’t want to spend as much, or if you’re hoping to get something more regularly than just four times a year. I also think KiwiCo’s crates would make terrific gifts, either to gift to other littles in your life or to request for your own kids (hear that, aunts, uncles, and grandparents?!)

Lovevery is perfect for the family who has a little more cash to spend, since at $120 a box ($40 a month) it’s a bit more pricey. This box is also pretty clearly based in the Montessori framework, so it’s great if you’re committed to that style of learning.

Lovevery are heirloom-quality toys made from obviously high-quality materials. The wood is thick, the fabrics are solid, and any and all craft supplies included (like the tempera markers) are durable.

I can’t rave enough about Lovevery and the thought, care, and effort that is evident in each of the kits. If a subscription is in your budget (or if you can ask for a subscription as gift) it is well worth it!

Honestly, I highly recommend both boxes for families with toddlers. My son loved both. I loved them too—knowing that my son was playing with evidence-based toys that I didn’t have to choose and buy myself is a great feeling!

Special Offers

50% Off First Box With KiwiCo

50% Off 1st Month with code BESTGIFT KiwiCo

Get 10% Off When You Prepay with Lovevery

10% Off prepaid subscriptions: Lovevery Play Kits

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