I (Rebekah, working mom) started getting Lovevery play kit ads when my daughter was around one and a half years old (early 2020). My first thought was I absolutely loved the concept of developmentally-appropriate toys.
Originally published May 18, 2021. Updated October 4th to include new experiences and general updates!
I always found myself asking… what should I be doing with my child? What should our nanny be doing with our child during the day?
Long story short, I ended up subscribing to the Lovevery play kits, and while the cost still pains me slightly, I personally think they’ve been worth it. I’m going into painstaking detail to explain why in this full review.
On the other hand, my sister (Bethany, stay-at-home mom who homeschools) got the same ads I did, but she decided it wasn’t worth the cost for her family. No matter how cool or cute you think these play kits are, if you don’t have room in your budget for them, you don’t have the room! They’re not cheap, after all.
There are definitely ways to get the same benefits of the Lovevery play kits without spending all that cash (check out our DIY Lovevery Alternatives article).
That said, I’m sharing my experience, thought process, and unique perspective that led me to fall in love with the Lovevery play kits. And I can certainly speak to the actual products since I’ve used them for years now.
Table of contents:
- What are Lovevery Play Kits?
- How much do the Lovevery Play Kits cost?
- Can you buy individual Lovevery play kits?
- The whole “cost per toy” thing
- Lovevery vs. Amazon
- Can you buy individual toys from Lovevery?
- Can you buy used Lovevery play kits to save some cash?
- My experience with Lovevery Play Kits
- Lovevery Play Kit quality
- Our favorite Lovevery Play Kits
- Our least favorite Lovevery Play Kits
- Pros and cons of the Lovevery Play Kits
A few disclaimers I want to get out of the way up front: I purchased the Lovevery play kits for my two children with my own money.
In fact, I subscribed to the play kits long before my sister and I ever had the concept of the Two Mama Bears blog. I personally feel like reviews aren’t completely honest when the person reviewing got the items for free. It’s like you get all the benefits from the products without personally experiencing the pain of exchanging your hard-earned money for it.
That’s not the case with this review.
Secondly, this article isn’t sponsored, meaning Lovevery has no clue we’re writing it, and they aren’t paying us to write anything. However, we are set up as an affiliate, meaning if you buy a Lovevery subscription, we get a small commission that helps us maintain this blog. We appreciate you using our link if you decide the play kits are for you.
What are Lovevery Play Kits?
Lovevery, founded in 2015, is a toy company hyper-focused on child development. Their most popular products are called play kits. The play kits are subscription-based toy boxes with items specifically designed to give kids what they need at each stage of life (from newborn to age 4).
Lovevery has a team of 11 advisors, including professors, psychologists, and authors, all offering a wide range of skills and backgrounds to ensure the toys and play kits are developmentally appropriate. When you read the brief summary of this team of advisors, it’s pretty impressive.
The Lovevery play kits are based on the Montessori method, meaning that many of the toys in the kits follow some key Montessori guidelines:
- Emphasis on less clutter
- Commitment to letting kids face challenges and struggling to develop independence and concentration
- Open-ended toys that help children enjoy the real world
- Belief in freedom of movement
- Sensory-rich experiences
You can read more about that in Lovevery’s article: What’s the real deal with the Montessori approach?
And while the Lovevery play kits embrace the Montessori approach, there are a few things the company does differently. For example, Lovevery believes in baby talk, whereas Montessori philosophy is that adults should speak to children as they speak to adults.
Either way, it seems to me like Lovevery has taken the best of Montessori and applied it to its toys. They’re often simple toys that offer a variety of ways to learn all while allowing the child to explore and face the challenge presented by the toy.
How much do the Lovevery Play Kits cost?
The play kits are advertised as “starting at $36 per month,” but I find this a little convoluted. While this is a subscription, you don’t pay monthly – you pay each time a new play kit is shipped, which is every 2-3 months.
In the first year, or from newborn to 12 months old, you get a new play kit every other month. Each kit is $80. This made a lot of sense to me, especially when you think about how fast kids develop in that first year.
In years 2-3 (13-36 months), you get a new play kit every third month. Each kit is $120.
If you pay for a program upfront, you can save between 5-10%.
As an example, if you prepaid for the first year of play kits, you’d pay $432, a $48 savings. (This example is for the 6 play kits designed for ages 0-12 months.)
Can you buy individual Lovevery play kits?
While you can save by “subscribing” to several play kits, you can still buy an individual Lovevery play kit with no contracts.
The play kits that ship every other month (months 0-12) are $80 per kit, and yes – you can purchase just one and cancel the recurring shipments any time.
If your child is 13-36 months old, the play kits ship every third month and cost $120 per kit. Again, you can cancel the recurring shipments anytime and buy a single play kit.
If you’re interested in trying just one play kit, I will share which ones are my favorite later in this article.
The whole “cost per toy” thing
When I was making a buying decision, I never broke down the cost of each toy separately to determine if the play kits were worth it. I only recently saw someone else make this comparison.
I suppose you could say there are 10 toys in the first play kit, so each toy is essentially $8, but the value of each item isn’t always even. Some items are made of wood while others are made of cotton. Some items are more intricate and have more moving parts, while others are tiny books. It makes more sense to place value on the kit as a whole versus breaking it down.
Lovevery vs. Amazon
I will say I personally tried to “recreate” the play kits to see if I could do it cheaper, and I let that whole concept go pretty quickly. These items are truly one of a kind – Lovevery produces them. It’s also entirely overwhelming and stressful to try to recreate these play kits, not to mention the items you buy won’t coordinate like the Lovevery ones do.
You’d be hard-pressed to create your own play kit of equal quality and value for less cost. As an initial test, I tried to recreate one of my favorite play kits – the Senser (for months 5-6).
I tried to find dupes on Amazon for the 6 toys, which include the spinning rainbow, magic tissue box with tissues, organic cotton rainbow ball, ‘Parts of Me’ book, play socks, and tummy time wobbler.
I actually found items very similar to the Lovevery ones, though not quite as aesthetically pleasing, and the cost totaled up to $101.74, or over $20 more than the Lovevery kit. Lovevery also comes with a play guide, and all the items are certainly of higher quality.
The only way it would make sense to purchase items from Amazon rather than getting a Lovevery play kit is if you were interested in a single item and didn’t want the whole kit.
Scouring Amazon for Lovevery toy dupes was so interesting I decided to turn this idea into a blog series. You can check out our full Lovevery Amazon Dupes series for more comparisons!
Can you buy individual toys from Lovevery?
Lovevery sells individual toys, but not the ones you’ll find in their famous play kits.
You can buy the following individual toys from Lovevery:
- The Play Gym ($140): an activity gym and play mat designed for the first year of life
- The Block Set ($90): wooden blocks designed to build spatial, language, and problem-solving skills
- The Organic Cotton Play Tunnel ($50): a tunnel perfect for playing hide and seek and encouraging crawling
- The Pull Pup ($22): a pup your toddler can pull on a string, designed to develop coordination, grip, and gross motor skills
- The Buddy Stroller ($55): a small stroller that encourages your toddler to walk while pushing
- Sensory Strands ($25): an attachment for The Play Gym, the strands help baby discover gripping, reaching, peek-a-boo, textures, and new sensations
- Black and White Cards ($7): high-contrast images perfect for newborns (also perpetually out of stock it seems!)
- Park Blanket ($60): perfect companion for picnics
- Spanish Book Sets ($33): enjoy Lovevery’s stories in Spanish
You can also buy the new Lovevery Montessori Play Shelf ($400), a 2-in-1 shelf that makes toy rotation and storage simple.
The only way to get the toys in the play kits is to – you guessed it – purchase a kit. An exception is if you’re already a customer, you may have access to a limited subscriber shop where the available items are 40% for a limited time.
Lovevery has made some updates to the first four Toddler Play Kits, so subscribers have an opportunity to order playthings they have not received with their kits. That was the case for us, so we saw some unique items in our personal subscriber shop.
Keep in mind this subscriber shop doesn’t have everything – only a few items. Also, the items you see in your subscriber shop will coincide with the age of your child on your account.
Read more about this: What Is the Lovevery Subscriber Shop?
Can you buy used Lovevery play kits to save some cash?
Yes, you can definitely buy used Lovevery play kits! The best place I’ve found to do this is through Facebook marketplace. Other moms have also mentioned Mercari.
A lot of people will sell a single item from a play kit, but occasionally you do find someone selling an entire play kit with all the toys together.
That said, the prices were a little shocking to me. These are used, after all, but you pay almost the same as buying the kits new from Lovevery. The bright side is these toys retain their value, so if you did buy new and kept the toys in good condition, you could resell them when your kids outgrow them.
Definitely weigh the options and see what’s available near you, but if the price is a major hurdle for you, buying used could be a good solution.
My experience with Lovevery Play Kits
I bought my first Lovevery play kit in April 2020 when my daughter was 20 months old. I have continued to get the play kits for her, and in the meantime, my son was born, and I started getting them for him, too.
We have the following play kits:
- The Charmer (Months 3-4)
- The Senser (Months 5-6)
- The Inspector (Months 7-8)
- The Explorer (Months 9-10) – some of the toys are different now than they were when we bought
- The Thinker (Months 11-12) – some of the toys are different now than they were when we bought
- The Babbler (Months 13, 14, 15)
- The Realist (Months 19, 20, 21) – some of the toys are different now than they were when we bought
- The Companion (Months 22, 23, 24) – one of the toys is different now than they were when we bought
- The Helper (Months 25, 26, 27)
- The Enthusiast (Months 28, 29, 30)
- The Investigator (Months 31, 32, 33)
- The Free Spirit (Months 34, 35, 36)
- The Observer (Months 37, 38, 39)
Some play kits I liked better than others, some toys were hits, and others didn’t get much use.
But one thing’s for certain: these play kits are top quality.
Lovevery Play Kit quality
I remember when we got our first kit, I was honestly in awe of how high-quality the toys were. The wood was sturdy, solid, and smooth. The fabrics used were organic and soft. When I bought the first kit, I was a little skeptical, just because the prices seemed so high. But once I got my hands on the toys, I thought it was worth every penny. You just don’t see many toys of this quality – most toys these days are thin plastic.
Even the play guide was very well put together. As a copywriter, I’m always impressed when manuals or guides are thought out and written well. Lovevery really knocked it out of the park.
The wooden toys are also really well crafted, and they’re sturdy. One of our favorite wooden toys was the ball drop box from The Inspector Play Kit (for months 7-8). You can see my son playing with it in this video:
I was also really impressed with the company’s dedication to doing things right. Their fabrics, organic. Their wood, sustainably sourced. The tempera paint sticks, non-toxic. Shipping, carbon neutral.
It all gave me a lot of peace of mind that I’m supporting a company that’s carefully considering every single product they produce. The older I get, the more important it is to me – especially now that we have kids and are considering what their future will be like.
Our favorite Lovevery Play Kits
Not all play kits are created equal, so if you’re interested in trying Lovevery, here are some suggestions based on our absolute favorite play kits.
The Helper (months 25, 26, 27)
Hands-down, my favorite play kit of them all was The Helper (for months 25, 26, 27). This kit, created for 2-year-olds, was so much fun! My daughter was immediately obsessed with the sink – it’s still one of her favorite toys.
The washable tempera paint sticks were a massive success – my daughter would beg for me to unzip the pouch so she could get back to arts and crafts.
The double-sided puzzle was a real challenge for her at this age, and even today (she’s almost 3), it’s still somewhat difficult. I love the toys that get a lot of use – the ones that pose a big challenge when you first get them but start getting easier over time (though not a piece of cake).
The felt flowers were another hit, especially because one of my daughter’s favorite pastimes is picking dandelions and making her own bouquets.
Perhaps her least favorite toy from this kit was the drop and match dot catcher, but that’s only because she never did quite figure out the slider at the bottom. She’d get frustrated, which honestly just means we may need to revisit it soon.
The play kits are so incredible in that they age well – your child finds new ways to use them as they get older.
The Senser (months 5-6)
Another favorite was The Senser, developed for months 5-6. These toys were a hit for far longer than two months – especially that magic tissue box!
I remember my daughter used to find an actual tissue box when she was little, and she’d yank out every single tissue. For whatever reason, the tissue box is fascinating to kids under 1. It’s no wonder this particular toy was such a hit with my son – and his older sister!
The spinning rainbow in this kit was also a family favorite. You get it right at the time your baby is starting to get a hang of using their arms, and my son would basically throw out his arms and be amazed when this toy would start spinning.
When we had playdates, the other babies were also obsessed with it!
The Companion (months 22, 23, and 24)
Another one of our favorite kits was The Companion for months 22, 23, and 24. While one of the toys is different now than when we purchased it, these toys have continued to be big hits in our household.
The mosaic button board has multiple levels of difficulty, from using fine motor skills to click the buttons in place to actually following the pattern cards while doing it.
My daughter still loves getting this toy out.
The felt stars with tweezers was an awesome activity, because my daughter could not master the tweezers for a long time. She still struggles with it at almost 3 years old, and I absolutely love it when we get toys that last (as in, my daughter isn’t bored with it right away). We always found fun ways to play with the stars, like layering them with the cups we’d gotten from previous play kits.
The animal match game was and continues to be one of my daughter’s favorite activities from the play kits. She loves little figurines, and I remember when she started setting the animals on the matching cards for the first time – it blew my mind.
I didn’t realize she could put two and two together just yet, and I feel that’s the beauty of these play kits. You’re able to explore what your child is capable of and build on it.
The Babbler (for months 13, 14, 15)
I have to also mention The Babbler play kit for months 13, 14, and 15. This is a more recent one for us, and the toys in this one are top-notch. The slide and seek ball run continues to offer hours of play, and we love the flexible wooden stacker.
The only downside is making sure we keep all the stacking rings together! And that wooden coin bank set is amazing – the carrot attachment is one of my son’s favorite toys to play with.
The Enthusiast (for months 28, 29, 30)
The Enthusiast for months 28, 29, 30 was another one of our absolute favorite Play Kits. The tea set is a standout toy – my daughter loves getting it out, pouring water from cup to cup, and setting up the napkins and towel.
And across all of the play kits, we always loved the books. They’re very high quality, and the fact that they show real photos of children always caught my daughter’s attention.
It’s hard to pin down my least favorite play kits because they all foster family time and spark new interests in my kids. It was almost an event – getting the new box, opening it with the kids, discovering what was inside. We always looked forward to it.
Plus, there was always at least one toy that my child absolutely adored, but there definitely were toys that didn’t stick – maybe even ones I thought were really cool but that my kids just didn’t want to play with.
Our least favorite Lovevery Play Kits
It’s difficult to critique some of the play kits because they’re always evolving. Some of the toys we got in our play kits have shifted, so what you buy today is a little different.
The Explorer (months 9-10)
That said, one of our least favorite play kits was The Explorer (for months 9-10). We were always excited to get them, but these toys weren’t played with as much as others. The clear tube with stacking rings never made a ton of sense to my kids, though we might’ve hit a new stride by using it in the bathtub.
Edit: I took this picture after I wrote this section and it’s like this toy has gotten a second life. Suddenly, they’re enjoying playing with it when they never did before. I suppose that’s the beauty of these toys!
The little grip canister set also never took off – my kids didn’t understand the point, and the pieces never seemed to stay together.
I personally loved the concept of the blocks and the egg cup, but the kids never took a lasting interest in them.
The Charmer (months 3-4)
And while I loved The Charmer (for months 3-4), it did feel like some of the items were less expensive to produce, making me wonder if the value was worth the cost.
Don’t get me wrong – we loved this kit. My son still shakes the rolling bell and chews on the silicone beaded teether to this day.
It’s just that some of the items are really simple and small, and I felt like this kit was slightly overpriced for what you get. That said, this is also the age where I had no clue what to do with my baby when he was awake. These toys gave us an opportunity to bond together, and I am forever grateful for that!
Toys from The Thinker (months 11-12) and The Realist (months 19, 20, 21)
There’s also the occasional toy in a play kit that my children don’t click with, such as opposite balls in The Thinker play kit (for months 11-12) or the really real flashlight in The Realist (for months 19, 20, and 21).
Although, I will say some of our favorite toys were in that Realist box. Check out my daughter learning how to pour, first with rice and then with water, with the grooved pitcher and glass:
Overall, we loved our experience with the play kits, despite some of the toys that weren’t as popular as others.
Pros and cons of the Lovevery Play Kits
The honest truth is you absolutely do not need the Lovevery play kits. You can totally live without them – just like almost anything else that’s nonessential to daily life. The real question is – can you afford it, and would you like it? Would it ease your stress and make life a little easier?
If you can afford it and you like the Lovevery play kits, I say go for it. We did, and we’ve loved having them.
In our experience, here are the pros of the Lovevery play kits:
- I have peace of mind for mom and dad that our kids are playing with toys that are fostering their development.
- I have assurance these play kits are developed by professionals who study child development and learning day-in and day-out.
- The kids love the excitement of the new toys and are intrigued by them.
- I know our caregivers have educational toys to use with our kids during the workday.
- The toys encourage family time – it gives me and my husband activities to do with our children.
- Great customer service – if a toy breaks, Lovevery replaces immediately; the faucet on our toy sink stopped working properly, and Lovevery promptly sent a replacement, no questions asked!
- The play kits retain their value, so you can resell them as used when your kids outgrow them and get some of your investment back.
- The books and other visual toys featured diverse babies, which can be hard to find.
- If you lose a toy peice or your dog chews one up (guilty as charged), Lovevery has a commitment to letting you purchase spare parts to ensure your toys stand the test of time and don’t get thrown out. I was so thrilled to find out I could buy a spare red drip drop cup for the cup set after my dog ruined it. (It only cost $5 including shipping!)
And here are my own personal cons of the Lovevery play kits:
- They’re expensive – I don’t necessarily think they’re expensive for what you get, but would you spend this much on toys otherwise? (I probably wouldn’t.)
- Some toys have several pieces, making it difficult to keep everything together and use them like you want to – I often find myself looking under the couch or other furniture trying to find missing Lovevery pieces so we can actually utilize the toys we spent so much money for.
- Not all toys are hits – you pay for the entire play kit and can’t pick and choose what toys you want. You also can’t order a single toy if one catches your eye – you must purchase the entire kit.
- The experience of getting the Lovevery kits won’t be the same if you have multiple children (some toys are used up, like the tempera paint sticks or stickers, and your subsequent children will miss out on them)
For us, the pros outweigh the cons, but that’s certainly not the case for everyone. If you don’t have room in your budget for the play kits, then you don’t have room – no matter how helpful they may seem.
Ultimately, I want what’s best for my kids, and especially as a working mom, I felt like I could offer more learning activities for them with the Lovevery play kits.
We’ve had so much fun with them, and I’m so glad we invested the money. I’d do it again. It honestly made me a little teary-eyed as I found photos of my kids playing with these toys – they’ve become such a part of their upbringing!
Of course, I wish they were cheaper, but when you consider what you get for the price (at least for the majority of the kits), I think it’s worth it. The toys are such high quality, and knowing it’s all developed for my child’s age offers so much peace of mind.
Let us know in the comments: have you (or would you) purchase the Lovevery play kits? Why or why not?