Just over three years ago, I had my first baby. Now what used to be my family room is more accurately described as a playroom, and even more accurately described as a sea of colorful plastic. This wasn’t my vision when I was pregnant-me, as I Pinterested eco-conscious, ethically made stuffed animals and toys made with only non-toxic paints and heirloom-quality wood. I don’t want to point fingers. I’ve surely contributed to what’s happened here. But this avalanche-waiting-to-happen is mostly the product of well-intentioned gift giving. And every day as I sift through it, I think… there just has to be a better way to do play.
What I’m wanting: toys with developmental purpose. Toys with open-ended potential. Toys that are safe. Toys that don’t make my eyes hurt.
Enter Lovevery. Inspired by the astounding amount of brain growth that happens in the first three years of life, Lovevery’s founders worked with child development experts to craft toys that are appropriate for each stage, from baby to toddler — you’ll see recognizable nods to Montessori, but there’s also input from the Waldorf set, neuroscientists, psychologists, occupational therapists, and and more on Lovevery’s panel of pros. It’s about play, but about so much more — it’s about creating developmental experiences. And making those really easy for parents to pull off.
As if that’s not enough, every toy is as modern and beautiful as it is enriching and safely made. Think fun, modern colors that manage to avoid the preschool-classroom feel of primary colors. Smooth wooden pieces are sustainably harvested and have a high-quality, artisan feel. Plastics are used sparingly and only where it makes sense for longevity or possible water play. Every material is third-party tested for heavy metals, phthalates, and dangerous chemicals. All of this brings peace of mind (and a much prettier playroom).
Lovevery’s prime offering is Play Kits — thoughtfully curated sets of toys for specific ages. You can sign up for subscription service and have a different box of fresh toys shipped at each developmental increment (every two months for the first year, then every three months until age 3). Or you can shop for one kit at a time.
My boys tested the Explorer Play Kit ($80, for babies 9-10 months old) and the recently added Free Spirit Kit ($120, for kids 34-36 months). The excitement builds as each toy is unboxed: for my baby, classic toys with fresh design, like a beautiful four-piece block set, the Montessori-loved wooden egg and cup, a peek-a-boo blanket, and many more. For the 3-year-old, the set included a fun wooden camper with a lock and key, a fabric tent, and a set of campers snuggled in sleeping bags, plus a shape and color card game, a wooden counting box, and so much more. The toys that represent people, and the people represented in the books, as well as the packaging itself, all feature a diverse cast of kids and parents, whether we’re talking racially or in being differently abled. And each was designed with a developmental idea in mind—for example, the baby learning about cause and effect will be thrilled to toss shaped bean bags from his high chair (and you’ll be thrilled it’s not something noisy or breakable), while a 3-year-old perfecting her coordination skills will love stacking lightweight wooden boulders that feature faceted sides — meaning she can balance them in endless ways to make a cairn-like creations of varying difficulty.
Each kit also includes a guide with information about that particular developmental stage and ideas for how to play with each toy together. It even includes a section with additional activity suggestions you can pull together with common things around the house—my son and I had a nice afternoon making colorful fizz with an eyedropper and some baking soda and food-colored vinegar.
The enduring materials and bright (but beautiful) colors of the toys in these kits made a welcome addition to our playroom, and are a daily invitation for time together. My boys loved their sets, and I may have loved them even more—the sudden sprawl of quality, educational toys made me feel like I was winning at this whole mom thing. I’m looking forward to these being etched in my memory as my boys grow and saving their favorites to pass on to the next generation.
Explore all the kits and individual offerings at www.lovevery.com and follow them on Instagram at @lovevery for a ton of developmental DIY ideas to do at home.