If I were asked to pinpoint the single most difficult part of being a parent, I would say it’s the changing goalposts. As soon as you’ve mastered one thing, your baby has moved on to a new adventure. As soon as you’ve created the ideal nap schedule, your baby doesn’t need three naps a day anymore. As soon as you’ve curated the perfect tiny wardrobe, half the clothes don’t fit anymore. As soon as you’ve arranged the perfect toy shelf, there's some new, trendy toy at the store.
Toys are especially challenging because it’s not always immediately obvious why your child isn’t interested in a rattle anymore or what to replace it with. That’s why I started subscribing to Lovevery when Gigi was 4 months old.
Lovevery takes the guesswork out of playtime
Lovevery kits are stage-based and include a booklet for parents (I also use the app) that explains the developmental purpose of each toy and activities that it can be used for. For the first 12 months, a box of new toys is delivered every two months. Starting month 13, a new box is delivered every three months. Not every toy was a hit for Gigi right away and some only held her interest for a week or two but I found the booklets helpful to understand which toys to reintroduce at a later date and which ones to save for a hypothetical younger sibling. Thanks to the subscription kits, I never panic-ordered or impulse-purchased in fear of not having the “right” toy for her. Ironically, subscribing to toys helped us limit the number of toys we have - it’s so easy to get out of control especially when you live in a condo like we do.
Independent and parallel play
Lovevery toys are designed to allow for both independent play and for parental interaction. I love playing with the Nesting Stacking Dripdrop Cups that came with the Inspector Play Kit by stacking them high and watching Gigi knock them over or using them in the bath to make it “rain”. They’re great for on the go as well since they nest into each other and become very compact. For her birthday, we added the extended set of Dripdrop Cups that Target carries.
Gigi’s new favorites are the Slide and Seek Ball Run and Circle of Friends Puzzle. She likes watching the ball travel down the spiral into the box and then rushes to grab it at the end while quickly realizing that her hand alone can fit through the open hole but not with a ball in it. Then I helped her explore the four sides of the bottom to see how she could get the ball out.
Helping babies learn with real photos
Another new favorite is the Circle of Friends Puzzle. Lovevery uses photos rather than illustrations because realistic images have been shown to increase vocabulary and letter recognition more than books with fantastical illustrations. I know, that’s completely counterintuitive to every nursery decor theme you’ve ever seen but it makes perfect sense when you think about it. Gigi loves lifting each circle to reveal a photo of a child. She’s still working on putting the circles back in the right spot but as the accompanying book explains, that’s developmentally appropriate for her.
Many kits also come with books that we used to learn baby sign language, emotions, and a bedtime routine. Like the puzzle, the books use photos rather than illustrations to help her form ideas about people, places, and things she may or may not see every day. The books were such a hit that I ordered the Spanish versions so that our nanny could read them to her too.
As a parent who spends most of her waking hours working for a financial institution, I don’t have many opportunities to play with toys. When I get asked about my 12-month-old’s screen time, I’m secretly thinking “Gigi didn’t get any but I did about 15 hours today”. In a few decades, she might also be glued to spreadsheets and slide decks but for now, she’s enjoying being a toddler playing with her Montessori-style toys - and if I can join in, all the better!