Best KiwiCo Panda Crates Ranked By Age [Plus Discount code TCM!]

I started subscribg to KiwiCo's Panda Crate line back in 2019/2020. Since then their Panda Crate line has gone through some big changes, which we'll discuss in this post, as well as my “top picks” by age.

Quick Review

Quick look at the highlights of this post; I share more of my favorite Panda crates by age further down.

  • KiwiCo's Panda Crate now gives you 3 options to choose from; I've found the Panda Crate Plus line to be the best overall value
  • Discount code TCM gets you 20% off a new Panda Crate subscription, and 50% off new subscriptions of their other lines
  • Let's Listen is my favorite crate for Newborns to 12 month olds
  • Let's Solve is my favorite crate for 1 to 2 year olds – and I would get it earlier than the recommended age range (closer to 1 years old)
  • Let's Go is my favorite crate for 2 to 3 year olds
kiwico panda crate plus review

Watch Best Panda Crates Review Video:

Panda Crate Changes:

KiwiCo revealed all of their Panda Crates so subscribers can now see which crate they can expect at what age range – which is huge! It’s something we’ve all been hoping and asking for and they listened! You can see them all here and use discount code TCM to save on your new subscription!

KiwiCo’s Panda Crate line now has three options: Essentials, Plus, and Deluxe. 

Panda Crate Essentials

  • Cost: $50 per crate
  • Items: 3 to 6 stage specific play items
  • Parent resource guide

Panda Crate Plus

  • Cost: $80 per crate
  • Items: 3 to 6 stage specific play items
  • One “Grow With Me” play item
  • Parent resource guide

Panda Crate Deluxe

  • Cost: $90 per crate
  • Items: 3 to 6 stage specific play items
  • One “Grow With Me” play item
  • One book
  • Parent resource guide

KiwiCo Panda Crate Discount Code

You can use code TCM for 20% off your first Panda Crate here!

NOTE: This code works for ALL of KiwiCo’s subscription lines and is an even bigger discount on the older lines! I share more about how to select which crate you start with for the older lines here.

kiwico panda crate plus review

Best Panda Crates By Age

Note: All descriptions of the crates are based on the Plus version of the Panda Crate. I believe this is the best value of the crates in general as I shared in this review.

Newborns to 6 month olds

For newborns to 6 month olds, my top pick is the “Let’s Sense.” 

It’s a great grouping of toys that will span for quite a few months. I like this particular grouping of items because the majority of them will double as waiting or travel toys

The spiral toy holder can usually hook onto a car seat or stroller bar. You could even try hooking it onto like a fence pole if you want the baby to do tummy time outside. 

The hanging toys can go on it, or be used as stand alone teethers or reach for toys in encouraging rolling.

The activity wedge alone makes it a fantastic value. I love the multiple configurations. And as kids get older and start building forts, the shape of this I think can easily be upcycled with older kids even though it’s small. For example, my 5 year old daughter likes to put blankets over chairs and is always looking for something to create a peak on the chair with, and this wedge I think would be perfect for something like that. 

The crinkle book and board book are both two great items to have in general, as are the wooden rattle sets. 

Really the items here are going to last and provide really nice versatility in multiple settings for the next 6 months to a year; and possibly more if you get creative. 

6 to 12 month olds – Let's Listen

For 6 to 12 months I love “Let’s Listen” and “Let’s Explore.”

We have the piano xylophone shaker music set that comes in “Let’s Listen” and my kids love it.

We didn’t even get it until my kids were about 2 and 4 years old, so we’ve had it for about a year now, and it still gets used well past the introductory age of this crate. 

Additionally, it comes with 3 ombre play scarves. We use play scarves in our house daily with a nearly 3 year old and 5 year old. So the items in this crate are just going to LAST the longest out of all the 1 year old crates in my experience. 

Beyond that, they have a couple of smaller items, the wood shaker and waterfall shaker, which again are great for tossing in a diaper bag for outings or travel. And the wood scarf keeper I think is a fun twist on a montessori magic tissue box. It has abacus style beads on it, which kids love to fiddle with, then you can stuff the scarves in for babies to pull out, similar to the tissue box concept.

I think this is probably my #1 pick for newborns to 1 year olds.

The “Let’s Explore” crate is another one I think kids will love for a while. 

Mirror puzzles are always a huge hit, and again I love them for travel or outings because they are small and easy to keep track of.

The coin box is also great. I’m convinced a huge key to entertaining older babies and young toddlers is just finding unique containers for them to put stuff in and out of, which the coin box checks off.

The bead maze is a classic toy that kids always enjoy and the pop up shape sorter puzzle is a nice combination of a few popular toys that I think kids will love. 

Lastly the busy block isn’t quite like anything we ever had before, but our old walker had something similar on the front and my daughter would sit and play with that all the time. I’m wondering if it’s small enough for a diaper bag and travel because if it is, I think it’d be great for that as there are no loose pieces you have to worry about losing. I love the spinner on the front, and wonder if you could even sit it in front of the baby for tummy time like a montessori spinning drum. Obviously a smaller target for them to hit compared to the spinning drums, but it could be a nice challenge as they’re getting older. 

12 month to 18 month olds – Let's Play

For 1 year olds to a year and a half, I love the “Let’s Play” crate!

First, like I mentioned with the coin box, I think the key to engaging this age is finding new containers for them to get stuff in and out of, and this has the ball drop box with a pull drawer which is a classic Montessori inspired toy and generally a huge hit. 

Similarly they included a wood pegboard set, which is a unique puzzle-like item that can be used in a ton of ways as kids get older. When they are little, it’ll just be about hand-eye coordination and getting the bars or pegs on. But then you can work in color matching, counting, or a combination of the two. You could even make your own cards for them to recreate the puzzle as a home preschool activity for 3 or 4 year olds. Really, it’s a fantastic item that will grow with them if you choose. 

I also LOVE the wooden pull back car with Poppy and that’s a toy you’ll get years of use out of. 

The tap and go spiral activity tower, also provides kids a new container to put stuff in, with the added bonus of learning cause and effect as they watch the ball roll down from their press. We got a few years use out of a similar item. With theirs, my kids enjoy experimenting with what else can go down the ramp or what gets stuck. I could see them trying this one as “egg delivery” during breakfast pretend play or something too. 

18 months to 24 months old – Let's Pretend

For 1.5 year olds to 2 year olds, my top pick for longevity is the “Let’s Pretend” crate. The included items are one’s we personally found our kids getting more and more use out of the older they got and the deeper they got into their pretend play. They are also quite unique. For instance, many play kitchen’s don’t come with pots and pans, so this is a nice complimentary item.

Many pretend play food sets, and don't come with a wooden veggie garden or carrying basket. And I’ve never seen a trash truck like KiwiCo’s. They did a good job creating pretend play items that are tangential to items we have in our home, but not overly gifted where families end up with duplicates.

Let's Solve

With that said, I think the most versatile crate is “Let’s Solve” which may not seem like much, but I can say it’s definitely the most open ended grouping of items that will get more immediate use. I remember when we got the squishy shapes from KiwiCo a few years ago, and initially thought they were too juvenile for my soon to be 2 year old – only to quickly be proved wrong as they became my daughter’s favorite toy, and an item we still use at 5 years old. 

The sort and stack puzzle blocks obviously can be used for building, but honestly you can use those as pretend play food too or as items in a market, they are bland enough that imagination really is endless with those.

Beanbag shapes can be used in a ton of activities too; while the bead set and puzzle are both solid items my kids enjoyed at that age. 

2 year old to 3 year olds

I think this year has some of the most fun items that are going to last for the next few years – through preschool for sure with most kids! 

We have all of the crates from this year too and my top picks are:

Let’s Sort 

My 2 year old LOVED this crate. He was particularly taken with the bubble counter. Both my 2 and 5 year old enjoy playing with the sensory play light box, which the rainbow block puzzle works with. And the fishing game. 

I think the fishing game is a nice introduction to taking turns and board games – which we are big on in our family – for 2 year olds. I love that they don’t have to sit down to play, while practicing turn taking and learning how to follow rules. It’s a pretty short game for their attention span too, providing a sense of accomplishment and success. 

My kids also use this in their pretend play as a “fishing” pond without playing the game.

kiwico panda crate plus review

Let’s Tell A Story

I was super excited about the train set the minute I saw it and it’s fantastic! It’s compatible with most other train sets. The curved pieces are double sided, and straight pieces are plain. I love the hopper which lets you load blocks onto the train for delivery, and the color matching stations. My son loved pushing the red part of the front car, as the horn before the train leaves the station. The cars use a standard magnetic connection, making them compatible with battery train cars as well. It’s really just so much fun! This piece alone is really what makes this crate a must have in my book. 

They also redid their old storyboard from a previous crate and resolved some of my previous complaints. It now fully zips up so no pieces fall out when not in use, making it a fantastic travel toy! Kids can work fine motor skills getting the felt pieces into their pockets in a fun matching game, or use the felt pieces on the storyboard to tell a story. 

You can also extend the use of this item into several homeschool activities where the loose objects are supplemented for use in sorting, matching, or spelling activities. 

The Letter Munch Monster is a cute fine motor activity that is just fun for kids to play with on their own; or you can use the coins as mini phonics flash cards. They put the letter on one side, so you can hold it up, practice the sound, then reveal the picture of the item that started with that sound before feeding the monster. I do wish they included a bag for all the loose coins though. Even so, the loose parts can easily be repurposed into more phonics activities. 

This crate also features Poppy the Panda in an Alphabet Board Book. The pictures and items associated with the letters in the book match with the Letter Monster cards too, so there’s an opportunity to create a matching or seek and find activity while reading the book as well.

Let’s Go  

For 2 and a half year olds, the Let’s Go crate is all about pretend play and situations they’ll likely face or are facing.

Inside you’ll get the pretend doctor’s kit, a play snack set, a little Poppy lovey, and an activity backpack.

My 5 year old immediately fell in love with this crate! So it’s sure to last for a few years beyond the intended age range. I introduced it to my son younger than the intended age range and he wasn’t super into it yet – I find that pretend play like this really takes off around the intended age range of 32-33 months and keeps growing from there. So he primarily used the items in this crate when playing with his sister. However, at 2 years old his favorite item was the backpack. He loved zipping little toys inside of it. He also plays with the cheese slices all the time. He likes stuffing them in delivery trucks or his rocket ship.

Either way, the items are great quality and get so much use! I did investigate the cost of recreating this on your own, and it’s a good deal.

Let’s Figure It Out

This crate is another huge hit with items that will last for the next couple of years!

The Jungle Tree Stacker works fine motor skills and spatial planning. Kids basically build the tree then have to balance the animals on it. You can turn it into a game using rules similar to Monkey’s in a Barrel or Jenga too.

The Pop-Up Rocket Puzzle is a fun shape recognition game similar to Perfection my kids love.

The Spinning Shape Puzzle is also a unique challenge, where they focus on one puzzle piece at a time, spinning it around to find the correct spot. 

But the item that really puts this crate over the top for me is the Peek-A-Zoo Puzzle Box! I think it’s no secret I love a good lock box. I think they are a great evolution of Montessori Busy Boards, and this one is brilliant! 

First you get four different shaped keys for kids to fit in and twist/turn which is a great lesson in hand-eye coordination, problem solving, and finger strength. Second, it comes with little animals to match the color of the box or use in pretend play. Lastly, the little boxes play into a concept I mentioned at the start of this video about kids and containers… They love them! I love that as kids get older, they can use this for storing collections, whether that’s rocks or treasures, or pretend jewelry. It’s really just a brilliant item that’s cute and functional while also teaching a ton of skills. 

I kid you not – the first day I pulled this out, my son played with it for an hour uninterrupted – and that’s not exaggerating! 

Final thoughts

KiwiCo has continued to impress me with their changes to their Panda Crate line! The quality and longevity of the items really continues to surpass my expectations since we first subscribed back in 2019 and I love seeing my kids already get a ton of use out of the new play items!

Don't forget to use code TCM for a discount on new KiwiCo subscription's here!

kiwico panda crate plus review