Wondering which is the best montessori toy subscription box for YOU? Discover how to choose between self curating, Lovevery, Kiwico, and Monti Kids for newborns to 3 year olds (or 4 year olds in the case of Lovevery and KiwiCo).
[UPDATE] As of July 2023, Monti Kids is no longer manufacturing or selling kids toys.
Plus I share what the biggest cons to each are that I wish SOMEONE would've shared with me before getting!
- WATCH Lovevery vs Kiwico vs Monti Kids:
- Before jumping in: DO THIS…!!!
- Baby + Toddler Subscription Toy Box Superlatives:
- Biggest Cons / What I Wish I Knew Before Starting These Toy Subscriptions:
- Self curating vs Lovevery vs Kiwico vs Monti Kids:
- In sum: what I'd personally do…
Before jumping in: DO THIS…!!!
I'm going to (hopefully) make this decision as EASY as possible for you. But in order to do that, I need you to take a moment and think about WHAT is most important to YOU in a baby toy subscription box!
All of these will definitely save you time, so go beyond that. Are you looking for the cheapest option? The most montessori aligned approach? Prettiest toys? Do you want it to be an all-in-one solution (meaning no extra toys needed?) Or something else entirely?
Baby + Toddler Subscription Toy Box Superlatives:
This is going to be your quickest differentiating factor. If it doesn't provide enough clarity though, in the next section I'll talk about what I wish I knew/the cons of each to really refine things for you!
Most affordable: KiwiCo
Keep in mind: You will likely need to supplement with other toys. So while it does have the lowest price tag, it's not a complete solution like Monti Kids or Lovevery can be.
Most Montessori: Monti Kids
Monti Kids is the only toy subscription box completely designed by certified montessori teachers. They include a mix of real montessori materials and have the most montessori aligned toys of the bunch.
Most well rounded: Lovevery
Lovevery is the overall best toy subscription box in my opinion and most well rounded experience.
It's the middle of the road in terms of price between the alternative subscription boxes and often times coming in cheaper than self curating the toys (in my individual lovevery play kit reviews I show you how to self curate with Amazon and Etsy alternatives!).
It features a combination of Montessori and Waldorf inspired toys – meaning they are more open ended than Monti Kids; and in my experience have a longer life span in terms of child engagement/use.
Lovevery is also the prettiest toy subscription box. I know that may sound silly to some people, but the reality is, your kids toys are out in your home all the time, so it can be nice to look at things that are aesthetically pleasing…
Furthermore, most people who want an “Insta-worthy Montessori Playroom” actually want a Waldorf aesthetic, which Lovevery provides.
Lovevery also includes books, not just toys. KiwiCo also has books, but they feature cartoons, not real life children – something my daughter much preferred. Monti Kids does not include boks.
Biggest Cons / What I Wish I Knew Before Starting These Toy Subscriptions:
While Lovevery does include books in their play kits, I do NOT love all their books for the intended age. I go into this in quite a bit of detail in my 3 Things To Avoid When Selecting Books Carefully For Toddlers, Preschoolers, + Babies.
In short: I think they do a great job with the books for 12 months and younger. However, once you get into the toddler books, some of them focus too much on teaching emotional intelligence or coping skills. This isn't necessarily a BAD thing if a problem has already presented itself. If a problem hasn't presented itself though, in my experience, it can CAUSE an issue.
For example: in Bedtime with Zoey, the little girl struggles with getting water in her face at bath time. This is a great book to read if your child is struggling with that problem. We were NOT struggling with this problem, but after reading it, my daughter started to model what was in the book and saw water in the face as something to be avoided. We really struggled with getting her okay with water in the face again for a few months after that.
So it's not that I think the books are terrible, I just think parents should be mindful and carefully consider each book before introducing to a child.
My biggest issue with KiwiCo is that you do not know what you're getting – and honestly it seems like they don't know what they are sending sometimes! They seem to ship/adjust crates based on supply versus age appropriateness.
I look at KiwiCo's panda crate line as an introductory toy box. Meaning you can see what things your child likes, but you'll need to likely supplement some other options. You can see my side by side comparison of some of their crates compared to Lovevery play kits here, including why I stopped our Koala Crate subscription.
Once you enter the Koala Crate line (3 to 4 years old) they become activity/craft boxes that can also be kind of parent intensive.
What I've since learned, is that a version of a lot of their “best” crates can actually be purchased individually in their store front. One of you shared with me in the comments of my Montessori + Waldorf Gifts For 3 to 4 Year Olds that I could actually purchase their window planter crate individually! I also got their Baking Fractions crate too!
My suggestion: choose a different baby toy subscription box, then once your child is an older toddler with distinct/themed play preferences, shop the individual store for tailored crates.
My biggest issue with Monti Kids is the price. I've also had at least one item of subpar quality in every box. Lastly, due to the close ended nature of the toys, I find they have more of a limited life span.
Monti Kids is the most expensive toy delivery service, largely because you're paying for parent support too.
However, Lovevery offers play guides with each play kit – which are far easier to browse through while sitting next to baby versus being on your phone watching a course. Lovevery also has e-courses now for individual sale about tummy time and baby led weaning if you prefer the video route.
The first year of items from Monti Kids will certainly last for a year or two, maybe even 3!
However once you get into their boxes for18+ months, I think some of the items are shipped too late to really make an impact. For example, the fabric winder comes around 29 months (so 2.5 years old). My daughter did this right away and never really played with it again. When you look this item up, some places suggest introducing it as early as 12 months, others say as late as 24 months. Either way you split it though, it's quite a bit earlier than when it ships.
In this same box, is a wooden peg board (above photo) – an item my daughter does LOVES – however we had already gotten a version of this item at 16 months (so nearly a YEAR earlier) in our Lovevery play kit. Does she still love it later? Absolutely. It's a classic toy. But getting it closer to a year old meant more use/play time!
Another item was the walking roller (see video) which ships at 23 months (so 2 years old). This toy is typically recommended for 12 months to 3 years old. So it's coming right at the middle. My daughter has played with this a total of one time and that was to pretend it was a vacuum and make her baby brother laugh. (NOTE: This item has been removed from Monti Kids since this was originally written, but the concept still applies).
With that said, I do love Monti Kids for newborns over Lovevery, see why here!
Self curating vs Lovevery vs Kiwico vs Monti Kids:
In each of my individual toy box reviews I do provide links to self curate similar items for them which you can find here:
Now with that said, I do not think it's worth self curating the items, even with the work done for you in those posts, in most cases.
Why I don't think self curating is worth it:
Becoming a new parent can be stressful AF and it's easy to get caught up buying all the things.
First, even with me providing links to the dupes, you'll likely (unless you have amazing self control) end up with some rogue purchases costing you extra money.
I know first hand while looking for the dupes I link to in those reviews, I get caught up in toy shopping and end up spending more money because “it's just $10” and then it adds up. I can't even tell you how many impulse buys I've made (only to return later, wasting my time) because they were on sale and in a sidebar ad.
Secondly, the quality and durability typically are not nearly as good as the items in these toy subscription boxes.
Third, there's generally a really great resale for toy subscription box toys; not so much for random Amazon purchases.
Fourth, you may be surprised by what your kids like! Toy boxes for under 3 are typically pretty well rounded and include items I personally would never buy on my own. I've often been surprised by my daughter's favorite items in the boxes. If I was self curating, I'd miss those opportunities. Are there duds sometimes? Sure! But they do push me out of my comfort zone in coming up with ways to use them which end up bringing us closer together as a family like I show in The Investigator Play Kit Review.
Lastly, self curating isn't as pretty or cohesive. This may seem silly to some people, but kids toys always bring up the SIM in my mind. Remember that game from the early 2000s where you built your own home and family? I clearly remember when my SIMs walked into a pretty room and their mood went up. And then they walked into a crummy room and their mood went down. I look at things a lot like that. Kids toys are always out; they are fixtures in your home! Ideally they bring joy to the room, not frustration and an eyesore.
In sum: what I'd personally do…
When it comes to the big Lovevery vs Kiwico vs Monti Kids vs self curating debate for me personally, I'd start with Monti Kids Level 1 or two. Then I'd switch over to Lovevery around “The Senser” Play Kit For Months 5-6 or “The Inspector” Play Kit Review For 7-8 Months and stick with Lovevery from there.
Once my child was around 3 years old and showed very distinct play interests, that I wanted to get some extra tailored toys for, I'd check out Kiwico's storefront and get those.
Don't forget to check out all my individual Lovevery play kit reviews, Monti Kids boxes, and KiwiCo reviews below!