The Lovevery 11 to 12 months old play kit, The Thinker Play Kit, is another super popular box within Lovevery’s first year lineup of 0-12 months play kits.
The Thinker Play Kit from Lovevery comes with a few beloved Lovevery toys and personal favorites, including the Lovevery Doll, the Opposite Balls, and the Wooden Peg Drop.
- 7 curated and high quality toys, perfectly suited to months 11-12, according to Lovevery's team of child development experts)
- Toys and activities that encourage babies to start solving problems, continue refining their understanding of object permanence, understand that things that look the same can behave differently, and work on hand-eye coordination, strength, and fine motor skills.
- Plenty of toys they can do on their own now that they can sit comfortably without tipping over, as well as rolling toys they can crawl after (or maybe even walk after).
- Eco friendly and non toxic
- Cheaper buying as a kit than piecing together dupes from other retailers
- Low stress way for buys parents to engage and play with their 11 to 12 month olds
- High resale value when you're done with it
- Excellent quality to last multiple children
- Expensive if you only really want one or two of the toys include
- USD exchange rate makes it expensive for non-Americans
- Not all babies will love all toys
Lovevery’s The Thinker box includes 8 items (7 toys plus the Play Guide) and costs USD $80 when ordered as a stand alone kit, with discounts for ordering multiple kits.
When you actually break it down on a toy-by-toy basis, each one works out to $11.43 each ($80 for the kit, divided by 7 toys), which seems like a great deal.
Overall, we loved the Thinker Play Kit, and think it’s one of the best kits offered in the first year of 0 to 12 months play kits.
That said, not all kids are going to be into all of the toys, and some families may only want some of the toys, or a dupe, rather than buying the entire kit.
I wanted to share our Lovevery The Thinker review, but also some alternatives I found from online retailers (the usual suspects like Amazon and Etsy) that you could buy instead of the Lovevery kit, if you prefer.
Lovevery Doll (Replacing the Lovevery Avery Doll)
Lovevery Dolls seem to be a hit with every baby I show them to. They’re extremely soft to the touch, and the perfect size for littles to snuggle. When I touch (and squish) our doll, I’m reminded of snuggling a warm baby wearing super soft baby clothes…it really is super cozy!
What I like about the current iteration of the Lovevery Doll (which replaced the Avery Doll), is that it’s kind of like a blank slate for your baby.
The play kits ship with a doll with tan skin tone, unless you specify otherwise. If you prefer, you can opt for a doll with a darker skin tone, or one with a lighter skin tone. In this way, you can either opt to get a doll that looks similar to your baby, or let them play with and form a bond with “someone” who looks different to them.
On the surface this is a pretty simple cotton baby doll. In the hands of your baby’s curiosity, however, it’s a pal, a way to mimic parents or caregivers taking care of a baby, learn about caring for others, develop empathy, and even start to learn the names for some parts of the body.
This is a replacement for the Lovevery Avery Doll, which no longer ships with the kits. I like the new one, which is gender neutral and not named, letting your child do this themselves and add their own ideas.
Lovevery Doll Alternatives
While I like the Lovevery doll, I’m also the first to admit that a soft, organic cotton doll isn’t exactly ground breaking stuff. There are lots of great doll options out there if you’d prefer to build your own or DIY The Thinker style play kit.
Manhattan Toy Co. is a reputable toy manufacturer, which goes a long way for me, especially with this age group (which tends to be mouthing, chewing, sucking, etc).
Despite the name, Stella comes in 6 different combinations of gender (boy/girl) and skin tone/hair color.
Still fairly gender neutral, although some of the dolls have pink outfits and some have blue outfits (others have gender neutral colors, as well). A range of skin tones should let most families find a baby that looks like their baby, as well as many who look different.
Very similar to the Creative Minds Basket of Babies, this Basket of Buddies comes with 5 Buddies – 3 of which are wearing dresses, and 1 that has definite boy vibes (the 5th one is more gender neutral looking).
Lovevery Opposite Balls
These are one of our favorites from this kit, and we’ve been playing “sink or float” as a bath time game for ages.
What’s fun about the opposite balls for kids is the element of surprise that comes with these balls. On the outside, they look exactly the same.
So it’s a huge shock the first time babies pick them up or grab them and realize, in fact, they are not identical, despite what they look like.
As the name suggests, they behave in opposite ways.
You and your baby can identify the things that are the same about the balls (size, color, shape, texture, shine, etc) as well as the things that are different (heavy vs light, sink vs float, noisy vs quiet, fast vs slow when rolling, etc).
I took a video of me rolling the balls so you can see the “fast vs slow” in action.
We found these were particularly fun to play with in water, either in the sink or in the bath.
Lovevery Opposite Balls Alternatives
I haven’t found any true dupes for this Lovevery toy, but when you think about the concepts behind this toy, it becomes a bit more clear how you can create opportunities for your baby to discover and practice them:
- Things that look the same may behave differently
- Objects can behave in opposite ways
You could replicate the rolling fast vs slow, and heavy vs light when holding by DIYing with some empty plastic jars (such as from small containers of peanut butter) covered in the same wrapping paper. On the outside they look the same, but inside you can leave one empty and fill one with something heavy: marbles, sand, etc.
Lovevery Pincer Puzzle
Hello, pincer grasp! Hello, fine motor skills! Hello, hand-eye coordination!
The Lovevery pincer grasp puzzle consists of a simple circle which can be removed from and placed back into a circle cutout in a wooden square.
It’s small, requires a bit of concentration at this age group, and is a fun way to build the skill.
What about dupes? I like this Driddle Pincer Grasp Puzzle because it offers a few more features than the Lovevery version, allowing you to insert your own photo into the puzzle for your baby to discover, as well as offering one with a mirror.
There are also some descent choices on Etsy when it comes to pincer puzzles. I like this set of three geometric shape pincer puzzles, because they are isolated, so your child can work on one at a time, to help avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Lovevery Wooden Peg Drop
Put the pegs in the holes and then make them drop! This is an unexpectedly fun toy that this age range seems to really enjoy. In particular, babies seems to love the “putting pegs in holes” aspect at this stage, which several other toys offer – most notably the Galt pop-up (which is one of our all-time favorite baby toys and a great cause and effect toy).
Whereas the Galt offers the satisfaction of the peg then popping up into the air, the Lovevery makes use of gravity, and lets the pegs drop to the floor.
Both are fun, despite being different!
The Galt is probably a good alternative to this toy, although certainly not an exact dupe.
If you want something more exact, Etsy has similar ones, but they are pricey: this one is almost as expensive as the entire Lovevery kit. At the time of writing, Elite Montessori offers one on Amazon that looks almost identical.
Lovevery Sliding Top Box
The Thinker Play Kit comes with the very popular Sliding Top Box toy. It helps your little one develop a number of different concepts and skills, including more object permanence, problem solving skills, hand eye coordination, fine motor skills, and more.
The ball needs a little push to go through the hole, and most babies will try to reach through the hole to then get it out. After showing them a few times that you can slide the lid to get it open, they’ll start to get it, but it may take a lot of practice!
This is also another object permanence toy. Grasping object permanence means your baby understands that people and things still exist, even if you can’t see or hear them currently. Research suggests it develops over the second half of the first year of life, so the 11 to 12 month age range of The Thinker play kit is the perfect developmental window to keep practicing it. The Organic Cotton Sensory Pouch included in the Thinker Play Kit is another great object permanence toy!
The Sliding Top Box is also great to use with other toys, in pretend play, and as an additional building component when you combine it with the Lovevery Blocks.
Lovevery Sliding Top Box Alternatives
There are plenty of other toys that help littles start solving problems for themselves and practice fine motor skills and object permanence.
If you’d prefer to find something on Amazon, choices for an exact match are limited, but there are a number of variations on the toy that still focus on similar concepts, such as a Montessori style ball drop box or coin drop box.
Lovevery Organic Sensory Pouch
The Sensory Pouch is another object permanence toy, but once they grasp the concept fully, it still gets a lot of play (at least in our house) for hiding, seeking, and offering surprises.
My four year old still loves to hide things away, and offers them to me and her Dad as surprises or presents.
In terms of finding a dupe, any sort of drawstring pouch should work, so long as it’s big enough to fit a few little toys inside. For example, this leather pouch on Amazon would do the trick. It’s not as colorful as the Lovevery one, and is lacking the extra details like the crinkle paper bottom and the ring grip for holding, but it will do the trick.
Lovevery Animals I See Mini Book
Whenever I bring home a mini book, it seems to be an instant hit with my kiddo for whatever reason. Even for story books, she went through a phase where we could only read the stories in in our mini book collection (the mini Robert Munsch books got a lot of use in our house!).
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a good mini book dupe for the Animals I See book, but there’s a fairly good selection of board books that work. In particular, I like that the Lovevery book has photographic representations of animals rather than illustrations.
My First 101 Animals is a good alternative. It has way more animals than the Lovevery mini book (the Lovevery book has 10 animals, plus the Dalmatian on the front cover and the chicken on the back cover), but uses photographs of animals, not illustrations.
Touch and Feel Animals is another option with photographs of animals, as well as textured inserts your little one can pat and touch.
The Play Guide
For busy parents (I see you), the Lovevery Play Guides are worth their weight in gold, as they’re packed with ideas about how to keep your little one busy based on their developmental stage.
Is the Thinker Play Kit Worth It?
For me, The Lovevery Thinker kit is worth it. This play kit and The Senser play kit (5 to 6 months) are my two favorites.
Is it worth it for your family? Here are the questions I’d be asking myself:
- If you plan on having multiple children, and will be able to use the kit more than once
- You live in a major city, or somewhere with an active second-hand market and you’ll be able to sell your used kit when you’re done with it
- The $80 price tag doesn’t cause too much sticker shock, and won’t cause a huge strain on your family’s household budget for the month
- You live in a small space, and would rather have fewer, higher quality toys
- The Lovevery approach to toys and child development appeals to you
I hope this guide helps you make the right decision for your family.