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6 Things to Know Before Getting a KiwiCo Panda Crate Subscription
Updated on
April 30, 2024

6 Things to Know Before Getting a KiwiCo Panda Crate Subscription

By Babylist Team
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6 Things to Know Before Getting a KiwiCo Panda Crate Subscription

Baby brains work overtime in the first few years, making millions of connections every second as they learn new things about the world around them. A lot of that learning happens through play. Subscription-based play boxes like the KiwiCo Panda Crate can help bridge the gap between that rapidly developing brain and your lack of a PhD in brain science or early childhood development. In the video above, Julie (a parent of two) unboxes the Panda Crates for baby’s first year (and she takes a peek at a few of their boxes for older babies between 12 and 36 months). Here’s what you need to know before signing up for a subscription or adding one to your registry (skip ahead to the What’s Inside section if you want to see exactly what comes with each box).

What Makes the KiwiCo Panda Crates Different?

KiwiCo isn’t the only subscription-based toy delivery for babies, but there are a few things they do that stand out:

  • STEM-inspired learning: While other subscription play boxes may be more milestone-focused, KiwiCo’s is more about encouraging baby-led learning (aka the idea that play should not only nurture brain development but also your baby’s natural curiosity about the world around them). By introducing the basics of math and science through play, it helps build a foundation that can lead to a deeper interest in STEM as they grow.

  • Affordable options: While most subscription play kits range from $80-$120 per box, KiwiCo has options from $50-$90 per box, offering one of the more accessible age-based play subscriptions out there.
  • Extended learning: While some other toy subscriptions end at 24 months, KiwiCo Panda Crate has crates for the first 36 months, and then you can transition to their Koala Crate (for ages 3–4), Kiwi Crate (ages 5–8), all the way up to the Maker Crate and Eureka Crate, designed for teenagers and up. As your kid gets older, the crates transition from boxes of ready-to-play toys to more complex hands-on projects that introduce kids to bigger STEM concepts.

How Much Does a KiwiCo Panda Crate Cost?

KiwiCo has three different program options for their Panda Crate line. Panda Crate Plus is their core subscription at $80 per crate, but they also offer a leveled-up option (Deluxe) and pared-down option (Essentials) for parents who are looking for a little more or less in each box. Here’s a closer look at what changes with each level:


The biggest difference you’ll find between the Plus and Essentials crates is that the toys in the Essentials crate are smaller scale playthings, designed for at home or out and about. They’re easy to throw in your diaper bag or car for on-the-go entertainment or a familiar toy to comfort baby in new environments. Here’s an example of the 0–1 month Essentials crate:

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With the Plus crate, you get the addition of one or more bigger ticket items typically designed for use at home, where you might have more space and time for discovery—though some do pack up well, like the play mat that comes with the 0-1 month Plus crate you see below. m

And with the Deluxe box, you get everything you get with the Plus, along with a book curated to your baby’s specific age, written by an award-winning author.


In our video review, all of the crates that Julie explores are from the Panda Crate Plus line. No matter which tier you choose, shipping is always free. You also can pause your subscription with no penalty or fees, and if you ever need to cancel, you can do it through your account settings; no need to call anybody or get in touch with support.

The Grownup Guide Explained

Every Panda Crate (at all subscription levels) comes with a grownup guide called The Wonder Play Guide, with over 30 pages of science-based tips, ideas on how to play with the Panda Crate toys and research-backed information on your baby’s brain development at the current stage. Each guide includes easy DIY ways to play, activities and Q&A with experts in pediatrics, science and child development.

The guides can be really helpful for figuring out how to play and engage with your baby. They can also be a confidence booster for parents who are in the, “what do I do with this tiny creature living my house” stage of new baby life. One reviewer on the KiwiCo website said the way they explain KiwiCo Panda Crate to their friends is that they’re like “a user manual for raising a child.”

What’s inside the Panda Crates from KiwiCo (Months 0–11)

No matter which subscription you choose, every Panda Crate comes with 3-6 products designed specifically for your baby’s developmental stage (that means they are going to want to play with the toys). But if you want to take a deep dive, here’s what comes in each box of a Panda Crate Plus subscription for the first year.

Months 0–1: Bonding

At this age, your baby’s vision and hearing are developing, along with gross and fine motor skills. One of our favorite things in this box is the tummy time pillow. It was designed by a KiwiCo product designer whose baby definitely did not love tummy time, so she created a super-cute rainbow pillow to help out parents who might be in the same boat. See everything included in the Plus crate at the 1:00 mark in Julie’s video.

Months 2–3: Sensing

At this stage, your baby’s brain is working hard to develop synaptic connections (think: growing visual tracking skills, touch and tactile sensations, and hearing). So this crate is all about exposing your baby to different sounds and textures to help develop their senses. In the Plus crate, the grow-with-me toy is a cool ocean-themed activity wedge that unfolds from a block into a wedge with 10 panels filled with fun textures and creatures for your baby to explore during tummy time. (See them at 1:45.)

Months 4–5: Discovering

At this stage, baby is discovering all kinds of things with their hands and mouth (be prepared for drool!), building fine and gross motor skills, and seeing more color. This is also when baby really starts to develop bilateral coordination aka using both sides of the body together. Toys like the double spinning drum that comes with the Plus crate are designed to engage baby’s sight, sound, and touch, whereas the knotted ball and wood transfer disks work on dexterity. (See them at 2:11.)

Months 6–7: Listening

Your little one is making huge connections with auditory development right now, paving the way for budding language (they might even know and respond to their name!) You can use the toys in this crate together to help your baby connect sound with all of the other things they’ve been learning (like cause and effect and hand-eye coordination) along with new skills, like figuring out how rhythm looks and sounds (think: playing a tune on the xylophone and waving the play scarves to the rhythm of the beat). (See them at 2:45.)

Months 8-9: Exploring

Learning cause and effect helps babies understand they have the power to make things happen. For example, in the puzzle that comes with the Plus crate for this month, a face pops up when you insert the right shape into the shape-sorter puzzle! This box also includes toys that introduce baby to spatial awareness and social-emotional concepts, like how we show emotions on our face. (See them at 3:15.)

Months 10-11: Communicating

Your baby might be showing signs of learning to speak, making sounds like raspberries and babbling. The toys in this crate help you stoke that by chatting, laughing and singing to your baby. For example, you can do story time with the stacking wooden animals and little red barn. Or build spatial awareness by playing peek-a-boo with the barn doors. (See them at 3:37.)

After your baby turns one, they can continue the fun with crates designed for 12–36 months (you can see a handful of what’s included from 3:35-6:07 in Julie’s video). And unlike some other play subscriptions that space out the toys for toddlers from bi-monthly to every three months, KiwiCo Panda Crate keeps you in stock of new toys every other month.

Who Do We Recommend KiwiCo Panda Crates For?

Play subscriptions can be a great option for parents who are excited to bond with their baby, but might be a little overwhelmed at the how of it all. Parents we talked to said the value of the KiwiCo Panda Crate is really impressive, especially when you compare your subscription price to what the individual toys would cost if you were to buy them on their own. And with options ranging from $50-$90 per box, this subscription is one of the more affordable options (without compromising on the style and sturdiness you’d expect from a subscription play box). To see the crates up close and get more info, watch Julie’s complete video review or head over to KiwiCo to explore what’s inside.

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