Panda Crate: Is the Baby Box Worth it?
I have to admit I am one of those who love subscription boxes. I am subscribed to FlinkBisk doggy box for Blaze, so I was pretty determined to find one for our baby girl. As a former educator and more so as I parent, I have an appreciation for the creative, hands-on learning activities that help the kids to develop critical thinking skills, contribute to their healthy mental development, etc
Long story short, a couple months ago, I came across KiwiCo a company founded by Sandra, mother of three. The idea that experts cooperated with Seattle Children Hospital designed each crate to nurture the specific needs for each stage of child development, looked very attractive to me, as a newly baked mom with a 1.5 months old baby at home. So, I decided to give a try and subscribed for a Panda Crate every two months (19.95 USD/ per crate + shipping).
What is Panda Crate? Why Panda Crate?
According to the U.S. Department of Education, all the way up until age 5, it's essential to provide children with consistent, "language-rich experiences - such as talking, reading, and singing." As a former educator, I also advocate for regular engaging, playful activities because they undoubtedly contribute to the well-being of a child, whether it is the cognitive, physical, social, or emotional.
As a working mother, I need to make sure I'm teaching my baby girl and appropriately stimulating her development, whether I am at home or not. Also, due to our flexible schedules and excellent family support, we are not planning to put her to daycare, so it all falls on us.
During the first month of Mia's life, we only tried to keep up with her sleeping routines and feeding needs. However, during the second month, we started to focus on supporting her development. Therefore, I wanted to make sure we get those four things daily: talking, reading, singing, and playing.
Panda Crate is a subscription box that each delivers 2 months’ worth of age-appropriate products and activities for newborns all the way to 24 months old toddlers. The box is shipped every other month.
Even though Mia's 3,5 months old at the moment we received the first crate, I was beyond happy with the first box. As advertised, the crates are created by experts and also tested by kids. So, I am assuming the subscription certainly should make my life easier and more meaningful. Hoping, I can spend less time researching which activities are appropriate for Mia and spend way more time bonding with her.
Panda Crate Review
The first Panda Crate called BOND WITH ME (For Newborns — 0-2 Month Old) explores:
Recognizing Baby Cues
Milestone Pillow and Cards
Purpose: Capture precious memories with keepsake monthly milestone photos
The light blue pillow with a cute panda over a see-through pocket to put the milestone cards in is a lovely idea to capture our Mia's growth milestones. The quality is excellent, and indeed it looks adorable. However, honestly, I found this item unnecessary and even useless ( at least in our case). I personally find it easier to record milestones digitally with various apps out there. Besides, these cards do not address us, internationals, as those who use the metric system. The cards record inches and pounds. Therefore, without a doubt, I would rather have this item replaced with something that my baby would be able to interact with directly. Even the introduction card to "Milestone Pillow and Cards" has a warning: "This pillow is not a toy. Do not place in a crib or leave with your child unattended." So, she will not be able to interact with this pillow until she is way older.
Purpose: Make your baby feel safe and (hopefully) sleepy with the perfect swaddle
Honestly, this item is my favorite and I see myself using it for a long time. It is the best 100% cotton muslin I have at the moment. As described on the introduction card, the blanket is definitively stretchy, lightweight and breathable. It is described as a large size muslin for easy swaddling. Since I do not swaddle Mia, I use muslins as blankets to lay her down and to cover from distractions while nursing. And it has a great neutral design.
Black and White Cards
Purpose: "Read" these cards with your baby to support visual development.
The other favorite of mine is a set of cards with high-contrast illustrations. A set of engaging cards with simple and complex designs is a great addition to my own created high contrast cards. I love that they come with a plastic ring, so all the cards are grouped together.
To be honest, while they say newborns are drawn to high-contrasted images, Mia showed interest in cards when she was about 3 months old. Before, she would just ignore them and would look at our faces instead. So, I kept them hanging on the side of the crib. Now, these cards are part of our play-time.
Tummy Time Mirror
Purpose: Turn tummy time into play and help your newborn explore their world.
Yet another great item in this first crate - a colorful foldable. Oh, boy, there’s a lot to this item! First and foremost, it’s cute and colorful with lots of flaps, crinkly pieces, and ribbons and things for Mia to touch, explore and play with, whether I lay it down flat or folded and place it in front of her during her tummy time. It also has white ribbons to hang it on the side of her crib, so she would be entertained while she is calming laying down in her bed.
It features a see-through pocket to slide one of the black and white cards into. Of course, cards can be changed as often as you want to. And it works great for sliding my own created cards in. The baby-safe mirror is a great way to work on her neck and shoulder muscles to hold her head up, or just simply engage her with a "moving picture" in front of her.
Magazine "Wonder" and Activity Cards
The box came with a straightforward yet beneficial magazine, containing educational information, tips, and answers to some of the FAQs. While I was familiarized with a lot of information during my research while pregnant, I feel it is a much-needed reminder, especially during those moments when for one reason or another, I start doubting myself as a newly baked parent.
The activity cards reconfirmed to me that simple activities such as giving a tour around the room have a great significance in the baby's physical and mental development. For example, I find it amusing, watching Mia exploring the world around her. The stimulation of her visual development with new sights (which is everything, if you're a baby) is easy yet rewarding.
A Bottom Line
Yes, babies and toddlers don't need a lot of stuff, and parents don't have to spend their fortune on toys to make them happy. We all can find a way to play with our little ones, read to them, sing to them, and talk to them without significant investments. However, I am not against receiving some help when it comes to planning and setting up activities to enrich her life, especially as she grows older.
Since I like structured ideas and do not want to spend a lot of time researching and developing new activities to keep her interested and stimulated, I am pretty sure I made the right decision to stick with this subscription box. Well, at least for now. Without a doubt, to some level, it will give me the confidence and peace of mind that my family and I are continually providing educational activities for Mia at each stage of her development.
Disclaimer: I aim to highlight the product and services I personally find interesting. When sharing my honest opinion about products and services my family and/ or I use, I publish links to various retailers as part of my reporting. If you find these products and services also exciting, and decide to buy them, I may get a small commission. We may also receive products and services free to test. However, this does not drive my decision as to whether or not I recommend the product/ service. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. I am committed to sharing my honest opinion based on my family's experience.