At $140, the Lovevery Play Gym is a lot pricier than most play gyms. I’m not usually one for luxury baby gear, so what drew me to this seemingly simple play gym? In short, I was attracted to its longevity through smart design, and the promise of sustainable and non-toxic materials like organic cotton from a B Corporation. What I got is, admittedly, a lot of fun and a great looking baby play gym. I also got an unpleasant reminder about greenwashing.
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Our Rating: 3 / 5 (See: How Leaf Score is calculated)
- Somewhat sustainable product that is well designed for longevity – could be more eco-friendly though
- Made with some uncertified ‘organic cotton’, polyester, ‘silicone rubber’, and FSC Mixed plywood
- Benefits include a durable and sturdy design that will last longer than most play gyms
- Simple to use and looks great, with well thought out toys and interactive zones to facilitate baby’s development
|Country of Origin:||Made in China, designed in the U.S.|
|Materials:||Plywood (FSC certified Baltic Birch plywood), polyester, ‘silicone rubber’, plastic, some uncertified organic cotton for two toys only|
|Certifications:||ASTM, FSC mixed sources (no GOTS or USDA organic certification I can see)|
The ball and teether ring are marketed as being made with organic cotton. The ball I received clearly states it is made with 100% polyester. However, the teether has two labels. The first label states “100% polyester fibres”. The second label, carrying the Lovevery name, states that the outer woven fabric for both the teether and the high contrast ball is organic cotton, the ball’s stuffing is polyester, and the teether contains cellophane inside the organic cotton.
I reached out to Lovevery to ask about the discrepancy and a company spokesperson confirmed that the ball’s outer cover and teether ring are made with organic cotton, with polyester stuffing for the ball and cellophane crinkly material inside the teether. I also asked about sustainable sourcing for the plywood used in this product and Lovevery confirmed that all the wood they use is FSC certified, be it 100% FSC, FSC Mix, or FSC Recycled.
My experience with the Lovevery Play Gym
Courtesy of my parents, the Lovevery Play Gym arrived in a large, branded cardboard box shortly before my due date. I was very excited to settle my baby on the non-toxic mat and coo over the ensuring cuteness.
Unfortunately, upon unpacking the Play Gym, I realized that the mat is polyester, as is the stuffing of the ball. The wooden structure itself isn’t solid wood and instead appeared to be plywood. The bell toy appears to be FSC certified solid wood.
Maybe I could track down a GOTS organic certification? Nope. Maybe the polyester is recycled, I thought. Nope. Maybe the plywood is sustainable? Hmm, sort of.
I wanted to give Lovevery a chance to live up to its marketing about using non-toxic and sustainable materials.
To find out more about what goes into the Play Gym, I got in touch with the Lovevery team. I was given the run around for quite a while until someone finally cleared up the organic cotton issue. The company representative also told me on background that Lovevery uses plywood, various hardwoods, and medium-density fiberboard across its products. While not ideal, at least Lovevery only uses FSC Mix Baltic Birch plywood, which is as good as it gets for non-toxic plywood.
Baltic Birch – Non-toxic? Sustainable?
Baltic Birch is a good choice for kids furniture because it’s lightweight and easy to clean and maintain. While it is a manufactured wood product, Baltic Birch is made with sustainably sourced birch veneers from north-east Europe (the Baltics). My ply gym box carries an FSC Mixed Sources certification with a Chain of Custody (COC) number.
Baltic Birch is also typically CARB compliant, meaning it meets or exceeds fairly rigorous standards for off-gassing of VOCs like formaldehyde. However, Lovevery wouldn’t tell me if the final product is certified low or zero VOC, only that “VOCs are regulated in the toy space and we meet those requirements.” Not exactly confidence inspiring.
I pushed further and asked if Lovevery has any other standards to assure customers that the wood has no added formaldehyde or other chemicals. The response was that Lovevery:
“Meet[s] formaldehyde requirements in each of the more than 30 worldwide markets that we sell in, including TSCA in the US/Canada. In the EU, we meet EN-71 part 9 for release of formaldehyde in resin bonded wood. For other chemicals, we test for all federal mandated requirements for chemicals in the US and Canada. In the EU we test for 219 SVHC (Substances of very high concern). This is the REACH regulation.”
This inspires a bit more confidence, given that the REACH regulation is more robust than U.S. standards. Again, though, it would be great to see more of that transparency Lovevery promises on its website.
With all that out of the way, let’s talk about how the play gym performs.
How to set up the Lovevery Play Gym
The Lovevery Play Gym is easy to set up, feels very sturdy, and looks great. It’s smart design offers a bounty of opportunities for exploration for babies of all ages and proclivities.
To set up the gym, slide the three arms/legs into the central white bracket and tighten the knob on top. After that, attach the included bell, ball, and scrunchy tie/silicone ring toy to the hanging white Velcro fasteners. To attach the mat to the frame, slip the three Velcro loops through the slots at the bottom of the legs. Finally, the play gym includes a variety of picture cards that you can slide into the two slots in one of the flaps of the play gym.
It took me less than five minutes to set up this play gym out of the box. The whole thing feels very stable, even withstanding a lot of rolling baby activity. We have also moved the play gym between rooms just by picking it up from the top. No need to dismantle it each time! That said, it’s quite wide at about four feet across when you unfold the mat zones fully. The frame is about three feet across and is a bit unwieldy, especially in narrow hallways. For smaller apartments, this play gym will likely take up too much room.
The Lovevery Play Gym flash cards and toys
The play gym kit includes flash cards that support visual development in the first few weeks and months. These are mostly high contrast black and white images. For later months, you can switch these cards out for the color images of babies, balls, and puppies (also included). There are also two mirror cards that do a reasonable job of reflecting things. They are a bit ‘hall of mirrors/house of horror’, though, especially as the holder bends easily and quickly gets dirty with grabby baby hands.
You can also insert the picture cards into two plastic brackets on the top part of the frame. This lets your baby look up at the images. The cards aren’t very secure in these slots though, and will get chewed once they fall.
The play gym also includes three toys that facilitate play through texture, sight, and sound. I’ve already mentioned my reservations about the materials used to make these toys and how they’re marketed, so I’ll just describe my experience with them here.
These toys are well thought out and comprise a high contrast black and white ball, a wooden bell and clapper toy, and a silicone teether ring with crinkly fabric threaded through it. Our baby loved the bell first, then the crinkly toy, then the ball. We ended up detaching the crinkly toy and using this as a travel/diaper bag essential at around 3-5 months old. The ball was a lot of fun to bat around but fell out of favor at 7 months old. I imagine it will be back in favor soon. We used the bell a lot in the first three months. Now, though, the bell is almost always detached because it’s a head hazard for an active rolling and sitting baby.
What I like about the Lovevery Play Gym
Where Lovevery really shines is in offering age-appropriate products and guidance on facilitating play. The play gym includes a very useful flip book full of ideas for play. The book also includes tips on milestones and developmental stages. Lovevery might want to update the book now though, in light of the milestones scrapped or moved by the CDC.
If you imagine you’ll struggle to find ways to play with your two-month-old baby, the Lovevery Play Gym is a great choice. And if you want to get one play gym that will also turn into a play fort in later years, this is also a good option.
I also love how the play gym looks. Sure, kids love bright, garish, noisy playthings, but babies quickly get overstimulated. The Lovevery Play Gym is more sedate in appearance than many other play gyms. And, because you can fold away the flaps and remove the toys, the mat works as a simple, safe, surface that won’t overstimulate growing brains.
The thing that drew me to the Lovevery Play Gym in the first place though, aside from natural materials (which turned out to be questionable) is that this product is designed to entertain your baby through their first year and, arguably, well into toddlerhood. The toys have long-lasting appeal and are versatile, and the included Play Space Cover (also polyester) turns the whole thing into a tent/fort for older toddlers.
The mat is also machine washable, which is a must for babies. Remember to remove the flash cards and silicone ring before washing the mat though. You can also machine wash the ball and scrunchy tie and wipe down that wooden and silicone pieces with warm soapy water.
Downsides of the Lovevery Play Gym
The big downside to the Lovevery Play Gym is that it’s not made entirely with eco-friendly, sustainable, non-toxic materials. At best, two small parts of the play gym are organic cotton and the frame is made with sustainably sourced plywood. So, while the play gym is durable, well built, and designed to last more than just a few months, it could be much more eco-friendly.
I’d love to see the company switch out all that virgin polyester for organic cotton. Even recycled polyester would be an improvement. I’d also like to see this play gym made in the U.S. or Canada using 100% FSC certified local hardwood. Finally, I’d like Lovevery to be much more transparent about its materials and finishes, as befits a B Corporation.
Other downsides are that the gym is quite large, so won’t work for many folks in small spaces. It’s also pricy, which is fine if it’s made with organic cotton and 100% FSC certified wood only, but feels outlandish for a polyester and plywood product.
Finally, the polyester mat attracts dirt and hair pretty quickly. For a crawling baby in an active house with a dog, this means regular vacuuming is pretty much essential.
Final thoughts on Lovevery
Despite my misgivings about the play gym, we’ve continued to use it on pretty much a daily basis. I find bright, loud, garish baby toys much too stimulating to have out permanently, so the Lovevery Play Gym is a great choice as a calmer permanent fixture in our living room.
The play gym has also been a lovely spot to have baby friends hang out when they visit, given the size of the mat and the different zones to entertain multiple babies. This suggests to me that this would be a good play gym for twins. I also like that the Lovevery Play Gym lasts from those first few days home, through early tummy time, to toddlerhood and fort building.
Finally, Lovevery is a B Corporation, which means it is subject to third-party auditing and is required to continually improve its operations. The company has laid out goals for sustainability, including investing in renewable energy projects, using 100% organic cotton, switching some plastics to biobased plastics, and committing to being net-zero by 2030.
The Lovevery spokesperson I talked to via email told me that the company’s 2025 sustainability goal is to have “90% of the materials used in our products and packaging made from renewable, biobased, or recycled materials that are verified by third parties.” As part of this, Lovevery is looking to replace the virgin polyester with recycled polyester or a renewable fiber filling.
I’m excited to see the company achieve its sustainability goals (and get 5 leaves!). Please don’t read this review as a dismissal of Lovevery. I actually really love Lovevery products and think it’s one of the better businesses in the toy space. The reason I’m being hard on the company is because I think it has what it takes to do better and be a stronger leader, creating truly healthy, safe, and sustainable products for generations to come.