The Mom Behind Lovevery Explains How to Boost Baby’s Brain Power

Give them the push they need to get hooked on learning right from the get-go.
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By Stephanie Grassullo, Contributing Writer
Updated September 17, 2020
mom boss, jessica rolph of lovevery with her family
Image: Lovevery
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The Bump presents #MomBoss, a series dedicated to showing off all-star moms. We catch up with mompreneurs behind products we love, influencers who get real about motherhood and SAHMs who can multitask in their sleep.

It’s no secret that playtime has benefits that exceed far beyond keeping your kiddo occupied. Engaging baby with interactive activities not only helps pass time, but it’s food for their brain too. A word to the wise, not all toys are created equal. For expert-backed playtime activities, put your faith in Lovevery.

The company was co-founded by Jessica Rolph, a mom who, much like yourself, wanted to nourish her baby’s brain during those crucial first years of life. Rolph threw all her energy into developing play kits to support each stage of children’s cognitive development, and Lovevery quickly became a fan-favorite among new parents. The mompreneur discusses her journey to Lovevery, and how parents can benefit from all the company offers.

Tell us your story in a couple of sentences.

I am deeply passionate about the importance of early childhood development and helping parents give their babies the best possible start. The mission for my first company, Happy Family, was to keep toxins out of babies’ bodies. As founding partner, I helped build Happy Family into the No. 1 organic baby brand in the US. But a few years ago, I started wondering: What are we doing to nourish our babies’ brains? That question was the impetus for my new company, Lovevery. Our mission is to help parents feel confident they’re supporting each stage of their children’s cognitive development.

Image: Lovevery

How do you juggle motherhood and working mom life?

Oh man, it is so hard! Like all of us working moms, I’m constantly struggling to find balance and soak up these precious life moments. In fact, right now I’m on a 12-hour international work flight after saying a heartbreaking goodbye to my three littles this morning. It never gets any easier.

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So much of life is about achieving and doing, yet so much of parenting is just about being. It’s hard to train myself (even after having three babies!) to really absorb the understanding that the only way I won’t let this precious time slip by is to learn to be present. My children are so special to me, but I admit I often find myself in autopilot mode, processing a work challenge in the back of my mind or even wasting energy stressing about my messy house.

This year, I made a resolution to meditate five minutes a day and I made it all the way to mid-February; now, I meditate occasionally. When I do take a few minutes to train my brain to slow down, it helps me take in more moments with my kids, whether they’re all losing it or saying something I never want to forget.

I’ve also (mostly) let go of any aspiration that doesn’t seem essential at this stage—an organized, minimalist house, a zero-waste lifestyle, extra commitments, an optimally healthy diet, well-dressed and groomed children, all those emails I’m constantly struggling to get to. Balance at this stage is elusive, but there are so many moments of joy, and I’m trying to be present for more of them.

When did you realize you were ready to step away from Happy Family, and focus on Lovevery instead?

After four years of working to build Happy Family, my husband and I were ready to start our own family. By then, I knew exactly what foods I should feed my baby, but I realized I didn’t know what to do to nourish my baby’s brain. The same research holds in brain science as it does in nutrition: The first three years of life are critical. Eighty percent of the brain is developed by year three, and the experiences a child has in these early years make a huge difference in what they’re capable of later in life.

I discovered a doctoral thesis on infant brain development that had all these detailed, nerdy, cool things I could do with my baby. It gave me both the understanding of what my child was craving to learn, and a plan for how I could help. I spent the last decade building Happy Family. In the next one, I intend to fulfill my dream for Lovevery. I want us to be a company that gives parents confidence, peace of mind and ease in knowing they’re giving their little ones just what they need at each stage of development.

Tell us about the subscription service and how it grows with baby.

Children crave specific experiences as they develop. The Play Kits are a subscription box service of science-backed information and sustainably-made play products intended to help advance a child’s development at each stage. The kits arrive every other month for the first year of a baby’s life, and every three months for toddlers. It gives parents the right products and the right information at just the right time.

As parents, it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed trying to know everything about our children’s development in advance. Lovevery provides thoughtful research and engaging toys so parents can feel confident they’re giving their children the best start in life.

Image: Lovevery

Are there any Play Kits for older children?

We just launched the Play Kits for Toddlers, an expansion of our line of Play Kits for Babies, and we’re so thrilled about them! We also have a few other exciting developments we’re working on that we’ll be sharing more details on later this year.

Do your kids have a favorite Lovevery product?

We have a house full of books (borrowed and owned), but I found that the books my children tune into most are the relatable stories with real-life photography featuring other children. I went on a hunt to find the best ones, but they were mostly published in the ‘70s and didn’t tell great stories. That’s when we decided to create real-life storybooks that come in the Lovevery Play Kits. My kids love them. They crave seeing other children facing similar, relatable challenges—a skinned knee at the park, water in the eyes while getting hair washed, a doctor’s visit—and want to read these books over and over.

What’s your approach to raising three kids?

When things get really bad, hide out in the pantry and eat chocolate? Ha! But on a more serious note, I believe giving babies and toddlers meaningful early learning experiences is a lot easier than helping them with their math homework later on. If we put a lot into giving our children productive learning experiences in the early years, they’ll be better equipped as they enter school and face all the life challenges that follow.

Any hilarious #MomFails?

I used to be so proud of how my first baby would down sardines and spinach—he was such a healthy eater. As he should be; his mama helped create the leading organic baby food company! But six years later, I found him coveting chips and anything sugary, especially if it had red dye. My friends lectured me to “let go,” so I put him in charge of how many treats he ate. To my intense dismay, he polished off seven bags of Doritos in one sitting and went crazy on sugar whenever it was around. Many parental intuitive eating podcasts later, however, and it has gotten better. We’re still working on letting go, but this definitely counts as an epic (and ironic) #MomFail for me!

Do you have a guilty mom pleasure?

Dark chocolate and kombucha for breakfast

Published June 2019

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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