Lil’ Labmates

November 2021

It’s you, your baby, and a cup of your favorite Starbucks drink in hand, walking down the Target aisles trying to find a new toy. You pick up the little singing dog, followed by the signing shark, and realize they’re all exactly the same. Instant gratification of pressing a button and hearing a song or seeing some twinkly lights. You start getting into the bigger kids area and start finding awesome science-themed toys and start to wonder, “why is it that we have to wait so long to expose our kids to science?” Well, Danielle Orozco Cosio had the same thought and then came to the creation of Lil’ Labmates!

Lil’ Labmates offers toy prototypes that are 3D printed using food-safe plastic. Each toy comes with a printed play guide that includes: 

  • Information on relevant developmental milestones
  • Ways to play with the toy through your baby’s first year
  • An explanation of the toy’s STEM theme

And not just that, they even sell the 3D printer files, in case you want to make them yourself!

Screenshot from Lil’ Labmates

Danielle is no stranger to science. She graduated from MIT’s Biology Department and is currently a PhD candidate in the Brain & Cognitive Sciences Department. She strives to use science to make the world a better place and knows the importance of being exposed at a young age. In March 2020, her son David was born and she couldn’t find any science-themed toys that were age appropriate. Danielle researched and found that she was not the only parent in STEM that was having issues finding a toy that she could relate to and that would help share her passions with her son. So she decided to make them and share them herself. While Danielle is brilliant and excels in science, she did not have a business background, which means she needed a little help launching her idea. In September 2020, Danielle brought Barbara Zappala on board to help her realize her business. They both shared STEM Backgrounds, are Latinas, and believe wholeheartedly the importance of early childhood education. That November they were able to begin making prototypes for 3 of the toys Danielled had envisioned. After testing, acquiring partners and materials, in July 2021 Lil’ Labmates were able to open up shop.

“We are working on setting up sustainable manufacturing practices but we know babies grow fast so while we wait for our manufacturing to be set up, we have decided to sell 3D printed prototypes of our first two toys: the Interlocking Gears and the Nematode Stacker. We’ve spent months testing and redesigning our toys based on parents’ feedback and we can’t wait to share them with more people.

Lil’ Labmates is Latina Women owned and run business. They follow a strict set of values which result in STEM toys that are environmentally friendly, developmentally enriching, and socially responsible. They use 100% sustainable materials and even use recycled or recyclable packaging. Each of their toys help the babies’ brains make connections needed to reach their milestones and come with their own play guides to show you what your baby can practice with the toys. Their unique STEM-themed toys are inspired by Montessori designs. Currently they have two toys that are on sale and one in development. The first is the “Interlocking Gears” that puts a twist on the Montessori favorite, interlocking disks. Along with the developmental movements, the gear shapes of the toy provide an introduction to engineering imagery. Not to mention they’re great for sensory exploration. The Interlocking Gears is the first toy in the Science Concepts Collection. The next toy is the “Nematode Stacker” which is a stacking toy in a “worm shape”. Not only are the nematodes great for stacking in different ways, they also introduce the life cycle of the most common model organism, the C. Elgans Nematode. The Nematode Stacker is the first toy in the Model Organism Collection. The third toy that is currently in production is the Pipette Rattle. It’s essentially a baby rattle, but in a pipette shape, which all scientists know is a must have lab tool.

Photos from Lil’ Labmates

A STEM baby toy is nearly impossible to find, and their schematics…even harder! Thank you for making a sustainable toy that helps babies reach their milestones and spark their love for science at an early age. Lil’ Labmates know that babies grow quickly and while they’re working on their manufacturing they have already launched their online store with the interlocking gears and the nematode stacker prototypes. With each purchase, they will be donating part of the sale to families in need. Go check them out!


Visit & Shop:

Current Offer:

  • Free Shipping on orders over $20!
  • Sign up for their newsletter and receive FREE science-themed contrast cards

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Andrea Claeyssen

Web Tech & Account Manager

at Hooked on Code


The Delight Awards were started in August 2021 by the team at Hooked On Code as a way to acknowledge other businesses, products, and professionals that demonstrate values of Simplicity, Authenticity, Ethics, and spread DELIGHT.

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