Best Montessori Toys for Babies of 2021
Best Montessori Toys for Babies
October 16, 2021

Best Montessori Toys for Babies

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Best Montessori Toys for Babies .
Best Montessori Toys for Babies

If you’ve heard or read about Montessori lately, you’re not alone. From your Instagram feed to your favorite parenting site, the Montessori philosophy—a century-old approach to education—seems only to be growing in popularity.

Developed by Italian physician Maria Montessori in 1897, Montessori is a child-focused approach to learning that emphasizes hands-on, child-directed work. The philosophy encourages kids to engage in thoughtfully prepared, age-appropriate activities that nurture their cognitive, social, emotional and physical development. And while you’re a few years off from having to decide if a Montessori preschool is the right choice for your family, it’s definitely possible to start incorporating the Montessori philosophy at home, right from day one, through doing what comes so naturally to your baby: playing.

What Is a Montessori Toy?

There’s no official list of “approved” Montessori toys; rather, a toy is considered Montessori-friendly if it supports the same educational philosophies as the Montessori approach. Here’s what to look for when choosing a Montessori-friendly toy for your baby:

  • Natural materials. The Montessori philosophy centers around surrounding a child with natural materials that they can learn about and explore. Does this mean absolutely no plastic allowed? Not quite. But for the most part, traditionally Montessori-friendly toys are made from natural materials like wood, metal, cotton, wool or even rock.
  • Simple and free of distractions. Translation: no batteries required. Think toys that will encourage your little one to engage in open-ended, imaginative play.
  • Focuses on a single skill. Toys that focus on a single skill or concept build the foundation for more advanced learning later on. A single-shape puzzle, for example, a rattle with a bell on it or a pounding bench are all single-skill toys that also teach more sophisticated concepts as your child grows and develops.
  • Realistic and purpose-driven. Maria Montessori favored toys and books that were rooted in reality, not pretend. This means if you’re choosing between a figurine that’s a cartoon-like image of, say, a cow, versus a realistic one, it’s always best to go with the one that’s based in the real world. She also observed that children love to mimic the world around them, so anything that can help your little one feel like a true part of the “grown-up” world is encouraged.

There’s one other thing to remember when choosing Montessori-friendly toys for your baby: less is more. Instead of stocking your little one’s playroom with tons of toys, choose only a few. Focus on toys that will go the distance and that are appropriate for whatever developmental stage your little one is in at the moment. Fewer toys will enable your baby to focus more on the task at hand—and there’ll be less for you to clean up at the end of a long day.

Babylist Picks for the Best Montessori Toys for Babies 0-12 Months Old

Grabbing Toy

This classic rattle and teether is a perfect first Montessori-inspired toy for your baby. Thanks to its light weight and unique shape, it’s easy for even the tiniest hands to grab onto and explore. The gentle rattle noise and the squishy structure make for the perfect first sensory learning experience. And it’s made from natural rubberwood, so you won’t have to worry about any toxic paints or chemicals getting into baby’s mouth.

Teething Toy

Wooden teethers are an ideal solution for tiny sore gums. This multi-textured teether combines all-natural beech wood (polished with organic olive oil and beeswax) and rayon-cotton blend fabric to give baby options for chewing. The cloth can be removed to be cleaned in the washing machine, and try dipping it in water and chilling it for extra soothing relief. The whole thing is easy for your baby to grab, and the wood ring can be wiped with a damp cloth when it starts to get icky.

Sensory Toy

Children, especially babies, love exploring their senses, and sensory play is encouraged within the Montessori method of learning. Each of these balls has a nubby surface that your baby will love to touch, taste and explore. The balls are also great for developing motor skills—you can bounce, roll and toss them around safely without worrying that your little one is going to get hurt. While most sensory balls are made with plastic or silicone, these are made with natural rubber, so they’re Montessori-friendly (but go for a silicone option if a latex allergy is a concern).

Audible Crinkles

This organic cotton crinkle toy will stimulate both auditory and tactile senses as baby grasps and squishes it. The paper inside makes a satisfying crunch with every movement, and the high-contrast image on the outside is great for developing eyesight (babies can see high-contrast and black-and-white images better than low-contrast in the first few months). And if your little one wants to chew on it? No big deal, it’s machine washable.

Board Book

The Montessori method recommends choosing children’s books that are based in reality, include interesting details and are appropriate for a child’s age and learning level. This board book more than fits the bill, featuring 100 simple first words along with corresponding photographs. The bright, realistic images will catch the attention of even the youngest readers, while older babies and young toddlers will love expanding their vocabulary with lots of new words.

A Grasping Toy

At around three months old, baby will likely start trying to pick up and hold smaller objects as they start to develop and practice their grasping skills. Baby-safe beads like these are perfect for tiny hands as your little one tries to manipulate the beads around each other (don’t worry, they’re secured together by an elastic band), so they’ll build up their hand muscles and coordination in no time.

Montessori-Friendly Toy Subscription

Subscription boxes eliminate decision fatigue and are a trend we are all in on, especially for new parents who are already overwhelmed with trying to keep a tiny new person alive and well. If you want a jumpstart on your little one’s first toy collection—or just need a guiding hand in figuring out what toys to buy and when—then you need to give the Lovery Play Kit subscription a try. Montessori-inspired and delivered right to your door, each kit includes two months of playthings just right for baby’s age along with a play guide. Just note that you’ll have to be located within the contiguous United States to sign up.

A First Puzzle

Another option to help baby practice their grasping is a large-knobbed puzzle. Since your little one likely won’t be ready to sort shapes and figure out larger puzzles until they’re well into their toddler years, it’s best to stick to simple, single-shape puzzles at first. The thick, round knob on this one-piece puzzle is the perfect size for tiny fingers to grip, and once kiddo figures out how to lift the piece away, their sense of discovery will be thoroughly engaged by the fun surprise waiting underneath—their own reflection!

A Push Toy

Even before baby is mobile (crawling typically starts around 8-9 months), a rolling toy can help them develop hand-eye coordination, and it’s a good way for adults to actively engage with baby as you roll it back and forth. This sweet little bunny push toy is made of cherry wood and finished with a mix of beeswax and flaxseed oil, so it’s safe even for teething babies to gnaw on.

For Hand-Eye Coordination

Once baby has learned the basics of grasping, they’ll love manipulating these wooden beads along the tracks and following the paths with their eyes. Bead mazes like this one are perfect for building your little one’s fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. This two-track bead maze is a great starter option to help baby work up to larger, more complicated mazes once they’re about two years old.

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