10 Montessori-inspired First Birthday Gift Ideas
When it comes to first birthday gift ideas, we know people want to find something extra special. Montessori teacher, Christina Clemer, is here to share her favorite Montessori-inspired gift ideas that promote learning, creativity and fun for one-year-olds!
First birthdays are a big deal.
While it’s a sentimental and celebratory time for parents and family, it’s a pivotal age for babies to reach important developmental milestones.
As a Montessori teacher, I love looking for gifts that will light up a child’s face when they see it, but also something that will challenge their growing mind and spark creativity for years to come. If you’re looking for a tried & trusted and educational present for a special soon-to-be one-year-old, you’ve come to the right place!
In this First Birthday Gift Guide, I’ll go over:
- 12 – 18 Months Developmental Milestones
- What Montessori toys are
- Montessori-inspired first birthday gift ideas
Scroll down to learn more!
12 – 18 Months Developmental Milestones
Shortly after a baby turns one, they are well on their way to gaining independence and exploring the world as a toddler!
While all babies develop at different rates, these are some of the physical milestones children typically reach between 12 and 18 months of age:
- Stand & walk without help
- Climb furniture or stairs
- Try to help you put their clothes on
- Stack two blocks and knock them down
- Drop objects into a container and dump them out
- “Read” books independently
- Grasp small objects such as coins and crayons with their fingertips
- Follow simple instructions such as “Pick up your toy”
For a full list of milestones, you can read The Tot Guide To Toddler Developmental Milestones here.
What are Montessori Toys?
Montessori toys are designed to help parents and educators use the Montessori Method.
Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was one of the first women in Italy to be granted a diploma as a physician. She devoted her life to studying the physical, social, cognitive and emotional development of children around the world. From her observations, she developed the Montessori Method of education, which encourages natural curiosity, self-directed activity and hands-on learning in a supportive, nurturing environment. Her method has been used around the world for over 100 years.
What makes a toy fall into the Montessori-inspired category?
- It is made with natural materials.
- It allows for open-ended play.
- It has simple features. (Avoid flashing lights and sounds.)
- It demonstrates control of error. (e.g. a puzzle)
Essentially, Montessori toys are any type of toy or material that encourages curiosity and learning in children — an integral part of child development.
Montessori-inspired First Birthday Gift Ideas
All Tot Tested and approved, here are my favorite Montessori-inspired first birthday gifts!
Toys for active play
Toddlers are bursting with energy and need gross motor opportunities indoors, as well as out. It’s much easier to keep them from climbing on the furniture if you have an appropriate place where they can climb instead. Below are some of my go-to toys for both indoor and outdoor active play.
Available in three colors, the Jupiduu slide is a wonderful addition to a child’s bedroom or playroom. While they can slide down it in a traditional manner, it’s also fun to climb up, use as a ramp, crawl under and even stretch on!
Available in more colors
The Lily & River Birch Climber is a new take on the classic Pikler Triangle. Intended to encourage a baby’s natural instinct to climb, it’s fantastic for strengthening muscles, building confidence, and honing coordination and balance skills.
Ranging from $350 to $533.95
Available in more colors
The thing I love about the Lily & River Little Surfer is that it’s something even adults can use! While it’s essentially a balance board, it can be played with as a bridge, ramp, slide, yoga accessory, stretching aid, step stool, reading nook and even as a prop in a game of make-believe!
The classic red wagon is still around because it’s a great way to teach kids how to push and pull something. Wishbone takes the fun a step further with their ability to ride and steer!
Toys for Motor Skill Development
Montessori places a big emphasis on giving children things made from natural materials – wood, metal, and cloth, rather than plastic. Building toys are particularly awesome because they engage children’s creativity and problem-solving skills.
Most babies don’t learn to walk until after 12 months of age. The Wonder & Wise Activity Walker can be a fun way to help them find their feet. I particularly like this option because of the high contrast black and white design and elements of fine motor and hand-eye coordination play.
Together with The Tot, we created The Tot Play & Learn Sets which include hand-selected toys as well as my favorite developmental activities that show parents how they can play with one toy a variety of ways to help a child reach important milestones. While there are sets available from birth to age 6, you can’t go wrong with the 12 – 18 month set for a first birthday!
Available in sets for more ages
Made from 100% platinum silicone, the Dena Rainbow is a new take on the classic Grimm’s rainbow because it adds an element of sensory play with its soft texture. From nesting to stacking to chewing and tracing, it’s a great gift to facilitate open-ended play.
The Hollow Woodworks Personalized Puzzle Stool allows kids to gain independence by providing a safe place to stand to reach the bathroom sink or kitchen counter, while also facilitating classic puzzle play. Gifts are always extra meaningful when you can add a personal touch like a name!
Ranging from $79.99 to $89.99
Available in more colors and sizes
Baby books for cognitive development
It’s never too early to start fostering a love of reading! Because toddlers are quite rough with books, I love gifting sturdy board books like The ABCs of Black History and Oppositive with Frank Lloyd Wright!