A Montessori-inspired First Birthday Wish List

As her son turns one, Montessori teacher, Christina Clemer, shares her Top 10 gift ideas that promote learning, creativity and fun!


First birthdays are kind of funny. The birthday boy (or girl!) has no idea what’s happening, yet we can’t let such a momentous occasion pass without a proper celebration to show them how very happy we are that they’re here.

Besides, what could be more fun than introducing all of the little traditions like cake and candles and gifts to a tiny person who can barely walk or talk?  Well, shopping for the presents comes pretty close!

As a Montessori teacher, I look for things that are fun, that will light up my little one’s face when he sees them, but also that will challenge his growing mind and spark his creativity for years to come.

Here’s a peek into my first birthday wish list for my almost one year old tot.

Top ten Montessori-friendly first birthday picks from The Tot

To Move:

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.


Jupiduu slide: This slide offers a safe place for climbing, and is made of real wood.


Hape High Seas Rocker: This rocker provides another great indoor movement opportunity. It can be used for creative play as well and the style of the seat makes it safe for the youngest toddlers.


Hape Wonder Wagon: I love that this walker wagon will let my just walking little one practice safely, and that he can also use it long after he’s steady on his feet to pull around his favorite things.

To Build:

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.

KorxxFormBlocksColor1    Petit Pehr Pom Pom Hamper Grey

Korxx Stacking Blocks: With their rounded corners and lightweight natural cork material, these blocks are as safe as they are visually pleasing. Now I just have to decide if I can justify this adorable hamper to store them in as a birthday present….



Wooden Story Natural Stacker

Wooden Story Natural Stacker: This wooden stacking toy is beautiful enough to have in the living room, and can be used for imaginary play as well as building.


To Create:

In Montessori classrooms, you’ll always find things that actively engage rather than entertain a child. These items definitely accomplish that.


Wee Can Too Veggie Sculpting Dough: Made with things like spinach and pumpkin, children can safely explore this food-based dough with all of their senses. I can’t wait to try this brand’s veggie-based finger paints as well!


Hape Playful Piano: I love that this piano invites little ones to create their own real music, rather than just playing a song at the push of a button.

To Wear:

Clothing that is comfortable and non-constricting allows babies and toddlers to move freely and develop their gross motor capabilities.


Lex and Liv Feather Moccasin: I love moccasins because they are easy to put on and thin enough to allow emerging walkers to feel the ground under their feet.


Oeuf Animal Jumper: Made of 100% baby alpaca wool, I can’t imagine anything more comfortable.  I love that this could double as a Halloween costume as well – a super comfy one he won’t be fighting to get out of all night.

To Read:

Many Montessori bookshelves include books about people and nature, books depicting real images, and books about other cultures and world peace.


Tiny Bee Gift Co. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes: This book sends a beautiful message about how babies from all different backgrounds have so much in common. Its rhythm and repetitive pattern are also perfect for the youngest bookworms.  Tiny Bee Gift Co. donates a book to a child in need for each book purchased – what a wonderful way to introduce the importance of giving to our little ones.

I know that someday, my son will have opinions and a wish list of his own. But this year, while it’s all in my hands, I love this selection and am confident that he’ll love it too.