Montessori Toys For Babies, Toddlers & Big Kids – Tot Gift Guide
Looking for an educational toy for your little one? Early Learning Educator, Christina Clemer, shares her list of the best Montessori toys for kids of all ages – babies, toddlers, and big kids.
Did you know that Montessori is so much more than just a type of school? For some, it’s also a way of life.
The Montessori school philosophy, created by Maria Montessori, focuses on how to best support a child’s independence and learning in preparation for life. A big part of this philosophy centers on creating a beautiful environment full of well-made objects that will spark a child’s desire to learn.
There are many ways for parents and caregivers to create the same environment at home that helps to encourage independence right from the beginning.
In this guide, I’ll go over:
- What Montessori toys are
- The best types of Montessori toys for babies, toddlers & kids
- My favorite Montessori inspired gift picks
Scroll down to learn more!
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 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.
The Best Montessori Toys For Babies
The best Montessori baby toys are simple with a calm aesthetic. They are designed to ignite a baby’s curiosity without overwhelming them.
Here are a few examples:
- High contrast black and white illustrations
- Interlocking discs
- Sensory tumblers
- Rainbow stackers
- Shape sorters
- Baby walker
- Hammer & ball toy
Scroll down to see my product picks for each.
Designed to help your baby reach important developmental milestones, The Tot Play & Learn Sets come with a booklet of activities, advice and tips! They also include six toys that can be played with in a variety of ways!
Playmats are a soft and safe place for babies to practice tummy time or simply play. Made from organic cotton, which is farmed without the use of chemicals like pesticides, the Wee Gallery Explore Organic Playmat takes the educational fun further with high contrast black and white illustrations which will help strengthen your tot’s eyesight.
So many activity gyms are completely overstimulating, crowded with different toys and bright colors that overexcite.
The Lovevery Play Gym presents a more calming alternative that grows with your child. It includes everything you need – from batting to teething to learning to focus – for your baby’s first year of play.
The best part: it transitions into a toddler tent!
Created by mother and Montessori teacher Zahra Kassam, this kit was specially designed for infants 0-3 months old. The materials in Monti Kids Level 1 nurture your child’s visual skills, motor development, concentration, physical coordination, body awareness, and strength right from birth.
With this gym, you can continue the lessons from the Montessori classroom in your own home. A great bonus? It’s crafted from natural materials, including sustainably forested wood and non-toxic paint.
Lily & River’s minimalist triangular climbing structure was designed to encourage babies and toddlers to gain confidence, stability and strength at their own pace by using their natural instinct to climb.
Available in both birch and bamboo woods, Lily & River climbers allow you to add a ramp or climbing wall for added fun!
Ranging from $350 to 533.95
Available in more colors
Ranging from $449.95 to $633.95
Available in more colors
The Bajo Baby Walker is just the thing babies need to get steady on their feet! The best part: it transitions into a wagon meaning it’s something that will be played with for years, not months.
When it comes to honing hand-eye coordination, kids love the classic ball pounding game from by Astrup! Made of FSC-certified Teawood and plywood, it’s a must-have for demonstrating cause and effect.
The Best Montessori Toys For Toddlers
When a child hits toddlerhood, they’re in an intense period of gross motor skill and language development, and they feel a need for order in their world. You’ll want to choose toys that will help them to master these new skills.
Here are the top Montessori toys for toddlers:
- Mud kitchen
- Stepping stone game
- Fine motor toys
- Board books
- Stacking rainbow
- Threading sets
- Balance bike
- Small part play
- Indoor ball pit
- Balance beam
- Household role play toys
- Kitchen role play toys
- Cash register
- Shapes stacking tower
- Wooden puzzle
- Toddler tower
Learn more about these gift ideas for preschoolers below.
The Double Sink Mud Kitchen from The Monarch Studio allows kids engage in sensory play both indoors and out!
Lily & River’s Little Steps make playing ‘Don’t Touch the Hot Lava’ even more fun! Great for teaching colors and coordination, they’re made from premium, FSC-certified hardwood and have a non-toxic, VOC-free finish.
As your tot gets more advanced, so do The Tot Play & Learn Sets. Now that we’ve mastered milestones like reaching and grasping, it’s time to work on shapes, cause and effects, colors and more!
Blocks are one of the best gifts you can give a toddler because they encourage creativity, problem solving skills and dexterity and they will play with them for years to come.
These wooden blocks from Rock Blocks are particularly beautiful. They are made from a variety of wood and just the right size for little hands.
PlanToys makes classic block play even more engaging with their water blocks! Fun to stack and look through, they’re a great way to hone hand-eye coordination and teach kids about colors and shapes.
Fun to stack and nest on its own, the Raduga Grez Sand Small Arch Stacker can also be used to set the scene for loads of imaginative play!
Available in more colors
The Small Foot Premium Nordic Toolbox is fabulous for strengthening fine motor skills, honing hand-eye coordination and arming kids with the tools they need to develop important life skills and independence.
The fun thing about the Balu Organic Ball Pit is that it can be used from birth as a soft place to do tummy time, learn to sit up or play. Once strong enough, throw the balls in and that’s where the active and/or imaginative play begins!
If you know a kid who loves building obstacle courses, then you’re going to want to get them the Lily & River Little Gymnast! Fun to play on solo or with friends, it’s great for encouraging balancing and critical thinking.
Household role play toys like the PlanToys Washing Machine are important because they help children gain life skills and independence! (They also make playing “House” way more realistic!!
Play kitchen and food toys are one of the best ways to expand a child’s vocabulary, encourage independence and establish healthy eating habits. They’re also a fun way to develop social skills.
Available in more colors and configurations
If you’re looking for ways to teach your kids the fundamentals of finance and strengthen their numeracy skills, The Small Foot Play Cash Register is just the thing for play-based learning.
Made of FSC-certified Beechwood, plywood, and Teawood, the by ASTRUP Shapes and Stacking Tower set includes 25 shapes and 6 activity cards that help children develop cognitive skills, concentration, memory, problem-solving, recognition, coordination, and imagination.
This truly heirloom quality solar system puzzle from Q Toys is a fun way to teach kids the names of planets and Earth’s proximity.
Once your tot is ready to take on a real kitchen, having the Franklin + Emily Toddler Tower on hand will be just the thing they need to help you wash fruit, vegetables or stir a delicious bowl of cookie dough!
The Best Montessori Toys For Kids
Montessori-friendly toys for young children should encourage creativity and exploration while helping them to learn about the real world and how to engage in it.
Here are my top Montessori picks for your growing child:
- Wooden cars
- Roadway Track
- Eco-friendly toy trucks
- Letter boards
- Weather/time board
- Shapes and fractions game
- Flash cards
- Sets that encourage role play
- Wooden Balance Board
- Large blocks
- Arts & crafts supplies
- Play teepee
- Coding kits
- Music toys
Shop these toys below.
Doll play with the Milton & Goose Hudson Dollhouse is one way kids can practice manners, work through emotions, think critically and ultimately develop a sense of self!
For lovers of things that go, the Q Toys Vehicle Play Set has everything they need to get on the road. The solid and sustainably-sourced plantation timber set includes:
- 7 x different vehicles
- 1 x bumpgate
- 2 x traffic signs
- 1 x bridge
- 1 x storage box
The easy to clip together 42 piece roadway set from Guidecraft enables kids to hone their hand-eye coordination while exploring the development of social skills, dramatic play, construction, and engineering!
Made in the USA from 30% sawdust and 70% safe, certified, clean plastic, Luke Toy Factory’s trucks are fun both inside and out!
From the age of four, many kids are at preschool or gearing up for a more formal education.
As an advocate of play-based learning, I worked with The Tot to create these play and learn sets fro 4 to 6 year olds. Designed with a focus on developing literacy, numeracy, science and life skills, they come with a booklet packed with activities, advice and tips!
The Moon Picnic My Weather Stations allows kids to expand their vocabulary while learning all about the weather. By making it part of your tot’s daily routine, it can aid in helping them choose weather-appropriate clothing, which encourages independence.
Looking for a fun way to introduce the concept of fractions while honing hand-eye coordination? The by ASTRUP Shapes and Fraction Game is the answer. Made of FSC-certified Teawood and plywood, this 20 piece set is great for developing cognitive skills, concentration, memory, problem solving, number recognition, and understanding quantities.
Make Me Iconic Role Play sets are made from high quality wood and child-safe paints. Sure to be heirloom toys passed on from generation to generation, your children will love learning about their bodies, health and empathy!
The Wobbel gives children an outlet for their boundless energy even on the coldest winter days. Not only is it fun, but it also helps children develop balance and strong muscles.This versatile wooden toy is great for babies and toddlers too!
Block play will be at a whole new level (literally) with Guidecraft’s Hollow Blocks! While they offer the same developmental benefits of classic block play, they can also act as a set for imaginative play!
While it may not look as cute as a perfectly planned Pinterest activity, creating a work of art from open-ended art supplies gives children an entirely different experience. Let your kid lead the way with this set of materials that will inspire creativity and hours of child-led art exploration.
Take the fun outside with Twee Sidewalk Chalk! From creating a hopscotch course to free-styling a masterpiece to writing a welcome home message to Mom, kids will love the uniquely shaped chalk!
Handmade in small batches, Dough Parlour’s non-toxic scented play dough is the ultimate sensory experience for kids! Available in a range of sets and scents, it’s both a calming and creative activity.
Children love hideaways — a cozy nook that’s just for them. This teepee makes a perfect spot to keep a few beautiful picture books that encourage a love of reading.
Babai Play Tent
Available in more colors
Montessori is all about hands-on learning and this robotics discovery set lets children experience just that. It encourages problem solving and critical thinking while providing a foundation for basic coding skills.
Musical play is important for developing rhythm and coordination. It can also be calming, empowering and all sorts of fun! I love these options from BabyNoise & Green Tones because they’re made of child-safe wood and non-toxic finishes.
- Interested in learning more about the Montessori Method? Check out The Best Montessori Toys That Grow With Your Child.
- Need some last minute holiday or Christmas giftss? Visit The Tot Holiday Shop.