Are Montessori toys good for babies? It’s a question I see a lot from those who join our Montessori Inspired Homeschooling group on Facebook and a fair one at that!
Those who are newer to the Montessori method often wonder at what age you can start Montessori and what exactly makes for a Montessori toy. So let’s jump into what is often meant when looking for a Montessori toy and some of our top recommendations when shopping for Montessori baby gifts.
Best Montessori Aligned Toys for Babies
Here at Multisori, we talk about Montessori aligned toys because there’s technically no such thing as a “Montessori toy”. Montessori is an educational philosophy so when we’re looking at toys, we’re looking for toys that align with said philosophy.
Those new to Montessori, though, don’t necessarily realize this because of course if you search online for Montessori toys, you’ll have dozens of websites trying to sell you exactly that - the idea that you have to buy specific toys to be considered Montessori.
So let me repeat -
There’s No Such Thing as Montessori Toys
What makes a toy Montessori aligned, then? They’re toys and playthings that ignite your child’s curiosity.
So when you’re looking for toys for baby, look for toys that are:
- Simple - no electronics or flashing lights, you want toys that help focus in on one skill development at a time
- Made with natural materials - babies use all of their senses to learn, so look for toys made of natural things like wood, cotton, stainless steel, felt, etc.
- Age-appropriate - Montessori-aligned toys are never “great for all ages!” Instead it’s important to look for ones that align with a child’s developmental needs and where they’re at in skills such as gross motor skills, problem solving, and hand-eye coordination.
- Attractive - similar to above, we’re not looking for toys that are mass produced and plastic. Instead you want to find toys for your baby that are visually appealing, attractive, and built well.
- Based on real life - books about a pigeon driving a bus are cute, but before that mental leap to fantasy, expose children to objects that accurately represent the real world
- Encourages repetition and active engagement - say yes to things that require baby to be hands-on (like stacking cups) and no to anything that requires batteries
- Open-ended - Open-ended toys are those that aren’t intended for any specific use. For example, you want toys like blocks and dolls which encourage a child to be creative and give them freedom to explore (Note that this is in stark contrast to Montessori educational tools which are purposely crafted to be close-ended!)
Moving forward, it comes down to remembering this: Montessori isn’t about having exactly the right stuff, it’s about philosophy and education through example. With a clearer picture in mind as to what makes for a Montessori aligned toy, let’s talk about some of our favorite Montessori inspired baby toys!
Montessori Toys for Babies
Encouraging sensory exploration is a huge part of the Montessori method, especially when it comes to infants. These textured balls have different surfaces that your baby will love to touch, taste, and explore. They’re also brightly colored and are perfectly sized for tiny hands. This natural rubber multi-ball set is also great for developing motor skills as baby can bounce, roll, and toss them around safely.
This crinkle toy is highly rated for a reason! It stimulates both auditory and tactile senses as the baby grasps and squishes it. This baby paper makes a satisfying crunch with every movement. It’s also important to note that since babies see high contrast better in the first few months (think black and white) the design of this crinkle toy is just perfect! Bonus - it’s machine washable.
Look look book
As mentioned above, high contrast books and art are great for babies. And these high contrast black-and-white images are sure to catch a baby's attention. It’s a brilliant book that’s ideal for infants who are just beginning to look and learn.
Be sure to also sign-up for your FREE high contrast book directly from Multisori -
This beautiful wooden rattle set is a grabbing toy, teether, and rattle all rolled into one. It’s perfect for infants exploring tactile senses and practicing reaching and grasping. This beech wood rattle helps improve motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and makes for a great teether.
Babies around 3 months old begin trying to pick up and hold smaller objects as they start to develop and practice grasping skills. This multi-sensory toy encourages them to work on those grasping skills and build up their gross motor skills. With over 3000 reviews, it’s rated five stars for a reason! This is one that stands the test of time and is sure to be one of baby’s favorites.
This classic wooden toy is made to last! It’s great for babies as they practice grasping skills and explore their tactile senses. What I really love about this one, though, is that it’s great as your infant ages. Even toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy this as they learn color and shape recognition!There’s so much fun and learning to be had with stacking cups. While you can’t expect correct stacking when babies are playing, they will be learning as they explore the different shapes. Then, as your child ages, stacking cups can also be used for pouring practice, color sorting, spatial games, and so much more.
Another high contrast favorite is this set of art cards that quickly captivate a baby's attention. Printed on cardboard that can withstand a baby’s explorative nature, these beautiful high contrast cards are a must-have set!
This Sights and Sounds toy is perfect for strollers, cribs, and baby carriers. This multisensory toy encourages hand-eye coordination, self-awareness, gross motor activity, and experience with cause and effect.
Freedom of movement is incredibly important for babies, especially in a Montessori home. Play gyms are great for this, but again - we want to avoid anything overstimulating and that has lights or sounds. This Montessori friendly play gym is great because it grows with your baby - starting from tummy time well into their toddler years. It’s also super easy to set up and take down, so you can move it should you have multi-age children who make it hard to stick to one spot throughout the day.
When choosing Montessori-friendly toys for your baby, just remember: less is more. Focus on buying toys for your baby that are long-lasting and that are appropriate for whatever developmental stage your child is in at the moment.
No matter if you are shopping for a baby shower gift, Christmas presents, or just want to add a few quality Montessori inspired toys to your own baby registry, no doubt you’ve found a few here that babies will love.
And remember - even just taking the time to read this article and do your research shows that you are making great choices for your baby! Never doubt yourself and your skills as a parent.