More and more parents are embracing the so-called Montessori Method, a philosophy of child education and rearing started by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori over 100 years ago. The Montessori Method emphasizes play-based, child-led, and independent development with respect to the individual. Whether you’ve set up a Montessori-inspired nursery; are planning to use Montessori schools in the early years; or are simply exploring some of these ideas at home for Baby on a small scale, toys are a great place to start. 

What are Montessori toys?

Today the interpretation for “Montessori toys” takes a few liberties with Maria Montessori’s vision, but still borrows key principles from her teaching method. Toys that fall under the Montessori umbrella are designed for simplicity and meant to inspire children to explore and grow at their own pace. They embrace cause-and-effect teaching and hand-eye coordination, focusing primarily on one or two skills at a time rather than overwhelming the child or removing the space for self-guided learning. Montessori toys are not battery-operated with all the bells and whistles; rather, these toys are made of natural materials and should not have elements that distract from the learning process.  

Wooden or natural rubber and silicone teethers; monochrome or bold rainbow hued rattles; toys made of wood, cotton, silk, and other natural materials, are all great examples of Montessori toys for the first 12 months of life (and beyond). A variety of textures, shapes, sizes, and colors make a collection of baby toys that will inspire baby-led learning and development from the start.                                               

The Best Montessori Toys for Babies

Babies as young as newborns can benefit from being exposed to Montessori-inspired toys at home. Here are some of our favorite Montessori toy ideas for babies aged 0 to 12 months.

Play Gym Montessori Toy

 Montessori-style wooden play gym for babies

Image and to buy: Etsy/MyLittleSongbird18

A basic play gym incorporates many elements of the Montessori philosophy for young ones. For one, Baby is situated on the floor for play. Even before rolling and crawling begin, this is important because it fosters freedom of movement and play. A simple play structure sparks your little one’s creative mind and entices them to engage with the objects dangling above them. For babies 0+ months.

Montessori Mirror Toy

Baby looks at a Montessori-style mirror toy 

Image and to buy: The Tot

Mirrors are a big part of the Montessori learning environment as Baby gets to know their face and track facial expressions, a crucial early learning experience in the first year of life. A peekaboo-puzzle-style mirror is double the fun. Look for one with a simple cover with an easy-to-grasp knob so your little one can remove it to find their face once they are able to hold and manipulate objects. A simple mirror makes a Montessori-perfect tummy time accessory, too. For babies 0+ months. 

Wooden Rattle Montessori Toy

 Montessori-style wooden baby rattle

Image and to buy: Colored Organics

Once Baby can grasp objects on their own, a wooden rattle is a perfect Montessori toy to keep in your purse, diaper bag, or on a low shelf in their room. Baby learns to interact with this toy at their own pace and enjoys the effect of its movement and sound when rattled. Other basic wooden “instruments” can be incorporated in the first several months that will lay the groundwork for an appreciation of music while also creating an enjoyable interactive experience for Baby. For babies 2+ months. 

Sensory Ball Montessori Toy for Babies

 Montessori-style sensory ball toys

Image and to buy: Maisonette

From grasping to chewing, then rolling to eventually throwing, textured balls provide so many ways to play for many months. Look for ones made of natural rubber for ultimate softness, comfort, and closest alignment to the Montessori philosophy. A good variety of color, shape, and size is also advisable for tiny learners— and makes for the best chewing experience! For babies 3+ months. 

Magic Tissue Box Montessori Toy

 Hedgehog-shaped Montessori-style tissue box toy

Image and to buy: The Tot 

Once your baby is really engaging with their surroundings, a toy that lets them pull scarves or other fabric through a hole is a Montessori favorite. Stuffing the scarves back into the box or vessel is practice with the concept of containment, an important skill they are learning at this curious age. For babies 5+ months.

Adult-Inspired Pretend Montessori Toy

 Montessori-style toy smart phone for babies

Image and to buy: The Tot 

A soft bag that can contain little toys, or a wooden or silicone play phone might not be considered traditional Montessori toys. However, mimicking adult behavior and interacting with the world around them are fundamental to the Montessori method. Therefore, these unexpected Montessori-inspired toy ideas certainly have a place in your collection—especially if you stick with natural materials, soothing colors, and battery-free varieties. For babies 6+ months.

Nesting/Stacking Cup Toy

Neutral colored, Montessori-style stacking cup toy for babies 

Image and to buy: Colored Organics

Fun and visually interesting cups teach your little learner so many things: stacking, tower-building, containment, and nesting—plus, pouring when used with water or sand. They make a great bathtime or anytime toy. Reach for colorful ones to make them extra engaging for your little peanut. For babies 6+ months. 

Basic Montessori Puzzle Toy 

Simple wooden Montessori puzzle for babies

Image and to buy: Amazon

Problem-solving and fine motor development are well underway at this pinnacle moment in your baby’s development. Early puzzle play is fun, rewarding, and teaches them so much–not to mention, it helps to develop their pincer (thumb and pointer finger) grasp. For babies 6+ months.

Object Permanence Montessori Toy

 Wooden Montessori object permanence toy for babies

Image and to buy: Amazon

It looks incredibly simple, but this very specific Montessori toy for babies can play an important part of your child’s early learning. As the ball “disappears” inside its box, your baby learns that an object still exists even when they cannot see it. Rotating, tilting, or otherwise manipulating the box makes the ball roll, and thus reappear. This simple toy is a great example of how Montessori play is child-led and based upon them exploring and interacting with their environment. A shape sorter fulfills similar goals and is another one to add to your collection. For babies 6+ months.

Black & White Book 

 Black and white book for babies

Image and to buy: Amazon

High-contrast black and white imagery is clutch for engaging new babies. Consider an accordion style or soft book that little ones can stretch and interact with—or a set of cards they can handle and enjoy on their own. The interactive aspect is what gives this toy some Montessori cred. For babies 0+ months.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.