My personal taste focuses more montessori and eco-friendly toys. Growing up I went to montessori school and loved it. The focus is on the child developing a natural interest for learning and developing skills instead of having formal learning forced onto them. The toys in this gift guide for newborns to 2-year-olds with a primary focus on 1 year olds includes picks that encourage imagination, creativity, and are designed for children to develop a variety of skills.
I also tried to break these down by price point as best I can. With sales going on some of the items may be a little higher/lower. I had some that were regularly $60 but on sale for $40. Or in the “montessori gifts under $25” category there's gifts for only $7! So click around and don't be afraid of moving up a price point with all the holiday sales happening!
- Best Montessori Gifts for 1 to 2 year olds
- WATCH Montessori Gift Guide For 1 to 2 Year Olds!
- Best Montessori Friendly Gifts For Newborns to 2-Year Olds: Under $25
- Best Montessori Friendly Gifts For Newborns to 2-Year Olds: Under $50
- Best Montessori Friendly Gifts For Newborns to 2-Year Olds: Under $75
- Best Montessori Friendly Gifts For Newborns to 2-Year Olds: Under $100
- Best Montessori Friendly Gifts For Newborns to 2-Year Olds: Under $200
- Multiple Price Points for 6 months – 4+ years!
While not all of the options in this gift guide will be 100% montessori or eco-friendly, most will. Trust me, parents who care about this will appreciate it and those who don't care about it, won't know the difference. There is a bigger and bigger movement among millennial parents to get sustainably sourced, organic, and skill based toys for their kids instead of heaps of loud, gawdy plastic options that don't hold kids attention for very long.
Remember, babies under two are mastering loads of skills. A container with a ball and lid may not seem fun to you and me, but to a baby, they are learning the concept of “full and empty” “in and out” and so much more. There's a reason why most babies just love everyday household items and it's because they are learning skills with them! Plus they lay the foundation for future independent play!
WATCH Montessori Gift Guide For 1 to 2 Year Olds!
Best Montessori Friendly Gifts For Newborns to 2-Year Olds: Under $25
Most of these are actually under $15, there was only one item in that $15-$25 range so I just lumped it all here!
Wooden lacing toys are AWESOME! A set of three for under $15?! YES! Perfect for working fine motor skills and keeping a toddler entertained in the car or at appointments!
Focusing on the montessori concept of using “real life” animals instead of cartoons, your toddler will love this fun flap book! It's a great way to practice identifying animals, animal sounds, and first words!
This is the brand I recommend as the animals are REALLY well made, sturdy, and can take a toddler beating! Plus they last for years!
With toddlers, they like to play with the animals on their own, you can also print photos of them to create a matching game or language game.
An absolute favorite among montessori toys. The Rainbow Stacker grows with the child once again and encourages creativity. Many babies will start using it as a teether, then stacking and nesting with it, and eventually seeing what shapes they can make with the pieces like a snake or a flower!
We have this musical instrument sound puzzle (comes in other sounds too like various animal noise puzzles and tools). Our daughter loves it! We love it because it works her pincer grasp at this stage.
Here's the disclaimer to tell the parent: The noises aren't over the top annoying at all actually.
The problem is, the puzzle is light sensitive. Meaning if the puzzle piece is removed and it's light in the room, it will keep making the sound go after a fixed time period that the sensor is exposed to light. So it doesn't just make a sound when the puzzle piece comes off, but will keep making a sound if it's exposed to light. We just flip it over so it isn't exposed to light if we can find the puzzle piece or put something over it. But nothing will drive a parent crazier than putting their baby down to bed and constantly hearing a trumpet horn if they don't know that information!
These are a classic and can grow with your child from 1 years old through elementary school! In fact, the exact one my daughter has is mine from childhood!
NOTE: They come in tons of styles- EVEN ANIMALS! – for a “truer” montessori finish you could opt for a totally plain one like this set – but I prefer the ones with faces (the one pictures is mine from childhood!) Also pricing can vary quite a bit – a set like mine could cost $80, while many are under $20.
Be careful with newborns or younger babies and the smallest nesting dolls! They could be a choking hazard!
My daughter LOVES this toy though! It's a great way to teach in/out, smallest, smaller small, etc. stacking and so much more.
We got a variation of this in one of our Lovevery Play Kits which we LOVE and is way better than this one IMO since it has a dual race track!
But if you don't want to get the Lovevery play kit, this one looks like a great alternative and is suggested for 1-year olds and up and will last for a while. It's set up to work on a variety of skills from color matching, to sequencing, and more.
This price has varied and dropped as low as $7 the other day, so definitely check it out! Basically it's a bunch of big wooden beads that are all connected. It acts as a rattle, teether, and clutch toy. But what makes it fun, is that it still encouraged open play. R like to pull it open and put it on her head like a hat. I've seen some kids use it as a bracelet. It's definitely more fun for little babies than older toddlers, but it's a fantastic developmental toy.
With so many hard wooden items on the list, let's make sure we are switching up textures and materials too! The Dimpl is a favorite. It comes with 5 silicone bubbles in a tray that babies and toddlers can teeth on, push and poke, learn sequences, and practice fine motor skills. It can also double as a toy and food tray if you're traveling!
R plays with this in her baby and me class and all of the kids seem to love it. It's a fun geometric shape that lets them practice grasping, squishing, and it can also be used as a teether. R likes to shake it and hear the beads click like a rattle which makes it loud enough to entertain her and quite enough that I don't want to throw it away. It's water-based with a non-toxic finish and made from sustainable rubberwood.
This is one of R's favorites! Seriously, it keeps her entertained for SO long! We got it in our Lovevery playkit which was awesome because it came with 3 wooden and 3 wool balls.
The wool balls are harder to push through, so R loved learning the difference between dropping and pushing with it. Regardless, it's a favorite. She puts puzzle pieces in, the ball, and so much more. She's constantly looking inside of the box to see if a new treasure appeared or to hide her goodies from her brother (our dog).
ORRRR Check out the Lovevery Play Kit's here! (muchhh better deal!)
Best Montessori Friendly Gifts For Newborns to 2-Year Olds: Under $50
We are obsessed with this wooden instrument pack come in at around $30! Learning the art of listening is an important montessori concept.
Now I was not about to get a ton of different bells that looked the exact same so my child could learn the nuances of pitch at 1 years old – but this is a great way to begin teaching those concepts as there are a couple different maracas and bell items for them to explore.
A big part of montessori is practical life skills. So a play sink can be a great option for parents wanting to introduce the concept – without running their sink all day.
NOTE: If you subscribe to the Lovevery Play Kits you get a play sink in one of the toddler kits!
A great exercise in gross motor skills and grows into imaginative play.
A crawling tunnel can be great to get little one's inspired to start crawling. It's also a great way to burn off excess toddler energy if stuck inside at home.
Growing up my friend had a HUGE tunnel system like this one and we LOVED it all the way through 4th grade so it's definitely something that can last. And they fold up small when not in use!
This is awesome!! It's technically for toddlers 3 and up, but we've had it since my daughter was 1 years old. I think you can give it to a baby whenever really since there aren't choking hazards. Can she do it on her own at almost 2 years old? Not completely. But she has gotten a few of the latches down and we use it to talk about colors and animals as well. It's a toy that grow with the child and has a long shelf life.
Check out all the best toddler busy boards here!
This is awesome!! It's technically for toddlers 2 and up, but I think you can give it to a baby whenever really since there aren't choking hazards (though it does have a clasp if your nervous about them nipping their fingers!). I always get asked a lot about how R started drinking from a cup at 7 months and stuff, and it's simple, I just gave her things that allowed her to practice the skill, even if she was below the recommended age for it.
Meaning, you can give this to you 10 month old, and they can start to touch and explore it. Will they be tying the shoelace anytime soon? No, but they will probably do it sooner than if they weren't playing with this. When I give toys like this to R earlier than the recommended age, sometimes she has no interest in it for a month or so. That's okay, you want to constantly be rotating out toys anyway so they don't get bored. That's sort of the key with toys and kids: only offer them a handful at a time, then swap them out every few days. This way you don't need to buy a million toys; and something old becomes new again!
Best Montessori Friendly Gifts For Newborns to 2-Year Olds: Under $75
This was a HUGE hit with my 18 month old! It's a fantastic montessori gift for 1 year olds and up! Working on gross motor skills, imaginative play, and more!
For younger kids, they can sit on it and rock back and forth, use it as a doll bed, a tunnel for toys, and more.
For older kids, they can practice walking over it (the downhill is great as they don't often get to use this muscles), they can combine it with a Pikler Triangle or couch to create different climbing experiences, or they can stand and practice balancing of course!
This is the exact one we have – but there are LOADS of options and they are basically the same, so just go with where you can get the best deal or if you have a color preference! You can get 10% off this one with code TCM10!
SCOOTERS! There are SO many scooter options out there I'd probably need an entire post. Here's the deal:
You can get a montessori scooter like this for a baby/1 year old – but it has a somewhat short life span and is a little pricey.
Instead we got this one for our daughter as an 18 month old gift. My daughter had already been obsessed with my friends kids scooters, having the big kids push her around on it while she held on.
So we found this scooter that “grows” with your baby. Meaning it has a seat you can easily take on/off. Younger kids can sit and scoot, and as they get older then can just normally scoot. The turn on this is really smooth/nice and we've been loving it the past 6 months.
There are tons of walker options out there, and once baby starts to stand, they will probably want to start moving pretty soon. R is obsessed with getting around on her own and this is the perfect addition! I love this wooden walker because it has loads of activities on it too.
Again, there are cheaper walkers like this one, but I don't want lots of plastic or loud toys in our house (trust me, get a quiet toy, the parent will thank you!!). Another reason I'd recommend this one over the cheaper plastic one, it's not just about pushing a button. It's about twisting, turning, pulling, sliding, and more. It's made from non-toxic materials and has options for SO many skills, making it a toy that will last for the long haul.
Now that my daughter is almost 2 years old, she gets a TON more use out of it since she can turn it on her own- when they are only 1 years old it's more about going straight and you guiding the turns. She loves putting her doll in it and “going shopping” around the house. She even takes it on outside walks and it's held up REALLY well after a year of use!
Okay so there are a few size sets and brands to choose from – with Magna-Tiles being the name brand/most expensive. Pricing for this can range anywhere from $25 to $180 with most falling around $50-75.
Either way, a set of magnet tiles for building is a HUGE hit with any kid! The recommended age is 3+ – but my daughter started playing with these at school at 1 years old and has always LOVED them far more than the traditional block set we have.
While colorful tiles are not exactly montessori – they do inspire building, fine motor skills, creating worlds for imaginative play, and can be used for montessori mathematical lessons like geometry and counting as the child turns 3+ years old.
Best Montessori Friendly Gifts For Newborns to 2-Year Olds: Under $100
We've had these R's entire first year and they are fabulous!! Basically you can sign up for one playkit, or multiple by clicking here. They go from 0 months up to two years old too!
Each Lovevery playkit comes with a set of developmentally appropriate toys that are all organic and sustainably sourced for your little one. The first play kit is for 0-12 weeks, and the rest are by two month increments (so The Charmer for 3-4 months, The Sensor for 5-6 months). These are basically the ONLY toys our daughter has had her entire first year (plus books and puzzles) and they have kept her completely entertained and engaged. A lot of the lower price point gifts on this list, are actually from our play kits!
First let's talk safety when it comes to block sets: you want to make sure you are choosing ones with water based and non toxic paints. Blocks go into kids mouths and we don't want that toxicity. Plus this block set is made from sustainably harvest wood.
Now let's talk about why it's the best/only block set your child will need: it comes with 70 pieces and a guide for over 20 activities you can do with the set. For instance, you can actually convert the box it comes in into a pull car using the materials in the set! It has a board that can be used to sort the blocks, a ramp for rolling them, a string to create pull toys, even little “people” looking pieces that are very reminist of the game of Life characters. It's fabulous. Our daughter has had a small set of these blocks from one of her play kits I just mentioned, and she NEVER gets bored of them. She's constantly finding new ways to engage with the pieces, whether it's stacking, putting them in a bag, matching the colors, whatever.
Best Montessori Friendly Gifts For Newborns to 2-Year Olds: Under $200
Okay so our exact Doll House is on the pricey side BUT Let me talk to you about it so you can make an informed choice…
For 1 year olds who may not get the concept of “pretend play” yet – they really love learning HOW things work. My daughter's school had this farm set – and she LOVED moving the windows/doors.
Then we went to a friends house where her 6 year old had this dollhouse and I've never seen my daughter become SO obsessed with something. She was mesmerized.
So yes, it's a little more costly but it's all wood and super well made. All the windows and doors open, it's 3 stories, and big. It also has elements that will grow with your child from 1 years old to at least 6 or 7 years old (as evidenced by my friends daughter).
Whether it's a doll house or a farmhouse or something else – having a “pretend world” is great for childhood development!
The learning tower is great for when baby gets mobile – I have a full buying guide on how to choose the best toddler tower here!
It's technically not a toy, but still a gift babies and parents will love. It's definitely for kids on the older end of this spectrum (18+ months). They can learn to climb it, use it as a stool to help at the kitchen counter, and there are easel and playhouse attachments too.
We ended up getting this one at 10 or 11 months and it's been a LIFE saver for our daughter! I can cook/clean with her at the counter or sink and she LOVES it! Our's folds up, and doesn't have as much of the same “fun” aspects of the traditional learning tower, but it was the perfect option for us!
I know montessori is all about no technology and hands on learning, but we have to keep in mind she developed this theory in the early 1900s.
Today, hands on learning also includes learning how to use technology. And while I'm not promoting light up push button toys, I do think the occasional use of learning apps and a tablet can be great for kids and for parents sanity.
The HOMER app is my daughter's absolute favorite since about 18 months old! They have a Black Friday deal right now too where you can get 35% Off HOMER's Annual Plan + Contixo V10 Kids Tablet Bundle through 11/28 when you click here!
Multiple Price Points for 6 months – 4+ years!
This is the ultimate gift! It comes at loads of price points with different accessory options.
We use it for SO many toddler activities at home too!
And there you have it! Some of my favorite montessori friendly toys for newborns, infants, and toddlers up to 2-years old! I'd love to hear what other toys your little one loves in the comments!
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- Toddler Block Sets
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- Toy Guitars
- Toy Lawn Mowers
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Originally published 11/18/19; Updated 10/30/21