13 Best Montessori Shelves For Toys + Books In Playroom Or Bedroom!

If you're looking to encourage independent play, quick clean ups, and reduce toy overload, montessori shelves are a fantastic option for toys and books!

Discover how to choose the best montessori shelf for your space + how to set it up as well as my top picks (including the ones we actually own!) for montessori shelves at home in a bedroom or playroom or in a classroom!

Best Montessori Toy Shelf: Lovevery Montessori Play Shelf

Lovevery's montessori play shelf is perfection in my opinion. It features hidden storage that makes toy rotation a breeze. The height is perfect from infancy to toddlerhood, preschool years, and early elementrary school years. The design is exquisite and timeless, making it an easily repurposed piece of furniture for a kids bedroom, hallway, or office in the future.

It also has some unique safety features that I love. The toe kick at the bottom prevents toys from rolling under or pudgy baby arms from getting wedged. The soft close hinge on the toy storage prevents little fingers from getting squished. All of the edges are rounded soft and the top has a little lip to prevent items from rolling off. It's super durable for when baby practices rolling up, or if your toddler decides to climb inside.

Lastly, it comes with a 2 year limited warranty, 2 storage bins, 2 activity trays, AND all of the tools you'll need for assembly (which is a total breeze!). Check out my full review of the Lovevery play shelf here.

Why I love it: Hidden toy storage with soft close hinge, includes bins and trays, toe kick and low enough for 4 to 5 month olds to start reaching for toys independently, works for mixed ages, rounded edges, easy to assemble, all wooden design with back of display shelf coming in white to make toys pop/add a little character + style, 2 year warranty.
Pros
  • Furniture includes hidden toy storage
  • Includes 2 storage bins and 2 activity trays
  • Unique safety features like soft close hinge, toe kick, and edged upper lip
  • Suitable for mixed age playroom (e.g. baby and toddler)
  • Beautiful contrasting white background
  • 2 year limited warranty
Cons
  • Non refundable (but does offer augmented reality to place it in your space before purchase and 2 year limited warranty for any defective parts)

Lovery shelf dupe

I was able to find exactly 1 dupe for Lovevery's play shelf that features hidden storage and is the same size. However, it doesn't come with the activity trays or storage bins and I couldn't find it's return/warranty policy.

The other big difference here is the lack of safety features like the toe kick or soft close hinge on the storage lid. Instead the storage lid is a piece of wood that comes off fully, which some parents may not like a piece of wood being floated around the room with young children.

Lastly, this one uses a finger joint design, meaning the seams are exposed and may not provide as sleak of a finish if you wanted to use this in an office or entryway in the future.

Pros
  • Comes in 2 sizes
  • Includes hidden storage
Cons
  • Lacks safety features like the toe kick and hidden storage panel comes off fully
  • No bins or activity trays included
  • No return or warranty policy listed at this time

Sprout Kids

Sprout Kids is probably one of the most well known montessori furniture brands, and for good reason. Aside from being top notch quality at competitive pricing, they have basically everything you'd want/need furniture wise for setting up your montessori home – from montessori shelves, bookcases, montessori wardrobes, self care stations, AND even floor beds. Meaning it is probably the only 100% cohesive montessori furniture collection on the market. You can get 10% off at Sprout Kids here with promo code TCM or TCM10. They also offer a 5 year warranty on their products!

Birch Montessori Shelf

Aside from that, they offer montessori shelves in almost every size and depth you could want, making them a great solution for most spaces. They have their “birch montessori shelf” which comes in 12 styles and sizes ranging from open back to closed back, 11.5″ or 14.5″ deep, and 30 to 48″ long, and 13″ to 60″ tall with options of 1 to 4 shelves.

If you opt for their full back version, you can also get an adjustable shelf add on to add a second interior shelf as well. The closed back version also does not require any tools or hardware for assembly!

The birch montessori infant shelf from Sprout essentially sits on the floor, and the larger ones feature a toe kick to prevent items from rolling underneath or little ones getting wedge.

Pros
  • Available in open or closed back, multiple depths, lengths, heights, and interior shelf options
  • Full back version allows you to adjust height of interior shelf
  • Sits low and features toe kick to prevent items from rolling under
  • 5 year warranty
Cons
  • Only comes in finished birch
  • May be able to find similar style for less (shown below)
Dupes:

Similar low birch montessori shelves are made by tons of other retailers with the most popular being ECR4kids, Guidecraft, and Little Colorado.

The prices on these all tend to fluctuate quite often and they come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Keep in mind height of shelf to floor depending on the age of your child, as well as whether or not you like a closed or open back. Also make sure to look and see if the height of the shelves are adjustable if that matters to you!

Here's a few of the most popular alternatives:

Luce Shelf

The other popular option, which is quite stylish, is the mid-century modern-esque Luce Shelf. Again, it comes in a slew of sizes and heights to grow with your child.

For infants, they offer a “to grow” and “infant shelf” option with shorter 2″ legs (which you can also purchase separately here) so younger babies can access their items.

In addition, you can opt for their pre-done options or you can fully customize your own with a la carte pieces.

What I love about this shelf, aside from it's design, is that you can add on to it as your child grows or you have more kids in the space. Once your child is fully done with it, you could easily repurpose it to another area of the home more seamlessly than any other shelf on this list thanks to it's adjustable height.

Each Luce shelf also comes with a wall anchoring kit.

Pros
  • Customizable sizing from leg height, to number of shelves, shelf height and length.
  • Add on as child grows or you have more children
  • Timeless design makes it easy to repurpose around the home in the future
  • Includes wall anchoring kit
Cons
  • Toys may roll under shelf clearance or off the back/sides
  • Depth is not customizable

Cube Shelf

Sprout also offers cube shelves with stylish wood pin legs. It comes in either a four or eight cube option. You can also choose from three finishes: natural birch, grey, or white.

The feet of this shelf add about 3″ to the height, so if you do go with this option and have an infant in the home, I'd probably wait to add the feet until they are closer to 12 or 18 months old.

Pros
  • Comes in 2 sizes and three color options
  • One of the more stylish cube shelves on the market
Cons
  • Toys may roll under and infants may not be able to access toys when shelf feet are on
  • Cheaper cube shelves out there
Dupes:

Cube shelves are by far the most popular and affordable option out there coming in at every price point and color imaginable. Many cube shelves can be used on their side or vertically as the child gets older. Keep in mind whether or not you'd like an open or closed back and the size of most of your toys vs the size of the cubes.

Here are some of the most popular cube shelves (click through for the full color selection of the style you like):

Cheap Montessori Toy Shelf: IRIS USA

IRIS USA is going to be your cheapest option for montessori style shelving in my experience. Yes, even cheaper (and more available) than IKEA!

The IRIS USA piece I own is the same quality as our IKEA BESTA shelving unit. It comes in a wide range of colors, styles, sizes and is well stocked at a variety of retailers.

You can mix and match smaller units to add onto the shelving system as your child grows too. These can be used vertically or horizontally as well.

Modern House Bookcase

While montessori generally isn't about whimsy (that's waldorf), many people searching for the montessori aesthetic will fall in love with the Modern House Bookcase. Thanks to it's smart design with the bottom shelf essentially on the floor, it does make a suitable option for montessori from the start.

Infants can access their toys, while parents can use the higher up shelves for displays or storage. As the child grows, you can give them more age appropriate access to items higher up.

It features a nice mix of cubbies too and parents can rest easy as it's Greenguard Gold Certified, been lead tested, comes with an anti-tip kit, and mets all global safety standards.

WoodjoyCollection Montessori Shelf

The montessori shelves from Woodjoy Collection are stylish, purposefully designed, and they offer 3 sizes to choose from. These are sold individually or together, to grow with your child or work in a mixed age space.

The low shelves sit nearly on the floor, making them a suitable option for young infants. The open design can be pushed against a wall, or use as a divider in a room to create separate spaces. The long opening and deep design make them suitable for larger toys too.

Choose from 10 colors including white, grey, blue, pink, and more. It's made from FSC certified beech massive wood frame and birch plywood shelves, painted with water based paint and lacquer.

Why I love it: Open back design works as a room divider or future storage in a closet, backyard, or garage when child has outgrown. Loads of colors, and add-on piece options.
Pros
  • Multiple sizes
  • Large open design suitable for mixed ages, as a room divider, and larger activities/toys
  • Largest color selection on this list!
  • Sustainable wood and nontoxic finishes
Cons
  • Shipping is additional
  • Returns accepted on a limited basis

Guidecraft Edq Essentials Two Shelf

Not everyone is into the natural wooden look, and this open white wooden toy shelf is a fantastic option for montessori at home families.

The bottom features a toe kick, so babies and toys can get under there. While remaining low enough for infants as young as 4 or 5 months to access their toys independently.

The timeless design ensures that even once a child outgrows it, it can still work as a storage or display piece of furniture in any coastal or modern home decor. I It's smaller than many options on the list, which does mean it will only work with smaller toys, but it also means that it's size works for small spaces without providing some of the limitations a cube shelf would.

This piece also includes the three fabric storage bins.

Pros
  • Part of a complete furniture collection
  • 3 fabric storage bins included
  • 5 year warranty
Cons
  • Manufactured wood (laminate plywood)

What I Don't Recommend:

In the montessori space most people will recommend the Sprout infant shelf (single tier) or Monti Kids shelf.

These are essentially the same thing: a sturdy wooden rectangular frame sitting on the floor.

While there is nothing wrong with the quality of these, I just don't think they are worth spending money on since you'll likely need to upgrade them around 18 months old or if you have more kids. (NOTE: I DO think Sprout's OTHER shelves are 100% worth it though!)

While this style shelf is certainly ideal for newborns into very early toddlerhood, the overall height makes it less than ideal for long term use and it won't work well for mixed age families looking for kids to share a montessori play shelf.

For infant montessori shelves, I'd recommend one of Sprouts taller shelves or any of the other low options on this list that can grow with your child. Heck, even the floor works for babies! That's what I did with my first before we had a toy shelf, I share more about that in my post on toy rotation here.

And today, my 5 month old has had ZERO issues accessing his toys resting on the bottom of the Lovevery montessori play shelf. If your play shelf is a tad to high off the floor for your infant at first, place a foam play mat in front of the shelf to lessen the height difference until they are big enough.

Best Overall Montessori Bookcase: Contender Book Display

The Contender book display case comes with 5 tiered forward facing shelves to display books, and four flat shelves in the back for storage. It features rounded edges and a toe kick on the front for additional safety with little ones around.

It's sturdy design is made from a baltic birch plywood and it's GREENGUARD® Certified (nontoxic).

Quick specs: 5 book shelves, 4 hidden shelves // 11″W x 30″L x 29″H
Pros
  • Hidden storage
  • 5 display shelves
  • Sturdy
  • Greenguard Gold Certified
Cons
  • Some reviewers who chose the “already assembled” option had issues with it arriving damaged

Sloan Modern Bookrack by Pottery Barn Kids

I won't lie, this is my FAVORITE montessori bookcase! I'm a huge fan of minimalist mid-century modern furniture and the Sloan bookrack from Pottery Barn hits the nail on the head. It's a timeless piece that is sure to last for decades.

The Sloan itself technically is white with a natural wood leg, but if you prefer a traditional wood finish, the west elm x pbk Mid-Century Bookrack is the same style.

It's fantastic for rooms with limited floor space at only 6″ deep.

Quick Specs: Overall: 3 display pockets // 29.5″ wide x 6″ deep x 46.5″ high // Fixed Shelf Interior (3): 26.5″ wide x 4″ deep x 0.5″ thick // Clearance from Floor to Bottom of // Bookcase: 5.5″ high // Weight: 29.25 pounds
Pros
  • Timeless piece of furniture that can last for decades
  • Small footprint
  • Sturdy
  • Greenguard Gold Certified
Cons
  • Bottom of shelf to floor clearance may be too high for infants

Tally Bookshelf by Babyletto

The Tally bookshelf by Babyletto is SO cute and made from sustainable New Zealand Pine Wood and TSCA Compliant MDF.

TIP: Babyletto is a pretty big name in the baby furniture space thanks to their modern designs and nontoxic finishes. We got our crib from them and there was some slight damage with the natural wood finish, they sent me an entirely new crib for free. So even if you don't purchase from them, if you have an issue use that warranty!!

Quick specs: 2 shelves // Weight: 42.0 lbs // 35.5″ H, 16.5″ W, 40.5″ D
Pros
  • Deep enough to hold toys in addition to books
  • Easy assembly
  • Comes with anti-tip kit
  • 1 year manufacturer warranty
  • Finished in non toxic paint, registers Lead Safe, No Added Formaldehyde, No Known Harmful Phthalates, Low VOC, and sustainable pine wood
Cons
  • Shorter height and childlike design may not remain in style/useable for as long as others on the list

Cheapest Montessori Bookshelf: IRIS USA

While the IRIS USA is actually intended for magazines, it can work as a cheap montessori style bookcase with a minor tweak that even the least handy person can do! Since it's intended for magazines, the pockets that hold the books are a little deeper than you'd ideally want in a montessori book case as the book covers are hidden.

To get around this, you just need to add something to the base of each pocket to lift the books a touch higher. I personally used some packing paper I had on hand to start. It wasn't ideal as it's a little uneven. So then I just cut a pool noodle to fit, and that provided a more even base. You could also use some cheap PVC piping from home depot, rolled up t-shirts, fitted cardboard boxes, or really anything that will provide a sturdy even base for the books to rest on.

The biggest cons with it is the limited color options; though I've seen people use contact paper to customize it, and that it's a little hard to assemble all by yourself. Granted, I was 9 months pregnant when I tried to do it, but I did need my husbands help with holding a couple panels in place.

The other noteworthy thing is that young infants will not be able to access their books independently with this. I generally consider this okay as you are typically reading to them at that stage and they are putting everything in their mouth. Instead, I place a wooden book on my son's montessori toy shelf, so he can mouth that and work on turning pages independently.

Quick Specs: 4 pockets for books (though we also rest some on the top to make it 5 tiers) // Dimensions: 22. 62″L x 10. 63″W x 23. 23″H
Pros
  • Cheap montessori bookcase
  • Sturdy
Cons
  • Limited colors
  • 2 people for assembly
  • Need to fit something in base to lift books up

Montessori Furniture Bookcase

From a functional standpoint, Montessori Furniture's bookcase is top notch. It's one of the few sturdy bookshelves truly suitable for infants as the front row of books essentially sits on the floor ad it offers a toe kick so no pudgy baby carms can slide under.

It comes in several sizes ranging in width, depth, height and either 3 or 4 shelves, non toxic colors/finishes, and all rounded edges for additional safety.

NOTE: Depending on where you live, you may want to pay for shipping or use this listing where shipping is included in the price

Pros
  • Suitable for infants through preschool
  • Several sizes and finishes to choose from
  • Safety features of non toxic finish options, toe kick, and rounded edges
  • Accepts returns; but limits apply
  • Handles for added move ability

Cons
  • Shipping may be long or costly

WAMMcosyroom Montessori Bookcase with hidden storage + matching play shelf option

I'm a big fan of the WAMMcosyroom Montessori bookcase! It features four display shelves with hidden storage in the back. It's sleek modern design reminds me of West Elm or Pottery Barn and is part of a larger collection including a matching toy shelf or other furniture.

They use a high quality FSC certified Estonian birch plywood and a HESSE varnish which is certified with a “toy safe” code PN EN 71-3/ DIN 71-3. Reviewers say it's easy to assemble (under 20 minutes) and the Etsy shop does accept returns (with exceptions).

Quick Specs: 4 pockets for books // Dimensions: 11.8″L x 31.5″W x 27.5″ H // Hidden back storage
Pros
  • Accepts returns; but limits apply
  • Hidden back storage
  • Optional add-on play shelf and furniture
  • FSC Certified wood
  • Come with tools + hardware + link for assembly video
Cons
  • Shipping is additional charge

BushAcres Montessori Bookshelf With Back Storage + Optional Matching Toy Shelf

If you're looking for a cheaper montessori bookshelf, but like the idea of WAMMcosyroom hidden storage and matching furniture collection, then BushAcres may be your top choice.

The unfinished piece of furniture comes pre-sanded and can be left as is, or stained, painted, or sealed to your desired finish. It ships free in the continental US, but does cost $75 to ship to Canada, Alaska, or Hawaii.

It uses a slotted finger joint design, so some of the inner shelf boards can be seen from the outside which may not be the aesthetic look most families are looking for.

NOTE: If you like the handles, don't care about the hidden storage, but want a finished design than this option is another budget friendly option!

Quick Specs: 4 pockets for books // Dimensions: 15″L x 31″W x 25.5″ H // Hidden back storage
Pros
  • Optional matching toy shelf
  • Hidden back storage
  • Handles for easy move ability
  • Sturdy
Cons
  • $75 shipping to Canada, Alaska, Hawaii
  • No return or warranty policy on listing
  • Totally unfinished design may have gritty sandy feel or splinter

What I Don't Recommend:

The IKEA Spice Rack book shelf hack. I'm sure you've seen it, the little IKEA spice racks, drilled into the nursery walls perfectly displaying books in a forward facing fashion. It looks like the perfect marriage between wall shelving and montessori, however it's not realistic.

nursery ideas boy or girl, gender neutral nursery organization, moon themes with a boho minimalist feel, nursery elephant decor, layout for a small and simple nursery for baby, DIY decor, how to organize a very tiny closet, nursery furniture, rug, dresser, wallpaper, and book shelf, grey minimalist ikea nursery, gray neutral bohemian baby room hacks

When we bought our house, the previous owner actually had this set up in their nursery. Since the holes were already drilled, I went and got the IKEA spice racks and set it up in our temporary nursery. Only, I quickly realized the bottom screws and anchors (the one's a baby/toddler could reach) were coming out of the wall.

And that's when it hit me: yes it's cute and seems like both a money and cost savor, but it's not sturdy enough to withstand the baby or toddler years.

For them to be functional, you'd need to drill them an inch off the floor so baby won't try to pull themselves up on the bar and toddler's won't yank them down trying to pull their books over the bar.

Floating shelves are not typically considered “montessori” as most people tend to put them at the adult eye/chest level, instead of the child's. However floating shelves DO have a place in montessori homes as long as they are placed on the wall appropriately.

Floating shelves for the child should be placed at about chest or eye level. You'll want to keep depth of shelf and rounded edges in mind here for safety reasons. On the other hand, floating shelves out of reach at the parents eye level can make a great storage solution in small spaces.

Wallniture Denver Wall Mounted Floating Shelves

Wallniture's floating shelves are a great minimalist design that come in three colors: white, black, and grey. They come in a pack of four with the necessary wall mounting hardware and an instruction guide. You can also choose between two lengths: 17″ or 60″.

Items stay on the 2.7″ shelf opening via a little lip/foot at the front. Making things easier to access then some of the shelf options featuring a bar. Of course the con to this is things may fall off a bit easier. However if you are following montessori principles of limited choices and not overloading the shelf with books or toys, that shouldn't be an issue.

Acrylic Shelves

Clear acrylic floating shelves are another popular style in montessori playrooms. These come in a slew of sizes and depths and most feature a rounded edge and front lip to keep things in place.

WAMMcosyroom

Another win for WAMMcosyroom! They have four ADORABLE floating shelves to choose from featuring clouds, mountains, or whimsical waves. These are made from FSC certified birch plywood and come in white or a natural finish. They use nontoxic and water based varnishes and paints.

NOTE: Wall mounting hardware is not included and shipping is additional

What I Don't Recommend:

Like I mentioned before, The IKEA Spice Rack floating shelf hack or any other floating shelf with a bar at the front. In my personal experience, it's just not realistic to have that style mounted on a wall with babies around. I mean truthfully, I think floating shelves aren't great for babies in general as they love to pull themselves up on anything and everything in that first year. However, the additional forward facing bar is just one more thing for them to grasp onto. At least with the lower lip they are more likely to grab the items on the shelf, not the shelf itself. That little forward bar is just begging to be pulled on though.

The other floating shelf style I don't recommend is the minimalist rectangle. Those typically have squared off corners and things fall off quite easily.

Again, my personal bias is to avoid floating shelves in montessori playrooms or nurseries. However, my friends have the acrylic and cloud shelves with tons of success and zero issues.

How To Choose The Best Montessori Play Shelf For Your Space:

Size

Keep in mind not only the size of the actual shelf, but the size of the openings and the toys you have. For instance, a lot of people love cube shelves and they are great. However they will not work for larger materials.

Montessori families typically end up setting out an activity tray with everything the child needs to complete an activity. Look at your largest activity or toy, get the dimensions and keep that in mind when looking at the shelves openings.

Height

A key component of Montessori is fostering the independence of the child. A favorite Montessori quote is, “help me do it myself.” And that applies to Montessori shelves too. You want a shelf low enough that the child can access his or her belongings without the assistance of an adult.

Yes, even as a baby! My son started playing with his toys displayed on our montessori paly shelf independently at 5 months old!

For babies, this will often times mean the shelf sits on the floor or just an inch above the floor.

TIP: If it's sitting slightly off the floor, use a foam play mat in front of the shelf to add an inch and close the gap a little and consider looking for a montessori toy shelf with a toe kick, so nothing can roll underneath it.

Multiple Kids:

Generally, the play things on a montessori shelf should be displayed at the child's eye level. So looking for a shelf with a few different height tiers to grow with the child or create a playroom for mixed aged children can be very helpful.

For instance, the bottom of our shelf is for my 5 month old son, and top two sections are for my toddler.

Functional Style: backed, open, or cube?

Obviously montessori shelves come in every style and color so I'm not talking “midcentury modern vs. contemporary” here. What I am talking about is the functionality of the style shelf.

Many montessori at home families understand the important of designated areas and one way to achieve this is by using a montessori shelf as a divider in a room. A traditional shelf with a back generally must be placed against a wall.

However a shelf with an open back, or two sides, can make a great functional divider in a space. For instance, perhaps you have mixed ages sharing the space, so one side is for the younger child and the other is for the older child. Perhaps you are doing a homeschool environment, one side is for more pretend/imaginative play, and the other side is for more concrete montessori materials. Another common example is a calming corner on one side, and a playroom on the other.

The other common style montessori shelf is a cube shelf. While these may seem nice as they are dummy proof in setting out limited choices (you can only display one shelf per cube usually), they do have their limits. The primary limit of a cube shelf is that it limits the size of toys/items in the room. I personally find them too constrictive and that many of our activity trays just don't fit on a cube shelf.

Wall shelves:

As someone who lives in an older home with very small closets/storage, I get the appeal of vertical storage and tall wall shelves.

However they are not typically montessori aligned as the child cannot access all their items independently and depending on HOW they are setup can potentially cause a bit of a headache for parents.

With that said, we always need to be realistic so if you decide a tall wall shelving system for your toys is best that's great!

Keep in mind, as your child becomes a toddler they may ask for toys higher up constantly.

That's what happened for me… while setting up my sons nursery, I got a tall wall bookshelf for his room with two drawers at the bottom and open shelving up top to display toys beautifully. Only my toddler all of the sudden had zero interest in the toys in her room our the rest of the house, she just wanted the toys she couldn't reach. So I'd rotate something new in for whichever one I just gave her. Only the cycle continued. Multiple times a day. Every day. For weeks. I finally just took all the toys down and put baskets on the shelf so she couldn't see anything. At the end of the day, you have to keep your budget and lifestyle a priority!

Sturdy

Montessori encourages freedom of movement. Montessori babies are typically free to roam the room, and that includes pulling up on things to build their strength and coordination. Often the montessori play shelf is one of the first places they really work on this skill (a pikler triangle makes a great option too though!).

As a result, you want something that is extremely sturdy, durable, and can support your baby as they will likely climb on it at times too as they are learning and exploring their new physical capacities and surroundings.

Added bonus points if the shelf comes with wall mounting hardware!

Ability to repurpose/reuse

The ability to repurpose a montessori shelf is definitely not a requirement, but something I personally look for in ALL furniture we buy for our home.

Personally, I like to know that if/when my child outgrows the item, we'll be able to use it in another part of our home or in a new way.

For example, if you watched my toy rotation video you saw that our very first montessori shelf was actually just a bench I used in my office back when I was a therapist. Then as my child was able to open/close the cabinet on her own, we graduated to using an old entertainment center we already owned. Now that we have two kids, we have the Lovevery montessori play shelf which is timeless and can work in our entryway, in my daughters room, or even in my office in the future.

FAQs About Montessori Shelves

What is a Montessori Toy Shelf?

A montessori toy shelf is typically a low wooden shelf with that a limited number of toys are displayed on in an orderly manner to encourage a deep, independent play in the child.

How high should a Montessori shelf be?

A Montessori shelves for books and toys, should be around chest level with the child.

This is a good rule of thumb:

Height # of Adjustable ShelvesAges
13″06-18 Months
20″11-3 Years
24″13-5 Years
30″14-9 Years
42″28-12 Years
48″210+ Years
60″313+ Years

For instance, a baby will need something on the ground or an inch off the ground. A toddler will typically do best within something between 10 to 25″ tall. As kids get older, the height continues to increase accordingly.

The idea really is that children should be able to access the items without adult assistance. If there are items on a tall wall shelf out of reach of the child, it's better to have those in a bin where they cannot see them out of respect for them.

Why Montessori play shelves are important:

Montessori create a sense of order and calmness in the space. Unlike a toy storage box or a playroom struggling with toy overload, the toys are displayed in limited amounts. This calms the nervous system, presents limited options to reduce overwhelm, and ultimately encourages more creativity and deeper concentrated play.

Presenting toys in this way also encourages respect for their items as every toy has a place. So when the child is finished with it, they learn to care for the item and put it back where they found it.

Displaying toys in this way also fosters a child's independence and ability to make their own choices. It becomes a critical component of independent play and their self esteem.

Parents looking to practice toy rotation can also observe which items need to be rotated out more easily.

Why do Montessori shelves?

Montessori shelves reduce toy overload, which means less money spent on toys and time cleaning up.

Often times, I get the urge to buy a toy only to talk myself out of it because we'd have nowhere to store it. And with only a handful or two of toys out at a time, clean up always takes a few minutes and is a household chore my toddler can help with or do on her own at 3 years old.

Lastly, most parents want self sufficient, creative kids who can play independently and that's exactly what montessori shelves encourage – from toy shelves to montessori wardrobes.

What should be on a Montessori Shelf?

There's no right or wrong item on a Montessori shelf! Parents should always follow the interest of the child and display limited options.

If you child is fascinated with a whisk one week, maybe that's on the montessori play shelf for a bowl of pom poms. Perhaps you have a toddler working on getting their socks on independently, so place a basket with socks of varying heights for them to work on.

Aside from following the child's interests, it's not so much about “what” goes on the shelf, more so that things aren't overcrowded. For babies you generally want 3-5 items, for toddlers I think you can increase that to 5-10 items.

Where do you store toys in Montessori?

Generally you want to store toys out of sight from the child; not in a large toy box on the floor in the room!

I have an entire video on toy rotation, with tons of tips and ideas for toy storage depending on the size of your space and personality.

Currently we do a mix of a few bins in my closet, using the hidden storage in our play shelf, and then rotating toys amongst several rooms in our home as I show in the toy rotation video.

How do you set up a Montessori shelf?

Start by choosing 3-5 age appropriate toys to display on the shelf.

You can do this randomly, or based on what your child has been playing with.

Observe which items your child plays with, and which items go untouched. Rotate items out that your child doesn't have an interest in.

If you need help deciding what toys are age appropriate, I have blog posts reviewing all of Lovevery's play kits, and some of KiwiCo's and Monti Kids. All of those toy subscription boxes send toys based on your child's age/skill level. In those posts, I also include where to get similar items on Amazon or Etsy if you prefer to self curate.

Final Thoughts

A montessori shelf can help your child feel a greater sense of independence, self worth, and deepen their focus/creativity. Parents can also appreciate spending less on toys in general as there's less space to store them, and clean up time is significantly faster than a toy overloaded playroom or bedroom!

My personal favorite montessori shelf is from Lovevery thanks to it's hidden storage and beautiful design.

If I were getting a montessori shelf for a bedroom, then Sprout Kids wins by a landslide as they have a complete montessori furniture collection from the bed to a wardrobe and you can get 10% off your order here with discount code TCM or TCM10.

With that said, any shelf sitting on the floor or a few inches off the floor make great options and we love our budget friendly montessori bookcase from IRIS USA!

6 Shares
Pin
Tweet
Share
Share
Share