Direct4Baby’s Guide to Montessori Toys

Direct4Baby’s Guide to Montessori Toys

The Montessori Method has its origins in the early 20th century, beginning as a classroom-based teaching practice created by Dr Maria Montessori. Parents of children who attended Montessori schools were encouraged to utilise these principles where possible at home, and in recent years this method has been growing in popularity.

If your interest has been piqued by the emergence of Montessori schools and the term becoming more frequently used, but aren’t quite sure what the method entails, join us as we give a brief introduction to the Montessori way. We’ll be explaining the basic principles of the methods as well as giving some toy recommendations, so if you’re curious to try it out at home you can easily get started.

What is the Montessori Method?

The Montessori parenting style takes its roots from the original schooling method focused on child-centred learning, as children are encouraged to act independently and practice autonomy in a child-safe environment.

Simply put, children are encouraged to make choices and move freely under the supervision of their parents. Additionally, children are not punished for mistakes that they make but are instead encouraged to learn from them. This does not mean that parents need to say ‘yes’ to everything, or let their child act erratically without rules and regulations when they know better. Rather, the parent should guide the child and follow their lead, including them in activities where possible to enhance their learning from independent exploration.

For example, instead of spoon-feeding your baby, you may wish to offer them a spoon or some finger food. Or, if your little one decides that their plate of food looks better on the floor, regulate freedom within limits. Examples of this include explaining to your child that if they throw the food then they can’t eat it and involve them in the cleaning up process to reinforce trust. Throwing is a natural behaviour for kids, so offering alternatives is a good option, try saying things like “I see that you’re throwing your food, this tells me you don’t want to eat, so I will put the food away and you can throw a ball instead”.

Ultimately, the Montessori parenting style places a heavy emphasis on exploration and education through curiosity and daily experience, and playtime is extremely important.

What are Montessori Toys?

Technically, there is no such thing as a ‘Montessori toy’, but there are options that reflect the values of the teaching method. Before we take a look at the criteria, it’s worth noting that to follow a Montessori parenting style, you don’t have to only use toys that meet these principles - but they are good guidelines to follow during playtime. The most important point is that a Montessori toy should serve a learning purpose and be engaging, rather than just be a distraction or solely for entertainment.

Therefore, a Montessori toy should include no electronics and flashing lights, and ideally should be based on real life. A toy where your little one presses a button and a flashing light and pop-up characters appear is entertaining and can be stimulating at a young age, but offers no real value otherwise.

Alternatively, a racing car offers more engagement and thought. The child can practise rolling it across different surfaces, downhill or uphill, to learn about gravity, force, and physics.

The Montessori way believes that toys should have minimal distractions and aim to focus on one skill at a time to place an emphasis on the toys greater educational value. It is best if the toys are made out of natural materials to experiment with textures, temperatures, and weight, though this is not essential. As long as the toy is educational and open to inspire your little one’s imagination and encourage play, then the toys materials won’t be an issue, so long as they are child-friendly.

Best Montessori Toys at Direct4Baby.

With a brief introduction to the Montessori parenting style addressed, if you’re looking for a place to start with playtime toys for your baby or toddler designed to inspire, enrich and spark creativity, take a look at our following recommendations.

Best Montessori Toys for 1-Year-Olds & Under

Tiny Love - Boho Chic Luxe Gymini £114.95

If you’re starting your Montessori journey from the very beginning, the Boho Chic Luxe baby gym is an excellent option to entice your little one's imagination. Combining a natural wood arch and soft plush toys, with this baby gym, your child has over 20 activities to choose from, including clip-on toys, crinkle mats and much more.

Better yet, this great example of a baby gym allows toys and mats to be removed, which can help minimise distraction if your child is particularly fixated on one area of the gym, or, alternatively, the mat can also hold more elements to stimulate your child further as they grow. With only one electronic toy, this is a truly engaging toy best suited to a Montessori teaching style.

Snuz Natural Baby Mobile £49.95

Whilst not strictly a toy, reinforcing engagement with natural elements and inspiring their imagination from the very beginning can be done with a baby mobile. The Snuz Natural Baby Mobile encourages your little one to practise eye tracking, hand-eye coordination, and arm and leg movements in their very early years. While the minimalistic and natural design of the Snuz Baby Mobile also helps to reduce any distractions and prevents your baby from becoming overwhelmed with colours, textures, and sounds. Plus, this neutral style of mobile lends a hand to blending seamlessly into existing nursery interiors, if you’re the type of parent who likes to create an inviting, co-ordinated nursery space.

Kindercraft Balance Bike £49.00

Once your child reaches their first birthday, a lot of new toys can start to be introduced as they refine and enhance their motor skills, learn to walk, balance and play more independently. The Kindercraft Balance Bike makes an excellent Montessori toy for a one year old, as this cleverly designed bike is built to weigh just 2kg, with a smaller distance between wheels to assist with balance and motor coordination. Suitable for use at home or when exploring the great outdoors, this children’s balance bike offers hours of entertainment that is both educational and reflective of real-life skills and experiences.

Best Montessori Toys for 2-Year-Olds & Over

Wheelybug Ride On £64.00

The Wheelybug ride-on is designed to create hours of fun working alongside your child’s imagination to ride, push, pull, and play with. The toy helps to develop motor skills, spatial awareness and creative thinking centred around play. Without any distractions or electronic components, your little one can really focus on playtime, limited only by their imagination.

Creative Tonie Character Doctor £11.99

The Creative Tonie characters are best paired with the Tonie audio boxes, and, when the character is placed atop of the box, the content will being to play. Despite this being electronic, we still highly recommend utilising the toy in Montessori methods. With a range of realistic characters available such as doctors and firefighters, the toy still meets other Montessori criteria of learning about the wider world your child will soon grow to be familiar with. With a plethora of creative characters, including those inspired by real-life occupations, there’s plenty of opportunity to teach your children in a stimulating, vocal way. Better yet, parents can also upload their own content to ensure educational learning with minimal distractions. Whether you want to record a nighttime story to help your child focus on their imagination before sleep, or you’re wanting to play an educational plot, poem, or story in the background as they play - the possibilities to learn are truly endless with Tonie boxes. Additionally, these natural toys make a great figurine to incorporate into regular playtime activities!

Transitioning into the Montessori Parenting Method

Tonies How & Why Audio Bundle £44.99

Following on from the Tonies Characters, the How & Why Series is created for children who love to learn, combining play with factual learning. Full of fun facts and stories your child can venture into outer space, the Jurassic age, or the oceans. The characters are fun to operate and allow your child to experiment with cause and effect. Tapping the ears changes the volume, placing and removing the character pauses and plays audio, and the sides have fast-forward and rewind functions. The bundle is perfect for encouraging development and can be operated independently by your child.

Micro Scooter Eco Wicker Basket £19.95

Montessori teaching isn’t all about toys, as allowing your child to practice activities that reinforce trust and allow your little one to explore their environment is also essential. By enhancing what they currently own and are familiar with, parents can create more possibilities for education and imaginative play. Incorporating items such as a natural wicker basket onto their bike or scooter can help them to diversify their play by taking other toys and snacks with them, or even running small errands for you. Try to choose natural materials, especially if they’ve grown up with primarily plastic toys so that they can experience new textures.

Create a Montessori environment with Direct4Baby

As with any parenting style, families must choose what works best for them and their children and at Direct4Baby, we’re proud to supply parents with an extensive range of toys that each serve their own purpose. From engaging sensory toys to adaptable furniture fit for all purposes, we understand the importance of educational play and provide a trusted range of high-quality products for all parenting styles. Browse through our full collection to create that perfect environment for your little one to play, grow, and explore in.