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What is Montessori?
Montessori is a type of education that promotes child-led learning and independence. Montessori also has a few guidelines for the toys we give to our babies. I wanted to share them with you if you are interested in Montessori learning. I started reading Montessori from the Start (let's be honest, I listened to the audiobook ). The book goes into detail about the history of Montessori, the philosophy and why.
Montessori was created by Maria Montessori, a physician, and educator. What I love about Maria is that she studied children from a scientific standpoint and observed instead of intervening. She then created guidelines for toys used for each age group.
I also follow a youtube account, Hapa Family , who in an incredible resource for Montessori education.
I was a psychology major in college and have always LOVED child development! It is so fascinating the way a new brain learns and how children develop.
So it's no wonder instead of pinteresting “baby girl rooms” I was googling “development-friendly nurseries”. This is how I found Montessori!
This blog is about Montessori Toys for babies
What makes a toy a “Montessori Toy”?
1. Natural material
In a Montessori classroom, you'll find very little plastic. Most items and furniture is made out of natural material like wood, metal, cotton, etc. Not only does this allow a child to understand their real environment and have fewer chemicals and it allows for different textures, weights, temperatures of the materials they handle.
2. Non-Fictional Toys
Montessori doesn't introduce “fake” or “make-believe” toys until later in childhood. First, we want our children to know what is real. Common activities include a “house tour” where you walk around with your baby and talk about everything you see in the house. Another is allowing your child to come into the kitchen to cook with you or outside to garden, set the table, etc. They are involved in daily events.
3. Montessori toys are Simple
Your Montessori toys are likely not going to have lights, vibrations, or sounds. As I said above they are made of natural materials. This allows for the toys to be more opened ended and invites creativity. A rectangle block can be a bed, a car, or a house!
4. Rotate Toys
It is encouraged to rotate toys. I can usually tell when she's bored with her toys and I rotate them about once a week. This is fun because, as she develops in the beginning, the black and white cotton ball with a bell was interesting to LOOK at, then it's interesting to chew on, shake with a bell inside and eventually toss. As the child develops the toys become interesting for different reasons so rotating keeps their novelty.
5. Open-ended & child-led toys
“Don't try and make a happy baby happier!” this was some sound advice I received but have such a tough time following it! Basically, let your child led the way, see what they are interested in instead of over stimulating them with ALL the options of toys to play with. Stand back and watch to see what your babies are interested in, try and think about what they might be thinking. Often kids don't do things for the desired outcome but instead just to explore. If a ball rolls across the floor they might not need it back, they're simply processing the distance between them and the all or the contrast of the ball to the background etc.
It's difficult and also liberating.
What are some Montessori Toy examples?:
1. Lovevery is THE BEST (and easiest) for child development & Montessori toys!
As you dig into Montessori, they have recommendations for each stage of our children's lives, and if I'm honest, it can get a bit overwhelming.
I am an ambassador for a child development subscription box called Lovevery. I'm completely obsessed with it because it's foolproof, you pay monthly (or all at once for a discount) they send toys every other month that are appropriate for your baby's age and development. I have a blog post and video about the first box here. This takes the guesswork out of getting your kids the right toys for where they're at developmentally. Lovevery not only sends toys but also explains how baby will be developing at this time. This was exciting because it would say “your baby will start tracking objects” or “Your baby will start to notice their hands” and then when she did my partner and I would both be SO excited! Then it explains how to most effectively use the toys in the box!
2. Pikler for crawlers
Our babe LOOOVES moving, she was climbing stairs at 6.5 months, it was actual madness. We wanted to support her strengths, so we got her a Pikler to climb and gain confidence and body awareness.
I was told once babies can typically only develop their gross motor skills or their fine motor skills at a time. At this rate, the girl will never have fine motor skills! I kid haha!
3. Low profile Shelf to store the Montessori toys
Yeah, I know, this isn't a toy but it's worth including on the list. Montessori is all about child-led independent play, shelves like this help baby have access to their toys without being a hazard to themselves. Dressers and shelves can fall or baby can climb up them and fall, both are not ideal nor safe.
Why black and white? When your baby is FIRST born, they love staring at high contrast images. Using black and white objects like these cards, balls, books, etc. are THE BEST for this time! I was amazed at how long she would focus on these!
5. Montessori Toys for Hands, Mouth and tummy
Tummy time is huge during the first six months but keeping them happy, entertained (or distracted) can be difficult. Find toys to stimulate their hands, mouth and entertain them while on their tummy.
Things that babies can put in their mouths: I call these toys chew toys (made of natural material). They're exploring everything by putting git in their mouth!
Things babies can put in their hands: this disc is good for baby's who grasp objects and transfer them from one hand to another.
And things that can entertain them for tummy time! Maybe crinkle paper, (our babe LOOOVED it) or a one-piece puzzle to work on their fine motor skills to grasp the knob!
I still recommend Lovevery for the best Montessori Toys…
Listen, baby toys are expensive and as I look at each of these priced out, one by one, it makes me like Lovevery even more! With Lovevery you know it's non-toxic and made for your baby's development instead of having to research what toys are recommended each month and making sure the toys are nontoxic. .
Yes, I am an ambassador and an affiliate of Lovevery because I LOVE them. If you're interested in Montessori education or child development for your babe, Lovevery is the easiest.
If it's not in the cards for your family (kudos for making that decision) the Montessori from the start book, the first 5 tips in this blog, and the free activities Lovevery offers are what I would stick to!
If you're interested in having a Montessori Room, I have a blog post (and video) sharing our Montessori Floor Bed!
I hope this was helpful!