Wondering what the best montessori toys for 1 year olds to 2 year olds are? Look no further! This is the ultimate montessori gift list for 1 year olds complete with the best toys that will grow with them through these toddler years.
WATCH Montessori Gift Guide For 1 to 2 Year Olds!
What are montessori toys?
While Dr. Maria Montessori never officially created any montessori toys. Instead she created montessori materials for a montessori classroom; not a home environment. These gifts for 1 year old are montessori aligned. Meaning they have qualities inspired by the Montessori method.
What qualifies for a montessori toy?
For the purposes of this gift guide, we are defining montessori toys as things based on:
- Teaching practical life skills
- Control of error – self correcting toys to foster confidence and independence
- Eco-friendly and natural materials (think wooden toys, tin, etc. and minimal plastic)
- Real world people, places, and things; limited/no cartoons!
- No brand names or characters
- Fostering each of the five senses
- Simple toys, no electronic toys with batteries/flashy lights or bright colors
- Encourage a deep focus and concentration
- Develop hand-eye coordination
More on montessori toys
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 1 year olds to 2-year-olds also encourage imagination, creativity, and are designed for young children to develop a variety of skills.
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!
Shopping this gift guide by price:
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!
Under $25 Montessori Toys 1 Year Olds to 2-Year Olds
Most of these are actually under $15, there was only one item in that $15-$25 range so I just lumped it all here!
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!
The coin box has become a classic montessori toy, and in modern times they’ve really gotten pretty awesome.
Now you can swap out the lid for a traditional coin box drop, carrot box, or a color sorting posting activity.
Each lid works a different set of a toddler’s fine motor skills and critical thinking.
Wooden lacing toys are AWESOME! A set of three for under $15?! YES! Perfect for working fine motor skills as little hands learn to navigate “threading a needle” so to speak. These are great for keeping a toddler entertained in the car or at appointments!
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!
You can choose from farm animals, safari animals, ocean themes, and more.
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 development game.
An absolute favorite among montessori toys and a great choice for teaching sequencing in a variety of montessori lessons.
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!
This is the exact one we have because of the add-on pieces for more extended play, but it’s more than $25.
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 these – but I prefer the ones with faces (the one pictured 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. Additionally, the dolls can be used for pretend play working on developing social skills.
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.
Pull toys have been around forever, for good reason. They encourage fine motor strength, whole body coordination, and problem solving all while teaching cause and effect.
You can find these in just about every style and animal, so you can also tailor it to your young toddlers interests.
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 baby toy that will last for a few years.
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!
While the skwish rattle leans more as an infant toy, my daughter really took a liking to it closer to 15 months, making it a great option for younger toddlers.
It’s a squishy wooden 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.
By far one of our favorite toys for this age group is an object permanence box. It’s one of the best developmentally appropriate educational toys and kept both of my kids entertained for SO long!
We got ours in a 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 for problem-solving skills. 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!)
Puzzles are fantastic educational toys for this age range.
You want to look for ones that focus on large knobs, like Lovevery’s geometric shape puzzle, then pincer grasps in the early stages. Additionally themes of different shapes in different sizes and colors at first are most montessori aligned.
As kids grow closer to 2 years old, check out these toddler puzzles which are a bit more complex and open ended for extended play.
This peg doll set is the perfect hybrid of Montessori toy meets Waldorf toy.
The set of 7 wooden peg dolls come with a matching color coordinated cup base. Toddlers can use this as a posting activity, color sorting activity, and eventually for pretend play working on social skills.
These are open-ened enough to last for years and work in combination with block sets or dollhouses.
Under $50 Best Montessori-Friendly Gifts 1 Year Old To 2 Year Old
We are obsessed with this wooden musical instruments pack comes 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. Once of the best sensory toys that encourages life skills and saves water is the play sink. It’s 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 a fun way to pass the time indoors. Additional, crawling tunnels grow into awesome imaginative play toys.
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 both of my kids took an interest in it around 12 months old.
Could either do it on their own completely by 2 years old? No. But they did like opening and closing the doors, working on the locks, and we used it for language development on colors and numbers.
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!
Under $75 Best Montessori Friendly Gifts 1 Year Old to 2-Year Olds
This was a HUGE hit with my 18 month old! It’s a fantastic montessori gift for 1 year olds and up! Balance boards work on gross motor development, 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!
We got this one for our daughter as an 18 month old gift. The seat comes on and off and it rides really smooth. It’s held up well after a few years too!
However for our second kid we got this one since the seat just flips up and down. The ride isn’t as smooth, but it’s more convenient for younger toddlers.
There are tons of wooden walker push toy options out there, and they’ve been some of our favorites.
Once baby starts to stand, they will probably want to start moving pretty soon. Both of my kids were obsessed with getting around on their 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 a non-toxic paint finish and materials.
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, magnetic tiles are one our most used open-ended toys for this age range.
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.
Under $100 Montessori Toy Guide for 1 Year Olds to 2 Year Olds
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!
Block sets ar always a great idea for brain development, hands on learning, and so much more. This one is by far the best too.
You might think I’m crazy for such an expensive block set but hear me out: It’s the best block set and only one your baby will ever need!
However if you want cheaper options, these are the best block sets I’ve found broken down by child’s interests and age.
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 solid 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 wooden 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.
Under $200 Montessori-Friendly Toys For 1 to 2-Year Olds
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!
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!
If you’re looking for the ultimate preselected bundle of montessori toys, perfectly curated for your child’s age then Monti Kids is going to be your best bet.
They are the only montessori toy subscription box on the market designed by Montessori certified teachers. Included with your box of toys, you received access to the expanded Monti Kids Curriculum via video lessons in the Parent Learning Center is now divided into chapters by learning goals rather than one per week as well as a new Toy Rotation Guide. They’ve essentially created the Montessori for Dummy’s guide explaining to montessori parents exactly “what you’ll notice, what it means and how you can help” at each developmental stage.
Additionally, subscribers receive access to the exclusive online group. Which is a great resource where parents can find support from experts and peers to empower their parenting journey with joy and confidence. Lastly, Monti Kids families can receive 1:1 parent coaching with a certified Montessori expert as part of their subscription.
Final thoughts on montessori toys for 1 year old:
The montessori philosophy really encourages simplicity, going slow, and fostering the child. While all of the picks on this list make great choices for gifts and are some of the best toys we own that grow well beyond 1 years old, we have a few favorites.
The pikler triangle is by far one of the best high end toys we’ve purchased. Additionally, our Lovevery subscription gave us everything we truly needed the first year years with our first child. Lastly, my two favorite affordable montessori gifts to give are the First 100 Animals Lift-the-Flap and russian nesting dolls. I’ve never met a kid who didn’t love those two gifts!
Originally published 11/18/19; Updated 10/26/22