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So you’re looking for the best Montessori toys for your 1-year-old? You’ve come to the right place. In this article, you’ll learn:
- The principles to guide you when choosing Montessori toys for 1-year-old babies
- How to choose good Montessori toys for one-year-olds
- Montessori toys for 1-year-olds that you probably already have at home
- How to get your 1-year-old Montessori toys without ruining yourself
So, let’s get started.
Labeling a toy “Montessori” does not necessarily make it so. Before we begin, let’s look at what a Montessori-inspired toy really means.
Five things to consider when choosing Montessori toys for 1-year-old babies
Montessori-inspired toys are known for helping children work on specific skills such as their fine and gross motor skills, spatial skills, visual discriminations skills, and so on.
If you’re looking for such a toy for your 1-year-old baby, these are some of the things that you need to be attentive to:
1) They must be open-ended
Open-ended toys refer to toys that can be used in many different ways. Your child can build things with them, engage in make-believe play, stack them, and so on. These toys encourage children to imagine, create, design and experiment.
2) They must be made of safe and natural materials
Babies learn through manipulation, and part of that manipulation involves mouthing objects – that is how they explore their world. It is therefore important to ensure that their toys are made of safe and non-toxic materials.
3) The best Montessori toys for 1-year-old babies are purposeful, meaning that they have a specific purpose in mind: to help them strengthen their fine-motor skills, their gross motor skills, their visual discrimination skills, and so on. Many good toys allow your baby to develop multiple skills at the same time.
4) Montessori toys are often simple.
5) These toys use colors and designs that attract babies’ attention.
6) Maria Montessori had a preference for toys made of wood, and many Montessori-inspired toys have continued to use wood because it is a safe and durable option that children find attractive. Given that these toys last longer, they are also ecological because all your children can use the same toys over and over again.
Now that we’ve gone over the basics about choosing good Montessori-inspired toys, let’s look at some of the principles of Montessori education and how you can choose toys in line with those principles.
Important principles to help you choose Montessori toys for your 1-year-old
Many good things can be said about Montessori education, and its positive impact on children’s development is backed by science.
Several researchers have found that children raised according to Montessori’s principles are more independent, show more creative thought and are generally all-rounded.
The principles of this education have given rise to what are now commonly referred to as Montessori-inspired toys. These toys share several characteristics:
1) They foster your child’s autonomy
One of Montessori’s best known quotes about children is “Help me to help myself”. The best Montessori toys for a 1-year-old are those that help them practice their manipulation skills by themselves and enable them to feel a sense of personal satisfaction when they achieve success.
2) They spark creativity
Did you know that the fewer and the simpler your child’s toys, the greater the chances of sparking their creativity? Many Montessori toys for 1-year-old babies are simple and enable them to use their creativity.
Here are a few toys your 1-year-old will love:
Encourage your child to unleash their creativity with this edible paint that mixes rich and natural colors. With this paint, you can let them create beautiful pictures without worrying about them putting their fingers in their mouths!
Building blocks are the ultimate Montessori toy for developing your child’s creativity. They teach them about balance, help them develop hand-eye coordination, and encourage them to experiment with different creations.
If you are looking for blocks that will last, these large building blocks made of durable, non-toxic and high quality materials are a good option which will help your child discover different shapes and colors as they create different objects.
This Rainbow Wooden Block set made of non-toxic wood is safe for young children and will encourage your baby to use their imagination and to strengthen their visual recognition skills. Manipulating blocks will also help them work on their fine motor skills.
3) They promote problem-solving
Even at 12 months, your baby can start learning about problem-solving by engaging in simple cause and effect toys that help them to understand that their actions can lead to a certain effect.
A pounding bench is a great toy for kids this age. A high quality bench like this one will help your child develop their hand-eye coordination, visual perception and fine motor skills.
The Hape Pound & Tap Bench is an award winning durable wooden pounding bench that will promote hand eye coordination and help your child better understand cause and effect.
4) They help your baby work on their fine motor skills.
One-year-olds are still developing the fine motor skills that enable them to use their hands and fingers effectively. Montessori-inspired toys can help them further strengthen these skills. They can also help them strengthen their hand-eye coordination.
The Wooden Petilou Forest Stacker Puzzle is a great Montessori-inspired toy for 1-year-old babies that will help them work on developing their fine motor skills and their hand-eye coordination. Your child will love discovering shapes with this beautiful wooden toy.
If you’re looking for Montessori toys for your 1-year-old, this wooden sorting and stacking toy made of 100% non-toxic wood will teach your child the basics of shapes and colors and help them learn through play.
5) They help them strengthen their gross motor skills
Your 1-year-old is probably crawling (or has found their own way of moving around 😊), walking while supporting themselves on furniture or has even already taken their first steps. Gross motor skills refer to those skills that help them strengthen the muscles that they require to crawl and walk, and later, to hop, jump, skip and so on.
Kinderfeets TinyTot 2-in-1 Wooden Balance Bike and Tricycle is an award-winning balance bike crafted from lacquered bamboo wood. This beautiful bike will help your child develop their gross motor skills by encouraging them to use their feet to move. The best part is that when they are ready, the toy transforms into a 2-wheel bike!
Your child will learn so many skills with this Kinderfeets balance board. It is great at teaching them about balance, coordination and spatial awareness.
Balance boards also make great open-ended toys because your child can use them in a variety of ways: as a bridge, as a balance board, as a fort, and so on. If they don’t seem interested at 12 months, put it away and take it out a few months later!
Can you get your 1-year-old Montessori toys without ruining yourself?
Montessori toys are great, but they also come at a price. The good news is that you can still get you Montessori toys for your 1-year-old even if you are on a budget.
Here are four things that can help:
- Buy fewer but better toys. The advantage of buying better quality is that they last longer so your baby can use them for years. For example, this Lovevery Block Set is a bit costly, but it will allow your child to practice stacking, threading, shape sorting, matching activities, imaginative play, and much much more, from 18 months to their fourth year.
- Ask your family members to participate. If you have been dreaming of a Montessori play shelf ever since your baby was born, why not put it on your wishlist and ask your family to chip in?
- Buy used Montessori toys for your 1-year-old. Good Montessori-inspired toys are solid and made of durable materials, meaning that your child can still get years of play from recycled products. The first Montessori blocks we bought for our son were second hand, and each of our three children played with those blocks for years!
- Make your own Montessori toys! One of the greatest advantages of the Internet is that there are thousands of tips to help you make your own toys. For example, many Youtube videos propose practical tips on making a DIY Montessori play shelf. If you or someone in your family is good with their hands, why not try a DIY Montessori-inspired toy?
Don’t forget that when Montessori started out working with orphans, most of the objects she used were DIY! Here are a few examples of DIY toys your child will love.
Montessori toys for 1-year-olds: what can you use at home?
1) Grab an old tissue box and fill it with strips of brightly colored fabric. You can also use ribbons or scarves if you prefer. Let you baby pull out the strips and stuff them back in again to help them develop their fine motor skills.
2) Make your baby their very own building blocks using boxes of different sizes. Medium-sized boxes work best – for example tea bag boxes – because they are neither too small nor too big for your baby’s little fingers.
Wrapping up the boxes in different bright colors will help provide visual stimulation and will also make the boxes sturdier and therefore safer for your child.
3) Grab blankets and pillows and make one pile, then get your baby to crawl over them to practice their gross motor skills. Remember to supervise your child to avoid any accidents.
4) Cardboards have been providing kids with fun for years, and your baby will love crawling through a cardboard tunnel. Grab the sturdiest and biggest box you have and open it up to make a tunnel that they will love disappearing into. This is a great activity for developing their gross motor skills.
5) Make your baby their very own stacking toys by collecting big plastic cups that they can use to build pyramids – then knock them down again!
If you decide to try DIY toys, remember to keep these safety rules in mind:
- Always supervise your baby to avoid choking or other risks.
- Avoid toys with long chords and strings because these present choking risks.
- Your one-year-old will appreciate big toys and will be able to manipulate them better. Bigger toys also reduce choking risks because they prevent your baby from putting them into their mouths.
- Avoid toys with small detachable parts to ensure your baby’s safety.
- Ensure that the material you use is safe and has no toxic products. This is especially important at an age when your baby is still putting objects in their mouths.
Final thoughts on choosing Montessori toys for 1-year-old babies
By age one, it is already possible to get a glimpse into your baby’s personality. Some kids are curious adventurous, others are cautious observers.
Even at this age, your baby’s temperament has an impact on their behavior. More extroverted babies may crawl or walk faster because they are just dying to discover new adventures, and those who are more cautious may have a harder time with new toys and activities.
Remember that despite having the same chronological age, children’s developmental age can vary widely for different reasons. In other words, your child may take shorter, or longer, to be able to perform certain tasks, or may be less interested in toys and activities that are appropriate for their age. This is not a problem.
If they show no interest or seem unable to manipulate a toy that is age-appropriate, give them something different and wait a couple of months to re-introduce that toy again. Even a few weeks can make a world of difference!