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Discover the best Montessori toys for creative, educational play

These minimalist-style toys are designed to strengthen your child’s imagination and learn basic life skills through open-ended play. Unsure where to start? Here are the best Montessori toys for your baby and toddler.

By Rebecca Roberts | Last updated Dec 20, 2023

best Montessori toys for babies, toddlers and kids

It’s likely you’ve heard the name before, but you’d be forgiven for not understanding exactly what Montessori means and how a toy can be considered one of the best Montessori toys. Far from the assumption that it’s all just about wooden toys, Montessori toys focus on child-led learning and unstructured play - making them some of the best toddler toys around. We think it's a great idea to have a few Montessori toys alongside your child's best teddy bears, train set and other toys.

Rooted in the educational teachings of Italy’s first female doctor, Dr. Maria Montessori, who founded the method in 1907, the philosophy encourages open-ended play wherein children are given access to real life scenarios through games. Instead of using traditional teaching methods, Montessori began testing her own child-centred theories in the classroom, resulting in a curriculum that has had a huge impact on education across the world in the last century.

Children can learn so much through play, and the Montessori method encourages unstructured play as it benefits a child’s mental and physical health, helping them to make sense of the world around them. In a lot of Montessori nurseries and households real items are used to encourage children to develop important life skills from a young age, but simple toys (typically made of natural materials) are also made available for learning through play. We've researched the most popular options to find the best Montessori toys to buy to embrace this philosophy at home.

These are the best Montessori toys to buy in 2024.

1. Best overall Montessori toy: Toddmony Montessori Object Permanence Box

Toddmomy object permanence box

Price on writing: £29 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Material: Natural wood | Age range: 12 months +

What we love

  • Easy to store

  • Improves hand-eye coordination

  • Environmentally friendly

What to know

  • Can make a loud ‘thud’ when dropped heavily

Our verdict

Also known as an imbucare box, this wooden toy may not appear so interesting to begin with but for little learners, it works wonders in helping them develop their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.  Made from natural wood with smooth edges, this Montessori toy is suitable for babies and toddlers starting from around nine months old. It encourages children to drop the ball and disc into the holes in the box, which then roll out and into the attached tray, thus allowing them to experience object permanence by seeing that the ball didn’t just disappear (a helpful skill to develop if your mini has small bouts of separation anxiety every now and again).

Using this also helps them to practice their refined hand movements, which as we all know, comes in handy when little hands are picking up little objects as they grow.  As one of the most traditional Montessori toys, it’s understandably one of the most recommended for parents new to the method. Fun fact: You can easily create an Imbucare/object permanence box at home with just a container that has an opening, and some found objects. Grab a tissue box, or cereal container, and always ensure objects are child-safe and not a choking hazard.

Related: The best trikes for babies and toddlers, as recommended by Mumsnetters

2. Best budget Montessori toy: STOBOK Wooden Montessori Egg Ball with Cup

Best Montessori toys egg cup

Price on writing: £12 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Material: Natural wood | Age range: 12 months +

What we love

  • High-quality materials

  • Impact resistance

  • Fits the size of baby’s hand

What to know

  • Limited play options

Our verdict

This wooden egg and cup toy is simple, but super effective. As the perfect birthday gift or baby shower item, and a great starter toy into the world of Montessori, this early learning toy helps develop a child’s hand-eye coordination from a young age. Made from natural, high-quality, hard wood that is impact resistant, the Montessori egg ball and cup is suitable for both babies and toddlers. The egg cup is intended for little ones who can comfortably move around and use both hands, and is designed to help them practice their hand-eye coordination by allowing them to remove and replace the egg from the cup.

Since the Montessori method promotes simplicity when it comes to toys, this is a great one to introduce to babies who are learning how to sit up. Simply set the egg cup down on the floor near your child, and demonstrate taking the egg out of the cup so they can see how it’s supposed to be done. No doubt they’ll just bang the two items together at first, but over time, they’ll soon learn how to turn the cup upside down to remove the egg, and soon after, will figure out how to put the egg back in without assistance. You can find the Montessori wooden egg cup pretty much anywhere online, but we particularly like the STOBOK one on Amazon to start with.

3. Best Montessori climbing frame: Triclimb Natural Wood Climbing Frame

Kidly triclimb

Price on writing: £240 | Buy now from Kidly

Key specs

Material: Natural wood | Age range: 9 months +

What we love

  • Encourages developmentally appropriate play in a safe manner

  • Easy to assemble and folds flat for easy storage

  • Builds confidence, core strength and gross motor skills

  • Wipe clean easily with damp cloth and mild detergent

What to know

  • Needs quite a bit of space to use safely

  • Should always be used under adult supervision

What Mumsnet users say

“We have one. It's in constant use!”  (Recommended by Mumsnet user MontysMinions)

"For us it was a worthwhile investment, it gets a lot of use and I’ll sell it on when he’s older. They do take up a good amount of space though and font fold up as easily as I thought it might." (Tried and tested by Mumsnetter Areallthegoodnamesgone)

Our verdict

This classic Pikler style climbing triangle helps to build your toddler’s confidence, core strength, and gross motor skills. More than anything, they help with independence - which is one of the foundations of Montessori teachings. They’re easy to assemble, fold flat for easy storage, and are suitable for growing babies from just nine months old. First designed by paediatrtician Dr. Emmi Pickler, this Triclimb version has re-imagined the traditional indoor climbing triangle, and offers various combinations of climbing fun when paired with the Miri Slide or Miri Sticks. The frame encourages children to work independently on their motor development skills, and helps to ignite their imagination.

Made from sustainable wood, the Triclimb climbing frame will help encourage your toddlers to pull themselves to the top while developing their motor skills and confidence. Once they’re more coordinated, they’ll be able to move across to the other side and climb down. As well as being great fun to climb, Pikler triangles like this one offer the perfect foundation for a den if you throw a sheet over the top, or can be set-up like a baby gym. Endless fun from the simplest of designs.

4. Best Montessori sensory balls: Grapat 6 Balls in Rainbow Colours

Sensory balls Montessori toys

Price on writing: £12 | Buy now from Babipur

Key specs

Material: Wood | Age range: From birth

What we love

  • Helps to develop baby’s rolling skills

  • Grapat are a sustainable and ethical brand

  • Endless opportunities for open-ended, free play

What to know

  • Made of wood, so may hurt if dropped somewhere delicate accidentally - ie your baby’s face

  • Only six in a pack, take care not to lose one

What Mumsnet users say

"Second vote for grapat and grimms and other “expensive” wooden toys- often fair trade and eco friendly etc and kids love the simplicity and open- ended play. They also have GREAT resale prices so save you money against plastic crap that everyone buys and no one wants second hand." (Recommended by Mumsnet user Isadora2007)

Our verdict

If Montessori is all about open-ended play, then this pack of six, rainbow coloured balls offers plenty of room for imagination. Little hands will surely love playing with these bright and smooth wooden balls, which are of course, made from sustainable wood. They’re safe for all ages, but due to the weight of them, if they were to be dropped accidentally, it’s probably best to use them from six months onwards… In fact, they’d help to enhance your baby’s tummy time, we’re sure.

Whether your baby is rolling them on their floor to help develop those skills, or the balls are placed in your little one’s treasure basket - although simple, these Grapat balls offer room for different games and activities as your children grow.

5. Best Montessori rocker and chair: KiddyMoon Wooden Rocker

KiddyMoon wooden rocker

Price: £80 | Buy now on Amazon

Key specs

Material: Wood | Age range: 2 years +

What we love

  • Multifunctional as a climbing arch or rocker

  • Takes up little space

  • Easy to move indoors and outdoors

What to know

  • Unsuitable for toddlers under 2 years old

  • Must be used under the supervision of an adult

Our verdict

Providing hours of great, creative, and safe fun, the KiddyMoon wooden rocker is a great Montessori addition to your little one's nursery. The arch-shaped rocker can be used as both a climbing arch and as a rocker, helping to develop your child's imagination and their motor skills. Be it a car, a spaceship, or a boat - the rocker provides hours of fun.

It comes in four colours, and includes a chair for comfortable rocking at different speeds and a handrail to ensure safe use. Plus, it's made of plywood and is suitable for use on both carpet or grass.

6. Best Montessori busy board: Jumble Dream Wooden Sensory Busy Board

Jumble dream busy board

Price on writing: £24 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Material: Wood | Age range: Three years +

What we love

  • Encourages exploratory fun

  • Suitable for travel with convenient travel handle

  • Also suitable for children or adults with learning difficulties

What to know

  • Double check after opening as some reviews report sharp edges

  • Unsuitable for a baby under one

What Mumsnet users say

"Yes to the wooden frames that have buttons, zips, velcro, lace-up closings. That is a life skill being taught at such a young age." (Tried and tested by Mumsnetter LookItsMeAgain)

Our verdict

This handmade busy board is a great educational toys for toddlers and older children to play with whilst traveling or at home. Each one is complete with toy modules that are compact, travel-friendly, and robust - so even the most curious and destructive tots couldn't damage it.

Based upon the early learning of Maria Montessori, busy boards - aka fidget boards - help to develop a child's brain, fine motor skills, logic, and imagination. This particular busy board by Jumble Dream comes complete with a fidget spinner, pop lock, shoelaces, a spinning wheel, wheel cogs, an egg timer and a convenient carry handle so they can enjoy this toy anywhere.

7. Best Montessori toy for car lovers: let's make Organic Baby Push Car Toys

let's make wooden push cars

Price on writing: £26 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Material: Wood | Age range: 6 months +

What we love

  • Designed to last a while

  • Easy to hold thanks to hole in the centre

What to know

  • Shouldn't be submerged in water, and wipe clean only

  • Quite expensive for size

What Mumsnet users say

"Yes! My son loves them. His favourites are his wooden boat, wooden cars and car park..." (Recommended by Mumsnetter lasangoles)

Our verdict

Perhaps one of the easiest Montessori toys to introduce to your child's play space, wooden cars are not only sustainable but they leave plenty of room for imaginative play. These wooden cars by let's make are smooth, comfortable for little hands, and made to last for years to come.

Plus, unlike other plastic car models, these let's make wooden cars have a hole through the centre for easy grasping and pushing by your baby.  These make the perfect first car for your child, and it's a toy they'll be playing with for years.

8. Best Montessori stacking toy: Japace Wooden Stacking Toys Stones

Japanese wooden stacking toys

Price on writing: £15 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Material: Wood | Age range: 3+

What we love

  • Promotes hand-eye coordination and logical thinking

  • Endless, open-play suitable for different ages

  • Encourage parent-child interaction while playing

What to know

  • Quite small in size, choking hazard for smaller babies and toddlers

What Mumsnet users say

"DC have a Triclimb and some wooden blocks and they're the most played with toys." (Recommended by Mumsnet user LolaSmiles)

Our verdict

Designed to extend your child's brain creativity and thinking, these wooden blocks by Japace are far from your usual wooden blocks.  This 24 piece set comes in a colour gradient design, with blocks in various shapes and sizes to encourage balancing and building. Not only are they great to build with, but they will also help your little one sort by colour and by size.

Made with natural wood, these blocks are lightweight, have lots of life in them, and are durable against little hands. Each piece is sanded and polished with smooth, round edges, so are safe for your child to play with all day long while developing their logical thinking, hand-eye coordination, shape recognition, creative thinking, and sorting skills - phew!

9. Best Montessori cleaning set: Melissa & Doug, Let’s Play House!

Melissa and Doug lets play house

Price on writing: £39 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Material: Wood | Age range: Three years +

What we love

  • Develops a child's coordination and fine motor skills

  • Promotes independence

  • Fully functional cleaning tools, except for the mop

What to know

  • Not suitable for children under 3 years old

  • Quite pricey

  • Some reviews report sharp edges, so double check when opening

What Mumsnet users say

"Melissa and Doug do lots of wooden toys that might fit the bill." (Recommended by Mumsnetter Elfinablender)

Our verdict

A fundamental part of Montessori education is bringing everything down to your child's level. Child-sized items like this Melissa & Doug, Let's Play House! toy set are great in helping your child join in 'real life' activities with tools that are suited for their size.  This Melissa & Doug set includes a broom, mop, duster, dust pan, brush, and storage stand, helping to motivate your child to model independence and use their imagination. Each cleaning toy tool provides them with an imagined role and pretend task to try.

Of course, you could go one step further and actually encourage them to help complete household tasks as each item (bar the mop) are fully functional cleaning tools.  Both skill-building and confidence-boosting, we're sure your child will enjoy playing with this set as it strengthens their sense of purpose while developing their coordination and fine motor skills.

10. Best Montessori play gym for babies: Lovevery The Play Gym

Lovevery play gym

Price on writing: £140 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Material: Wood frame | Age range: 0 - 12 months

What we love

  • Suitable for babies laid down and sat up

  • Built-in tummy time stations that can be folded when not in use

  • A great place for shade in the garden with the tent cover

  • Easy to disassemble for storage

What to know

  • Quite expensive compared to other play gyms

  • Hanging toys cannot be adjusted to different positions or heights

  • Quite large in size, so may be unsuitable for smaller spaces

Our verdict

Unlike the usual play gyms that come complete with music and flashy colours, Lovevery's The Play Gym uses simple toys and play stations to keep your infant engaged during playtime. But don't worry about them getting bored of it, with 24 science-baked activities this will see them through their entire first year of fun.

Designed with the help of child development experts, The Play Gym has a large mat with built-in tummy time stations and three hanging toys that can be played with in various ways. It's easily assembled, and the arches are around 20 inches tall - a good size to allow growing babies to enjoy playtime while sat up, too. Plus, measuring around four feet with the tummy time stations unfolded - there's plenty of room to roll. We're sure your little one will love shaking and exploring this stylish play gym.

11. Best Montessori balance board: Wobbel Board

Wobbel Board

Price on writing: £135 | Buy now from Kidly

Key specs

Material: Beechwood and wool felt | Age range: Birth to 200kg

What we love

  • Can be used by children of all ages

  • Encourages open-ended play

  • Develops gross motor skills and balance

What to know

  • Quite expensive

What Mumsnet users say

"I genuinely think it's worth the money. We have one, that has been played with pretty much every single day since we got it over a year ago." (Loved by Mumsnet user covetingthepreciousthings)

Our verdict

This open ended toy is a familiar sight in Montessori homes and classrooms. Providing hours of imaginative and active play, the Wobbel Board has so many uses and is great for any age.

Kids can use it as a chair, bridge or step, and it encourages open-ended play while developing balance and gross motor skills.

It might seem a large, upfront cost for what it is but it's actually suitable from birth up to 200kg, and is made from high quality beechwood for longevity... Providing lots of fun for years to come.

What is a Montessori toy?

A Montessori toy is one that stimulates learning by encouraging kids to experiment and use their imagination through open-ended play. It should be a toy they can hold and touch and made from natural materials whenever possible. Plus, the toy should provide your child with opportunities to work and play independently, at their own pace, and by using their own creativity.

What is the Montessori Method?

Inspired by Dr. Maria Montessori, Italy's first female doctor, in 1907, the Montessori Method encourages imagination and open-ended play, wherein children are provided with 'real life' scenarios through play.

Avoiding traditional teaching curriculums, Montessori began her own child-centred theories, which resulted in a Montessori education that can be seen in some classrooms worldwide.

The method encourages open-ended unstructured play, as it benefits a child’s mental and physical health, helping them to make sense of the world around them.

How are Montessori toys different?

They are often simple toys, with no batteries and no interactive parts that would create artificial light or sound. This is mainly to avoid overwhelming a child's mind, and allows them space to fully understand the toy's purpose.

They're also made of natural materials - primarily wood- and are inspired by purposeful, realistic items. Plus, they should target a specific educational purpose and encourage development of that one area eg sensorial, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, practical life, language, mathematics, and arts and crafts.

How do I introduce a Pikler triangle to my baby?

These toddler climbing toys have been trending for the last few years, and were originally designed by Dr. Emmi Pikler over a century ago. They offer toddlers room for play and development of gross motor skills, and are often on best Montessori toy lists as they're made of natural wood and encourage open-ended play.

There are different brands of Pikler triangles available on the market, but our MNers rate the Triclimb triangle.

How do I set up a Montessori playroom at home?

Nothing is set in stone, and each Montessori playroom may vary from home to home. When done right, a Montessori playroom should promote concentration and independence. In general, a playroom:

  • is simple, with a limited number of toys and activities

  • includes open space for play

  • uses toys that promote engagement over entertainment

  • has everything displayed at your child's level

  • has a place for items to create order and routine

  • mixes a variety of activities

  • is a cosy space your child should enjoy

What are the disadvantages of Montessori learning?

As with all educational curriculums, there are pros and cons, and you as parents will decide which is the best fit for your family, your child, and your home. While there are several pros with the Montessori method, including social emotional development, multi-age learning, and the fact homework is a rarity, there are some cons, too.

First of all - not every community has a Montessori school. If you wish to place your child into a Montessori education, you may need to travel outside of your catchment area. If your child comes from a Montessori classroom and moves to another type of school, they may find it difficult. Since the method avoids the rigid structures of traditional schooling, some children may find struggle with textbooks, lectures and traditional classrooms.

Other things of concern include the impact a Montessori education can have on friendships. The method encourages small class sizes, and although this is great for teaching academics, it can be disadvantageous for developing friendships. Arguably there isn't enough opportunity through group activity for social development and interaction when following the Montessori curriculum.

About the author

Rebecca (aka Beccy) is a writer, editor, and content marketing expert hailing from Leeds. Here at Mumsnet she commissions and creates content that’s designed to make parent’s lives easier.

Her career began back in 2010 when she took the helm of her university's student newspaper. Always encouraged to pursue a career in law, she instead found herself falling in love with writing and after graduating, moved to the Middle East to join the region's leading female- and family-focused expatriate website, ExpatWoman. Then after six years of sunshine and desert, she took a short career break to navigate motherhood (and a country move mid-pandemic) and is now Commercial Content Editor here at Mumsnet, working to bring readers industry-leading content from popular brands that aim to make parents' lives easier.

Spanning 13 years, her career has provided her opportunity to work closely with brands who are equally as passionate about all things female-focused, including some of best health, education, and wellness companies. It is thanks to her experience that she continues to enjoy working with much-loved brands by Mumsnetters that care about women and parents. As a mother herself, she knows all too well the trials and tribulations of modern-day parenting. Which is why she enjoys finding, learning about and sharing new products and companies that are specifically designed for parents, their kids and their families.

Offline, Rebecca can be found balancing life as a working mum of two toddlers. When she’s not at her desk, you’ll likely find her at her local playgroup, nearest soft play, or walking the dog up and down country lanes.

How we chose our recommendations

Real life parents

First, we consulted our Mumsnet forum users to seek their top recommendations for Montessori toys. With over 7 million users each month, that’s a lot of honest, impartial, and helpful advice.

Expert guidance

We always ensure our information represents the latest recommendations from experts so you can rely on it, and we research each product thoroughly to ensure it follows the latest expert advice and stands up to scrutiny. Here we consulted a reputable Montessori source, the Montessori Society AMI (UK).

Consumer feedback

We also scour the internet, leaving no stone unturned to check out real reviews from customers who have bought the products themselves and given both positive and negative feedback.

Celebrated best products

Finally, we cross-referenced all of the above information to find the best Montessori toys that had won the most accolades and recommendations across the board to bring you a selection of the best ones at various price points. We think there’s something here for everyone.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.