Traditional Catholic Gift Ideas for Christmas 2022 | Part 1: Montessori Baby and Toddler Toys

Looking to get some Montessori gifts for your sweet baby or toddler this Christmas? Look no further – I make my personal recommendations below!

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Full disclosure: I despise the materialism of our society when it comes to Christmas.

That being said, the origins of gift-giving around Christmastide are quite extensive all over Europe, spanning centuries of traditions and customs that truly were Catholic in their practice.

I see no problem with gift-giving around this time…I pretty much only buy clothes and toys for our family once or twice a year.

If you’re like me and waiting around for the biggest sales of the year to do most of your shopping, then keep reading!

Newsflash: most baby toys are junk!

Flashing lights, buttons that play music – these are things that have been proven1 to hinder language development, not to mention they prevent the child from developing those fine motor skills you can only achieve when playing with natural toys that they can manipulate.

Most cute and cuddly stuffed animal Christmas gifts on the market today carry a host of toxic substances2 you’d be running to get your child away from (although there are better alternatives).

So why Montessori gifts?

I’ve been researching the Montessori method for almost 5 years now (since my oldest were about 6 months old), and while I don’t own every single toy in the method, I own a few essentials.

My children have benefited greatly from Montessori toys, they play purposefully with toys and are able to “figure out” more complex toys due to the sequential nature of the Montessori curriculum.

Which brings me to this: what I love about the Montessori method – besides being inherently Catholic – is that the curriculum has gift ideas for practically every age, starting from birth!

It breaks down a child’s learning and development into different learning areas – practical life, sensorial, math, language, geography, science, art, music – and provides activities or “work” that isolates each skill and scaffolds onto other skills!

***Beware that many advertisers will say their gifts are “Montessori” just for the higher price tag – many times they are not found in the traditional curriculum or just useless.

Montessori gifts have a few different features – ideally they are made from natural materials, isolate one particular skill and have a control of error (meaning the child can tell on their own if they made a “mistake” due to the design of the toy).

Find your babies age range below to find the Montessori Christmas gift ideas that I recommend.

Montessori Baby Gifts – 0 to 3 months

Munari mobile – this is a black and white mobile which helps with visual development. In the beginning babies are very nearsighted and can only distinguish between black and white colors. It can be hung no more than a foot away from them.

Octahedron mobile – another aid for visual development, this mobile features 3 different colors (primary colors) with reflective paper.

Baby books – board books that introduce real life images, with one picture per page are the best. I’ve enjoyed all the books from Priddy Books, they have smaller ones for babies that are just perfect. Touch and feel books are a bonus as they provide further sensory stimulation

Interlocking discs – this develops fine motor skills and the ability to reach and grasp for an object. When the baby gets older they will hand to hand transfer, roll it on the ground, and develop greater interest in it.

Gobbi mobile – this mobile uses color gradation with about 5-7 balls hung from a string that increase in length. It aids with further visual development.

Montessori Baby Gifts – 3 to 6 months

Grasping beads – simple wooden beads that further assist and motivate the child in developing the ability to grasp

Ring on a ribbon this offers an impetus for the child to reach and grasp easily. Many wooden baby gyms could be used for this activity as they feature wooden rings suspended from a beam

Rattle/shakers – as children begin to play independently they develop the ability to manipulate objects themselves, and a rattle is perfect for making this fact known since as soon as they shake it they realize “Oh, this makes a sound when I move!”

Montessori Baby Gifts – 6 to 9 months

Egg in egg cup – a classic Montessori activity that helps the child practice removing and replacing an object into its own container. Adds in hand-eye coordination

Object permanence box this box is useful when the child begins to notice that an object “disappears” when placed in a container. Aids in hand-eye coordination.

Ball tracker a visual, auditory toy that also includes gross motor movement

Montessori Baby Gifts – 9 to 12 months

Box with drawer – another aid with object permanence…with a twist! They have to open the drawer to find the ball.

Ring stacker or dowel with rings – its good to use wooden rings that are much larger than the dowel in the very beginning so they can easily remove and replace the rings.

Shape puzzles – start with easy shapes like circles, triangles, and squares with knobs for easily grasping.

Coin box – a more difficult version of the object permanence box

Musical instruments – so many of these are junk 🙁 sad to say! I like getting real percussion instruments. I recommend these:

Also – the only actual xylophone I will recommend is this one. Another Montessori mama recommended it to me and it’s actually pitched at A=440 (meaning the notes will match your piano and be in tune). Fully chromatic, meaning it’s not just the white keys on the piano but the black ones too!

Galt pop-up toy – a classic in every Montessori home, this helps the child with a skill called “posting” (putting an object in a container or hole). A bonus feature is that once the child gets older they’ll figure out that there’s a spring on the bottom of each hole so that when they push the little stick-man in far enough he’ll “pop” out. Beware of your children losing the pieces as mine did in our cross-country move 🙂

Baby walker – this is helpful when it is weighted to prevent the child from falling over. Ikea has a great alternative for only about $30!

Montessori Baby Gifts – 12 to 24 months

Chalk – the chunky kind is better to develop that writing grip. IKEA has an awesome easel and some chalk as well…I didn’t mean for this to be a post about IKEA haha

Paint – this is a fun alternative to your regular acrylic and finger painting…veggie finger paints! How awesome is that???

Dowel with rings – I own these below and they have been amazing. These are wonderful for developing the skill of “crossing the midline” – a super important body awareness skill for children that is great to develop early on!! These parts are small and pose a choking hazard so do NOT leave your child unattended with them, but work with them individually.

Object permanence box will ball push – a variation for older children that never gets old!

Knobless cylinders – a sensorial activity that teaches children to distinguish between different dimensions of thickness and height. That being said, anything by Adena Montessori on Amazon is amazing, the quality is superb every time I’ve ordered from them and they’re way cheaper than most mainstream Montessori suppliers

Montessori Baby Gifts – 2.5 to 6 years

Baric tablets – this teaches the child to distinguish between three different weights of tablets. They close their eyes and “weigh” two tablets at a time per “round”, and open their eyes at the end to see if they were right. Then they move on to weighing three tablets.

Golden beads – this will help the child conceptualize 10, 100 and 1000 using the golden beads and cubes. You are able to buy the number beads online as well but they’re easy to DIY too.

Moveable alphabet – sandpaper numerals are the first introduction to letters and there are tons of DIYs out there, that’s why you won’t find them on this list 🙂 HOWEVER, once children know all the letter sounds they begin to use this alphabet to “write” words even though they can’t actually write letters yet. They “write” by compiling short CVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant).

Small wooden number cards – it’s good to invest in quality up front, that way it can last through multiple children. They begin by learning to substitute beads for number cards, then exchanging beads for an identical number.

NOTE: I’m updating this post over the next few days, between laundry and tidying and children climbing on me haha!

1. “Electronic Toys May Hinder Baby Language Development.” NPR, NPR, 27 Dec. 2015,

2. “How to Choose Safer Plush Toys.” The Tot,

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