Three to Six Months
Between 3 and 6 months, children start to spend more time awake, and begin intensive work on strength and dexterity. This is a good time to introduce a few simple toys that encourage reaching, grasping, and manipulating simple objects. Teething typically starts within this age range, so teethers can be helpful. All the items from the newborn to three month list continue to be useful for this age group.
Avoid any complicated or electronic toys, or items that restrict movement like swings, walkers, and "activity chairs."
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This Montessori material is a simple object, usually a wooden ring or a bell, suspended with ribbon or elastic just out of reach of a child lying on a play mat. It encourages hand-eye coordination, depth perception and concentration. And the reaching motion helps build strong core muscles needed to sit up and turn over.
Hang these toys from the ceiling, a sturdy mobile hanger, or a wooden gym (see next entry).
Wooden Gym Hanger
If you can't hang objects from your ceiling, this wooden gym hanger is a good alternative. Most gym hangers we see have way too much stuff hanging from them. This simple, sturdy wooden model is a good choice for hanging just one or two objects at a time.
A play mat is a comfortable, safe space for a child to spend time when she is feeling rested and content. A thin crib mattress works for this (and doubles as a floor bed), but our favorite play mat is a lambskin.
This interlocking disc toy is usually the first grasping toy presented to a child. Its design is easy for small hands to grasp, and it is simple enough not to be overwhelming. It also tends to roll away, so it can be good for encouraging movement.
This set of interlocking triangles is a an interesting material for developing grip strength and practicing hand-eye coordination.
A slightly different grasping toy, this one uses elastic to hold colorful wooden balls together.
Another interesting wooden and elastic grasping toy. This one is easy for small hands to grasp, and makes an interesting sound when moved. It can roll, but not very far, making for a good balance of challenge and reward for a not-quite-mobile baby.
Teeth start to come in around four to six months. This teething ring is easy for small hands to grasp and hold, is washable, and can be put in the freezer to help soothe painful gums.
This is a wonderful material to wear while holding a teething baby. It gives the child an interesting object to explore, and a nice material to chew on that she can't drop. It's made of food-grade BPA-free silicone, it's washable, and can be put in the freezer like other teething toys.
Once a child is comfortable with basic grasping toys, simple rattles can be introduced to add more sensory information and make the experience more interesting. The source of the sound should always be visible to make the experience more concrete. A bell rattle is a classic Montessori material that's small, lightweight, and easy to manipulate.
This wooden rattle adds some interesting color to the experience, but keeps the source of the sound visible.
This wooden crochet rattle adds different textures to the experience.
Along with child sized shelves, a few soft baskets are fantastic for organizing a child's play area. Only a few toys should be presented at a time, so it's helpful to have somewhere to stash all of the toys that are not in use. And the basket itself is an interesting material to explore.
A wall mirror is a recommended Montessori material for a child's space from infancy onward. It's typically hung horizontally at the child's level on the wall next to the play mat. An unbreakable acrylic mirror sheet is the best choice for this, since it's impossible to shatter or chip.
A onesie is the go-to base layer for babies. The simple shirt with a snapped bottom allows for comfortable, free movement. Avoid any clothing with buttons (more difficult to put and take off) or potentially scratchy materials.
Once babies start to move around, they need time with bare feet to develop muscle coordination, so footie pajamas are no longer ideal for all day wear. But they still work great for sleeping at later ages.
A great choice for mobile babies to give them opportunities to practice using their feet.
Leg warmers are incredibly convenient for frequent diaper changes, since they're one less thing to take off. A onesie with leg warmers is a great outfit for mobile a mobile baby, since it protects her knees without covering her feet.
Babies need protection from the sun, and a hat is far more convenient than constantly applying sunscreen. This sun hat has a nice wide brim, and is adjustable through a wide range of sizes.
Portable Play Yard
Creating a safe space for free movement without the need for parental interference is one of the best ways to encourage a baby's development. A play yard is more of a RIE material than a Montessori material, but it offers a practical solution for creating a clean, safe space for a child to move around and explore.
A portable water-resistant blanket is handy for creating a clean, comfortable space on the floor or on the grass.