Baby Place Space for 6-18 Months: Inspired by Montessori and Reggio

Create a simple yet stimulating baby play area using open-ended toys made from natural materials and incorporating some philosophies from Montessori and Reggio thinking.

When baby Bean was newborn we put together a baby play space based on Reggio ideas of simplicity, light and real materials, and that included no plastic toys or electronic gizmos. Now that she is sitting up, crawling and pulling up to stand already (please slow down baby girl!) her play space has moved to a safe area on the floor with a few new additions, and both she and her sisters love playing in it.

 In a little corner of the room we laid a lambskin rug (which keeps baby warm in winter and cool in summer) and a few treasure baskets and open-ended toys within easy reach. Reggio philosophies talk highly of including plenty of mirrors and natural light, so we used some acrylic mirror tiles behind some toys and a large stand up mirror which can be moved and repositioned.

The space includes:

  • travel size baby treasure basket [see post for instructions]
  • large oval treasure basket [made our own]
  • an African drum [from a market stall in Zimbabwe!]
  • small basket of real musical instruments [Amazon, music shops, local toy stores]
  • basket of wooden tree blocks and mirrored blocks [tree blocks from Myriad, mirror blocks from EduZone]
  • wooden, stacking rainbow [from Myriad Toys]
  • black and white high contrast images mat [from Amazon]
  • Montessori style number bead stacker [ELC but can’t find it now. This is similar and much nicer]
  • basket of sturdy, textured and lift-the-flap board books [Amazon]
These are pretty much the only toys that she has now, after I cleared out 4 large boxes worth of plastic, brightly coloured, electronic nonsense a few weeks back! She is very happy with these items and plays mainly with real objects anyway, hence reiterating the good common sense behind the heuristic play argument. You can read more about that in my first post about treasure baskets here.

* Edited to add: we are not at all anti plastic toys or materials! We have plenty in our house but I wanted to start with the baby toys that really served only one function and were not promoting much thinking or curiosity. They were easy to donate to others. The rest of the clutter is not so simple to sort and shift! We absolutely adore Playmobil, lego and duplo and of course they are all made from plastic, so the emphasis was more on the type of toy, rather than what it was made from.


The girls have really been enjoying playing here together in this new space and the lambskin rug has become a favourite spot for reading together. I look forward to seeing how the space evolves over the next few months!


Do you have any play spaces in your home? Please share your ideas! 

Coming soon in the play space series: 
  • setting up a creative area
  • setting up a writing table
  • creating a cosy book nook

37 comments to Baby Place Space for 6-18 Months: Inspired by Montessori and Reggio

  • Well done for sorting out, and getting rid of the Plastique and the Bleepy!
    I visited a friend yesterday whose 12-month-old was obsessed with some large paint tins they had stored in a corner of the kitchen. Because they were heavy with paint they were stable, irresistible due to the sturdy plastic handles, and the lids(impossible to remove)made them the perfect drum-kit. It was so lovely to see him stay put for a bit and play so brilliantly with them. LOVE how the best toys often come from the most unexpected things!

  • Your play space looks great. We have such a small room it’s so hard to keep things organised… especially now that BB has decided to start ‘helping; to put things away! I don’t want to discourage him though. His absolute favourite things at the moment are all made from cardboard, he has a hug cardboard box which is his car and boat, he loves to fill it, he is also big time into a couple of long cardboard tubes that once held wrapping paper…

    • Cardboard rocks! It’s hard with a small place isn’t it. Have you tried just rotating a couple of baskets perhaps? That’s something we do upstairs in our house

  • Oh this looks so lovely. i wish i’d been blogging when mine were babies. i really struggled with fun activities at this age.

  • acrylic mirror tiles– where did you find those?

  • Anonymous

    Fab
    Anna I can’t wait to read the other areas you have coming up on your blog. My little girl is always sitting at her table with creative and writing resources but need some inspiration so really looking forward to your upcoming posts :-)

  • This is fantastic! I’m pinning it.

  • Anonymous

    This looks lovely! I would love to recreate this in my home. Where did you get your tree blocks and mirror blocks? Links to where such toys can be purchased would be a great help.

  • Lovely. I am in the process of reorganizing my home and throwing out as much plastic as I can too.

  • This is such a lovely idea, very inspiring!

  • Lisa

    I recently cleared out our kitchen closet & made a kitchen playspace for my 2 year old. We have a wood play kitchen & a small storage unit. It’s very simple but ever since I did it, my daughter has been playing in it constantly. Amazing how simplicity changes everything!

  • Anonymous

    Can you please provide links to each toy that are in the pictures when you find a few minutes?

  • I too would very much appreciate links to each toy you mentioned in the post. This is wonderful and I would like to incorporate some of it with my 9 month old!

  • As with the treasure baskets, does this kind of area need to be brought out periodically so the baby doesn’t get bored of it, or can it be a permanent fixture?
    Love this blog!
    Thanks
    Bronwen

    • Thanks Bronwen, I’m leaving the area as it is for as long as she’s interested, but will update and rotate the items in her treasure baskets that are within the area. I may swap some toys too in the future

  • Wonderful post! Have pinned to my 0-18 months old board.

  • I love this post too…it reminds me of my nursery! Did you see the article today about Slow Toys Movement in most newspapers? I thought you would like it!

  • 18month olds?! No no no, push the baby aside and LET ME PLAY! That looks so lovely and inviting! And aren’t mirrors just the best baby play thing. Beautiful post, you have such wonderful ideas and inspirations.

    Thanks for sharing on Kids Get Crafty!

    Maggy

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  • I am so glad I found this post! My little boy is almost 6 months old and I have been trying to decide what to buy him for Christmas and how to avoid all the plastic. I have just ordered some of the tree blocks and the rainbow stacker and hope to set up a play area for him similar to yours! So thank you so much for the inspiration! I will be donating all the plastic toys left over from my older daughter to a local charity :)

  • Love this site! Some people think they need to buy plastic toys/noisy toys for their children but learning opportunities from them are very limited were as activities like this gives endless learning opportunities for children. They are so cheap to do but often they are more engaging. Plastic toys are so boring and most play repetitive tunes.Keep up the great work!

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  • elham

    this looks wonderful! : ) i LOVE your blog! it’s inspiring and i hope to use some ideas from it :) thanks for sharing

  • Alissa

    Love your blog!! I have done several of your activities with my children and they have loved them as well. Very accessible even for a non-crafty person such as myself.

    Could you please let me know where you got your play logs from or how you made them?

  • Irene

    I sort of did things like this without even realising that this is what I had done… thanks for the post, really enjoyed looking through it.
    Could you post some play areas for kids that are past 18 months too, I have a 14 month old and wanting to see what would be appropriate for older kids, thanks!