Favourite Montessori and Waldorf Christmas Presents for a Two-Year-Old

waldorf and montessori gift ideas for a two-year-old

I may not be breaking out the Christmas tree or festive tunes quite yet, but I have started thinking about Christmas gifts.

When it comes to buying for my kid, I really value suggestions from people who share my philosophies on parenting, education, stewardship, and the like. I try to be very careful in my selection, keeping things simple and to a minimum. So I thought I’d share the best-loved gifts I’ve purchased for my daughter. As many of you know, I’m really inspired by Waldorf and Montessori philosophies of childhood and education, so my gifts are naturally influenced by them.

I only feel comfortable recommending products that we’ve personally tried and loved. These are all gifts that Lydia received for Christmas last year when she was two. So we’ve had almost a year to enjoy and evaluate them. I have no qualms about recommending them! They have gotten much love and use.

I hope you are inspired by them, too!

Waldorf Doll (Bamboletta)

Bamboletta Waldorf Doll - Christmas gift ideas for a 2-year-old

This was our big splurge item last year — by far Lydia’s most expensive gift. But oh, she has gotten a lot of love!

The Waldorf philosophy of education emphasizes open-ended play, natural materials, beauty, and simplicity. All of these elements are found together in Waldorf-style dolls.

They are generally made of natural materials like wool and cotton and have very simple faces so that children can project a wide range of emotions onto them. The wool is naturally antibacterial, and slowly absorbs the smell of home, so that the doll will always remind the child of home. Significantly, Waldorf dolls don’t “do” anything (like cry, drink, pee, close their eyes, etc), unlike many contemporary dolls, because all of those things limit what the child can do and imagine with his or her doll. I find them absolutely beautiful and have fallen more in love with them over the last year.

I did a lot of searching, and have found that I love Bamboletta dolls most. They have, in my opinion, the most beautiful faces. They’re actually on the more affordable side, too. They are handmade in BC, Canada, with natural fibers like wool, mohair, and silk, and stuffed with locally-sourced wool. Every doll is unique, and comes with a name and birth certificate. They generally range in price between $130-$250, depending on size and other details. I decided to go with a Little Buddy since they are more affordable, and a good size for a toddler.

Waldorf doll - Bamboletta

So Etta came to join Lydia’s toy family last Christmas. She became best friends with Lydia’s sock monkey, Present, and their shenanigans together are never-ending.

I completely intend to eventually buy our next baby a Bamboletta as well, even if it’s a boy. Every little boy deserves a huggable little companion, too!

Also: I have since purchased more handmade outfits from Bamboletta, and the customer service is out of this world.

And I just want to mention this tiny, random detail: Etta smells absolutely amazing!! She was shipped to us with a tiny bar of natural goat milk soap in the box (specially formulated for washing her cotton skin), and whatever essential oils they used in that soap make everything that comes near it smell like heaven. It sealed the deal for me.

(Note: I am not affiliated with Bamboletta in any way; I’m just crazy about their products.)

Schylling Junior Helper Mop

Yarn mop. Montessori gift ideas for a 2-year-old

The rest of Lydia’s Christmas presents fell in the Montessori Practical Life camp. This mop is one of them.

The Montessori philosophy, like Waldorf, emphasizes giving children high-quality, child-sized materials made with durable, natural materials. This shows respect for the child and encourages her to care for her materials and her environment. Montessori also emphasizes allowing children to do things for themselves, recognizing that children like to imitate adults and contribute to the household.

I got Lydia this simple yarn mop and she absolutely loves it. (It’s not the most incredible quality, but you can actually do the job with it. Not like many of those cheap play items from Toys R Us.) Mopping is an activity that she really enjoys when she has her own mop. I’m not joking: when I say, “Lydia, do you want to come help me mop?” she runs to get her own.

Yarn mop. Montessori gift ideas for a 2-year-old

And importantly, it has stood up to a year of use just fine, and will continue to be used for years to come.

Playsmith Kid’s Big Tool Set

Tool set. Montoessori gift ideas for a 2-year-old(She got this from Grandma, at my request.)

This tool set contains a leaf rake, garden rake, shovel, and hoe. The handles are made of wood and the heads are made of metal. Again, the quality isn’t perhaps the most outstanding, and the paint has gotten some wear and chipping, but overall the items have all held out well, especially for the price.

Toddler shovel - Montessori

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALydia loves to do whatever Mommy or Daddy is doing, and these tools give her a chance to work alongside us outside.

Tiny Cleaver

Tiny cleaver - Perfect knife for a toddler. Montessori gift for a two-year-oldIt is my firm belief that a two-year-old should have her very own knife. (What, like you don’t have any weird beliefs?) Being able to prepare food is an essential life skill that can’t start being practiced too early; and cutting is a vital part of it. Kids need to learn to use knives!

I had a hard time finding a good knife that was small enough for a toddler, high-quality, easy to use, and safe. I tried some crinkle cutters which were decent but I wasn’t completely satisfied. I searched high and low until I finally came across the lovely little cleaver from Michael Olaf (a distributor or Montessori materials.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This little 6.5-inch stainless-steel beauty only costs $4.50 plus shipping and has been totally worth it. I love the sense of confidence and self-worth I can see when Lydia works with her knife. I hear so much pride in her voice as she says, “I’m going to get my knife!” It’s perfect for her little hands. It’s sturdy and sharp enough to cut things like chicken but not so sharp that I worry about her cutting herself. (AT ALL.) The blunt tip prevents accidents and the cleaver style keeps her fingers out of the way when pushing down.

Seriously, it’s perfect.

Stacking Cups

Stacking cups. Perfect gift for a two-year-old

Okay, so this isn’t really a Montessori or Waldorf item, though it does have some of the qualities of both: it’s an open-ended toy that promotes a wide range of learning.

It contains control of error because the cups won’t properly stack unless you do it in the right order. Playing with them teaches lessons in spacial awareness, size, geometry, etc.

They can also be used imaginatively: these cups have acted as drinking cups, bowls, caves for toy animals, flippers for her feet (don’t ask), and more. They’re also fun in the bath tub.

She has also played colour-matching games with them, pairing same-coloured cups together or filling them with same-coloured pom-poms.

Playing with stacking cups

A friend once described them as “the ultimate toy,” and I have to admit, these stupid cheap plastic cups have been one of the most-used items I’ve purchased for her. I highly recommend them. Babies can enjoy them, and Lydia still plays with them regularly at age three.

And that’s about it! What have been some of your best gift purchases for a toddler?

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  1. I needed these ideas so bad! Unfortunately, my littlest would need to be watched very closely with a knife although it is a wonderful idea to let them cut their own food.
    Heidi @ Barefoot and Paleo recently posted..Paleo Molasses Spice Cookies (Egg-Free, Grain-Free)My Profile

  2. Is the meat cleaver a better shape for littles than, say, a steak knife? I let my 3-year-old help, but I always end up guiding her hand, because I’m afraid the knife is all wobbly and she’s going to slice a finger. Just wondering if I need better tools or if my little just needs to develop some hand strength.

    I love all of your ideas. And I am coveting a bamboletta doll for my child, but instead I am making a doll for her this year (and stuffing it with wool roving!). (There are some simple-ish doll patterns on etsy. It’s not going to be as lovely, but I like the price tag better).

    Also, I’ve got to say, I love how my 3-year-old is really starting to blossom with creative play. But she also has this bouncy gymnast, climbing streak, and so for her birthday we got her a trampoline. It’s her most favorite thing. Also, we have gymnast rings in the garage (our home gym area) and she plays on them multiple times a day. Every day. I always think of the creative play types of things to get for her, but sometimes the active play toys are her favorite.

    Thank you for the list! Can you let us know what you get Lydia for Christmas? I’m always curious to see what you do with her, since our eldest is the same age. Thanks!!
    Karen recently posted..Organic Chest Rub for Coughs and Colds, 2 oz with Eucalyptus and Fir Essential Oils by SunnysideSkincareMy Profile

    • Hi Karen! I personally find the cleaver to be a much better shape than any other kind of knife. It is virtually impossible for her to cut herself. She would really have to hack around to do any damage. The absence of ridges/teeth is key, as well as the wide blade.

      Lydia’s getting to be quite the active little mover, too, so I think we could use some active play toys, too! Any suggestions? :)

      And I was hoping to share the gifts we’re getting this year as well . . . we’ll see if I can squeeze in a post. Thanks for your interest!

  3. I foresee using your blog more and more as my husband and I become parents. Thank you so much for sharing these gifts that have been useful and well loved!! I get absolutely overwhelmed when I go to the toy stores, so I really appreciate posts like this. I second what Karen said – please share what you and Ben get for Lydia this year! :-)

  4. Such a cute Waldof doll, I have just discovered these dolls as a neighbour makes them. I just wish I had young family member to give one too. Enjoyed your post.
    Marina recently posted..Waldorf DollsMy Profile

  5. We are most likely going to stock up on some art supplies and an easel this Christmas. IKEA has wooden easels for only $15 so we will probably go that route. We have that tool set as well and love it. One of our most used toys is a set of large plastic animals (these ones http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Resources-Jumbo-Farm-Animals/dp/B0009K6K50) and they are fabulous. I originally wanted a wooden set but these ones are easier to clean when they go outside with us :) I think we will ask grandparents to just maybe purchase some swim lessons or a museum membership :)

  6. Hi

    what a shame that one of the biggest points of the Waldorf education and their dolls has gone astray here which is that it is left to the child’s imagination to form the face, eyes and mouth are only ever so slightly suggested. The doll on this webpage and the Morvan dolls are the complete opposite of Waldorf appealing to the adult and taking away the opportunity for the child to only have an ever so slight hint of something and to discover the rest for itself.

  7. You need to update this for 3 and 4 year olds, Kathleen! ;-)

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