“The greatness of the human personality begins at the hour of birth.”
Montessori The Absorbent Mind.
Becoming a parent is one of the most challenging and satisfying aspects of life. Children are given to us as the most precious gift.
There is not that much that is in our control, however, we need to give ourselves some credit for accepting this challenge and taking responsibility for their development, safety, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being. I would love to share some thoughts on doing Montessori with babies from newborn to 3 months of age.
First, three months of a child’s life can be extremely intense, especially for first-time mums and dads. Learning to soothe young babies, differentiate tones of their crying, give yourself selflessly 24 hours a day to be with your beautiful, precious, demanding undivided attention and all your strength newborn child.
“It begins with a knowledge of his surroundings. How does the child assimilate his environment? He does it solely in virtue of one of those characteristics that we now know him to have.
This is an intense and specialized sensitiveness in consequence of which the things about him awaken so much interest and so much enthusiasm that they become incorporated in his very existence. The child absorbs these impressions not with his mind but with his life itself.” Maria Montessori.
The Montessori method helps to bring advice and support in establishing a close relationship with your child from the very start, creating an environment that meets the baby’s needs, changes and evolves along with your baby.
Not every aspect of the Montessori approach is going to fit each family’s unique style and parenting beliefs, but it will certainly enrich and make your experience of raising the child more satisfying. Just pick and choose what resonates in your heart and goes along with your family life.
Baby Home Environment
“The child has a different relation to his environment from ours… the child absorbs it. The things he sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul. He incarnates in himself all in the world about him that his eyes see and his ears hear.” Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori emphasized the importance of the environment. It needs to be appropriately organized to meet the child’s ability and desire to explore the world around them from birth.
Main characteristics of Montessori Nursery:
- attractive and pleasant to an eye
- not overly stimulating
- allows the child to move freely
Often you will find:
- floor bed
- mirror attached to a wall
- soft rug next to the mirror
- art picture on a wall (where a child can see it)
- baby care area
- nursing chair
A Montessori floor bed – usually just a mattress on the floor – is there for babies to allow them to move freely. The child is encouraged to choose when to go to sleep and when to wake up. Transition to the floor bed from Moses basket normally happens when a baby turns two months. It can be a convenient option for those who choose to co-sleep.
There are different floor bed styles to choose from:
- single or double size mattress
- floor bed frame
- wooden frame for bed with legs of the bed removed
- infant bed
There are numerous amazing examples of Montessori nursery setups out there. Why Not Montessori gives a tour of her beautiful Montessori nursery room in this video. The colors and details of the room are carefully chosen, every aspect of it presents a purpose and safety is a great priority.
Connection between mattresses and SIDs
On a side note. Not many people are aware of the connection between toxic gasses in mattresses and SIDS:
James Sprott, OBE, a New Zealand scientist and chemist, states that crib death is caused by toxic gases, which can be generated from a baby’s mattress. He says chemical compounds containing phosphorus, arsenic and antimony have been added to mattresses as fire retardants and for other purposes since the early 1950’s. A fungus that commonly grows in bedding can interact with these chemicals to create poisonous gases (Richardson 1994).
These heavier-than-air gases are concentrated in a thin layer on the baby’s mattress or are diffused away and dissipated into the surrounding atmosphere. If a baby breathes or absorbs a lethal dose of the gases, the central nervous system shuts down, stopping breathing and then heart function. These gases can fatally poison a baby, without waking the sleeping baby and without any struggle by the baby. A normal autopsy would not reveal any sign that the baby was poisoned (Sprott 1996).
New Zealand company seems to have an answer to the problem. Aside from buying a toxic-free organic mattress for your child – which can be very costly – they suggest wrapping the baby’s mattress to avoid contact with toxins. Incredible, but according to this article, they had 100% success. If you are interested to buy one – here is where you can find it: Toxin Shield Mattress Cover.
I personally strongly believe in the great benefits of co-sleeping. In our case, we found a mattress wrap that fits a large mattress and protects our baby from toxic infusions. If you are skeptical about it, I suggest reading this book: “The Cot Death Cover-Up” This information is for educational purposes only. It does not provide medical advice. The information shared here is meant to encourage you to make your own decisions based on your own research.
A mirror on the wall in baby’s room
The mirror on the wall provides a great perspective for the baby. He or she can look around, see themselves in the mirror. In addition to mobile, the floor play area is an entertaining play spot for the baby as they do get bored.
Also when laying on the floor baby is safe, she is encouraged to look around from side to side, up at the mobile, and in the mirror. This position is perfect as it creates a safe environment for the baby to move freely and develop, also it will help to avoid flat head syndrome.
Wall art in baby’s room
Paintings and pictures. Place them where your baby will see them – above the changing table, in front of their car seat, attach to mobile. In the beginning, babies are able to see only about 20 to 30.5 centimeters and cannot differentiate tones of colors, hence, ONE-month-old infants are able to focus on the black, white, and red colored pictures. In the month of TWO, they can focus on primary colors and more complicated shapes.
Check out these gorgeous baby watercolor art printables
Mobiles play a very significant role in the Montessori approach as an educational tool for infant’s learning to develop their eye focus and concentration. Appropriate mobiles can be used from the very start.
Mobiles assist infants in developing concentration, a visual focus at different distances, development of cognitive order and comparisons, size differentiation, detection of changes in light, distance perception, hand-eye coordination, motor control, the distinction of shape and line, distinction of color.
- paint small branches
- let the paint dry,
- make a cross by tying branches together,
- ask your child to cut out some colorful shapes, for example, butterflies
- hang them off the mobile
- attach mobile safely for your little treasure to enjoy.
DIY baby mobiles
Here are a couple of ideas for DIY baby mobiles:
Please, remember to place mobile above child’s chest, not their face for safety reasons, and never leave your child unsupervised.
Pediatricians urge parents to read to their children from birth, as it is essential for their language and brain development. Books that are highly recommended by a Montessori community are the ones with realistic pictures, pictures with black and white patterns, books with people’s faces.
There is nothing in this world that will delight your cherub as much as seeing your face close to them, watch you and interact with you.
Talking to your baby when they are awake, the outside time when they are concentrating on something is very important. When a child looks at your facial expressions they learn to recognize and relate to different emotions.
Massage is an amazing way to bond with the child. Soft-touch – sensory stimulation that calms the child. Touch is essential for brain development and important for skin-to-skin contact.
Using massage oils helps to keep the baby’s skin hydrated. Here is our favorite baby massage we do every day. I would recommend using natural oils for massage – almond, coconut, and mustard oils are the best choices.
Nappy change time and baby dressing.
When changing a baby it is only natural to engage in conversation. It is the best time to give the child undivided attention.
When putting on clothes – show every piece before putting it on and speak as you dress the child. Always let them know what you are about to do – talk them through every step of the process.
For families with older siblings it is a brilliant opportunity to incorporate Practical Life and invite older siblings to help take care of the baby with supervision from parents, for example:
- fold clothes
- give a massage
- restuck nappies and wipes for changing table
- choose clothes for baby to wear
- make sensory toys (making sure there are no loose parts)
- clean changing mat
- choose music for the baby to listen
Baby and nature
Nature outings are very pleasant for little ones. Outdoors provide such a rich spectrum of learning sensorial experiences – sounds of birds singing, waves crashing on the shore, grass in baby’s fingers.
If your baby enjoys tummy time, he or she may enjoy laying on the side on the picnic rug at the beach or in the park where he or she will be able to feel grass or sand with fingers.