My husband and I knew from the time my daughter was about 2 years old that Montessori was the right educational choice for our family but it took almost two additional years to realize that Montessori was the right parenting choice for our family as well. In that time our two children moved quickly beyond anything resembling babyhood, so when I began to read, research, and put into practice practical Montessori strategies all of the sections on babies were just a little too late. The silver lining of sorts is that now that I am in my early thirties I am experiencing a baby boom through friends! This post is dedicated to all of my friends with babies.
I am still very inspired by the Montessori baby literature even if it doesn’t apply to me directly anymore. If I could go back in time to the birth of my oldest I would implement the following Montessori inspired ideas. *One caveat: I am not a Montessori purist, I believe in the philosophy, but like to apply it practically. If you are looking for a purist take on Montessori from infant-hood I highly recommend Kylie at How we Montessori*
- The mobile: We did have a mobile when my daughter was born, it was brightly colored and played a pretty annoying song. I wish I had known enough about child development to find more appropriate or make my own mobile(s) like Sara at Feeding the Soil. I love how it gives the baby something to focus on which is serious hard work for an infant!
- A “movement space”: Even when my daughter was born I understood the importance of “tummy time” and having space for the baby to move around and test out her growing strength. What I like about the Montessori approach to this same idea is that you dedicate a space in the child’s bedroom or family room for this practice. The movement space includes a mat, an acrylic mirror, and sometimes things to pull up on in front of the mirror. If you have ever been around a baby you know they love looking at the baby in the mirror. Tummy time was often an unpleasant experience for my oldest, but I think if we had put a mirror next to her she might have actually enjoyed it. Some examples of this movement space can be found at Montessori Moms.
- From bottle (or breast) to cup: Down with the sippy cup! 🙂 Montessori advocates to cut out the middle man. Young children are capable of drinking from a cup so why don’t we let them? The cup is actually what made me fall in love with Montessori when I saw my then 18 month old drinking water from a cup. The sippy cup is an unnecessary step in the weaning process. If you have ever witnessed a child move from sippy cup to regular cup you know they tip the cup too far and make lots of messes, which is why you use the sippy cup in the first place to avoid the spills so why prolong the inevitable learning curve. I also love how the cup forces the child to sit down (or at least stop running) to take a drink which is a healthy habit we pushed to instill later so why not break the habit before it becomes one. We still fell a little into the sippy cup trap even after seeing my daughter’s capabilities, remember how we were slow to connect school and home, but I do think Montessori schooling helped push us to move beyond the sippy cup earlier as both kids were fully in cups by 2 years old.
- One last thing I would change: I wouldn’t have been so hard on myself. Although every decision felt like the most important thing in the world, six years later it seems silly that I lost sleep over it.
Every day is a new day to try again for both child and parent.