He’s a September baby, and I have these memories of that first winter spent sitting there holding my baby. If he was awake, I was sitting there holding him, wondering what to do next. If I needed to do something that required the use of my arms, there was a stressful moment of tension as I tried to figure out “what to do” with him. I knew I didn’t want to rely on devices like the swing. But it never really occurred to me to put him on the floor unless he was having what I thought of as “floor-” or “tummy-” time. Ahh the little compartments we make of life…
With Sage, I still make sure to spend plenty of time holding, cuddling and carrying her while she’s so sweet and small. But I also give her plenty of time and space to explore and get to know her body and how it moves.
This work is best done on the floor. Here’s why:
- her view is unobstructed. No crib bars, no pack and play mesh. Just a wide open view of the room and everyone in it.
- she is free to move. With a lots of space to move, she does.
- it doesn’t require putting baby into any position that she can’t get herself into or out of. It doesn’t give her an unnatural sense of her own capabilities. It doesn’t prop her up to sit before she can get there herself, it doesn’t dangle her into a false standing position. She is simply on her back until she rolls on to her tummy. She is reaching and stretching and eventually moving.
In the Montessori world, the environment for this kind of “floor-time” is called a movement area. A movement area might look something like this:
The key ingredient is lots of comfortable space. There will be a mat, a blanket, or something soft but supportive for baby to be on. A few yoga mats side-by-side can work. I’ve found quilts are better for movement than other types of blankets (they lie flat while being crawled and squirmed on!).
There may be a mobile suspended above a young baby to look at, or a bell, ring, rattle or grasping toy for babies who are ready to use their hands. At five months, Sage is rolling and creeping to move around, and I sometimes place an object (a skwish, or a open book with beautiful images) just out of reach for her to stretch towards.
Traditionally in the Montessori method, there is a wall mirror from the very beginning, which draws baby’s attention and allows her to watch her own body move. Our family chooses to incorporate the mirror later.
As baby begins to be able to move, there is a low shelf or basket offering a few objects to explore.
Also: if you start to worry about your babe, or feel he is not getting enough people time, or that she’s all alone on a big empty floor — hang out with your baby! Sit on the floor. Talk to your baby. Pick her up for a cuddle. Do some made-up yoga poses to stretch out that breastfeeding back. Sit with him lying between your legs. Read a novel while she rolls around. Talk some more.
It’s all about living life together, while giving your baby space and time to move freely. That’s it.