0-2 months, 2-4 months, 4-6 months, 6-12 months, Montessori philosophy

Put your baby on the floor. Like, a lot.


Montessori movement area
If I were to travel back in time to when Jasper was a wee baby, I might just give myself a seemingly crazy piece of advice. “Put your baby on the floor.”

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!).

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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.

Montessori floor time and movement area

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.

For more inspiring movement area images, check out this comprehensive post from Nduoma and this great round up post from How We Montessori.

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Family life, Montessori in the Womb, Montessori philosophy

Montessori from the (very, very) Start

belly shot

I’m thrilled to finally reveal the details behind the “big project” I’ve been working on — one that’s kept me distracted from blogging, and instead, constantly napping: I’m pregnant!

We’re excited to have a new little one joining our family this spring.

I only began learning about Montessori ideas as my now two-year old, Jasper, grew beyond infancy. With this second pregnancy, I’m looking forward to bringing Montessori philosophy into the babe’s life even earlier.

I’ve been thinking about some of things I learned at my infant & toddler Montessori training this past summer — training that starts by focusing on the beginning: the womb as the first environment. (A similar sentiment is one of my favourite quotes from influential Haudenosaunee midwife, Katsi Cook: “Woman is the first environment.” I love discovering these little echoes and connections that join strands of peaceful thought from all over the globe.)

Both Montessori philosophy and modern science tell us child’s absorbent mind begins long before birth, as important growth including emotional attachment and language acquisition begins in the womb, so I’ve been trying to take time each day to acknowledge this little one’s presence and welcome him or her to our family. It’s a different thing, a second pregnancy, and I find I need to work to create a bit of ritual for this daily check-in.

As time passes, I find myself planning what this little one will need in the early days, and where we’ll make space for the few things a baby requires. Soon I’ll start thinking about how to make mental and physical space for that oh-so important symbiotic period.

What were your “must-haves” with a baby (and maybe particularly, for a non-firstborns)? How did you bring Montessori ideas into your home life during early infancy?

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