Raising a Montessori Baby
We just welcomed our third Montessori baby into our home. In fact, he is one week old as of yesterday! I decided a post about how to raise a Monti baby was long overdue. Plus I am over here trying to organize my chaos so it will be helpful to get things in order and put together our sequence.
With our oldest (who turns five next month), we were Montessorish in philosophy but we didn’t have any of the traditional materials. With our second, we grabbed the Montessori mobiles, some traditional materials you might see in a Montessori 0-2 room, and a few Montessori friendly toys. We will be cycling through these items with our newest baby starting with the Montessori mobiles.
The first thing to consider when raising a Montessori baby is the philosophy itself. It really is a lifestyle choice not simply an educational one when applied at home. It impacts and shifts your mindset. I’ve found it quite compatible with following Christ and gentle parenting. It’s been a great fit for our home.
Basic Tenants of Montessori from birth and on:
- Hands on
- Movement based
- One skill set at a time
- Developmentally on point
- Creative/play based
- Adult observes and guides (minimally) vs. teaching
- Control of error built-in
- Intentionally cultivated environment
- Respectful and responsive
Preparing the Guide
In considering and working through the Montessori philosophy, we are doing the work to “prepare the guide” as Montessori puts it. BUT that’s only a piece of preparing the guide. We must do more than simply study the theory. Mindset work and spiritual preparation are a huge. Hold space for this daily.
To prepare to apply Montessori from birth, I highly recommend reading “Montessori from the Start” by Paula Polk Lillard. If you are diving in with a toddler, I highly recommend reading “The Montessori Toddler” by Simone Davies. Davies has also written a Montessori baby book that should be excellent as well. I personally have not read it yet.
Preparing the Environment
The next consideration is the environment itself. I go into more detail here on preparing your Montessori home environment for multiple ages. In this post we will focus specifically on preparing the environment for the first year of life.
My husband and I have given a lot of thought to the environment/culture we want to create in our home. A part of this for us was flushing out our toy philosophy. We look for toys that are:
- Open Ended
- Not loud or obnoxious
- A natural material or a good quality plastic that is safe (although we try not to do much plastic!)
- Developmentally appropriate (for where they are today and where they will be in a few months!)
- Is not a duplicate
- Falls in line with Montessori (especially if educationally related!)
- Not electronic (no tablets, games, phones, etc.)
If you are still developing your toy philosophy in your home, want to pair down, or would like to start a toy rotation, I highly recommend reading Simplicity Parenting.
The Movement Space
Once we’ve given thought to the materials/toys that will be in rotation, the next consideration is the environment. For an infant you will think through sleeping, changing, and a movement for the first 6+ months. In this post i will focus on the movement space.
For some families, this is a space in the infant’s bedroom. For others, this is a space in the common living area. The later made the most sense for our family. We room in with our children under 2 and the girls share the second bedroom/nursery. Plus we spend most of our time in the living room/ kitchen area.
The goal of the movement space is to give the child an area to begin their exploration of the world. The first work of the infant is observation. The baby unconsciously soaks in all that is around him or her starting close and moving further and further out. They are designed to first observe and then explore. The movement space facilitates this well. The baby can see themselves and the room reflected in the mirror as well as the mobile. They can also move freely to their ability/development.
Our movement area is simple. We have a mirror, blanket, and a hook on the ceiling for mobiles. When I initially set up this movement space I fully intended to add a pull up bar but there are so many places to pull up in our home that I ultimately opted not to.
As the baby grows, a small shelf may be added to the area to give the baby access to materials/toys. If the room does not have opportunities to pull up, a pull up bar can be added. This space serves the young infant until their gross motor development takes them away (literally).
The Montessori mobiles support the baby in a developmentally appropriate way as he/she “gradually develops focus on a moving object, tracking of an object, and perception of color and depth. The mobile is changed every two weeks or so to accommodate the infant’s habituation to that particular mobile and to match her progressive visual development” (Polk 44). The first mobiles focus on the visual and the final mobiles are tactile. They overlap a little and are introduced on an approximate timeline (in parenthesis below).
Montessori Mobile Sequence:
- Munari Mobile (0-3 weeks)
- Octahedron Mobile (4-8 weeks)
- Gobbi Mobile (6-10 weeks)
- Dancer Mobile (8-12 weeks)
- Rainbow Mobile (12+ weeks)
- Animal Mobiles (12+ weeks)
- Bell Mobile (8 + weeks)
- Ring Mobile (12+ weeks)
- Puzzle Ball Mobile ( 12/14+ weeks)
- Wooden Musical Mobile (12+ weeks)
- Ribbon Mobile (16+ weeks)
0-1 Materials/Toy Sequence:
This sequence, like the mobiles are based on your observation of the baby. Everything below is not officially “Montessori” but I find them to be in alignment with the philosophy. I’ll likely do another post with more info but for now, here’s our sequence.
- Visual Mobiles (0-3 months)
- Tactile Mobiles and Rattles (2-4 months)
- Wooden Rings (0+ months)
- Puzzle Ball (3+ months)
- Teether Ball (3+ months)
- Interlocking Disks (4 months)
- Glitter Drum (4 months)
- Ball Cylinder (5+ months – when beginning to crawl)
- Teether Rings (4 months)
- Skwish (4 months)
- Winkle (5 months)
- Household Object Basket (4-6 months)
- Ball basket- small balls of different textures (5-6 months – can be pre-crawling and part crawling)
- First blocks – set of 4-6 traditional wooden blocks (6-8 months)
- Egg shakers, bells, drums (7-8 months)
- Palmar Block (8-9 months)
- Egg and Cup (8 months)
- Pincer Block (9 months)
- Peg & Cup (9 months)
- Object Permanence Box (9 months)
- Single Circle Puzzle (9-11 months)
- Three Peg Block (9+ months)
- Single Square Puzzle (9-11 months)
- Single Triangle Puzzle (9-11 months)
- Vertical Ring Stacker (10-12 months)
- Horizontal Ring Stacker (12 months)
- 3 Circles Puzzle (12+ months)
- 3 Shapes Puzzle (12+ months)
- Ball Tracker (12 + months)
- Ball Push Toy (12+ months)
- Imbucare Box (12+ months)
- Peg Box (12+ months)
- Shape sorter (12+ months)
Read more about the mobiles:
Read more about the material/toy sequence:
- Heirloom Kids USA (See item details under each kit)
- Monti kids (See item details under each kit)
- The Kavanagh Report (Excellent Visual Timeline)