I absolutely love Montessori for babies. I’m not rigid about following every single recommendation for Montessori, but following the spirit of Montessori has made me a more confident, curious parent.
One of the biggest critiques I get about Montessori is that it is impractical. Montessori advises against many common products (swings, bouncers, cribs) that make our lives as parents easier, but I will always advocate that any parent prioritize their mental health over any baby recommendation that comes their way. I only want to share what I’ve learned about the why behind these Montessori recommendations. I really do believe there is some powerful wisdom in it that can serve our children and ourselves.
Respect for the Child
All humans, no matter how small, deserve the respect we’d give a human at any other stage of life. This means talking through everything you’re doing, before and while doing it, and avoiding baby talk.
For example, during diaper changes, I would say something like, “I’m going to pick you up now. Then I’m going to change your diaper now. I’m going to lift your arms up and pull your shirt off.”
I’m human, I feel rushed, and I get tired. I didn’t do this at every diaper change. But I found that when I did do it, I was able to savor the moment and appreciate the connection with my baby. It slowed me down and ultimately found that it helped calm both of us in some of the crazier moments.
Freedom of Movement
In a safe environment, freedom of movement for infants supports the development of gross motor coordination, balance, and spatial awareness. This allows them to learn about their body and the environment.
Products that promote freedom of movement are:
Floor Bed: The floor bed is used instead of a crib. It gives them more choices in their sleep routine, develops their ability to recognize when they are tired, and lets them decide when they get in and out of bed. I get tons of questions about floor beds and will write an entire post about it. This sounded crazy to me at first.
Topponcino: This is a thin pillow/mat that can be used to transition the baby from your arms to where the baby will rest, maintaining the temperature and texture of where they were held. I’ve also seen people bring it to the dining table so their infant can be a part of family meals!
Again…I’m human! We used a bouncer and a swing with our son because having him upright was the only way he wouldn’t cry endlessly from gas pain, or spit up all of his milk. I did use them less than I think I would have if I hadn’t known about the value of giving him lots of time on the floor.
Spend more time observing, and less time trying to lead/entertain them. One of the most powerful skills an infant has is their ability to concentrate, so there’s no need to stop that to show them something new.
A product that supports observation:
Montessori Mobiles: These are a series of 4 mobiles that can be switched as the baby develops their capacity to perceive different colors/patterns. They are simple and beautiful and build their natural ability to concentrate. We set these up on the floor with a mirror. It was fascinating (and relaxing!) to sit back and observe these in his first 12 weeks.