Part 1: Montessori for Infants (0-6 Months)
Contrary to what some might believe, the Montessori method is not just for school-aged children. Through a five part mini series of blogs, we will be showing you how to introduce Montessori principals for your child from birth. Yes, you read correctly. Montessori education is truly a way of life and can begin for a child as early as a newborn.
For the first six months of the child’s life, it is important to mimic the environment they recently emerged from - the womb. This means keeping his or her surroundings quiet, dark and soothing. The nursery should be decorated in soft neutral colors that are easy for the child’s transitioning eyes. There is truly no need for brightly colored mobiles, wallpaper or decor in the nursery. This doesn’t mean the nursery can’t be decorated at all but rather to decorate with simple, beautiful and realistic works of art rather than bright or flashy cartoon characters. For the first three months of a child life, a crib is entirely unnecessary. Children of this age would much prefer to be nestled tightly into a moses basket. My preference over the moses basket is the Dock-A-Tot, a multi-functional lounging, playing, chilling, resting and snuggling dock for babies and tots. Young children aged 0-3 months also much prefer high-contrast in their vision field, which is actually quite shallow at this age (about 30cm). Anything with a high contrast that is simply black and white (books, toys, etc) will resonate highly with a young child of this age. Children from 0-3 months also have a natural attraction to the human face and are content looking at photographs as well.
As for play, allow many opportunities for children aged 0-6 months to build their muscles. As the family gathers in one common area of the home, set up a soft blanket or play mat in the center of the room and allow the baby to observe the happenings in the room. Children aged 0-3 months have an extremely absorbent mind. Everything they are seeing and hearing is the first time ever for them, so their brains are working overtime by simply absorbing the information that their eyes, ears and other senses are taking in. Because of this, they don’t need to be taught language. In order to teach a baby to have a rich vocabulary, you must foster a positive and rich vocabulary-filled environment for them to soak up and thrive in.
Brightly colored mobiles and playmats are entirely unnecessary for the young child (aged 0-6 months) in a Montessori environment. A simple mat and a wooden A-frame (aka baby gym) are the perfect setup for play time. The child will eventually learn to reach and grasp the frame, gaining early access to their fine motor skills, muscle control and dexterity.
Other toys that can help improve fine motor development in a newborn (aged 0-6 months) are plush toys, cloth books, crocheted balls and small rattles. Since I brought up rattles, specifically silver rattles are wonderful because they’re small enough for the child to grasp fairly immediately but will take some time for the child to build the muscles to lift the rattle. Upon building the muscles to lift a silver rattle, the child will discover a new aspect, yet again - that this toy creates a pleasant chime. Children love music. Silver rattles are also wonderful for teething because they can give a sense of “hot and cold” as the child gnaws.
I’m particularly fond of wooden toys. Aesthetically, they’re beautiful, long-lasting and timeless. They can stick around for generations and eventually become an heirloom. The natural texture of wooden toys is such a better sensory experience for a child as well.
I mentioned previously that there is no need for brightly colored mobiles in a young child’s environment. Mobiles using a high contrast such as black and white mobiles however, would be perfect for a young child in this age range. Mobiles that reflect light (mirror, gems, a few sequins) would also be particularly appealing toys for a 0-6 month old as well.
Thanks for reading!
dailymontessori.com was used as a source for this article