Montessori education is all about supporting the full development of children by giving them the independence to discover and develop skills that interest them. But what age can you start Montessori? You might be surprised to find out that you don’t have to wait until your child is kindergarten or school-age though. Montessori can begin right from birth!
Most of the core principles of Montessori philosophy can easily be adapted to suit infants and babies too. The following are tips for bringing Montessori for babies and infants into your home.
Montessori for Babies & Infants At Home
Raising a Montessori Baby: Core Principles of Montessori & How to Apply Them for Babies and Infants
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Here are some of the fundamental aspects of Montessori and how you can adapt them to care for your baby or infant:
- Encourage independence: Babies and infants need a lot of help and guidance but you would be surprised what they can achieve given a little more freedom. Infants can drink from real cups and climb up onto chairs (this special climbing high chair is fantastic) and eat at the table with adults before the age of 1.
- “Follow the child”: Observe your baby and try to understand what skill they are really concentrating on. If they seem interested in language, concentrate on chatting to them. Does your infant want to climb anything and everything? Provide safe equipment, like the Pikler triangle, to help them master that skill faster.
- Show respect: Even newborns like to know what is going on to feel at ease. Talk them through everything you are doing. For example, tell your baby “I’m going to roll you over now” rather than just flipping them over.
- The “prepared environment”: One of the most vital concepts in Montessori! If you’re “following your child”, you should know exactly what they’re interested in.
Make sure your infant’s environment has objects which interest them and be sure to make anything your infant needs accessible. Toys and materials they can’t reach are frustrating. Try bringing everything down to your child’s level with low shelving and units.
Talking to your baby is so important to encourage language development!
Holding an entirely one-sided conversation can feel silly but there are some great ways you can talk to your baby and still feel like a sane person.
- Ask questions – “can you hear the birds singing?” but make sure to pause, as if for an answer, afterwards to help your baby learn the art of conversation.<
- Tell them what is happening – this goes hand in hand with showing respect.
- Show and describe items – don’t forget to bring things close so they can touch and feel.
- Respond to and repeat their sounds – these are your baby’s first attempts at conversation!
The most important thing to remember is to always use real language. Don’t use baby talk or dumb things down and give the real names for everything.
Babies and infants learn new movements incredibly fast and before you know it you will be chasing a toddler around.
Newborns and infants love to move around and explore their newfound freedom. The best thing you can do for your baby or infant is to allow this exploration of movement, whilst making sure they feel safe and secure.
It may seem daunting to let your infant use climbing equipment but if you are watching closely, without interfering, you will find they are usually very aware of their own limits.
Try to keep newborn and baby environments as ordered and calm as possible. Too much change and too many things can be overwhelming for a tiny mind.
At a young age, be sure to introduce new experiences and a few key Montessori baby toys, but do it slowly and respectfully.
Even as your baby gets older, too much choice can actually be detrimental. Make sure to provide just a few things they may be interested in and rotate the activities regularly, to keep things fresh.
Check out the full list of recommended Montessori toddler toys here.
You can still provide a multi-sensory experience for babies and young infants without going overboard.
- Soft/fluffy blankets are a great way to experience different textures.
- Gentle music is a wonderful introduction to new sounds (and is great for cognitive development too).
- Montessori baby mobiles such as these are beautiful and not too overwhelming for newborns.
- Treasure baskets in each room, filled with everyday household items can entertain infants for ages. There are countless opportunities for different textures, smells and sounds.
Being thoughtful about how you introduce your baby to the world around them will help both of you experience things in a whole new way, and sets the groundwork for a life of learning and fun!
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