“The tiny child’s absorbent mind finds all its nutriment in its surrounding. Here it has to locate itself and build itself from what it takes in. Especially at the beginning of life must we therefore make the environment as interesting and attractive as we can. “ – Maria Montessori (The Absorbent Mind)
We set up Montessori spaces for our son from birth. He has also been given a lot of freedom of movement from birth and the result has been very good gross motor skills, body awareness, confidence and independence. He is very aware of his capabilities and doesn’t take uncalculated risks. I really believe these have been largely due to the environment. I have shown his spaces during the symbiotic period. Those spaces were temporary. Because we were not in our home for the first 7 weeks of his life, we created small but temporary spaces to meet his needs. Once home, he spent most of his time in his room, and because it was prepared for him, he had freedom to move. I just observed and made simple modifications to the room when needed but never really got in his way or tried to help him and he figured it out. So let me show you his room!
There are usually four areas considered in a Montessori Infant room. They are Sleeping, Feeding, Movement and Physical Care. We chose to not include the feeding area in his room as we did not want any adult furniture in the space It’s not a large room and I just felt a nursing chair would take up too much space so we had the 3 areas. We also did not want to introduce ants or roaches so no food was allowed in the room.
The sleeping area: This area just consists of a floor bed. He napped on the floor bed and started out the night on it. He slept in our bed for the rest of the night. In our training, a mattress on the floor is what is recommended but my husband felt he should have a bed since we sleep in a bed and I’m so glad we reached that compromise. You can see him in the video below at 5 months trying to figure out how to climb unto the bed. They were a few times when he bumped the wood but it was nothing a little hug and kiss did not solve and when that happened, you could see the change to his method the next time he tried. I cannot recommend the floor bed enough. It has been a big key to his independence. Although he climbs into his bed to chill or play, he has not yet climbed into it to go to sleep but when he wakes up, he sometimes just stays and plays or he comes to find us. We have found it to be really safe and never have to worry about him falling or jumping out of bed. We also didn’t have to watch the monitor once he started crawling because he could come to us when he needed us.
Trying to climb his bed at 5 months old.
The movement area: I have discusssed the movement area in this post. This was his movement area. This large mirror was amazing. Once he started slithering at 5 months, I would leave him at the edge of his rug, go into our room acrross the hall and I could watch him in the mirror. He could also see me and knew to head back in my direction when he was done.
At the mirror at 5 months old. Still building that body schema
Selecting a toy from his shelf at 5 months
The Physical Care Area
When preparing this room, we thought about the changes that would be needed after the first year. Instead of an armoire or traditional changing table, we had this shelf built. We plan to add a pole for hangers once he is comfortably walking so that we can hang a few choices of clothes for him daily and he can choose what he wants to wear. the cubbies on the right will hold his basics i.e. pants, vests, socks etc. They will all be accessible to him. For now, the blue and white baskets hold his clothes the brown basket holds his diapers, blankets etc. the things I need to dress his up (comb, lotion etc.) were in the small basket to the left.
Some people hang mobiles above this area but my training suggested that these times of providing physical care were a good time to connect and form relationships, as well as collaborate with the child. So I didn’t hang one and I have to say I think it was best because we would talk to him, point out his body parts, ask him to put in his hands and lay other foundations for collaboration. Now at 10 months, he actually responds and can point out several body parts and put in his hands, legs or head when asked to. I would have loved to have a picture on the wall but we had issues with the paint and decided not to.
We also have a closet where I store his other clothes, supplies and toys. Before having him, I organized his things in bins by month. This has made it easier to find things when they were needed.
That’s it! We wanted a simple, orderly, beautiful, easy-to-keep-clean room. The things we considered are the colors of the wall, curtains, carpet, ceiling and furniture. We wanted a calm but pleasant feel in the room and I think we achieved that. The floors and carpet are easy to clean, as are the curtains. He can see the whole room from any point. As soon as you walk in, you know it’s his room. He knows it too.
It was quite simple to put this room together but I truly believe the time he spent here in his first six months, laid the foundation for his confidence in movement. He knows his abilities and is very aware of his body. You can literally see him calculating and trying to figure out whether he is able to walk or stretch to reach a specific distance and if he can he does and if not, he gets down and crawls or makes adjustments needed to reach without hurting himself.
The one thing I wish we had more of is pictures/art. You can see the frames beside the shelf but our walls/paint did not cooperate. We also started the mural by his bed but had to stop for the same reason. We have recently found a solution, so with the next set of changes we make to his space, we’ll add some.
I cannot stress how important the prepared environment has been for us. We have really seen the benefits of an environment that supports the child.
I’ll write another post detailing the changes we made once he became very mobile and the changes I am making now that he’s walking.
This post was written for my friend who just had a baby.Congrats lady! 🙂 Welcome to the world little guy! I can’t wait to meet you.
Live a Good Life!