Applying Montessori Principles from Birth: Month 1

I frequently get asked about materials and activities for each month of the child’s life. I have decided to answer these questions by going back to our pictures and doing posts on what we found useful for each month. This is the first post.

A place for everything: We created the four areas recommended which are: Sleeping, Eating, Movement and Physical care or hygiene.

A place to Sleep: We used this collapsible bassinet. We found it to be perfect and easy to travel with since we had to travel a few times in the first 2 months. It was easy to fit it on a table beside the bed or even on the bed sometimes.

On a table beside our bed
On a table beside our bed. Notice the topponcino

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A place to eat: We had a chair in the corner of the room and a nursing pillow. We also had a small stool for a glass of water, vitamins (for me), a book, a snack,  my phone or anything I needed while nursing.

He ate and slept on demand. In this way we respected his biological rhythms while he adjusted to his new environment and the circadian rhythm.

A place for Physical care: We set up the table so that he is facing the adult during care and can watch the adult’s face. We also kept the process consistent and talked him through what we were doing each time. I wrote about this here.

Changing table
Changing table

Movement Area: A small mat or mattress, a mirror and a mobile. I have written about this area before but I’ll still touch on some of the elements

Movement area
Movement area

Topponcino: I can’t say enough about this little pillow. I made it during my training. It is in almost every picture from his first 2 months. he slept on it, rested on it, was weighed on it. 2 days after he was born about 8 members of our family came to visit and he was passed from person to person and did not wake up. thanks to his topponcino. It provided another sense of order and security. It made it easy to put him down if he fell asleep while being held. I highly recommend a topponcino.

To weigh him, the topponcino was weighed and then he was put on it. This way he did not have to feel the cold surface of the scale
To weigh him, the topponcino was weighed and then he was put on it. This way he did not have to feel the cold surface of the scale
Taking a nap after his bath
Taking a nap after his bath
Sleeping peacefully even though he had been passed around several times
Sleeping peacefully even though he had been passed around several times

Voila Montessori has directions for making a Topponcino

Clothing: We used cloth diapers from the start. Cloth diapers are natural and do not contain chemicals. The child is able to feel the sensation of being wet, a skill which will be helpful for toilet learning later on. I recommend a diaper service for the first 2 or 3 months if you have access to one.

Newborn cloth diaper with cover.
Newborn cloth diaper with cover.

We did not swaddle and made sure he could move freely at all time. When necessary, we covered him with a light blanket or put on some trousers but always with consideration for his ability to move. Even during the first week, we observed him moving his body and were glad he had freedom to do that. This also allows them use and work out their reflexes.

watching his hands and feet move at less than 1 week old
watching his hands and feet move at less than 1 week old
Covered with blanket but still free to move
Covered with blanket but still free to move

Newborn shirt: Instead of the onesie, we used the shirts that have snaps and so we could easily open and close. We could change his diapers easily and did not need to pull the shirt over his face/head to take it off. It also worked for his umbilical cord because it did not touch it till it fell off.  As you can probably tell from the pictures in this post, these shirts, a diaper and sometimes socks made up his wardrobe for the for month.

This is one of the materials that Assistants to Infancy trainees are taught to make. I bought ours from babies r us. The are by carter’s and the tag says layette.

newborn shirt
newborn shirt

We did not use mittens. The hands are one of the child’s points of reference from the womb. If you had an ultrasound during pregnancy, you might have seen the child with his hands by his face. In the first month, they frequently continue to put their hands by their face. Putting mittens on the child breaks this point of reference. My son’s nails were long when we got home from the birth center. I was about to trim them on that first night when my mum told me babies shed their nail by themselves. I was wary but decided to trust her wisdom. We did not cut his nails for the first 2 or 3 months. They were soft just peeled off by themselves and he never scratched himself because they were so soft or maybe he learnt by feeling them against his face but it was never an issue.

Mobiles: We used the munari and octahedron in the first month. He loved both. We even sometimes took the mobile on car rides and they helped!

Watching the munari
Watching the munari

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Watching the octahedron in the mirror
Watching the octahedron in the mirror
Watching the octahedron and raising his hands involuntarily.
Watching the octahedron and raising his hands involuntarily.
Told you we took it on car rides. It helped!
Told you we took it on car rides. It helped!

High contrast images: In addition to his munari, he also really enjoy looking at this black and white book. I also read books to him from the start. One of my favorites to read was 10 little fingers and 10 little toes by Mem Fox.

He loved this book.
He loved this book.

Music: We sang to him, played music and took him outside to listen to sounds.

I sometimes played classical music that I had listened to while pregnant and his reaction was pretty amazing. It was like he recognized it and he would listen so calmly. It was beautiful
I sometimes played classical music that I had listened to while pregnant and his reaction was pretty amazing. It was like he recognized it and he would listen so calmly. It was beautiful

Tummy time: We started giving him the opportunity to spend time on his belly as early as two weeks. It was usually in front on the mirror and we would turn him over as soon as he fussed or seemed tired.

We started giving him the opportunity to spend time on his belly as early as two weeks
We started giving him the opportunity to spend time on his belly as early as two weeks
he was exactly one month old on this day and was able to lift up his head and hold it up for a little bit.
he was exactly one month old on this day and was able to lift up his head and hold it up for a little bit.

Baby Wearing: Instead of a stroller we wore him when we needed to be out and about. This allowed him to maintain some familiar points of reference when we were out of his comfort zone. It also made nursing convenient.

I think this is the Maya wrap.
I think this is the Maya wrap.

Exposure to Nature: I don’t have any pictures but we also spent time outside daily so that he could receive some fresh air, watch the natural mobiles (trees, birds, clouds) and listen to the wonderful music of nature. This also helped him adjust to day and night and the circadian rhythm.

We did not use a pacifier.

Those are some of the ways that we applied Montessori principles during the first month. I hope it helps. I will gradually go through each month. For an overview of the first year, you can read the article I wrote for MariaMontessori.com. I also wrote about supporting the first three months and the symbiotic period which is the first two months. As always comments and questions are welcome. Live a Good Life!

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16 thoughts on “Applying Montessori Principles from Birth: Month 1

  1. Oh, Junnifa! This is all so beautiful. Of the many reasons I am sad that I never was able to get and stay pregnant, loosing the chance to create an infant environment in my home is a big one. So much of what you have here is the way I imagined I’d do things….
    Solu is such a sweet tiny love in that picture of him in his newborn cloth diaper! I love tiny newborn frog legs : )

    1. Thank you so much Starrhillgirl. My heart hurts for the way you feel but I’ll keep hoping/praying that maybe someway somehow you get the opportunity to share the love and knowledge you have with a special little one.

  2. Thank you for this, Junnifa! My friends that I referenced in a post on our teacher page a month or so back delivered their baby last night. I had asked for suggestions for newborn gifts. I sent your article to them on the first year and how timely to see this today. Now I’ve sent this one too! Thank you again. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Jennifer… for reading and for sharing. Congratulations to your friends and welcome to the baby! I do hope they find some helpful ideas.

  3. Wow! What an amazing first month! Thank you for sharing! I agree with you about the topponcino – it was amazing! Also a few baby carriers were key for us. I loved the newborn undershirt, especially for an extra layer of warmth as my daughter was born in the winter (in Canada). Helping the newborn to establish points of reference with those consistent areas for sleeping, eating, diaper changes, and alert/movement time really helped in the long term for us. Hope it was the same for you too!

    1. Thank you Carrie. We also had several (4) baby carriers which we used a lot! They have definitely helped. This is proving to be a wonderful walk down memory lane for me. I do appreciate your contribution and how it shows that the principles and ideas work for children in different countries, climates etc.

  4. This is beautiful, and as a Montessorian trained in the older years (ages 2-12) I am so grateful for this resource :). Keep up the great work!

    1. Thank you so much Kristina! The different planes and subplanes of development are so different and each so amazing. I wish to be trained for all the stages and love that you are trained for 2-12! I hope you’ll come back 🙂

    1. You’re welcome Sandra. The car we were using during that period had a cloth roof so we just poked the paper clip through. You could not tell when we took it out. You can also use velcro.

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