A new series all about Montessori for babies.
In our book The Montessori Baby we wanted to highlight families from around the world applying Montessori from birth. As there wasn’t space to fit in all their photos and the full interview with each of them, this is the perfect place to let you get to know these families even better.
1. How has Montessori helped you with your baby?
I have been thrilled to find out about Montessori and we have implemented it from birth with Lukas. It has been wonderful to give him the opportunity and freedom to be himself, to trust him and to offer him independence that he has been so happy to have.
Some of the ways we offered him plenty of freedom included giving him lots of time and space to explore his environment on a mat on the floor or outside in nature and also offering him a floor bed in his room from 8 months old, so that he could choose when to get up and have freedom of movement.
Also we spoke to him as a real person from the moment he was born, letting him know what was happening when we were changing and feeding him and also what we were doing in our day to day lives, so he could learn to understand. We had conversations with him even when he couldn’t speak back to us and I sensed that he felt really happy with this communication, knowing what to expect. I feel that all of it has helped me to understand him, tend to his needs easily and to bond with him so well.
It has also involved a lot of inner work for myself as a parent, which has had plenty of its own ups and downs! But overall it has given me a great sense of purpose and I love having the knowledge of the Montessori philosophy and being part of the community.
2. What were your favourite moments when they were a newborn?
I loved observing the new things he was learning constantly. From noticing the first time he started to focus on an object (our window shutters fascinated him!), to seeing his determination to wriggle himself to get somewhere, before he could crawl, to the first time that he rolled over on his own – they were all such exciting moments to see as a parent!
Starting baby led weaning when he was 6 months old was so much fun. We offered Lukas his food on a ceramic plate with a very small metal spoon and used a tiny drinking glass from the start. This way he used what the rest of the family used and learnt to understand how to handle these objects and that they are fragile. We had some breakages, which were great lessons in themselves, but in general he has been careful with handling them.
3. What were some of your baby’s favourite activities?
Lukas has loved having the freedom to move around and we have tried to offer this to him as much as possible – in the house and outside in nature. This has looked different at different ages, but I have always tried to communicate my trust in him and I think he has really thrived with this understanding, developing his own trust in himself from these situations.
We have given him the freedom to explore and climb different park playground equipment that took his interest as soon as he could crawl and were also surprised and delighted to see his determination and ability to climb our full flight of stairs just as he started crawling. We made sure that this was done safely and we were also amazed at his ability to then learn to make his way slowly and carefully back down, going backwards, without really being shown how to do this. It has always been a case of having that trust in him, observing him and following his interests.
He has also loved to be involved in family life and to feel like an active and contributing member of the family. This has included helping to prepare food (from his learning tower that we got second hand and he has loved since he was 10 months old) like whisking eggs for breakfast with his Dad, helping to scrub and throw away the peel from preparing carrots or mixing the batter with a wooden spoon when we have been baking together.
4. What do you wish you would have done differently?
I am fascinated by the Montessori philosophy and I wish that I had read more books about it and listened to more podcasts, before Lukas was born. I learnt the principles and overall philosophy fairly quickly, mainly because I found it so interesting and it felt very right for our family. But I would also love to have delved deeper and learnt even more before he arrived, as there wasn’t much time for us to read for a while after that!
However I have found that listening to audiobooks and podcasts in headphones to be so useful, especially when doing things like cleaning up or cooking once Lukas is asleep for the night. My aim has always been to have knowledge of his development just a little bit ahead of his current age, so that I have a few ideas for activities and what is coming up soon. If I can find time to learn ahead of that timeframe that would be brilliant!
5. Any Montessori advice for new parents for the first 12 months?
I would highly recommend reading Simone’s book! It sums up the philosophy so beautifully and simply and has been a genuine joy to read. It’s also great to refer back to for different ideas and as they grow. I find that I am learning new things most days, even things that I have read before – they tend to resonate on a whole different level as Lukas will have developed so much in that time.
One of the biggest changes that I have made and enjoyed has been the use of positive language. Knowing that Lukas is absorbing everything that we are saying, I have put a lot of effort into the way I say things, For example ‘don’t forget your hat!’ becomes ‘remember to bring your hat!’ or ‘don’t bring your shoes into the house’ becomes ‘ah, our shoes live here in the shoe cupboard!’ Focusing on what to do, rather than what not to do, has taken a while to get used to but it’s really worth it, developing a more positive outlook on life and the world around us for both Lukas and myself.
Also seeing things from Lukas’ point of view focusing on curiosity and exploration has really helped me. So when he has managed to reach something up high that surprised me, I try to share his excitement and curiosity about it and acknowledge how interesting it is, rather than just quickly saying no, getting frustrated and removing him from that place.
I think so much of Montessori is about the mindset and you can learn lots as you go. Accepting that it is and always will be an ongoing process and not putting any pressure on yourself – enjoying it as much as possible.
6. How did your home play a role in your baby’s first months/year?
I think that our home played a huge part in his first year. The day that he learnt to roll, we decided to move our sofa to open up our lounge space, in order to give him the opportunity to move around as much as he can with minimal obstacles in the middle of the room. It has stayed that way ever since! We also subsequently removed our TV(!) which we actually haven’t missed, and placed his shelves where it used to be, so that he had his shelf work in the lounge where we all spent most of our time.
We bought a second hand learning tower for our kitchen which has allowed him to be so much more involved in food prep and to join us in the kitchen. We made a DIY Pikler triangle from a £5 second hand cot that we found on Facebook Marketplace, which he still loves and uses daily. We also re-purposed a cheap long mirror, using it horizontally when he was a baby, and then using it vertically near his wardrobe once he was standing and walking.
Our aim has been to create a ‘yes’ space in as many of the rooms in our home as possible, so that he could explore and enjoy the space as well as us. This has mainly involved re-arranging where things are kept and evolving the space as he grew and learnt new things like reaching new cupboards!
7. Did your baby have a regular rhythm to their days?
We had a rhythm that we tried to roughly keep to, guided mainly by sleep and food! I didn’t sleep much during Lukas’ first year and found the sleep deprivation really challenging. I accepted all the help that we were offered and it made so much difference to the way I felt mentally and physically, when I had managed to have a bit more sleep (even if it was broken sleep!).
8. Anything you’d like to add?
In terms of clothes, we bought nearly everything second hand which saved us so much money, plus it was really fun creating his wardrobe and looking for lovely pieces for him to wear. I mainly looked out for light, cotton clothing which allowed his hands and feet to be uncovered so that Lukas had the opportunity to experience all of the textures around him. We looked for loose, stretchy trousers and tops that enabled him to move easily and as much as he wanted to. We kept the main rooms in the house warm so that he could have less layers on and whenever possible, we would go outside and be in nature, so that he could feel grass and leaves, roll around and explore being in nature.
We also found so many great second hand materials and toys from charity shops, nearly new baby sales and Facebook Marketplace.
Thank you so much Maria for this insight into how you used Montessori from birth. And for being a part of The Montessori Baby book.
You can find more from this series here:
- Montessori for babies with Junnifa from Nduoma Montessori
- Montessori for babies with Theresa from Montessori in Real Life
- Montessori for babies with Neus of Montessorian by Heart
- Montessori for babies with Ahoefa from Raising Yannis
- Montessori for Babies with Jaya from Forest Montessori
- Montessori for babies with Nicole from The Kavanaugh Report