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Montessori Baby Guide For 0 To 12 Months Old

Preparing for the arrival of a baby

We can start preparing for the arrival of a new baby from a Montessori point of view, much before the baby is actually born.

Basic needs

Preparing Montessori activities is really thrilling and sometimes we, as parents, can get slightly carried away by our early learning goals. Before embarking on the preparation of all kinds of stimulating activities and materials for your baby, it is worth stopping and making sure that you have everything you need to cover all your new baby’s basic needs.

The warmth and closeness of a mother are, during the first few months, far more important than any material thing you could buy for a child. Nursing, cuddling and time spent in a mother’s arms are paramount for a little baby. Some babies just want to be close to their mother’s body during the first few weeks, but our modern society, unfortunately, doesn’t always allow us to respect this basic human need. Sometimes I have come to read articles allegedly based on the Montessori philosophy that advocate for the achievement of children independence as soon as possible (that is: fast weaning, forcing a child to sleep alone in his bed against his will, etc.). This kind of advice has nothing to do with the Montessori Method, and I would consider it just a personal interpretation of certain authors, given that Maria Montessori, in her books, mentions the long-term benefits of breastfeeding, if nothing else because it keeps a baby next to its mother for as long as possible.  

For many families, babywearing becomes one of the best ways to stimulate their newborn during a busy day. A baby who is carried (or worn) is subjected to numerous stimuli during the day while his parents perform routine daily tasks: he can listen to the sound of a faucet, see his mother turn on the light, listen to her words as she talks on her phone…

It is also extremely important for the child to feel safe and calm at home: the voices and sounds around the baby must be soft and peaceful. We can build the perfect house, decorate the perfect nursery and buy all the Montessori materials in the world, but nothing will help if a baby grows up listening to screaming and fighting day after day. I am aware that this can be one of the hardest parts for many temperamental parents, but it is worth working on bettering our behavior and learning conflict solving techniques, for the sake of the new baby and the family environment we are creating for him.

If you decide to practice co-sleeping, you can still use your nursery (if you have one) for day naps, until you consider that your child is starting to show signs of readiness to start sleeping alone. The basic concept is to never force a child's independence. If he wants to sleep close to his mother, or keep on breastfeeding (and his parents can and want to do it), efforts should be made to respect his level of development and follow the child’s pace.

Security measures

Once the baby’s basic needs have been met, it is time to get to work and begin to prepare a room for the future member of the family.

The baby’s room should be as cozy as possible: we will use soft colours and natural materials. The bed should be placed at floor level and furniture must be appropriate for the size of a child. A safety mirror can be very useful, and a mobile can be placed over the bed (instructions to build one can be found a few paragraphs below). You can also get a simple rattle or a safe grasping toy. 

 

 Baby items with long strings pose a danger of strangulation and should be avoided.

We must make the house ready for a baby who will soon be crawling out of bed and climbing on everything in sight. Our job is to create a safe environment where the baby has enough freedom to explore:

  • If there are stairs or dangerous areas, we will place a baby gate to prevent access to them,
  • Electrical outlets should be protected with baby safety covers, to prevent the introduction of fingers or sharp objects,
  • Cleaning products, medications, sharp knives, razor blades, grinders, and other dangerous objects must be stored in cupboards, entirely outside the reach of a child (even if they climbed on a stool). Some closets and drawers can also be equipped with locks.
  • High dressers and bookcases must be stable, so that they and the appliances and books they contain don’t pose a risk of tipping over and/or falling on the child if he climbs or plays nearby. In case of doubt, it’s better to tether tall dressers to the wall with specially designed straps which can be found in baby shops.
  • We will make sure that the child cannot climb on a sofa or chair and access a window or climb on the railing of the balcony. Otherwise, it will be necessary to fit the windows and balcony doors with security locks or bars and to make sure there are no stools and chairs near them.
  • Hot tubs and swimming pools are very dangerous places to leave a child alone. The risk of drowning is very high, even in a few inches of water. We should never leave an infant or a small child alone in a bathtub, not even for a minute. If we forgot, for example, to bring a diaper to the bathroom, it is best to finish bathing the child, wrap him in a towel and take him with us to the next room to get the missing diapers. We all know how easy it is to get distracted by a beeping phone or appliance, so it’s better to take no risks.
  • Toys and clothing with ties or strings longer than 15 cm (6 inches) can pose a risk of strangulation. Pay special attention to bibs, pyjamas and even your own nightgown or bedding if you co-sleep, since strings can be easily tangled up around a squirming baby’s neck while they sleep.
  • Any small object that could cause choking hazard should be kept out of the reach of children. Household batteries (alkaline batteries) are especially dangerous because of the damage they can cause to the digestive tract, as well as spherical objects such as balls, cherry tomatoes or grapes, which could completely block the airway.

 

Main stages of psychomotor development

Knowing the basic milestones in children psychomotor development can be of great help when deciding which activities are suitable for a baby and which should be left for later.


 Three-and-a-half-month old baby trying to crawl.

 

From zero to three months

A newborn’s sense of sight is very limited, and they cannot see well any object that is more than 30 or 40 cm apart from their eyes (around 12 inches). It is easier for them to recognize high contrast images, especially black and white pictures with little details. 

At this age, they are still unable to move around and their head is too heavy for the muscles of their neck to hold it for longer periods. After the first month, babies begin to strive to hold their head upright and can manage to hold it for a few seconds at a time. As they are about three months of age they learn to rise on their elbows and arms. From this age on they enjoy studying their movements in front of a mirror.

Babies discover their hands and start to grasp objects. This is a good moment to introduce grasping toys and rattles.

From three to six months

Between the age of three and six months, the baby shows the first signs of eye-hand coordination. He learns to pass objects from one hand to the other. He becomes able to purposefully hit and grasp objects within his reach, and he can turn around on his belly in order to reach an object that draws his attention. His vision improves. All of these changes make mobiles very interesting for babies this age.

Around the age of six months, some babies manage to sit up for the first time, although others will need a couple months more to do so, and there is nothing wrong with that.

From six to nine months

Between six and nine months, babies sit and creep on their belly in order to move around. Toward the end of this stage, they begin to crawl on all fours, alternating arms and legs.

From twelve months on

Around the age of twelve months, most children are able to say “mum” or “dad”. They can already grasp small objects between their thumb and index fingers (such as small pieces of cheese, for example); they can place objects inside a box, wave their hand, hit one object against another in order to make noise, purposely drop a toy and pick it up from the ground...

At this age, most children are already propping themselves up and trying to stand on their legs, and some of them are already taking their first steps by their first birthday.

 

Activities for Montessori Babies

Songs and rhymes

All babies are fascinated by the sound of their mother’s voice. Simply talking to a baby in a clear and loving voice is an ideal stimulation during the first few weeks. It’s not really important what you say, as long as you use a friendly and cheerful tone. Sometimes we parents are so tired and sleep deprived that even talking becomes a struggle, and it’s easy to forgo talking to the baby when we are home alone with him.

According to the expert on child neurodevelopment Sally Goddard Blythe, during the early years of childhood we adults tend to overvalue capabilities such as math or reading, and we forget about the benefits of simple lullabies and children's songs, (…) which are vital to prepare the ear, the voice and the child's brain to learn their mother language.

Singing a song or reciting a simple poem on a daily basis are two activities which are extremely easy, effective and pleasant to do with a newborn.

We can choose a poem from a book, or even make up one using simple words that we use often throughout the day or are meaningful to us, such as for example:

 

“I am little Emily Ann,

I have fingers, legs and hands”

 

“Whenever mummy changes my nappy,

I clap my hands and feel so happy!”

 

It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a silly rhyme or Shakespeare, anything will do! Other favourites are:

  • Head, shoulders, knees and toes
  • The wheels on the bus
  • Twinkle, twinkle, little star
  • Old Mc Donald, etc.

We look the child in the eyes as we speak or sing. Songs which name the parts of the body are particularly useful, as they teach valuable vocabulary, and we can touch each part as we name it (head, shoulders, toes, etc.). 

You can take advantage of any time of the day: at bedtime, while changing a nappy, preparing food, etc. 

Black and White cards

The combination of the colours black and white provide great visual contrast, which makes it easy for the baby to recognize the contours of the objects presented to him. We can show black and white flash cards to babies as young as one or two months of age, as long as they are in a good mood.

Nowadays it’s possible to buy plenty of books and flashcards with pictures for babies, some of them in black and white, but it’s really easy to make them at home almost for free with images we can find on the Internet, using items which are relevant to our particular circumstances (i. e. you can use a picture of a cat or a dog if you have one at home)

In order to make baby flash cards, just find a black and white picture and print it on an A4 sheet of paper so that it fills most of the page. It’s not even necessary to use cardboard or laminate it, because we are just going to show it to the baby, not give it to him. The simpler the drawing, the better. Ideally, you will find just a silhouette, something easy to recognize and without many details, as in the image below:

 


 Black and White cards are used to stimulate the developing sense of sight in small babies.

Some everyday objects ideas you can use for your cards:

  • A house
  • A cat
  • A hand
  • A tree
  • A car

We then put the baby in our lap and show the images to him, from a distance of approximately 30 cm (12 inches) from his face, saying the name of each object slowly and clearly. We must leave the baby enough time to look at the pictures. When babies are in a good mood they can enjoy this game for quite a few minutes. When the baby turns his head away from the flashcards, starts to look bored or even to cry, we must take this as a sign that he has grown tired of the activity and stop immediately.

Mobiles

Visual mobiles can be used virtually from the first day of life. They should consist of simple geometric shapes and colours which can be easily appreciated with a baby’s limited sense of sight: the first ones will be black and white, followed later by mobile in primary colours. Conventional mobiles, like the one we can find in ordinary toy stores, rarely meet these requirements: they mostly feature soft colours such as pink or baby blue and complex forms that the child cannot yet appreciate (such as stuffed animals, clowns, etc.). Homemade mobiles are much cheaper and more effective.

Mobiles help the child to train his vision by following the movement of the objects with his eyes.

During the first few weeks, we can hang the mobile from a string attached to the nursery’s ceiling, if we have no other special tools, so that the lowest part of the mobile remains at a distance of approximately 12” from the child’s face. If it seems like the child might reach it with his hands it would be wise to remove it or hang it slightly higher. 

We will let a baby lay under his mobile only when he is alert and in a good mood. This usually happens during the brief time between a meal and a nap.

When the baby loses interest in a certain mobile we can replace it with another one. The exact age to introduce each mobile is not defined, and the best we can do is observe the baby closely and check how he interacts with the mobile.

It can be helpful to remember that in the mid-1900s there were no newborns in Montessori’s first Case dei Bambini. Flash cards, mobiles and such are a modern addition to the Montessori philosophy. Maria Montessori does not mention the specific mobiles to be used or their sequence, so my recommendation is not to become obsessed with the exact dimensions, components and introduction age of each mobile. We are just trying to stimulate the baby’s sense of sight. That’s why we begin the sequence with mobile black and white and then we gradually progress toward lighter and more varied shades.

Normally, when the baby starts to move around and no longer spends the whole day lying on a mat, his interest in mobiles begins to fade.

MunariBlack and white geometrical mobiles: the Munari mobile

A baby’s first mobile should consist of simple geometric shapes in black and white, since a few weeks old baby is unable to distinguish small details and soft colours.

The Munari mobile meets these requirements, which makes it suitable for baby Montessori environments. It was created by Bruno Munari, a kinetic sculptor belonging to the futurist movement. It was not created specifically to be used with babies, but as a kinetic (moving) sculpture.

In order to build a mobile inspired in the Munari we will need the following supplies:

  • Three rods of increasing length,
  • Fishing line or a thin, resistant string,
  • A transparent sphere (glass or plastic),
  • Black and white cardboard.

Looking at the illustration below these lines we will cut the shapes which form the Munari in black and white cardboard. The front and the back of each shape are slightly different, which makes them more interesting when they move. The exact dimensions of a Munari mobile are quite complex and they are calculated in relation to the diameter of the glass sphere. At home, an approximation should do. Otherwise, it is possible to find the original formulas in Munari’s bibliography.

Around the age of two months, the baby starts to be able to distinguish different colours, especially those which show great contrast. This is a good time to introduce mobiles with primary colours. A very popular one is the octahedron mobile, composed of three octahedrons in red, blue and yellow, which are hung at slightly different heights. Cardboard or Styrofoam octahedron shapes can be purchased at a craft store, or you can easily make them out of poster board (ideally, choose one with a shiny metallic finish). The following page shows a diagram which you can use to create an octahedron by drawing eight equilateral triangles. 

If you find it too difficult to do make an octahedron shape you can use shiny/metallized Christmas baubles (that’s the easiest option), or coloured cubes (boxes) which you can hang from one of their corners.

 


 

17: Octahedron mobile (red, yellow, blue).

 


 

18: You can use this pattern to make your own octahedron shapes.

  1. Colour shade variations: the Gobbi mobile

From the age of three or four months, your baby starts to distinguish the subtle difference between various shades of the same colour. This is a good time to introduce him to the Gobbi mobile. 

The Gobbi is made out of five balls in different shades of the same colour, going from darker to lighter (for example, five blue balls, so that the first one is a very dark navy blue and the last one of a very light sky blue). 

We will need the following supplies:

  • 5 balls of the same size, in various shades of the same colour (Christmas baubles can do). Cover the balls in yarn to give them an interesting, slightly rough texture.
  • A rod to hang the balls from,
  • Fishing line or some other kind of thin, transparent string,

Hang the balls as per the illustration, so that the lower part of the mobile forms a 45-degree angle with the floor. 


 

19: Mobile inspired in the Gobbi.

Babywearing

Some supporters of the Montessori philosophy position themselves against co-sleeping and babywearing, considering them practices which can hamper a child’s independence. However, many educators do not agree with this theory, and Maria Montessori herself, in her work The Absorbent Mind, writes about babies crying too much being a problem endemic to Western societies, while virtually unknown in other traditional cultures, where mothers carry their babies with them wherever they go: "some [mothers] tie their child to their neck or their back, while others place him in a basket".

Babywearing is a really simple way to stimulate your baby and get some extra free time to do your tasks, which makes it an extremely handy skill for all of us, the time-poor parents of newborns and toddlers. Babies who are worn often tend to cry less, since they can be next to their mother for as long as they wish. Babies swing gently while their parents walk, wrapped safely in the infant carrier: it is almost like going back to their mother’s womb. As for babywearing parents, having use of both hands becomes an invaluable gift, which allows them to play with an older sibling, prepare food or circumvent obstacles that a stroller could not (for example, climbing stairs).

Babywearing is a very ancient tradition, and not an original idea from the Montessori Method; but it can be perfectly adapted to this philosophy, as long as we don’t carry a baby against his will, or a child who can walk well (and wants to). Babywearing allows a baby to be present while his mother performs hundreds of interesting activities, such as brushing her teeth, going shopping, working at the computer… such a baby is exposed to many more sounds, sights and smells than a baby who is left lying in his crib or in his stroller for hours on end, just staring at a white ceiling.

Choosing an ergonomic baby carrier is very important. It should allow the child to keep his knees higher than his hips. The baby’s knees and hips should be kept in an M shape, as shown the picture below. A good carrier must have wide straps, if possible padded, so that they don’t hurt your shoulders. 

At the time of this writing, the most widely used ergonomic carriers are the Boba Carrier and the Ergo. They are both structured carriers which resemble a backpack, both relatively comfortable and extremely easy to use. When used with a newborn, structured carriers usually have to be fitted with special infant inserts, which make them smaller and safer. Another option for infants is using an elastic wrap or a ring sling (these last two are usually cheaper, but a little more complex to use at first). 

Just like most baby-related activities, babywearing must be approached with safety standards in mind: I have tried to compile the most important safety rules in these few paragraphs, but always read the instruction manual of your particular carrier before using it and, ideally, seek the advice of a baby-carrying consultant if you can afford the expense.

 

The baby’s knees should be slightly higher than his hips, in an M shape.

The most important thing to pay attention to when carrying a small baby is to make sure that he can breathe normally. Infants have not yet developed the musculature of their neck enough to sustain their own head properly. When they are put in a carrier, their chin might come near their chest and block their airway. This is very dangerous and can even cause death by postural asphyxia. It is vital to check that there is enough space under your baby's chin (the standard is at least enough space for two fingers of an adult hand).  Always look at the baby while you carry him, and listen closely to his breathing: it should never sound wheezy nor laboured. Some organizations, such as Babywearing International, recommend carrying small babies always in an upright position and reserving the horizontal position (that is, with the baby lying, like in a crib) only for breastfeeding, as this position implies an increased risk of postural asphyxia.

Other precautions to take into account are:

  • Practice to load and unload the child in a safe place, for example sitting at the edge of your bed and surrounded by pillows, or ask another adult for help until you feel confident enough to do it alone and standing.
  • Make sure you know how to use your carrier and check all the straps and buckles for damage regularly. Minimize the risk of falls by testing the child is held securely in the carrier before you start to walk, especially while you are still a beginner. You can also look at yourself from several angles in a mirror.
  • Never perform dangerous tasks while babywearing, such as using sharp utensils (the child can reach out and take the knife off your hand). Beware of kitchen stoves, which could cause the straps of your carrier to catch fire, or hot pots and pans the baby could touch or spill by accident. Risky activities such as riding a bicycle, playing football, etc., should be discouraged while carrying a baby.
  • Never babywear under the influence of alcohol, medication or other substances which might impair your coordination, or in case of suffering from dizziness or fainting spells. In a nutshell, if you are not physically fit for driving, you probably shouldn’t use a baby carrier either.
  • Beware of bag slings and other dangerous, older carriers which have been withdrawn from the market because of security concerns. Some of them can still be found at garage sales or handed down by unknowing, well-meaning friends.
  • Finally, beware of the heat, especially in summer. A baby can get really warm inside a carrier, so make sure he is not overheated or dehydrated.

 

Toys to grab and suck

Around the age of two months, babies start to learn to use their hands to grasp objects. Later they will also learn to drop them at will. This is a good time to provide them with a safe rattle or grabbing toy. 

Montessori teething toys and rattles are usually made of natural wood, without toxic paints or varnishes: this is especially important because babies tend to put anything they manage to grab into their mouths.

The illustration shows two of the most common first toys used in Montessori environments for babies.


 Simple toys for babies to explore with their newly discovered hands.

Looking in the mirror

Mirrors are an ideal addition to the classical baby tummy-time. They become most interesting when the baby starts to enjoy playing on his stomach and has strong enough neck muscles to look at himself in the mirror.


 Babies love to look at their reflection in a mirror.

A baby mirror should be wide and long, and it’s best to position it near the floor, so that the baby can look at himself easily. We will also need a mat or a thick blanket for the baby to lay on. When babies look at their own image in the mirror they become aware of their own body and the movements they make, sometimes unknowingly. 

Acrylic plastic mirrors are the most suited for this purpose, as they can minimize the risk of accidents in case the baby would hit it with a hard object (or his own head). Safety acrylic mirrors should not shatter when hit. Try to find a seller who can assure you their mirrors are safe for use in preschool environments. Some parents decide to install a wooden bar across the mirror, so the baby can use it to hold himself when he starts to stand on his legs.  

Baby led weaning

Baby Led Weaning, or BLW, is a way of starting babies on solid foods which consists in providing them with little pieces of food and letting them feed themselves. Although the term itself is quite recent, it has probably been practiced for a long time (without a particular name), and the philosophy behind it is in accordance with the Montessori Method, as it allows babies much more independence than spoon feeding them exclusively with purees.

This technique consists in placing a selection of healthy foods in front of the baby, cut into pieces of appropriate size and shape so they can be easily held in a baby’s fist (thin, long shapes) or between the thumb and index fingers (small dice, mostly soft foods). Babies should bring the food to their mouth on their own, and be allowed to explore, suck and nibble at will. This way, babies decide what they are going to eat and how much.

Before starting with Baby Led Weaning the baby should meet the following requirements:

  • Being able to sit up straight without help (important to prevent choking),
  • Being at least six months old,
  • Continuing with breastfeeding or bottle feeding on demand at least during the first year of life. Especially during the first few weeks (or months), some babies do not eat enough calories from solid foods when using BLW. Offering the breast or the bottle after each meal helps us make sure that the baby gets enough calories.

Food is usually placed directly on the table or highchair tray, in order to prevent the baby from tipping over the dish and all its contents on the floor. A very popular highchair among BLW’ers, due to its low price, minimalistic design and ease of cleaning, is the Ikea Antilop.  


 

23: Baby Led Weaning, also known as BLW o "the baby eats by himself".

Some popular first foods in Baby Led Weaning are:

  • Most fruits: soft fruits tend to be easier to manage at the beginning (i.e. ripe pears, kiwis, bananas…)
  • Soft cheese and tofu, diced,
  • Boiled carrots, shaped as long sticks or whole potato wedges,
  • Egg omelette or boneless chicken breast strips, approx. 10 cm long and 2 cm wide (4 x 1 inches),
  • Boiled broccoli and cauliflower “trees”, leaving enough stem to be used as a handle,
  • Buttered bread and toast.

You can also offer semisolid foods, such as yogurt, puree or applesauce, by filling a spoon and leaving it in front of the child to encourage him to put it in his mouth. This is known as preloaded spoons. If the baby seems confused at first just show him what to do by eating the first spoonful yourself.

Some foods are discouraged because they carry a certain risk of choking or allergies (for example, peanuts, walnuts and pistachios). Spherically shaped foods must be cut in half or in quarters to avoid choking (for example, grapes and cherry tomatoes might block the throat if swallowed whole).

Please be prepared for a fair amount of gagging during BLW. Gagging is a sensitive reflex that babies possess, which protects them from choking. It happens when the baby’s tongue and mouth expel a certain food before it gets to their throat and therefore before this food is able to cause any choking.

The best way to feel confident about BLW is to know exactly what gagging looks like, in comparison to choking, and to learn what to do in emergency situations. Ask your health practitioner if there are any first aid courses for parents in your area. Learning to distinguish true choking from gagging or a false alarm can be of vital importance. Try to find videos on the internet to learn the differences. All parents and caretakers should know the right way to act in case of choking, whether they use BLW or not. 

Last but not least, be prepared for lots of cleaning and floor mopping during the first few weeks. It is normal, and please try to remember that it gets better with every day that goes by. 

Textures

When a baby is first able to move around at will or sit unaided, we can introduce him to his first sensory materials. This textures activity can become interesting from the age of 4-6 months.

A texture mat can be sewn by putting together several pieces of fabric with different textures (just like a patchwork quilt).

A simpler option is to create a textures basket: you just have to cut a few squares of different materials and place them in a soft basket, so the baby can touch them and feel the differences between each kind of fabric.

Some materials you can use are:

  • Thick and coarse cotton cloth,
  • A piece of silk,
  • A piece of tulle,
  • Some cotton jersey,
  • A piece of knitted wool (you can knit it yourself or cut if from an old sweater).

All materials used should be natural and non-toxic because babies this age tend to put everything in their mouths.

First puzzles

First Montessori puzzles contain a single piece, which is usually a single geometric shape of one colour, in order to practice concentration and understanding and avoid confusion of concepts. Montessori puzzles usually have a small handle or knob on each piece, in order to develop the muscles of the hand which will be later used for writing. 

Ideally, you should start with a single circle shape, then go on to a single square, etc. This teaches the child shapes, colours, coordination, etc. But true Montessori puzzles can be hard to find, or expensive: that is why, in our home, we have only three true Montessori puzzles and many non-Montessori, knobbed puzzles at home, which are very affordable and help develop the pincer grip just as well as the original ones. You can see a few of them in the pictures under these lines.

 

Knobbed puzzles

 

First books

First baby books should contain pictures of objects from the house, parts of the body, and everyday life subjects. Ideally, they will have clear and easily recognizable, realistic pictures. Fantasy stories with complex plots, magic and mythical creatures—this includes talking and anthropomorphic animals, too—should be left for much later. Many tales we usually tell very small children in our culture, such as Jack and the beanstalk, Cinderella, etc., are actually not the best choice for first children’s books, at least in a Montessori environment.

Simple picture books help very little babies expand their vocabulary by pointing out at each object and naming it. We can also add a few children’s books with simple, realistic stories the child can relate to. For example, stories about a child who takes a bath and goes to bed, or goes out for a walk and meets a dog, etc. 

Children over the age of three tend to enjoy non-fiction, informational children’s books related to their particular topics of interest: some popular topics for preschool age children are: dinosaurs, space & astronauts, farm animals…

 


 Books can be exhibited on shallow shelves at the reach of the child.

Stacking toys

Babies enjoy stacking toys from the very moment they are capable of sitting. Such materials allow them to discover size and volume relationships. They offer the possibility to investigate which objects are larger and smaller, which ones fit inside other ones, etc.

Montessori preschools use numerous sensory materials for this purpose, usually starting from two or three years-old. Some suitable alternatives we can use to achieve similar results at home with your baby are:

  • Stacking boxes and cups (“pyramids”),
  • Shape sorting toys, 
  • Stacking towers (rings, etc.).

 Classic stacking toys. These are not Montessori materials, but they are a good home alternative.

The items pictured above are ordinary, affordable stacking toys. They are not true Montessori materials, but they can be a good alternative to more expensive materials, such as the pink tower, if we are doing Montessori on a tight budget or just starting out.

Generally, the majority of toys that can be found in a conventional toy store do not comply with all the necessary conditions to be a Montessori material: they rarely isolate a single property, and we can find the same toy mixing many concepts, such as numbers, letters, colours, shapes, etc. Anyone can write "Montessori" on the box of a product, so please pay attention before you decide to pay extra cash for a Montessori learning material.

Bilingual babies

The sensitive period for language begins at birth and starts to fade around the age of six years. If you can speak a second language, your child will be able to learn it from you during these years with great ease. Even if you do not speak any other language apart from your mother tongue, there are a few ways to teach your child a second language successfully. You will find a more detailed explanation in the chapter dedicated to children from three to six years, but many of those suggestions can be implemented from the first day of life.


 

Spanish children’s books.

A few things you can do with your future bilingual baby are:

You can spend a few minutes (hours) every day and speak to your child in your chosen second language. 

You can show your child a picture book and name the objects in it (during the first months use black and white cards or high contrast illustration; later just use board books with realistic photos or drawings of daily use objects). 

You can also turn on the radio or put on a CD with nursery rhymes in a foreign language, although it is believed that children learn languages faster through the interaction with other people, while the words that come through television and radio are learnt with more difficulty. As we will see later, films and animated series are not recommended until a minimum age of 18 months or two years.

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