Congratulations and welcome to the world of parenting! You are a parent now and almost overwhelmed with what a baby brings to you on the table in the initial months – pleasures, surprises, pains, everything. There is a lot you can do apart from nursing and cleaning in those initial months to help the development of your baby.
Here are some Montessori inspired and other activities that you can do with your infant. Yes, you can apply Montessori principles right from birth! A baby has an unconscious absorbent mind.
Sensory Development – Activities to stimulate baby’s five senses.
Touch – lots of cuddles, hugs, kisses, nursing, skin-to-skin time, massage, warm bath, soft blankets, outdoors, touch & feel books.
Smell – Essential oil aroma therapy helps in soothing the baby as well stimulating her sense of smell.
Sight – Black and white contrast cards, Munari mobiles, face to face interaction.
Sound – soothing music such as Mantras, instrumentals, talking, singing yourself and reading.
Taste – A mom should eat variety of foods herself so that the baby gets it via breast milk.
Communication – Montessori advocates respecting the child, even if the child is unborn or few hours old or older. ‘Say & Do’ and ‘Running Commentary’ are two techniques that I have used a lot to communicate with my son. Whatever you do with your child, tell her first and then do – be it taking the child to bath or turning on the mixer or going for a walk in the garden. And whatever you do, keep telling what you are doing – be it elaborating the sequence of how you are bathing him or what plants or flowers you see in the garden. It builds trust and is respectful to the child. It provides for a strong foundation for the language skills in the child. Do not worry if you think the information is making no sense to your baby. Apart from this, ask them questions (even if they cannot answer, this sets the stage for a two way communication), respond to their answers (even if they are in form of coos).
Montessori Baby Room – A Montessori baby room exhibits great sense of independence and respect for the child. The key ingredients of a perfect Montessori baby room are floor bed, baby-proofed space, and a mobile above the bed, preferably a mirror attached to the wall beside the bed, cosy, silent and warm colours around.
Image Source: candokiddo.com
Reading Aloud – It is never too early to start reading aloud to babies. If you cannot, have someone from your family to do the honours. If not baby books, even reading scriptures is a great exercise. You can also give your baby cloth or bath books to explore. My baby is 2 weeks old in this picture where my brother is reading an Amar chitra katha book to him & he is all attentive!
Tracking – You can roll a ball or take a toy or object from left to right & let the baby’s eyes follow it. It helps in visual development as well as exercises her neck as she follows the movement. Let the baby try to hold the object too if she wants.
Grabbing / Kicking - Use rattles or safe household objects (spoons, silver utensils, blankets, crocheted soft balls) made of natural materials like wood, different kinds of fabrics, paper etc to let the baby safely explore. Natural materials are much richer in sensory input than plastic ones. Allow them to mouth the objects. That is how they explore and learn about the world around them.
You can tie a balloon in each of her legs and see how she enjoys kicking. A play gym also catches the attention of a newborn.
Image Source: candokiddo.com
Munari Mobiles – The Munari is a black and white mobile made from 2 dimensional geometrical shapes. This mobile moves very slowly which allows the child to observe it with great concentration. The newborn is unable to see colour so the Munari is black and white in order to give the child the greatest contrast in shades. They are offered to the newborn till 3 months or so, when she is awake and alert. The purpose is to help the baby learn to focus, track, and develop her visual sense. There are various Munari mobile DIY tutorials on the web that you can refer to.
Image Source: howwemontessori.com