Montessori Environment - 6 months
The main environment for your baby at this age will be the bedroom. It is important to take note that the baby’s environment prior to the outside world was the womb. In the mother’s womb it was quiet, dark and sounds were sedated. This can be attempted to be replicated in the baby’s bedroom for the first 8 weeks to help the child adjust to the new world positively. Soft classical music can be played in the room as this can be soothing to the young baby. Have some natural lighting and if possible have a window where a child may watch the wind blowing through leaves or trees.
Baby this young will be mostly attracted to mobiles with great color contrast, such as black and white. One can even simply attract a child’s attention, eye tracking, by making shadows by having the light source behind a parent’s hands. Hanging mobiles can also be effective, these have to be placed about 30 cm from your baby as in the beginning they can only see this far. These mobiles may also have pictures of the mother, the father, or other siblings as babies are generally attracted to the human face. Mobiles can also consist of a glass ball that can reflect light in different ways. There is no need for brightly colored commercially bought mobiles that have too many distracting colors. Same applies to flashy cartoon characters in a child’s room, though it does not mean it cannot be decorated. It can still be decorated with simple beautiful realistic works of art.
A mother can be feeding her baby in this room in a comfortable gliding/rocking chair with a table nearby for anything she may need as she feeds. When breastfeeding, it is ideal that mothers concentrate on the baby and are not too preoccupied doing other things.
A child’s bed need not be a crib but for a very young baby it can be a Moses basket that provides comfort and warmth. As children get older, it is important to allow them to have opportunities for movement. This is to make sure a child gets ample tummy time during the day so they can exercise and develop their muscle strength. This can be done at around 3 months. To allow the child to be part of the family, one can have a small flat mat that the child can be placed in, e.g. a small woolen blanket in the family room. The child need not be left alone in their bedroom while he is awake. Hearing the family noises and voices will also help the children to learn as they observe their surroundings.
Maria Montessori observed how children learned a language without anyone teaching them. This sparked her idea for the “absorbent mind’. For children under the age of three, there is no need to have lessons in order to learn, as they simply absorb everything in the environment by experiencing it and being part of it. It is therefore important that the environment setup is good, nice and positive, since this is what the child will absorb whether he chooses to or not.
Montessori ‘Toys’ and Materials
A simple wooden A-frame would suffice for a child to look up and try to grasp. There is no need for fancy plastic ones that may break easily. Fluffy toys, cloth books, small rattles and crocheted soft balls will allow the child to practice grasp and use of hands. A silver rattle is especially wonderful for a young baby since it engages many of the senses. It has to be small and light enough for the baby to grasp it for a few moments at first and longer and longer later on. It can also provide auditory stimulation as it makes a soft sound and it can give sense of hot and cold as the child mouths it.Wooden toys and rattles in particular are aesthetically beautiful, last long and give child a different, more natural texture than most plastic toys would. A child will mouth, bang and try many different things with toys. Educational / engaging toys have to be strong enough to withstand the child’s growing years. Crocheted soft balls are good for their tiny fingers to hook and grasp. Children will also follow the movement of the ball with their eyes. Mobiles are also particularly wonderful for children of this age. These mobiles can have contrasting colors to attract the child’s gaze, black and white or even simply just of different colors in a banner. Mobiles that reflect natural light will also be attractive to babies.
The skin of babies is sensitive, so it is best to use natural fibres, such as pure cotton, as the material that touches the skin directly. It is also good to have most clothes in white or light pastel colors, as strong dyes may react with the child’s skin. For the comfort of a child it is advisable not to have any tight clothing, or clothing that may be small or tight around their arms or legs. Dress your child appropriately according to the weather, with jackets and socks when needed.