Category Archives: Independence

Development of Independence, Independent Play, Practical Life, Kitchen

Foto Friday: Homemade Christmas Gifts

 

 

Can we have a Foto Friday on a Sunday?  22 Month Old A. made Christmas gifts and cards for her friends.  With a little help of pre-measured ingredients and finishing touches by Mommy, A. was able to do a lot the work herself to make these beautiful Bird Seed Ornaments.

22 Months - bird seed ornaments 1 Pour flour, water, gelatin, and corn syrup into bowl.  Give it a good stir.

DSC_0050 Pour in the bird seed.  Stir it all together.

bird seed ornaments Scoop into Christmas cookie cutters.

gift from toddlerInsert straw pieces and leave to harden.

DSC_0096  Tie a piece of ribbon through the hole.  Hang on a tree outside for the birds to enjoy.

DSC_0105 Don’t forget a card!  Crayons and dot stickers allowed A. to add her personal touch.

 

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Filed under 18-24 Months, Carrie, Foto Friday, Independence

Foto Friday: Squeezing Orange Juice

2 year old E. squeezes the oranges for freshly squeezed orange juice.  Yum!

Toddler Orange Squeezing DSC04107 toddler squeezing orange juice DSC04109 DSC04110

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Filed under 2 years +, Food/Feeding, Foto Friday, Independence, Tomoko

Foto Friday: Last Day of Parent/Infant Class

Remember back in January how Christie shared with us that R. and P. had started attending Parent/Infant Class at Aid to Life Education?  See how these boys have grown since then!  They recently attended their last day in the Infant room.

 

P. and R. sit down on the bench upon arrival to remove shoes and socks.  Aid to Life Education - Parent/Child Class Dad watches over R. as he uses the Peg Box. Montessori Peg Box Christie/Mom watches P. as he uses the crayons. Montessori Toddler Crayons           R. enjoys a snack at the end of class. Montessori Placemat and Toddler Self-Feeding      Time to go home.  P. puts on socks and shoes with some assistance. Montessori Toddler Independence

It is time for R. and P. to move up to the Toddler Room!  I’m sure Mom and Dad will continue having fun during these Parent/Toddler classes.

 

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Filed under 12-18 Months, Christie, Food/Feeding, Foto Friday, Independence, Play Area/Toys, Relationships

Foto Friday: Gardening

Yvonne’s daughters aged 2 and 4 were busy in the garden this summer: weeding and exploring!

toddler gardening toddler gardeningtoddler gardening

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Filed under 2 years +, Foto Friday, Independence, Nature/Outdoors, Yvonne

Foto Friday: Pouring

22 month old F. pours herself a beverage using her pitcher from Montessori Services

DSC_0551_crop DSC_0554_crop

Child sized tools make a huge difference in a child’s ability to do things independently.  Go enter to WIN a $50 GIFT CERTIFICATE to Montessori Services/For Small Hands and help us celebrate the 1st Anniversary of our blog!

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Filed under 18-24 Months, Food/Feeding, Foto Friday, Independence, Rubi

Crawling towards Practical Life

By Carriecrawling towards practical life
A. is now 17 Months and is still mostly crawling and cruising around.  She can definitely be considered a late walker.  It was drilled into us during our Montessori training that when a child begins walking s/he will have “hands free to transform the environment”, meaning the child would be ready to take on practical life activities.  While A. may not be walking, she is certainly progressing psychologically and cognitively.  She’s not the same as an 11 month old who is not yet walking.  It was around 12 months that she started exhibiting a stronger will (tantrums!).  She has a stronger need to do things independently and become an active part of her home environment.  She is ready to take on practical life activities and has been doing so for the past few months.

If you’re new to Montessori you may be asking what I mean by “practical life.”  Practical life is everyday life:

  • Taking care of ourselves and our children
  • Taking care of things in our home environment (including yards, animals)
  • Treating each other, and our materials, with care and respect

As a parent I want to create a home that is rich with opportunities for A. to contribute and gain a deep sense of belonging.  I want to offer opportunities for her to develop the self-confidence of independently taking care of her personal needs.  This isn’t so easy when she is still using her hands for locomotion.  In our training we were asked the question “If the child is still crawling, can they participate in practical life?”  I feebly answered this question at the time.   I’ve had to completely re-think this now that I have child who has yet to reach the milestone of walking.

So many practical life situations require the balance and coordination utilized in walking, and the ability to carry items with two hands while walking.  I look forward to introducing those to A. in the future and in the meantime I wanted to share with you some ways in which A. is beginning to do practical life as she crawls and cruises.  I don’t think any of these ideas is revolutionary, nor does A. do all of them in one day.  I have just been conscious of slowing down and inviting her to participate in everyday life.  Having a few child-sized materials has definitely helped.  While these are the activities that are a part of our day, depending on where you live, your culture, and your personal circumstances, the practical life activities that you and your child will do will vary.

morningTo start her day she is able to crawl independently out of her floor bed.  After nursing we go to her dresser and she opens her small cupboard.  She is able to choose an outfit for the day.  The night before I place two outfits for her to choose from.  Then we go to the bathroom to get ready for the day.  It is a collaboration during undressing (I assist in taking out her arms and she pulls her pajama shirt over her head) and during dressing (she gets one leg in the pants and I assist with the second leg.  She pulls it up to her knees while sitting on the stool and I assist by pulling them up all the way once she is standing).  It is also a collaboration as she has a turn to brush her teeth, wash her face, and brush her hair, and then I have a turn.

preparing breakfast2We go to the kitchen and she assists in preparing breakfast.  She cracks the raw eggs for fried or scrambled eggs.  She peels the shell off the hard-boiled egg and uses the egg slicer to cut the egg.  She puts the fruit into the colander, I wash and cut, and then she puts the fruit onto the plate.  She pours water into her dry oatmeal before I cook it.

breakfastDuring meals she has been learning to use a spoon and fork.  She completely self-feeds herself, often choosing to use her hands before using utensils.  She likes to be given the opportunity to wipe her face at the end of the meal, and this is a collaboration as I need to wipe her face and hands before she is clean enough to play.  She then goes to unlock the dogs from their dog crates (they get locked up for meal times).  I love how she develops fine-motor control and unlocks various types of locks in a real, practical manner.  She also treats the dogs with respect by petting them gently, hugging them, and respecting that they have limits of how much they will tolerate being crawled over.

inside houseworkAfter breakfast she often likes to help unload the dishwasher.  She hands me the utensils and I put them away.  This is a great opportunity for language as I name each utensil she pulls out and she tries to say it after me.  For her own utensils, I give them to her to put away in her cupboard.  She is learning how to match up the forks to the forks and the spoons to the spoons.  A. loves to help do the laundry.  She puts the dirty clothes in the washer, puts the wet clothes in the dryer, and puts the dry clothes into the laundry basket.  This is a wonderful sensorial experience of dry, damp, and warm.  She is tall enough now to reach the buttons, so with guidance, she pushes the power and start buttons.

baking3We also like to bake together.  A. loves to put on her apron.  She pours, peels the bananas (for banana muffins), stirs, is learning to open containers, mixes things together by hand, and puts liners in the muffin tins.

PL lunctimeLunch time is eaten at her small table and chair.  It’s hard to set the table when she is still crawling so currently I’m starting by having her bring over the placemats (while I try to ignore the dog hair that gets picked up as they are dragged across the floor).  She then goes to sit down at her table independently when I ask her to do so.  She peels the banana peels off her banana slices, peels her mandarin oranges, picks the edamame beans out of the shell and puts the organic waste into her small bucket.  She is learning to sign ‘please’ when she would like more of something (she signs ‘more’ quite well).  Again, she self-feeds herself and I found it was easier for her to learn self-feeding with utensils at her small table.  She is able to pour water into her glass, albeit not from the spout yet.  She continues to make little spills and often still attempts to drink out of the pitcher afterwards.  She likes to wipe her table at the end of the meal to clean-up.  She will bring over the dustpan and brush for me to use to clean the floor.  She likes to dump her little bucket of organic waste into the compost bin.

outdoor workIn the afternoon we might do some work outdoors.  A. loves to be out in the garden!  While she isn’t truly helping in the garden quite yet, she loves to transfer dirt with her own tools while I do the weeding.  She enjoys picking the leaves and I take deep breaths as I guide her towards the appropriate leaves to pick (lettuce, spinach, and beet leaves).  The vegetable boxes are the perfect cruising height for her.  She is having fun harvesting the carrots and beets as she pulls them out of the soil (I loosen them first).  She also likes to help clean her toys and chair by scrubbing with a brush or a sponge.  I’ll hose down the toys while she continues to enjoy playing with the bubbles or transferring water between two buckets.  I really like the sensorial experiences she is gaining by handling soil, vegetable leaves, and soapy water.

preparing dinner2Helping to prepare dinner is fun as she then collaborates with both Mommy and Daddy.  She transfers the vegetables to the steamer basket.  She puts the cut up vegetables into the salad.  She puts the organic waste into the compost bin.  She pours the dry rice or quinoa into the pot and pours the water into the pot before I cook it.  She adds the spices to foods.  When we make our own pizza’s she scoops the sauce and spreads it, then adds the meat and cheese, chooses to not add the vegetables, and has a pre-dinner snack (still working on self-control).  She puts the ice in Mommy’s glass.  She climbs into her Tripp Trapp high chair to eat dinner as a family (we’ve since removed the baby insert seat).  Preparing food together offers infinite opportunities for language enrichment.

bedtimeAfter dinner it is time to get ready for bed.  Throughout the day she has been given multiple opportunities to use the potty and multiple opportunities to pull up underwear and pants.  She hasn’t gotten into pulling down underwear and pants yet.  Before her bath she crawls over to her laundry basket with her dirty clothes in hand to place them in the basket.  During her bath it is collaboration again as she uses the cloth to wash herself and then I wash her.  I dry her off and she opens the diaper cream and her face cream containers so I can apply them.  She loves to dip her finger into the face cream and put some on her cheeks.  She collaborates in putting on her pajamas.  Then she’s off to sleep in her floor bed.

My own efficiency has been slowed down to include A. in many of these activities yet the activities become more joyful for me as I watch her developing greater motor control, independent skills, have rich sensorial experiences, a greater vocabulary, and self-esteem that she has contributed and done important work.  I find myself pausing and just smiling as she takes on many of these tasks.  She is also a happier, more content child, which makes the day more enjoyable for both of us.

Observation of the child shows that normally he has the desire to act independently; he wants to carry things, to dress and undress alone, to feed himself, and it is not by adult suggestion that he tries to do these things.  On the contrary, his urge is so strong that our efforts are usually spent in trying to restrain him; but when we do this, we are fighting nature, not the will of the child. ~Maria Montessori, Education for a New World

While we do practical life activities our entire lives, allowing the child to follow their natural instincts to do these activities has a much deeper impact on a child who is under 6 years of age.  At this age the child is going through a huge developmental stage of constructing their personality.  While you and I prepare a meal and do the laundry to complete a task, the young child does these activities to feed their soul. Children have a deep need for their movement to be connected to an intelligent and purposeful activity.  Children have a deep desire to belong to the environment that they are in by participating in the activity that surrounds them.

Children are therefore at an age when they are greatly interested in movements and seem to be anxious to learn how they should move about.  They are passing through that epoch of their lives when they must become masters of their own actions.  Physiologically we may say that their muscles and nerves are passing through a period when they are learning how to work harmoniously together.  Successful passage through this period is of utmost importance for an individual’s ultimate perfection.  A good beginning here is most important for a child’s future. ~Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child

Join the conversation!  How have you involved your crawling and cruising child in everyday, practical life?

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Filed under 12-18 Months, Carrie, Food/Feeding, Independence

Prepare the Environment for Your Toddler’s Independence

By Tomoko

My daughter is already 22 months old and I’m realizing it’s so much work to prepare her environment at home. I’m not trying to make a perfect environment for her. I make minimum effort otherwise I will be a stressed, fussy mom leaving my every day’s house work behind.

There are some points I always follow in order to make a Montessori environment for her independence and development.

1.      Follow your child’s orderly sense

Children in this age group are nourished and made secure by the order of things. Therefore, we need to prepare an environment for the child that demonstrates order and structure in action. Experiences of order assist her in developing her will. “What, when, and where” provide the opportunities for these expectations and the structure and opportunity for limits and discipline. We want to make it clear to the child in her daily life: what to expect, when to expect it, and where to expect it.

2.      Share your work at home with your child

When you are cleaning, washing dishes, folding clothes etc…. please share your work with your child as long as she is interested so the child feels that she is involved and she is no longer a baby who needs somebody’s help. Children need to experience work in collaboration with adults for it to have an educational purpose.  Once the child has started her work, encourage her to complete her work.  The child needs to repeat the process for perfection. Once the child feels that she is capable, she gains self-confidence and self-esteem. Eventually, the child learns concentration, patience, logical sequence, responsibility and independence through work.

3.      Organize her environment

Let your child know where her belongings are to help your child develop her orderly sense. All her belongings have to be accessible for her. Toddlers can dress themselves. If she wet her shirt, just ask her to bring a clean shirt and dress herself. Ask her to put her dirty shirt in the laundry basket. When you are going out, the child can go get her jacket and hat and put her shoes on by herself. You just need to tell her directions and help her to do it by herself.

If your child has art materials like drawing and gluing, let the child know where the paper is so she doesn’t need to ask parents to get more paper.

4.      Follow the child’s routine

The child needs consistency of schedule and routines for the child to understand what is expected of her. (Schedule of mealtimes, naps, activity, and sleep) This can assist her orderly sense. It is beneficial that parents read to your child every night before bed.

5.      Let your child prepare her snack

Yes, your child will make a mess. But everybody loves this activity. If you feed your child apples, bananas, avocados or mandarin oranges, just prepare a set of food materials (a tray, chopping board, butter knife, apron, tongs, small dishes, etc.) Let the child peel the food and slice it. Once she slices it, use the tongs to move the food to the dish)

If she spills, encourage her to wipe it up by herself. If an adult cleans it for her, she doesn’t care when she spills or drops her food. The child needs to be aware that there is cause and effect.  If she spills, she needs to wipe it. The child experiences the logical consequence of order. The awareness of herself and her environment is the purpose of accomplishing a task.

e slicing avocados

For children to develop confidence in their own abilities, they have to be helped to care for themselves independently just as soon as they are able. Try not to look at efficiency or speed, the focus is on process and on the repetition and practice that are required to work toward perfection in all processes.

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Filed under 12-18 Months, 18-24 Months, 2 years +, Food/Feeding, Independence, Tomoko

Developing Concentration and Independent Play

By Carrie

  • A small toy shelf with a few carefully chosen, good quality toys
  • A place to play where child can do so without interruption and without having to block out other noise or activity going on
  • Time to play

Doesn’t seem too difficult does it?  Except that it is.  Our homes are filled with music, TV, and bustling activity.  We need to get started on the next activity, go to our next appointment, or meet up with a friend.  Which toys should we choose?  If we do know, the desire to offer more amazing toys often grips us.  The list goes on of why simplicity is difficult to achieve.

It starts with being intentional about respecting your child’s developing concentration before your baby arrives.

It’s fun planning for the baby to arrive.  A whole new world of enticing and fun baby products!  Most seasoned parents will tell you that you don’t need half of it.  I encourage you to think about what your child doesn’t need, and to take this further, what harms his/her developing concentration.  What will that brightly coloured play mat or flashing toy bring to your baby’s world?  Bright colours are often marketed to stimulate babies but too many bright colours can be too much stimulation.  A plain, solid coloured play mat will serve the function perfectly (a blanket that you already own will work).  Even a pattern, although beautiful, can be distracting and over stimulating.  With a plain mat the baby will be able to focus on the toy you choose rather than the mat.  We chose to get a solid coloured fitted sheet over a mattress topper.  A flashing toy to give your child feedback of their actions?  A pot with a wooden spoon will also give your child feedback of their actions.  A rattle where the child can see the bell that is making the sound is another example.  The child will be able to see the cause and effect, whereas with a toy with batteries, the child is unable to make the connection as they don’t physically make it happen with their muscles and they are unable to see it.  For a toy hanger we purchased an inexpensive wooden one from Ikea and removed the brightly coloured discs on the sides.

The fun of setting up a place for the baby to play is also important.  Background music or TV is pretty much standard these days that we don’t even think about it, but to a baby it is another activity.  We chose to move the TV to another room (much to my husband’s dislike as it is difficult to change our habits, but our daughter’s developing needs come before our habitual desires).  We chose to not listen to music all day long, only at certain times of the day and sometimes I don’t offer her toys, only music to listen to.  Baby nurseries are often brightly coloured rooms and children’s play spaces are often filled with multiple pictures covering the walls or huge toy shelves.  It is important to keep the colour of the walls a calming colour and to limit the pictures on the walls.  These pictures can be rotated.  Set up a quiet, calm place to play.  A small toy shelf with only a few toys will sustain your child’s attention much longer than a huge toy shelf filled with many, many toys.  Again, these toys can be rotated.  Here is a wonderful article on “Toys for Children: Less is More.”

When your baby is starting to have awake and alert times that last longer than a feeding session and time to gaze into your eyes before falling asleep again, then you can begin to offer time to play.  Offer a place that your baby can do so independently while you do something for yourself (like most new moms it revolves around eating and actually showering).  It is important that you establish playtime for your child to do something on his/her own.  Sometimes your child will want you to be near to him/her and other times you can be in the other room.  When your baby is finished, he/she will let you know.  If you need to remove your baby from this before he/she is ready, it is important to wait until your baby has finished focusing on whatever he/she is doing.  If your baby is busy engaged with a toy or looking intently at something: WAIT.  Although A. can stay engaged with one activity for a long time, when I go over to her she will usually look up at me in a few minutes.  I choose to respect her developing concentration and wait until she stops and looks up at me.  Very rarely will I be in a situation where I simply cannot wait a few moments.  It does happen  though and in those rare situations, I acknowledge and apologize to her: “I know you are focused on looking at the picture but we really have to get going now.  I’m sorry to disturb you.”)

When you place your baby in the play area, offer only one activity.  Offer only one picture (on the wall or in a book) to look at.  Or offer one mobile to gaze at.  Or offer one toy to play with.  Or offer music to listen.  All of these are examples of one activity at a time.  Babies are unable to take things in quickly so they need time to process.  If we offer too much stimulation at one time, the baby cannot distinguish what is important to take in, and takes in all of it.  It ends up not being clear for the child and feels like a jumbled mess.  TV has so many quickly changing images and sounds that a baby simply cannot process it.  The child may become overwhelmed and cry.  Or the child quietly shuts down and doesn’t take it in as there is just too much.  With too much stimulation, the baby is unable to take in the good opportunities to learn and develop.  As A. gained the ability to move towards a toy she wanted, I began offering her a choice between two toys.  She would move to one, explore it briefly, then move to the other toy and explore it briefly.  She would then settle on one toy and contentedly play with it, eventually going back to the other toy and then playing with it contentedly.  Thinking that it would sustain her longer if I offered three toys, I did so but consistently she would bounce between the three toys, not staying with any of them for a decent length of time.  I went back to offering only two toys and watched her determination and concentration increase as she engaged her muscles to reach for and play with the toys, one at a time.

While my experience has only been with A. (who is currently 7.5 months), I think all this preparation and simple steps to carry it through has worked quite well.  A friend recently commented on how independent A. is.   She often likes to be able to see me but doesn’t need me to provide her with new activities.  She will look around for me (and I can be engaged in my own activity) and then she goes back to playing independently, discovering something new about the toy or moving her body in a new way.  Some days she is fussy and wants more of my attention.  I do spend those days reading more stories to her, singing to her, and giving her more cuddles or putting her in a baby carrier if I need to get something done.  As she gets older, these days/moments are less and less.  She will often play independently for at least an hour, concentrating on playing with the toy, the movement of her body, listening to the sounds, or looking at something.  I just let her play.  Another friend whose daughter also has great independent play said it feels like lazy parenting.  Personally I don’t feel lazy.  I feel that I am watching her, delighting in her as she is given the space, time and respect to concentrate and develop at her own pace.

Last words: cleaning up.  Once A. has finished playing with a toy or it is time to move onto the next activity (such as nap time), I put the toy away with her present.  Now that she is moving around and getting into many toys, I let her take out whatever toys she wants and then when it is nap time I let her watch me put away the toys (even if she is cranky and crying).  I hope this helps her learn to put away toys when she is finished with them.

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Filed under 0-3 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Carrie, Independence, Play Area/Toys, Relationships

The Importance of Movement and the Impact of Clothing

By Rubi

Some of our blog’s readers expressed interest reading about clothing; since I love talking about movement I thought it would be interesting to share a paper I wrote a while ago when taking my Assistant to Infancy training. I also wanted to see if my ideas had changed after I had a baby, to my surprised I feel exactly the same way as I did before.

Movement

Maria Montessori explained that Humans have a tendency for movement. Indeed this movement begins in the womb, (humans have an inclination, a need, a strong desire to move and explore, movement is hardwired into them, and they are born with it.) Babies, in fact, spend nearly half of their waking time moving, either kicking, bouncing, or waving their arms, crawling, standing, etc. While it may appear all this activity is just for the sake of moving, it’s important to realize a baby is never “just moving” or “just playing.” Every action extends the child’s development in some way, this movement could be voluntary or involuntary, it doesn’t really matter they need to move in order to continuing wiring their brain. Repetition of movement is one of the keys for healthy brain development.

“In order to develop his mind a child must have objects in his environment which he can hear and see. Since he must develop himself through his movement, through the work of his hands, he has need of objects with which he can work that provide motivation for his activity.” (Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood, pg. 82)

Thanks to new insights in brain research, we now know that early movement experiences are considered essential to the neural stimulation (the “use-it-or-lose-it” principle involved in the keeping or pruning of brain cells) needed for healthy brain development.

Not long ago, neuroscientists believed that the structure of a human brain was genetically determined at birth. They now realize that although the main “circuits” are “prewired” (for such functions as breathing and the heartbeat), the experiences that fill each child’s days are what actually determine the brain’s ultimate design and the nature and extent of that child’s adult capabilities.

Neurophysiologist Carla Hannaford, in her book, Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head, states: “Physical movement, from earliest infancy and throughout our lives, plays an important role in the creation of nerve cell networks which are actually the essence of learning.” She then goes on to relate how movement, because it activates the neural wiring throughout the body, makes the entire body not just the brain the instrument of learning.

“…the development of movement is found to be connected with sight.  The first step in movement is that of grasping or prehension; as soon as the hand grasps something, consciousness is called to the hand, and prehension is developed, that which was at first instinctive becoming a conscious movement.  At six months it is fully intentional.  At ten months, observation of the environment has awakened the interest of the child, and he wants to catch hold of everything, so prehension is now accompanies by desire.  He begins to exercise the hand by changing the places of things around him, by opening and shutting doors, pulling out drawers, putting stoppers in bottles, and so on.  Through these exercises, he acquires ability.”  (Maria Montessori, Education for a New World, pg. 42)

What else does movement do? Movement contributes to children’s fine and gross motor development, builds physical strength and stamina, enhances perceptual motor skills, attention span, improves circulation, and helps maintain muscle tone and thus postural control, etc. Now we know all the things infants and children are missing when they are being held by the adult or being confined in a crib, play pen, bouncer, car seat, carrier, stroller, bouncer, walker, exersaucer, or something as simple as wearing the clothing that restricts their movement.

Restriction of Movement

Continual restriction of a child’s movement may have negative consequences for the child’s motor and cognitive and emotional development in later years. For instance if the baby cannot crawl to the toy she or he sees across the room, s/he tent to forget about it. If s/he forgets about it, s/he cannot explore its shape, texture and shape. In short if s/he cannot physically explore something, then s/he is not engaging his/her mind to learn about it.  Children cannot take the information from the environment just by looking at it. In order to absorb information, young children need to hear, look, at, move toward, touch, and feel all the various stimuli.  Maria Montessori called the child during the first three years of life “The Sensorial Explorer”

Tara Losquadro writes in her book Why Motor Skills Matter, “When parents provide an environment full of possibilities and understand the basic principles of physical development, they can enhance their child’s gross and fine motor skills and his speech development, among other things, In turn; these enhancements benefit the child’s emotional well-being and the development of higher self-esteem. With higher self-esteem comes a greater ability to take charge of situations, and to thus feel more secure.” We need to provide them with different sensorial experiences always remembering to provide the right amount of stimuli, never too much because this would cause over stimulation.

Still, recent evidence indicates that infants are spending upward a large amount of waking hours a week in things like high chairs, carriers, car seats. The reasons for this trend are varied. From what I have observed, part of the problem is that infants in some childcare centers; where there may not be enough space to let babies roam the floor. Or, given the number of infants enrolled, there may be little opportunity for caregivers to spend one-on-one time with each baby. This means, in the morning, an infant is typically fed, dressed, and then carried to the automobile, where she’s placed in a car seat. She’s then carried into the childcare center, where she may spend much of her time in a crib or playpen. At the end of the day, she’s picked up, placed again into the car seat, and carried back into the house, where she’s fed, bathed, and put to bed.

Clothing: Why is clothing so important when babies or toddlers move?

Clothing may restrict the child’s movement when extending his/her arm, practicing batting, reaching movements, crawling, walking and movement in general, even lessening the child’s desire to move. The child when moving a specific part of his/her body is being restrained by a piece of material, and s/he assimilates that piece of material as his/her own ability to extend his/her limbs, or his/her own ability to move. It’s important that we choose clothing for our children that is comfortable to wear, appropriate to the environment they will be in, age appropriate and designed to accommodate their greatest variety of movement. It must also be the right size. Hand me downs can be great but if they are too big or too small they might thwart the natural movement of the child or encourage bad habits and posture. A friend gave me an example of this when she was looking after a 7 year old. The pants were too big, always falling down, the boy consistently pulled them up, tripped over them, underwear exposed, etc. He is a very active child and has the necessity to move. Wearing this type of clothing can be dangerous and also draw continuous or negative attention from adults; because of these inadequacies his self-esteem and desire to move may be affected.

What is it that parents look for when buying baby clothes? Is it appearance; is it durability, aesthetics, price, brands, trends, fabrics, fashion, personal style or all of the above?

Examples of clothing that allow for movement

I have only one request for you, when looking for baby clothing try to image yourself in that specific piece of clothing and think how functional or practical it is going to be wearing that piece of garment all day long, including visits to the bathroom. See if it feels comfortable when moving arms, legs, stretching, bending, crawling, etc. If it is too tight or too loose, that you may fall down if you step on it, is it easy to put it on and take it off, how long would it take for you to put it on and take it off, what kind of clothing aids in freedom of movement (this is if we want to encourage independence in toddlers). Young children like to be independent and try to dress and undress independently, don’t kill the desire to do it by buying clothes with complicated fastenings. Try to use clothing that is easy to slip on, pull in and out and stretches when take it off.

Remember people who make baby clothes are not necessarily childhood development specialist; they are designing clothes that catches the eye of the adult, so next time you go baby clothing shopping take into consideration the importance of movement development and its consequences.  What is more important, being in style or being able to move?

My Experience with my Daughter

Here are some pictures of F wearing clothing that in my opinion allows her to move freely. I love seeing my daughter in little dresses but she can’t really crawl or move in them, so I’ve decided to wait until she is older to wear them if she wants to. If she really has to wear a dress for a special occasion (e.g. wedding) I tuck the dress in her pants so she doesn’t trip when crawling or pulling to stand up.

 

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Filed under 0-3 Months, 12-18 Months, 18-24 Months, 2 years +, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Independence, Rubi

Bringing Home Babies

By Christie

The day that we brought the boys home from the hospital feels like a lifetime ago.  They were quite small and my concerns were the same as any new mom: “Are they getting enough milk?  Why are they crying?  Do they really only sleep for 2-3 hour intervals?!”  Not even my intensive Montessori trainings could have prepared me for what real lack of sleep feels like!

The first couple of weeks were spent figuring out life together as a new family.  My husband T had never held a baby before let alone change a diaper (times that by two) so getting him comfortable was top priority.  I was recovering from a C-Section so not very mobile and required a lot of help with the babies.  My mom C was also here staying with us and was a huge support in preparing meals, cleaning, and acting as my personal chauffer since I wasn’t allowed to drive.

In our training we talked about the importance of the “Symbiotic Period” which is the first 6-8 weeks of a child’s life.  During this time the mother and the child establish an important relationship with one another which is crucial to each other’s life.  Through holding, handling, and feeding the mother and child come to know each other in their new relationship and through this the child develops basic trust in the world.  The father plays a very important role as well.  He is the protective barrier and can form his own special relationship with the child through participating in the infant’s physical care (hence why it was so important for T to learn how to change a diaper!!).

Bringing home multiples altered this model a bit.  I had to be conscious of satisfying both boys’ needs equally and T definitely took more of a role in the everyday holding, handling, and feeding (we had to supplement for first 6 weeks).  I found it helpful to read passages of Silvana Montanaro’s book Understanding the Human Being to T in order for him to understand the importance of this period and his role as a father.  During this time he began the nightly ritual of bathing the boys which is a special time for all three of them.  I truly believe that this routine not only helped the boys go to bed without a fuss but also has made T’s bond with the twins so strong due to these nightly interactions.

When we could, we would make an effort to put the boys down on the movement mat (see my previous post on the area for movement).  Now I don’t know what I was expecting but I didn’t realize that with one of my little guys it would take so much work to get him comfortable spending time there!  I guess I thought I would just put them down and they would be happy and content for hours!  Well, like introducing anything new, it was a process.  P was very content to be placed on the mat under the Munari (the first black and white mobile introduced from 2 weeks on) however with R I would literally put him down and he would immediately start crying to be picked up!  Over the course of days and weeks it was my goal to ‘remediate’ this as I knew just how important it was for babies to experience the early stages of independence.  I started out sitting on the mat while holding him, then put him on my lap, then lay him down beside me….all for very short intervals of time.  This was done multiple times throughout each day and eventually I was able to put him down and leave him on the mat without me.  I am happy to report that R now loves being on the movement mat for long periods of time (which mommy also loves!).

P and R observing the Munari mobile while laying on their topponcinos on the movement mat

R and P observing the Munari mobile while laying on their topponcinos on the movement mat

The first two months of R and P’s lives seems like a distant blur.  We survived the Symbiotic Period and the thing that made it all worth it was when the boys finally looked at us after the two months and gave us real smiles!

SmilesSmiles

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Filed under 0-3 Months, Christie, Independence, Play Area/Toys, Relationships