Category Archives: Relationships

Parent/Child Relationship, Sibling Relationship

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

Topponcino

By Carrie

topponcino

photo courtesy of Eileen Simoneau

If you’ve looked into Montessori for a newborn you’ve probably come across the topponcino, for sale here or here or here.  This was the first material we made in our A to I training, challenging many of us to brush up on or learn how to use the sewing machine.  It was also one of the materials, along with the undershirt, that I was most looking forward to using when my daughter was first born.  I made sure it was packed in the hospital bag, ready to use from birth.  It is also one of the few items for the Assistants to Infancy that Maria Montessori mentioned herself.

The baby should remain as much as possible with the mother directly after birth, and the environment must not present obstacles to his adaptation … The child must be carefully handled and moved, not … rapidly and roughly dressed – roughly in the sense that any handling of a new-born child is rough because he is so exquisitely delicate, psychically as well as physically.  It is best of all if the newborn child is not dressed, but rather kept in a room sufficiently heated and free from draughts, and carried on a soft mattress, so that he remains in a position similar to the prenatal one.  ~Maria Montessori, Education for a New World

The topponcino is exactly that, a soft mattress for the newborn to aid in his/her adaptation to his/her new world (outside of the womb).   Maria Montessori’s thoughts on infancy were greatly influenced by her time spent in India and my understanding is that this is where she first saw this “soft mattress” (and perhaps why she felt the newborn did not need to wear clothing but this is my own interpretation as I opt for a lower heating bill and clothing that allows for freedom of movement).  The topponcino is made from cotton or wool (if you live in a cold climate) batting with a simple cover.  It then has a sham that goes over top.  The sham is typically white with a white eyelet lace ruffle at the top of it.  It is elliptical in shape to simulate the shape of the womb, again to aid the newborn in his/her adaptation.  If you choose to use a coloured sham it should be plain or simple in design with soft colour(s).  In addition to the wool one I had made during my training I was given the gift of a plush, cotton topponcino with a beautiful blue, floral cover made by my friend.  Typically you would have multiple shams (they do get spit-up, etc. on them) and you could also use a rubberized flannel protector or other mattress protector underneath the sham but I was lucky enough to have two topponcinos for washing.  Topponcinos do need to be hand washed and air dried.

I was looking forward to using a topponcino for my daughter as it is a little security pillow for the newborn.  In addition to being soft and comfortable to lie on, it becomes a consistent, known object to the newborn.  When the baby is first born, his/her whole world is brand new with a few exceptions, such as the sound of the mother’s voice and heartbeat.  When the mother consistently uses the topponcino, the pillow absorbs the smell of the mother and provides consistent warmth to the newborn.  Having a consistent smell and warmth will provide a great sense of security to the newborn.  We call it having a “point of reference.”  The topponcino can be used to carry and hold the newborn, including while nursing/feeding, as well as it can be used for sleeping or lying on while awake.  It is a wonderful way for the newborn to be held by others so that cold hands, rough watches/bracelets, or muscle tension does not transfer to the “exquisitely delicate” newborn, as well as the smell of the mother remains with the newborn.  It is a wonderful way to transfer the newborn from your arms to the bed or bassinet so that he/she doesn’t startle and the consistent warmth and smell remains with the newborn.  It also serves as a third layer of warmth/clothing for the newborn.

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From the moment I was able to hold her in my arms I cuddled A. on her topponcino that I had made for her.  She slept on it in the hospital bassinet and comfortably looked about.  One particular nurse raised a concern that it was too plush for a newborn and urged me to watch for her shoulders slumping in that would contribute to her chest being compressed and A. not being able to breathe properly.  I observed for this and could clearly see this was not happening.  When I explained to the nurse the purpose of the topponcino she absolutely loved it and it became a conversation starter to explain many other Montessori principles to the nurses.  I was glad that the nurse had brought this to my attention as when I placed A. on the cestina using the topponcino I realized the cestina mattress was too plush to use with the topponcino.  So when using the cestina I didn’t use the topponcino.  I chose to use the topponcino with the Moses basket instead.

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A. slept so peacefully during the day in her Moses basket on her topponcino (night was a different story).  I loved cuddling her using the topponcino and watching her sleep.  As she got older she didn’t sleep very well independently and we used baby carriers more.  Many people have had great success transferring their newborns to the bed or bassinet using the topponcino but this was not the case for us.  She continued to use the topponcino quite a bit during alert times.  I would place her on the topponcino when she was on her movement mat or place a cushion in the Moses basket so she would be up higher and could see out.  This way I could keep her with me wherever I was in the house or take her outside.

A. on her topponcino being observed by the children at my school, Morgan Creek Montessori

Using it in the home was lovely but what I really enjoyed the topponcino for was when I was taking her out.  I had a c-section with slow healing so was unable to carry heavy items for many months.  So while most people carry their infant in the car-seat carrier, I was unable to carry something that heavy.  I found the topponcino indispensable.  I would carry her out to the car using the topponcino and transfer her to her car seat.  When I took her out of the car seat I used the topponcino to carry her about.  I always felt more secure holding her in her security pillow, especially when my hands were a little full I could easily cradle her in one arm using the topponcino and I knew she was comfortable and secure.  While we waited at many doctors appointments she was able to be comfortable, secure and warm.  When we went to social gatherings I could simply place her on the floor on her topponcino.  If others wanted to hold her I could easily pass her along using the topponcino (although for reasons I will write about another time I did limit my outings and others holding her for the first few months).  When breastfeeding out in public I didn’t have a nursing cover at first but by curling the topponcino up I felt covered.  I really don’t know what I would have done during those challenging first few months without my topponcino.

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Filed under 0-3 Months, Carrie, Food/Feeding, Relationships

Implementing Multi-age and Individual Learning in your Home Part II

By Yvonne

Warm greeting to everyone, how are everyone doing this week? How was the weekend? Have you shared your experience with observation on our post or with a family member or a friend? How were the “Observe the needs of your child individually” sessions go? I am excited to find out what you have watched, listened, noticed and made notes of. I hope it was as rewarding for you as it was for me. Were you able to apply and translate the needs of your child into Individual Attention? Now that you have had a chance to Observe your child and to give them some Individual Attention; it is time for us to discuss how children of different ages work together in harmony.

Many parents have asked me the following question when they are exploring the idea of putting their children in a Montessori Environment. They asked, “why do you have children of different ages in the same classroom, isn’t it hard for the children and doesn’t that lead to a chaotic classroom, isn’t it much easier as a teacher to have a class of children of the same age?”  From my many years spent in a Montessori classroom I have confirmed that the answer to all those questions is “no”.

I have observed that children have a natural need to nurture others and lead others. They need each other. A child of two and half to three years old look up to a child who is five years old for comfort and familiarity when he or she goes to the Montessori classroom for the very first time. The child who is five and soon to be six years old shows the ability to care for his or her young friend, because he or she has been through that first day experience. It is such a beautiful image seeing them holding hands with each other as the young child slowly stops crying and begins to smile; as the older child feel confident in his or herself and proud of what he or she has accomplish to the caring of others.

Parents, isn’t it wonderful that you have that opportunity to observe this nurturing tendency within your own family when you have more then one child? Yes, it is not always a picture perfect moment when there is sibling conflict, but we are all learning to paint that picture perfect moment more often everyday with our children. Why do we as parents need to give our children the Individual Attention? It is because it is only after we know our child’s individual needs that we are able to group them together in harmony.

Group activities for children to participate as a family

  • After they have their individual attention, we maybe able to find out each child’s unique gift and abilities. For example, E. and H. love to do a lot of cooking and baking in the kitchen. Depending on the menu we have come up with together, E. is contributing her ability at home by pealing the carrots, cutting the mushrooms, and marinate meats with gloves on. On the other hand H. wants to learn and contribute to the family as well. She loves water so she is able to contribute by washing vegetables and fruits. Some other activities that they can do together are to both help to do some preparation with the vegetables. It could be a very simple dish with different layers of difficulties to meet the individual child’s need.
  • Suggestions for Activities to do with your individual child (please keep in mind of their daily routines and age abilities)
  1. Have a nature walk together and talk about what each other has observed?
  2. Have a cooking session. Have fun making lunch or dinner such as personalized pizza, tortilla, sushi bento, Vietnamese wrap.
  3. Have a car wash.
  4. Help to clean the house such as wiping the table, chairs, windows and mirrors. They can also wipe/mop the floor if the child is able to do so.
  5. Doing laundry together. Have the older child hold the garment bag and the younger child put the dirty clothes into the garment bag. Depending on the ability of the child, they can zip up the garment bag and help put it into the washing machine.
  6. Help to clean their room by folding their own clothes or by putting the hanger on the clothes.
  7. Make a surprise project for someone such as Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Christmas.
  8. Make a grocery list with your children and have a fun trip at the market.
  9. Have a book reading session and give each child the chance to express what they have learnt from the book they read together.
  10. Plan a trip together. Ask your child to see what they need. Depending on the ability of your child, the older child can come up and write a list of things they need for the trip and they younger child can help put the items in the suitcase.

Enjoy your time learning from you children

  • The key word of everything I have shared is to enjoy, enjoy and enjoy it. The joy of learning will only be experienced in our lives and the lives of our children when it is fun and enjoyable. The positive mechanism can come out more easily through having fun with what we are experiencing and learning. Moreover, our precious little one needs us to send positive thoughts and messages of encouragement as they continue to explore life on their own. Life is not always fair, but we can change that with a great attitude towards life. Always be positive with whatever the journey ahead of you takes you.

A special note for the mothers who are reading our post, I want to encourage you and remind myself; you are a wonderful individual who is able to do all things. Just don’t forget to take a moment to breath and smile as your child looks up to you as role model for life.

Now I have shared what OIGE stands for enjoy life, enjoy your discovery of your children. Happy sharing everyone!

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Filed under 18-24 Months, 2 years +, Relationships, Yvonne

Implementing Multi-age and Individual Learning in your Home – Part I

By Yvonne

Warm greeting to everyone and Happy Thanksgiving! It is a tradition in our family to count our blessings during Thanksgiving. I am especially thankful that I have two precious daughters that God has given me to take care of.

When they were born, our family and friend’s said they looked like their father. As they continue to grow, people are saying E. looks like a mini me and H. looks like my husband. In fact the grandparents sometimes have difficult time telling them a part by their voice, as they sounded almost identical. But did I give birth to a set of identical twins? The answer is no and even identical twins are individually made with their own set of distinctions and uniqueness. Every child is being shaped since the beginning of being conceived. E. is nearly four years old and H. is a year and half now. They are similar, but yet very different individuals. The question is how can we help them to be uniquely their own individuals and yet teach them to love each other as siblings from the same family? I made an acronym called OIGE. In the first half of my sharing, I will like to invite you to do try “O” and “I” for about two weeks. After two weeks I will have another post to share what “G” and “E” stand for.

Observe the needs of your child individually

  • As a Montessori teacher, it is part of our training to learn how to observe.  Do you do people watching when you are at a café? When I do these exercises I imaging myself as a private detective trying to find clues through my observation skills. Could you give it a try and maybe you will find out a new skill within you. What does it mean to observe? Here are some of activities I engage in when I do my observation.
    • Watch
      • It is very hard to slow down and quite ourselves down to watch as our culture does not allow us to do that. But when we do it can be very rewarding. For today how about setting aside five minutes of your time, quite down, sit down on the side beside your child and see how your child leads you in that five minutes. Make sure in these precious five minutes that you do not have your cell phone, computer or anything that can take your attention away. Then as you get use to the idea of observation, you may slowly increase the time as your own family time allows you.
    • Listen
      • As you watch your precious one interact with you or with other siblings take the time to just listen. It is a special skill to just listen and try to understand your child.
    • Notice
      • As you watch and listen, your child will lead you to another stage of excitement which will make you notice something that you may not have noticed before. But or after watching and listening it confirms what you have in your mind.
    • Make Note
      • Now after you watch, listen and notice; you can write in a notebook or put it on your cell phone or computer what you have observed each time. When you write it down, it helps you to process what is on your mind. It could be as simple as giving thanks to have the time to observe your child or details about your concerns about your child.

Individual Attention

  • How can we have an interlocking relationship with our children? Think back, when you were dating your significant others or spending time with your best friend, how much time did you spend together? Maybe you were like me wanting to be with each other as much your time allows you. It is because of spending quality time together, you are able to know one another, understand one another. Spending quality time with each child it is just as important as your marry relationship. You want to build that special parents and child relationship since they are place in your family. You want to also build a trust between the child and you. Your child treasures those special times/moments you have with them.
  • Suggestions for Activities to do with your individual child (please keep in mind of their daily routines and age abilities)
  1. Lunch date with just mother or father.
  2. Going to parent and child class together such as creative movement class, a pottery or a clay painting class for children.
  3. Going to concert together.
  4. Have a nature walk.
  5. Going to library.
  6. Spend time to do homework together if need it depends on the child’s age.
  7. Watch a sport’s game together.
  8. Do volunteer work around your community.
  9. Special activity planned for individual child with individual attention when other children are not around. Such as making a craft project, learning about the planets.
  10. Have a special project that is over a period of time together such as planting the flowers in the garden and see it grow or have a recycle challenge.

I am excited to hear what you have discover in the next two weeks after you have a chance to try to do some observation and learn the special gift that each child has in your family. Are you excited? I am, I am learning everyday to find out what skills my children have within them so I can help to foster that inner gift and help them to achieve what they have never discover. Happy sharing everyone!

 

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Filed under 18-24 Months, 2 years +, Relationships, Yvonne

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 Relationship of Feeding

By Carrie

I settle into my nursing chair, breast-feeding pillow comfortably on my lap, feet up on the ottoman and lay A. down on the pillow.  “Would you like some mommy milk?”  She eagerly begins to nurse then looks up at me with her big blue eyes and reaches her hand up for mine.  The love hormones wash over me in this moment.  It is wonderful!   This is what I waited for. 

Prior to A.’s birth I did a lot of preparation, especially when it came to breastfeeding.  My husband and I attended a prenatal class that had a session devoted specifically to breastfeeding, we attended our local community breastfeeding class, I read this book on breastfeeding, and I observed (during  our required hours of observation for our training) many women breastfeeding to know a proper latch.  Having a few friends who were unable to breastfeed (due to different circumstances), I knew that despite the preparation I did, breastfeeding itself might not work out.  So while my preparation helped me to feel ready for the mechanics of breastfeeding, my Montessori training had prepared me to focus on the relationship with my daughter during feeding, breast or bottle. 

http://www.sikorskaia.com/gallery/main/index_2.html

“the child will receive not only the food to satisfy his hunger but also the loving presence of the mother.  He will be offered information as to how to fill an empty stomach and how to enjoy a human relationship with its many sensory inputs (such as a face to observe, a voice to listen to, the warmth of bodily contact), which become food for the mind.”  ~ Dr. Silvana Montanaro, Understanding the Human Being

It was important to me to focus on the relationship with my daughter that would unfold as I fed her.  While I feel that breast milk is the best food for an infant, breastfeeding is not about the food itself.  Feeding her was also about nourishing her psychological needs.  Feeding my daughter provided me an opportunity to bond with her that no other situation would offer us.  It is an intimate time for the two of us to share.

During her first few weeks I fed her skin to skin as we got to know one another.  She was able to get to know my smell, be close to my familiar heartbeat that she heard while in-utero, feel my warmth, and be close to hear my voice.  We were able to examine each other’s faces, staring into the eyes we had been waiting to meet for nine months.  The first couple of months, the symbiotic period, was an essential time in our relationship to bond with each other.  By the end of the symbiotic period, I knew we had a strong, trusting, loving bond together and attribute much to our time spent as I nursed her. 

Holding Quote If the child is deprived of a mother who is fully present while eating, he/she will not be able to gain a full understanding of a relationship with another human being.  The relationship with the mother is the child’s first relationship and it sets the stage for all other relationships.  If all we offer is food and not our full attention, our full love, our desire to get to know this other human being – then relationship will only have empty meaning to a child.  Relationship will be about the mechanics, not the warmth of intimacy. 

“the nursing mother should be comfortably seated in a quiet place and feed the child while looking at it.  Although it is technically possible to offer the breast and read a book, talk to someone or watch television, we must realize that, in this way, we detach psychological nourishment from biological feeding.”  ~Dr. Silvana Montanaro, Understanding the Human Being

Those first few months with A. were so special.  I was so excited to be a new mother that I fully devoted my attention to A. while feeding her. I was present with her in mind, body, and soul.  But then came the book with the information I was craving to get through a challenging part of motherhood and I couldn’t put the book down.  And the text that came flashing in so I continued the conversation while feeding A.  I checked my e-mail in the morning to ensure there were no pressing matters to deal with for my school.  I justified this thinking “she’s so focused on eating, she’s not paying attention to me”, “it’s just for a moment, then I’ll turn my attention back to her”, and thinking that other things were more important than spending quality, uninterrupted time with my daughter while feeding her.  I hesitated to write this post as I don’t want to be hypocritical.  But having the intellectual knowledge, the emotional understanding and desire to do things, and carrying it out in reality can sometimes be very challenging.

A few months ago A.’s weight gain was minimal, not in a concerning manner but in a ‘let’s keep an eye on it’ manner.  I immediately went into protective mommy role: “Am I doing all that I can to provide for my daughter?”  I thought back to the hormones involved in breastfeeding.  I thought that perhaps if I wasn’t fully engaged in the moment with A., how could my body be deeply connecting to this experience?  I took the books away from my nursing side table.  I stopped bringing my phone to the nursing chair.  I remembered to be fully in the moment with A.  I started holding her with both hands to be more engaged with her while she ate.  I let our eyes deeply meet again throughout the entire feed.  I don’t know if this made a difference to her weight gain, but it helped me re-focus on all of A.’s needs: food for physical development and my loving, fully-engaged presence for her psychological development.

While I still sometimes struggle to not bring the phone with me to text or check e-mails, I definitely limit it while I did not a few months ago.  I try to keep in mind how it feels when someone I sit down to share a meal with pulls out their phone and ignores me.  “I thought we had an important date.”  I feel hurt.  I do not want my daughter to feel this way.  No matter how many times a day I feed her, or for long, I need to bring my full attention, full acceptance, full love to that important time with her.  I recently read this article that specifically focuses on the negative effects of texting while breastfeeding.  It reminded me of a correlation I made during my training.  The images of mothers suffering from depression and unable to connect to their baby (who was desperately trying to get the mother’s attention) looked a lot like the mothers who were watching TV, talking to a friend, or on the phone while breastfeeding.  In both cases the mother was not engaged with her infant.  While suffering from depression is not a choice (and I do hope anyone who is suffering from this is able to recognize it and get the help they need), feeding a baby while texting, reading, watching TV, talking to others, etc. is a choice.  I need to make the choice to be fully with my daughter when nursing her.  I can choose to engage with others or read my book afterwards.  I can quickly check my e-mails prior to feeding her so I won’t be mentally distracted.  Our Montessori trainer, Chacha, said “The child does not need the perfect adult, but an adult who is willing to become a better human being.”  I know that I only have one child and those with multiple children have an additional challenge to stay fully engaged with their infant.  A friend with multiple children said to me, “With my third, nursing was the only time I was able to fully focus on her.”

bottle-feeding

A special note regarding bottle feeding.  The question arose during our prenatal class for myself who was worried that I would not be able to breastfeed and for those that were choosing not to breastfeed: Is it possible to have the same psychological connection with your baby using a bottle?  Our instructor was wonderful in encouraging us to simulate many of the same scenarios.  Feed your newborn with skin-to-skin contact.  Have the mother exclusively feed the newborn for the first couple of months (symbiotic period) to establish their relationship (or at least limit others feeding the newborn during this time period).  Hold the baby in a similar manner to breastfeeding, switching sides for each bottle feeding.  Set aside all distractions so you can focus on your newborn.  If the father or other caregivers are feeding then it is important that they too spend uninterrupted, focused time with the baby while feeding.  The relationship of feeding can be deep, wonderful, and intimate if you bottle feed or breastfeed. 

“When we hold a child, we must understand that a special life project is in our arms awaiting our assistance in order to develop fully. … Proper “holding” must convey to the child our joy for this intimacy, in addition to our love, respect and admiration for its being.” ~Dr. Silvana Montanaro, Understanding the Human Being 

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Filed under 0-3 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Carrie, Food/Feeding, Relationships

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