Tag Archives: motor development

1 Year Old – Bring on the Underwear

By Carrie

And multiple trips to the potty.  And multiple times of wet underwear every day.  And some amazing joys of a toddler learning to use the potty.

underwear

I seem to get the raised eyebrow when I mention that A. is wearing underwear and using the potty.  “How old is she??? ” I’m asked incredulously.  She is currently 15 months.  When she was 12 months I started putting her in underwear at home during awake times.  Why would I put my “baby” in underwear?  She’s just going to go pee in it!

At first yes.  As I mentioned in Cloth Diapers – Go For It! one of my reasons for using cloth diapers was so that A. would learn wet/dry.  I’m not really sure this worked for her as she never fussed with a wet diaper.  So my hope was that by wearing underwear A. would start the process of learning:

  1. I’m Wet
  2. I’m Going
  3. I Need to Go

Wet underwear certainly helps the child learn that they have gone pee/poo.  My attempts at EC (Elimination Communication) didn’t pan out as successfully as I envisioned, despite gleaning all the little tips from my Montessori AtoI trainers of timing and glassy eyes.  I figured if I was to step up my ability to help A. be successful at getting to the potty in time, I needed to figure out when she was naturally going pee.  With wet underwear, this would certainly help me.  I also wanted to catch the Sensitive Period for toileting (12-18 Months).  I know from my Montessori training that underwear would aid in her motor development by not having a bulky diaper to impede her movement.  It is recommended to switch to underwear once the child is crawling.

To start off I read Diaper Free Before 3 (about 3 times!).  Super helpful book!  I purchased some training underwear.  I put extra cloths downstairs to clean up any extra messes that might occur.  I already had a potty upstairs and downstairs that she was fairly comfortable using.  I added some low stools for her to sit on so that she could become more involved in the undressing/dressing.  We were ready to go!

DSC_0060 (2)_crop

I was already putting her on the potty at every diaper change so I just increased the number of times a day I was offering her an opportunity to use it.  “It’s time to use the potty.”  (I sign potty and say it verbally)  I started putting her on the potty upon waking, before & after eating, before going out & upon the return home, and before bath.  Or if we were at home for a long time I would keep an eye on her about 45 minutes – 1 hour after she had previously used the potty.  By wearing underwear I quickly figured out some nuances.  After breakfast means right away, do not even attempt to clean up.  After lunch means after cleaning up and playing for a bit (about 15 minutes later).  I learned that she doesn’t urinate a whole lot in the mornings but late afternoons/evenings she urinates quite frequently so I need to offer her more opportunities.

I was definitely gaining an awareness of her toileting needs by using underwear.  I keep a neutral attitude towards wet pants.  “Oh we need to go potty and change your wet pants.”  I keep a neutral attitude, as much as possible, when she pees/poops or doesn’t pee/poop on the potty.  “Oh you went pee.” “No pee this time.”  Of course there are times when there have been a lot of wet pants that day and when she does go I’ll be so happy so I share with her “I am so proud of you for peeing in the potty.”  I don’t give her any rewards or praise for going.  I don’t give her any punishments, disappointment, or shame her for soiling her pants, nor do I refer to it as “having an accident.”  I may give her encouragement such as “It must feel so good to have dry underwear and go pee in the potty.”  As much as possible, I keep toilet learning matter-of-fact.

As I’ve previously shared, spending time together doing diaper changes is an important part of our bond.  Changing that to toileting hasn’t been too big of an issue.  We are in the washroom a whole lot more frequently.  This route of toilet learning is exactly that – learning.  It doesn’t happen overnight and I committed to spending a lot of time with A. to help her in this process.  I really feel this is an important part of her development and giving her my time is important.  I also feel like it is modeling that spending time on toileting is important.  I don’t want her to ignore any urges she has to eliminate.  I want to help her become successful at getting to the potty/toilet when she needs to eliminate.

Success

Struggles.  Yes underwear on my 1 year old has been filled with struggles.  6 wet sets of underwear and pants some days.  Poopy underwear.  More poopy underwear.  [I’m quite thankful for purchasing Blueberry Trainers which not only contained the poop (including a getting over a gastrointestinal illness poop) but also have been easy to clean.  Oh and cute, gender neutral patterns too!  Because they have cotton interior and exterior, they allow the child to feel the wetness but due to the PUL in the middle, there are never any puddles.]   There have been set-backs such as illness, immunizations, and a developmental leap.  I figured there would be a set-back once she learned to walk (and there still may be as she’s not walking yet) but I didn’t think it would come when she learned to stand independently.  A sudden resistance to using the potty was a surprise but by focusing on our relationship for a few days instead of focusing on the potty, we were back on track.  There are constant surprises with this toilet learning journey.

“It is clear that toilet awareness is more than a matter of “dry pants” for the child.” ~Montessori  From the Start

Surprises  – and joys – that keep me motivated to stay on track.  A.’s pooping habits have changed.  Previously I would change a poopy diaper first thing in the morning.  Occasionally I still do but it is becoming more frequent that she poops, most often in the potty, after breakfast.  I’m thrilled that she seems to be gaining an awareness of her toileting needs.  While not a lot, there have been a few times where she will come to me and fuss until I take her to the potty and then she immediately has a big pee.  This is a huge step towards understanding her own urges to eliminate and I am so excited that she is gaining this awareness.  There have also been days when her underwear has stayed dry all day.  I think this is a combination of A. understanding that she is offered the potty at fairly regular intervals so will hold it or use it at those times and that I’ve figured out when she naturally needs to go.  Long-term success is still a ways off but the short-term successes keep my heart warm that we’re on the right track.  A huge joy for me is when A. pulls up her underwear.  It is just adorable!

pulling up underwear“The child’s nature is to aim directly and energetically at functional independence.  Development takes the form of a drive toward an ever-greater independence.  It is like an arrow released from the bow, which flies straight, swift and sure. …. While he is developing, he perfects himself and overcomes every obstacle that he finds in his path.  

~ Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind


Want to read more?  Check out Melissa’s journey with her daughter at Vibrant Wanderings

17 Comments

Filed under 12-18 Months, 18-24 Months, Carrie, Diapers/Toileting

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.

 

5 Comments

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

Crawling – Part Two: The Prepared Environment

By Rubi

Each stage of development goes so fast that it’s important to be prepared ahead of time in order to help the child achieve each milestone. My husband and I decided to set up our home in a way that would allow F to explore her surroundings freely. We believe that having the ability to explore the environment enhances cognitive and motor development, since the child sees something across the room and is able to crawl, creep, roll over or walk towards it to explore and manipulate it. If the child is placed in an exersaucer, bouncy seat or play pen the child has to wait for an adult to place a toy in front of him/her and play with whatever he/she was given.  This doesn’t allow the child to play, move and most importantly, it doesn’t give him/her the opportunity to choose what he/she wants to play with.

Playing with spinning top

In Montessori we pay a lot of attention to preparation of the environment and the selection of the materials (toys). We believe the prepared environment gives the child the best opportunity to develop the different stages of development; therefore, it is necessary that the adult spends time to carefully select and choose what is best for the child.  When choosing the materials (toys) we have to make sure they are child size, they are beautiful and have an intelligent purpose.

We chose toys that would help F enhance hand-eye coordination, help her develop attention and concentration, give her a sense of accomplishment, develop visual skills, encourage her to coordinate her movements, help with balance and eventually help her develop the process of independence.

As well as covering the plugs, removing poisonous plants and materials with toxins, securing cabinets, etc. we made sure that there is something interesting and safe throughout the house for her to see, touch and learn from.

Here are some toys that we chose for her room for this stage of development (crawling):

  • A box with a tray and ball to help her with the process of object permanence (something that is out of sight doesn’t mean it is gone forever), the ball disappears briefly then comes back; this material also enables her to work on her hand-eye coordination, cause-and-effect.
  • On a different corner there is a basket with different balls of various textures, sizes and weighs for her to touch, roll, explore and compare (with this activity she is choosing, comparing, tactile input, measuring size, texture, colors, etc.).
  • A little wood boat with two wooden toys that she takes out of the boat and tries to put back into the wholes. She is working on her fine motor skills, hand eye coordination.
  • A basket with different musical instruments a rattle, egg shaker, bells. With this activity she is able to refine her hearing and explore the different textures and sizes of the musical instruments.
  • A box with balls to push, her favourite toy in the room. She loves pushing the balls down and watching them go out of the tray. This toy is strengthening the muscles of her hands and fingers; as well as, developing her hand-eye coordination, it also helps her understand cause and effect when she pushes the ball down is goes through the hole and falls down.

In the dining area I have another shelf with:

Shelf with Materials

  • A low shelf with a book.
  • A wooden toy (egg and a cup) helps her with hand-eye coordination and to cross the midline.
  • A xylophone for hand-eye coordination and music appreciation.
  • A basket with known objects: a wooden rattle, interlocking rings (metal) a little brush (I name the objects and explore them carefully, we are working on her language skills using concrete objects to associate word and object)

In the kitchen I have another low shelf:

Shelf with Materials

  • A metal top, a little metal basket with a fabric flower that she takes in and out, a toy with pegs and rings. All of them help her with hand-eye coordination and refinement of fine motor skills.
  •  I also placed some cube magnets on my husband’s metal desk that she loves. All of the materials listed above are changed slowly, after she loses interest or masters a skill or moves on to a different milestone.

Objects to encourage walking:

  • Low furniture, such as our sofa, an ottoman, etc.
  • She has a beautiful handmade wooden chair that she uses to pull herself up and holds on to the sofa while practicing standing up and sitting down. She is on her way to cruising (walking along furniture).

The outdoor environment:

 

  • There is a wind chime that she enjoys moving as she crawls by.
  • A bucket with some rocks that she places in and out of it chews on them and manipulates.
  • Bubbles
  • Most important, she explores the grass, the stone path, and the plants.
  • A low lounge chair for her to practice standing, cruising, pulling up and sitting down.

By nine months a baby understands the purpose of an object: a cup is for drinking, a rattle is for shaking, etc. by letting her manipulate different objects we are allowing her to make the appropriate associations.

It is a lot of work to prepare and maintain the environment but  I enjoy looking at my daughter everyday choosing her favorite toys, crawling from one shelf to another or ignoring a shelf or a toy because  she is too busy picking up a tiny little dog hair that she has found on the floor.

3 Comments

Filed under 6-12 Months, Play Area/Toys, Rubi