Tag Archives: movement mat

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

Crawling – Part One: Tummy Time

By Rubi

When taking the Assistants to Infancy training we studied the development of movement (voluntary and involuntary). Among the voluntary movements there are many important milestones, including one important one that my own child has just mastered, crawling.

One of the most important preliminary exercises that will assist a baby to learn to crawl, is tummy time.  The importance of tummy time cannot be understated as it leads to the strengthening of a baby’s core, back and neck muscles, eventually strengthening the shoulders, forearms and wrists; all contributing factors to a baby’s physical development and ability to crawl.

The Area for Movement:

In Montessori we have a place for everything and everything has a place, therefore we have a specific area for babies to exercise, (which of course includes “tummy time”), and we refer to it as “The Area for Movement”.  The Area for Movement consists of a movement mat, a mirror, and a low shelf with different material (toys) as well as some pictures on the wall and mobiles hanging from the ceiling.

The movement mat is an important tool to use since it will allow the infant to develop voluntary movement in a safe and comfortable place.  This place also encourages the infant to be independent since he/she is able to explore different objects, observe mobiles or just practice some rolling on his/her own while mom is observing from the distance.

The Area for Movement could be placed in the infant’s room or in the living room, whatever is most suitable for your family’s space and preference.  We chose to arrange the area in our Daughter’s bedroom.

The movement mat should be approximately 75” x 40” made of dense foam or a soft yet firm material.  Ours was purchased at Ikea and was originally sold as a “mattress top”, however many options are on the market.  For more information on setting up your Area for Movement, please read Christie’s blog post on setting up the home environment

How I introduced Tummy Time to my baby:

Putting my Montessori education into practice with my child is not always as easy as I would hope.  We introduced tummy time to our daughter about two weeks after we brought her home from the hospital, which at the time was quite easy to do as she seemed to prefer sleeping on her stomach (not doctor recommended due to a higher risk of SIDS).  After a month or two she became very fussy when we put her down on a flat surface such as her movement mat.   Our daughter would become very upset if we left her on the movement mat for more than a minute or two and I struggled to find a solution to this problem.

The solution that finally worked was quite simple:  We started placing our daughter on her stomach for a very short time (about 20 seconds worked for us, but each baby is different so if you baby is more comfortable on the mat you might go longer), once or twice per day.  While she was on the mat, my husband or I sat with her and showed her various materials such as rattles and pictures.  She slowly became more comfortable spending time on her tummy and as she did we increased the amount of time from 20 seconds to 30, 40, etc. and gradually increased the number of tummy time sessions to 3-4 per day. This process took a lot of patience, but it worked.

If your baby is having a lot of problems with Tummy Time, I would also suggest that you experiment using firm pillows to prop your baby up in a more comfortable position.  With our daughter we found that a nursing pillow worked well, as shown in the following picture.  We started using the nursing pillow in this way at around 3 months until she was comfortable without it:

At 5 months my daughter started sitting up on her own and wanted to be in this position at all times, but I still managed to encourage tummy time every day.  At six and a half months she started creeping backwards and rolling to places to get around; at seven months she was on her hands and knees, a good sign that she would be crawling in a month or so. She stared crawling a week before she turned nine months and I was the happiest mother ever as all of my efforts, and hers, had been rewarded.

Happy with Tummy Time

For more information on your babies growth, care and development in the first year, I recommend the book: Baby Day by Day, by Dr. Ilona Bendefy, DK Publishing.

For more information on how to improve your child’s physical development, I recommend the book:
Why Motor Skills Matter, by Tara Losquadro Liddle, M.P.T., McGraw-Hill.

I also highly recommend the following article about the importance of crawling: What’s So Important About Crawling? 

Don’t forget to enter to win the Five Pack of Toys from Beginning Montessori by commenting on our blog or our facebook page with something you’d like us to write about in future posts.  Entries must be submitted by Saturday, August 24 11:59PM PST.   (Contest has now closed.)

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Filed under 0-3 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Play Area/Toys, Rubi

Setting up our Home

By Christie 

When we found out we were having twin boys I thought to myself, “Now this is REALLY going to put my Montessori theory to the test!!”  It was finally time for me to put my many years of experience with other people’s babies into practice and I was ready for the challenge.

A huge factor in the Montessori philosophy is preparing the environment.  This is a fancy way of saying that you must spend a good deal of time getting your house ready for the child/ren in such a way that you take into account their needs at each developmental stage.  By creating a beautiful, calm, simple space for the baby with the right amount of stimulation it is hoped that he/she will form a secure and healthy attachment to his/her new family and world.

My husband and I have a fairly small house so we really needed to be mindful of how we were to set up the space for not one but two babies!  Setting up their room was so exciting (to be discussed in a future post) however one of the components which we term the area for movement (aka play zone) I chose to create outside of their room and make it a part of our common living space.  I wanted a visible area where I could put the boys down and they would be able to entertain themselves while I made a much needed cup of coffee!

So, I needed to prepare such an environment.  What did I need?  A movement mat, mirror, cabinet, shelf, and materials.  Please keep in mind that we were on a budget so the items that I bought are not the top of the line but still serve the purpose.  I wanted the space to be beautiful, calm, and simple and not have my house overtaken by baby items so had to be selective with what I chose to buy.

The movement mat that I purchased is a mattress topper from Ikea similar to this one and I covered it with a rubberized flannel pad and a neutral bed sheet (also purchased at Ikea).

The mirror I got was from Canadian Tire.  Ideally it would not be framed and you need to make sure it is secured to the wall.  I LOVE using these Velcro-type strips for all the things I hang for the boys as they can easily be removed when they grow and when the height of the pictures etc. need to be adjusted.

I had the hardest time finding the right cabinet with enough shelves and glass doors but not too large in size.  I finally found one at Winners/Home Sense however this is the one that I am still on the hunt for (although totally out of my price range).

Now, what to put in the cabinet?  Well, I was lucky!  Since I had been running Parent-Infant classes for a few years now, I was able to simply bring my materials home from school.  What do I mean by materials?  Basically they are toys.  I am sure you have noticed by now that we have a particular lingo in the Montessori world.  We choose to call them materials as they all have a specific developmental purpose however simply put, they are educational toys.  I purchased the majority of mine from: Beginning Montessori and Michael Olaf.  I occasionally find nice items at places around town, keeping in mind some key factors like the toys need to be small, preferably made from wood or another natural substance, and purposeful.

In the first few months you don’t need much except a few small grasping materials, a music box or other source of music, and a selection of mobiles.  We hung one of those plant hanger hooks in the ceiling above the movement mat (my husband was not too happy about this) and this is where the mobiles are hung.  The specific toys were placed on a small low shelf (actually a shoe rack from Canadian Tire).

The space was ready! Thank goodness because the boys chose to arrive almost a month early! 🙂

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Don’t forget to enter to win the Five Pack of Toys from Beginning Montessori by commenting on our blog or our facebook page with something you’d like us to write about in future posts. Entries must be submitted by Saturday, August 24 11:59PM PST.  (Contest has now closed)

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Filed under 0-3 Months, 3-6 Months, Christie, Play Area/Toys, Uncategorized