Tag Archives: tummy time

Outdoor Nature Experiences for Your Baby

By Carrie and Rubi

I love having wonderful AtoI friends where we swap ideas to aid the development of our children.  The other day Rubi was telling me about her daughter spending time outdoors exploring moss and then says, “I need outdoor activities.”  What?!  You’ve just been telling me about this fabulous sensorial, nature experience your daughter has been having and you need more ideas?  So I took a moment to reflect on her question as I hadn’t really given this topic too much thought for my own daughter other than going outside daily.  She’s not capable enough to get to many places independently or do the myriad of outdoor practical life activities that an older child might be doing.  Rubi’s question made me wonder how we could provide more opportunities for our babies to experience nature outdoors.  Here’s what Rubi and I came up with.

Daily walks

When A. was younger she went for walks in her bassinet style stroller so she could fully stretch out her body.  A car seat places a child in a propped up position and straps the child in.  In her bassinet stroller , she could stretch her arms above her head and kick her legs around.  She could turn her head to look where she wanted, including looking at me as her point of reference, but mostly she slept.  She also greatly loved being cuddled up close to our bodies, so for many months she went for a walk being carried in the Beco.  Now that she is older she enjoys being awake for most walks and sits up in her stroller to take in all the sights.  We mostly go for walks in our neighbourhood so she can enjoy many flowers but we also go to the woodland park near our house.  I think this bit of daily fresh air is good for all of us as a family.

     

Laying outside

While we don’t always go outside everyday, we definitely do so multiple times a week.  When A. was younger I would place her outdoors in the cestina or on her topponcino in the Moses basket.  By the time she was two months, I mostly placed her on a blanket and she would listen to the birds or listen to me read her stories.  She would also enjoy tummy time outside.  We mostly did this in our backyard.  Rubi did the same with F., often bringing a basket with a few toys outdoors.  Rubi has also provided F. with a wind chime to listen to.  Rubi reminded me that blowing some bubbles for a baby to observe is also a lot of fun.  Having a sprinkler for the baby to experience water would be fun too.  During the summer I would often go for picnics and I would try to place A. in the shade of a tree so that she could watch the movement of the branches and leaves in the wind.  She was also able to observe the clouds, flowers, and whatever is around.  I was thinking that going somewhere with a river or stream would be a lovely experience.  Enjoying food outside (nursing or solid foods) is also a different experience for a baby.

  

Exploring with items from Nature

Rubi provides items from nature for her daughter to play with when outdoors.  Her daughter explores with various items such as grass, sticks, and moss.  F. is developing her pincer grip by picking up small pieces of moss.  I am enthralled with the sensorial experiences F. is receiving as she touches the various textures and, of course as babies do, puts the items in her mouth.  Rubi has also provided a bucket of rocks for F. to place rocks in and out of.

Many mornings A. and I will go for a quick “garden tour” before her morning nap to check out the plants that are growing.  It has been great fun with a vegetable garden as I talk to her about the various plants we have growing and allow her to feel them.  She has had the opportunity to feel smooth pea pods, prickly squash leaves, and bumpy broccoli.  Since my conversation with Rubi, I have been encouraged to let A. have time on the grass.  Often this occurs prior to dinner.  She has greatly been enjoying the opportunity to sit on the grass, pick grass, and experience it by eating it. Outside of the daily experience in the backyard, I think it is great to expose your baby to sandy beaches, swimming in a warm lake, and whatever other natural places happen to be in the area that you live.  As long as your baby is able to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch items of nature!

 

Playground

For an older baby, it is fun to go to the playground.  If you can find a playground built for toddlers this is even better.  Once your baby is able to sit independently, then he/she is ready to enjoy going on the swings.  Carefully observe your baby for signs of enjoyment and distress as sometimes this experience is not enjoyed by babies, or the enjoyment can quickly change into distress.  F. has a lot of fun on the swings and at the playground.  She crawls around on the equipment and on the wood chips, greatly enjoying exploring the wood chips.  She is now pulling up, cruising along, and trying to climb up on much of the equipment.  She also enjoys going down the slide.  While it may seem obvious to go to the playground, often F. is the only baby at the playground!  Rubi commented that it is because other parents don’t want to bring their child who is not yet walking because the child will get all dirty.  Appropriate clothing meant for play is important for children of all ages, including babies.

 

Experiencing Weather

Most of us tend to be fair weather lovers.  Instead, most of us live in places where it gets cold, hot, rainy, snowy, sunny, and windy.  I believe that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing choices.  Both A. and F. were born in the winter.  We bundled up our babies and took them outside.  During the summer A. was too young to wear sunscreen so we sought out shade and covered her up when spending extended periods of time in the sun.  One particular rainy day, F. went outside and played in the rain and puddles.  What a delightful experience!

We hope you have fun outdoors with your baby, cultivating a love of nature right from birth!  Do you have more ideas to share with us?

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Filed under 0-3 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Ages, Carrie, Nature/Outdoors, Rubi

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