Ella is now one month old. In this month, we have spent time recovering from birth, bonding as a family, and trying to figure out our new routine (a work in progress). Let’s have a look at how we are doing Montessori from birth.
Montessori from Birth – Month 1
The first few weeks with a new baby are a whirlwind of transitions. Babies are thrust suddenly into a brand new environment. Adults and siblings get to integrate an entire new individual into their lives! This is all a process for everyone!
We have been soaking up those sleepy, newborn cuddles, filled with gassy smiles and that lovely new baby smell.
We have had to work on setting boundaries with the older children, reminding them that Ella is her own person and does not always want to be held. Besides holding Ella, Yvann (11) and Natasha (6) are curious about Ella and want to interact with her.
Klaas-willem and I try to understand, learn and respect Ella’s cues, including whether or not she wants to be held.
Singing/talking to baby
One of the easiest “activities” we can do with our newborn babies is simply talking or singing to them. This has so many benefits for baby, but it’s also a wonderful opportunity to bond and connect with your infant.
When we speak to babies, it’s important to articulate normally and speak as you would to anyone else – avoid “baby talk.”
Even though babies cannot talk themselves, hearing caregivers do so sets the foundation for speech later. Babies begin learning language from birth, and exposure to speech helps them develop their language skills. Talking to babies provides them with the opportunity to hear different sounds, words, and sentence structures, which forms the foundation for their own language acquisition.
Social and emotional development
I love taking a few moments to get to Ella’s level, and simply chat with her about what we can see in our environment. This is outside of care moments when we also describe what is happening to Ella.
During play time, I make eye contact, say something, and wait for her reaction, similarly to a conversation. Even though I know she will not respond by saying something, observing Ella’s response to my voice, the way she looks at my face, and her little noises fills my heart with such joy.
Ella is quite an alert baby and will often turn her head towards our voices. She also loves it when Natasha sings to her or Yvann chats with her.
As infants get older, this will be more interactive – they may coo, smile, or otherwise try to imitate your speech and facial expressions.
In addition, interacting with babies in this way provides a sense of security and comfort, which is crucial for emotional development. Babies learn to trust and form attachments with those who communicate with them.
This is a special bonding moment, as well as learning opportunity.
During Ella’s first month, we also spent some short periods of time outdoors in our backyard. We would take her in our pram where she can lay flat. Sometimes we would take her in the baby carrier.
Spending time outside is a great way to stimulate infants’ senses. They may hear some birds, feel the warmth of the sun, smell beautiful flowers, and see some clouds or other objects.
Even from such a young age, we can encourage a connection with nature in this way – simply spending time together outside.
In addition, spending time outside can have a calming effect on infants and can lead to more restful sleep. This is because exposure to natural light and physical activity outdoors can help regulate an infant’s circadian rhythm.
We were able to integrate Ella into our outdoor space by simply bringing her with us. Our older children can carry on with their normal activities – from our son’s construction projects, to our daughter’s chalk artworks, to harvesting strawberries and blackberries, we take Ella to come with us. Our space is wheelchair accessible and is adapted to the needs of our whole family.
Not everyone will have a backyard available. Instead, you can go on a walk through your neighbourhood or visit a local park if possible.
Freedom of movement
During Ella’s first month, we also gave her many opportunities to move her body without restrictions. Infants have a sensitive period for gross motor development. Parents can encourage these skills by making sure that their babies have ample opportunity to explore and are not restricted in their movements by creating a safe space for them to explore, avoiding swaddles and restrictive clothing, and refraining from using baby gear (especially those that place baby in an unnatural position or one that baby cannot get into themselves).
Mobiles and contrast cards
During Ella’s awake time, we have offered given her a chance to explore her Munari mobile or her black and white contrast cards. She can work on developing her eyesight and concentration in a calm space where she can move freely.
Sometimes, we do have to put in effort to protect Ella’s concentration while she is enjoying these “toys” with two older siblings in the house!
Besides these objects, we haven’t found any need for additional toys just yet. We will be adding materials ad toys to Ella’s environment as needed, but I’ll share about that another time!