Not everyone knows that the Montessori method it can also be applied at home and on newborn children: the Montessori model is not confined to the school environment, but there are ways of using it also on Infants. Simone Davies and Junnifa Uzodike, in their book "The Montessori baby" (The green lion, 2022), they recommend many Montessori activities suitable for 3 to 6 months.
- The Montessori approach to newborns
- The Sensitive Periods of the Montessori Method from 3 to 6 months
- Motor development of the newborn 3-6 months
- 5 Montessori motor activities to do with your newborn
- Linguistic development of the newborn 3-6 months
- 5 Montessori language activities to do with your newborn
The Montessori Method is a didactic approach, but it is not limited to the traditional concept of education which requires the adult to teach the child. Rather, it is a broader vision, which includes all the activities and experiences that the little one has the opportunity to live, from his earliest days. The Montessori philosophy aims to guide the natural development of the child until he reaches his maximum potential. Since learning begins from birth, this approach can also be applied to newborns and presupposes some general attitudes:
- Instead of thinking they can't understand, tell them what's going on and treat them with respect. Don't use meaningless childish language, but start building an authentic relationship with real conversations right away.
- Instead of lifting them abruptly from behind to change or interrupt them in their games, let them see you, ask them if you can pick them up and give them time to respond.
- Instead of giving anyone permission to touch and kiss them, ask them for permission.
- Instead of overstimulate them with a thousand games and the latest fashion accessories, create a simple, beautiful and inviting space for them to explore with just one or two things at a time.
- Instead of living every moment with them always in a hurry, stop, observe them, treat them with kindness, calm and attention. When they cry, for example, do not rush to distract them, but ask them what they need; and don't use tv or tablet for your convenience, but let them interact with the real world.
A sensitive period is a phase in which the child develops an attraction or an interest in a skill / action or in learning a specific skill. Some of the psychic periods in childhood are:
- Order. Children need order both materially and abstractly. An infant who has always been placed on the left side of the crib may react negatively once it realizes that it has been placed on the right side. For the newborn, an orderly environment is important, but it is also important to keep the procedures and routines with which we take care of him as much as possible unchanged. Also use auditory elements (such as a sound or a song, always the same) or olfactory elements as reference points.
- Movement. Babies in the first twelve months go through various motor phases, perfecting them one at a time. A lot of practice is needed to move from one motor phase to another. To help your little one make the most of this period, we create a space where he can move safely, in his own time.
- Language. From birth, the human being needs to communicate, for this reason the newborn, even if at first we struggle to perceive it, is very focused on the sounds that we emit and that he emits. To help him, we avoid simplified phrases and invented words, but instead we give a name to every object that the child comes into contact with, we explain to the little one what is happening around him and let's listen to him.
- Eat solid foods. This is the time when solid foods are introduced and the child begins to understand how his body works, also showing a growing interest in what his parents eat. It is at this same stage that the newborn begins to set his teeth and weaning can begin.
- Observe pictures and small objects. Up to the age of three, the child shows a lot of interest in details and small objects, which he would watch for hours. Let's offer him pictures suitable for his age and give him time to enjoy them. Let's take him for walks to give him the opportunity to explore the world around him. Later we will also be able to give him illustrated books, full of details.
It is important to note that while we can help our child's development and quality of motor activity, each neurotypical child follows a natural process that cannot be accelerated, only slowed down. Our aim must not be to rush the little one, but on the contrary allow him to acquire ever greater control and coordination.
- 3-4 months. The baby has voluntary control of his arms by stretching them.
- 4-5 months. As gross motor skills, the infant holds its head and upper chest high when lying on its stomach (and when lying on its back but pulled up). Rolling moves from supine to prone position and crawls slowly. Among the fine motor skills, the baby intentionally grabs (when he previously did it with an involuntary reflex), manipulates and claps his hands. Develop the rake grip to pick things up off the ground, using your palm and fingers.
- 6 months. The gross motor skills of this age are using your hands to crawl faster, start standing on your legs and being able to sit up with some help. Among the fine-motor movements, he manages to grasp things, begins to have a very precise pincer grip without using his thumb and develops greater ocular-manual coordination.
What to observe from 3 to 6 months:
- We continue to follow the suggestions suitable for the 0-3 months range.
- Let's pay attention to his back: can he raise them? When she does, what do his hands do?
- How does he move his arms? One at a time or both at the same time?
- Reflexes and voluntary movements. Let's watch him turn from prone to supine and vice versa. Which position did you discover first? Which one do you wear most often? Does it turn with intention or is it a spontaneous movement?
- We pay attention to its position when we leave the room and when we return: has the child moved? How? Towards what?
- Do we notice any development in his way of moving? Does it move faster? Do you also use your hands? What about the knees?
- Do you have a specific destination or objective when you move? Can you reach them? What does it do when it stops?
- We pay attention to his hands when he grabs something: what part of the hand does he use? Fingers? The palm? The thumb? Which fingers and which hand do you tend to use?
- What does it do after grabbing something? How does it release?
In the first three months we provide the baby with activities that stimulate his senses of sight and hearing, starting from the third month, we can move on to those that develop his grip and tactile perception.
- The tactile carousels. If the baby, at the beginning of the third month, reaches out to touch the visual carousels, it is a good time to introduce materials to take and grab, starting with the tactile carousels (created specifically to be manipulated and also put in the mouth). As his eyesight improves, he will begin to gain control of his upper body. Choose materials that are easy to grasp, safe to put in the mouth and that create a pleasant sound when hit, so that the child's efforts are rewarded. We want the child to reach out, grab and pull, so attaching the mobile to a rubber band can help. At first, a simple bell attached to a ribbon, as big as a child's fist, is enough: waving his arms, he will hit the bell unwittingly but slowly he will understand that it is he who causes that sound. The wooden or metal ring, on the other hand, is more complex to grasp, but the reward will be that of being able to put it in the mouth.
- Rattles. The baby will be able to play alone with a rattle only after he has developed his grip and has become able to crawl or turn. Before this stage he would probably drop it and be unable to pick it up on his own. We can offer him rattles that have different colors, shapes, textures and weights, so as to stimulate him to use his hands in an ever new way even in tactile sensations.
- Movement area. Spending time on the ground continues to be the simplest and most important activity to support the development of gross motor skills in this phase (from 3 to 6 months). The mattress is placed near a mirror that allows the infant to observe their movements, voluntary and involuntary. Time spent in this safe, unobstructed space helps your little one strengthen their muscles and gain control. If we always hold ours in our arms or often resort to solutions such as door swings and walkers, he will have no way of gaining full control of his body. Also put it in the prone position (belly down) because it strengthens the abdominal muscles.
- Kick. We offer the child activities that encourage him to observe his own feet and gain greater control of the movements of the legs. An easy way to do this is to attach a tactile carousel or ball over the child's feet. Also perfect is a ball made of fabric scraps, which the little one can also run after. To get his attention, we can sew something interesting to his socks, such as a bell, a button or a bow.
- Slowly rolling object. When the baby starts crawling, offer him some balls or rattles to roll, but not too fast and not too far. This kind of game encourages him to move and gives him the satisfaction of achieving a goal by implicitly teaching him that he is capable of doing things on his own. The little one will continue to stretch his arms until he grabs the toy. Small milestones like this serve to boost his self-esteem, helping him to trust himself and his abilities. Putting interesting objects into the movement area also stimulates him to move towards them.
Between 3 and 6 months the baby:
- 3-6 months. Throughout this period he may have a reaction in front of his favorite pages, smiling or imitating the expressions of the characters.
- 4-5 months. He does vocal gymnastics: he spits, screams, rattles and produces the first vowel sounds. He needs him to learn how to regulate his voice and understand the concepts of intonation, tone and volume, as well as coordinate the diaphragm, mouth, tongue and lips. His cries acquire a rhythm. We adults may find this phase irritating, but it won't last long. Let's try as hard as possible to let the baby exercise, instead of telling him to stop screaming.
- 5-6 months. Start introducing consonant sounds to the vowel sounds to create the first syllables: the first ones are usually m, n, d and form sounds like "na", "ma" or "ba". Also for this reason the first words are "mamma", "nanna", "dada" and "papa", to the great joy of the parents. This type of reaction will cause the baby to keep repeating these sounds.
What to observe from 3 to 6 months:
- The sounds it emits to communicate: are they single or formed by combining different sounds?
- How does it react to different sounds?
- Intensity, volume and duration of crying
- Body language and smiles
- How he expresses himself and if he makes eye contact during conversations
- How we respond to him when he tries to communicate
- We pay attention to the first words he voluntarily pronounces.
- If we have taught him sign language, we notice when he begins to respond and use it in turn.
- We pay attention to his reactions when we read him a book: what does he do with his eyes and mouth when he looks at his favorite page?
- Spell the words and let yourself be seen in the face. When the baby reaches 3-4 months of age we will notice that he pays much more attention to our face and our mouth, sometimes even staring at it while we are talking. It is as if he has just realized that the sound he hears is produced by the movements of the lips and is trying to understand how it works. Let's meet him talking slowly and always staying within his field of vision, so that he can see our face.
- Play the imitations. The child is not only interested in staring at us as we speak, but also tries to imitate us by replicating the movements we make with the lips. If we stick our tongue out, make a face like a fish or try other exaggerated expressions we will see that the little one will try to imitate us: we recognize his efforts by giving him a smile or offering him another expression to imitate.
- Not monologues but dialogues. When talking to the child, take breaks to give him the opportunity to respond with a verse or gesture. From 3-4 months of age his answers will become clearer. Let's make him understand that we understand him, repeating the verse, giving him a smile or trying to explain when we think he meant (for example, saying "Ahhhh ... I understand you. Ooo really? Tell me more"). In addition to providing him with a model of conversation, we are letting him know that we listen to him, that we care what he tells us and that he will always be able to talk to us.
- The language of signs. During these months you can introduce some sign language: often children understand much more than they can verbally express, but they can use the motor skills they are developing to communicate using signs. Thanks to the rapid development of motor neurons that send signals to the hands, a newborn is able to use signs before being able to speak. We can teach him simple words like "milk", "more", "eat", "enough" and "sleep". We repeat the word as we make the gesture. After a couple of months the baby will respond with the same signs and we can teach him others.
- Encouragement and reading. It is important to keep talking, singing and reading to the child, but also to encourage and acknowledge all his efforts to experience the voice more and more. When choosing books, wait to give him the ones with the windows: although they may be funny books, it is interesting to note that according to research, the windows distract the little one, who ends up learning less information.
All advice was taken from the book "The Montessori baby" (The Green Lion, 2022) by Simone Davies and Junnifa Uzodike.
Simone Davies She is a Montessori teacher of AMI (Association Montessori Internationale), and she is also the author of The Montessori Notebook, the popular blog and Instagram profile where she offers advice, answers questions and organizes online workshops for parents all over the world . Born in Australia, she lives in Amsterdam with her family, where she runs parent-child courses at her Montessori school, the Jacaranda Tree.
Junnifa Uzodike she is a Montessori teacher from AMI. She lives in Nigeria with her family, where she founded the Fruitful Orchard Montessori school, and is the author of the blog Nduoma, a good life.
- montessori method
- Montessori method activities
- newborn 4-8 months