If you need some advice on how to arrange a Montessori baby room, you are definitely in the right place.
I had the opportunity to get acquainted with Montessori’s philosophy of education during my studies a few years ago. I admit it didn’t get much attention to me at the time, but mostly due to the fact that my primary focus was andragogy (i.e., adult education), and not pedagogy.
However, when I got pregnant (in 2019), I started getting interested in the methods and theories of raising children and helping them with a self-formation. Montessori was definitely one that got my full attention. My sister both me a book called ‘Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three‘ by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen. And I just fell in love with it.
Montessori pedagogy refers to the development of a child from birth to 24 years of age. Maria Montessori presented this period through four levels of development or four key periods in a child’s development: 1) from 0 to 6 months; 2) from 6 to 12 months; 3) from 12 to 18 months, and 4) from 18 to 24 months.
This blog post is based on the ideas presented in this book, with the addition of my experiences so far (taking into account that my little girl is now six months old). So, this is a basic setup of a Montessori baby room from birth to six months.
Montessori ideas could sound avant-garde because they are often inconsistent with a familiar traditional routine. The method has been applied and refined for more than a century, but the key principle remains unchanged – to place the child’s freedom at the forefront.
The key elements for arranging a Montessori baby room
The first days are of great importance, so every detail you come up with will have great positive effects on the life of your little one. The Montessori approach always suggests that in addition to functionality and order, we need to include the principles of beauty and simplicity in the environment of a young child, because it absorbs its environment by its very existence.
The room must be warm and safe, well lit by natural light, and the walls painted with intense pleasing colors (sky blue, white and the like). A minimalist approach without much details and decorations.
Find the right balance between the challenges for the baby and the support from the environment.
The Montessori environment recognizes four crucial segments within the baby environment, namely the sleeping area, the feeding area, the nursing area, and the activity area.
#1 – The Sleeping Area
The Montessori principle is against the conventional crib, no matter how appealing it may seem to parents. Children feel like they are being caged and have no freedom of movement. In the crib, they are unable to do anything but cry and hope that the adults will come to “free” them.
That’s why the Montessori approach recommends that babies have a mattress on the floor (preferably in a corner of the room) so they have enough space to move around. The solid supporting pillows cover the edges of the wall. This is a so-called Montessori bed.
Recommendation for very young babies (up to 4 months of age) is to sleep in the so-called topponcino. This ‘met-like Montessori pillow’ should be in the same room in which the child will sleep later (preferably on the Montessori bed) to “relate” to the atmosphere.
The idea behind the mattress on the floor is that babies go to sleep when they are sleepy, wake up when they are rested, and get up when they want.
A low wooden shelf can be placed near the mattress with a small basket and a small rattle. As well as a thick weave carpet to cover the floor next to the mattress.
#2 – The Feeding Area
It is recommended to add a feeding chair in one part of the room. You should use it for breastfeeding or formula feeding. In front of the chair add a footrest, and next to it a small table for wipes, a clock, etc. You should make yourself comfortable as much as you can.
This should be an ideal space where mom and baby can focus on the act of breastfeeding or formula feeding.
The Montessori method suggests you using that time just to focus on your baby and not for other activities.
#3 – The Nursing Area
In the Montessori baby room a small wooden closet, about a meter in height, can be used for dressing. But you can also use a changing table if you find it better or more practical. Add a small basket next to it for dirty laundry, small clothes, and socks when they get dirty.
The small closet should have everything you need for bathing and changing your baby: cotton bath gloves and a bowl for hot water, diapers, as well as the other care items (like oil, creams, powder).
On the side, you can add three small drawers for clothes, and on the wall above the closet a 20×30 cm cloth with saturated pockets. In these pockets, you can pack baby care items: thermometer, cotton pads, nail clippers, hairbrush, and the like.
#4 – The Activity Area
In the beginning, mom’s face is the main toy for a baby. Also, mom’s voice and mom’s singing, regardless of vocal ability, are the most important music for the baby’s ears.
Babies begin to speak their first voices at the age of 2 months, so babbling at this early age is the beginning of learning and expressing their ability to speak.
As the baby progresses, day by day, toys and activities are adjusted to her age and brain development in the first place.
The Montessori approach advocates the idea that the baby needs to be provided with a supportive environment; that doesn’t mean colorful and noisy, but calm, quiet, neutral colors right from the start. Gradually, pendants, rattles, balls, and so on will be introduced into the baby’s life.
In the Montessori baby room, the wall mirror should be attached to the wall at one end of the mattress.
The Montessori environment is unthinkable without a mirror.
From a very young age, your baby reflects and acquires a picture of himself and the space around him. It is also essential to keep the baby in the stomach because it reliably influences further development.
On the ceiling above the mattress hangs the hook for the visual mobile. At the very beginning, babies need goggles that allow them to focus their eyes. For this are the best black and white Munari mobile, and later, from the 2nd or 3rd months of the hangers in different shades of color so-called Gobbi mobile. Since the baby can retrieve items from 3rd month, the hangers change.
The ability to maintain focus and keep attention is one of the most important elements of Montessori pedagogy.
Baby’s effort to keep the attention begins in the first weeks of life. Our task is to notice and protect the sensitive period for attention formation, as this sets the stage for later success in learning and socialization.
By providing your baby with an optimal environment, you are creating the space to give him/her just what needs to grow properly.
What is most important and only you can give to your baby – endless love, understanding, and satisfaction of his/her needs will be even more harmonious and beautiful in the supporting Montessori baby room.
The reward that follows is a child who develops his full potentials, contentedly and joyfully, moving toward full independence.
PS: Keep up with the good work! Read my next post about organizing a Montessori supportive environment at home for a 6-12-month-old baby.