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December 28, 2016

Montessori Baby Week 4 -- The Movement Area

The freedom of movement is an important tenant in Montessori. This principal even applies to babies. By giving babies freedom of movement, they can eventually develop the confidence to problem solve and become independent. This freedom of movement is also extremely important in developing the senses as babies begin to explore their environment. 

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This week we've really started to see a change in Augustus. He has started to wake up a bunch more during the day. He's starting to follow sounds he hears with his eyes. He's starting to make much more purposeful movements with his hands. His legs are always kicking. And, with these changes we are spending more and more time in our movement area.

We have used the movement area since birth. But, our time in the area has increased as Gus gets older and naturally spends more time awake and observing his environment. This is one area of our home that I really made sure was ready for Augustus before his birth! 

The movement area is Montessori's answer to a work space for babies. While older children have work mats and tables, babies have their movement area. This is a space that will evolve with the baby to meet his or her developmental needs. There are a few basic features that you find in a Montessori movement area. 

1. A mat or blanket on a supportive surface -- The baby needs somewhere clean and safe to be placed down on. Often, a simple quilt or thick blanket can be used. This just needs to be large enough for a baby to comfortably move around. 

2. A mirror -- A mirror placed low on the ground so that the baby can see himself when placed on the mat. This helps the child see his movements and learn how to control them. It also helps to provide a full view of the environment. 

3. Mobiles -- The visual mobiles are the first "work" for infants and provide excellent visual and sensory input and stimulation. 

A movement area should also be centrally located in the environment. This way a baby can be placed in the movement frequently but still be a central part of the family. We tried with Nora to have the movement area in the nursery, and just found that it was harder to make full use of. So, this time, we put the movement area in our playroom where we spend a significant portion of our day. 

In our movement area, we have chosen to use a portable crib mattress for Augustus. We used the same with Nora. This works best for us, for a couple of reasons. One, it provides a very distinct visual barrier for our dogs to stay off of. Two, it keeps him a bit off the floor. This time of year, it is very cold and this room in particular can be chilly. The mat provides just that bit extra warmth. However, once he starts to attempt to sit up, we will switch to a blanket. We found that the mat really made sitting too difficult for Nora, and eventually removed it then as well. 

We also use a mirror (from IKEA) and several mobiles in our space. We chose a glass mirror, however, many Montessori families choose to use sheets of acrylic. Again, we also have several visual mobiles and I will feature those and our use with Gus soon! 

We have also chosen to include a play shelf {a Besta from IKEA} in our movement area. Right now, it is purely for show. The toys just add visual interest in our playroom but are NOT being used by Augustus. We have also included black and white pictures which are being used -- more on those next week! 

And, that's our movement area with a newborn! Eventually, this area will see changes to accommodate Augustus' growth and movement. 

Have you made a movement area for your newborn baby? 

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Rachel Chesley
Rachel Chesley said…
We just moved into a new home and I placed an IKEA toddler bed mattress on the floor in the main living space for my son (9 weeks) to lay! I hadn't planned for it to be a permanent fixture but am realizing he needs space on the first floor! (DUH!) He loves it! With my daughter we set up and took down her movement area as we used it because we had no space for it as a permanent fixture. Yay for more square footage! Multiple times when we were unpacking someone would pick him up and he would fuss until set back in his movement area. I love the independence I already see in him in this way! It's fun to have a baby close in age as I am able to follow along on your blog!
Elisa said…
You talk about freedom of movement and something came to my mind. What do yo think about cribs? Does Augustus sleep in one? I have a 18 month old baby that has always slept on a crib but I was thinking of trying the floor bed with my next kid. Thank you!
Nicole @ The Kavanaugh Report
Augustus is in a pack'n play bassinet while he is tiny and in our room. But, he will not sleep in a crib. He has a floor bed in his nursery. This is the first time we are doing a floor bed from birth, so I'll keep you guys updated on how it goes!
Mama's Happy Hive
I also made this mistake of putting the mirror and movement area in C's bedroom. I may have to purchase a mattress and mirror for our main play area!