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Discovering the Hand -- Montessori Baby Week 12

There are several "firsts" that, I think, parents eagerly await with their babies. The first time the baby rolls, the first word, the first time they sleep all night, and their first step. But, I think there is one that should be placed above them all -- the first time a baby reaches for another object! 


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The hand is so incredibly important to human existence. It's with their hands that children discover their full potential. It's how humans have created tools and technology. It's allowed for written language and art. It truly is amazing. For the infant, it's through discovery of the hand that a child can change and manipulate his or her environment. It's truly a spectacular moment. Therefore, in the words of Maria Montessori: 

"The first movements of his small hand toward external objects should thus be eagerly awaited." 

The exact moment that this discovery occurs will be different for every baby, of course! And once, it happens it opens a whole new world of exploration. Suddenly, we need to provide new experiences for our babies to exercise their new found tools. For Montessori babies, this comes in a couple of different forms -- tactile mobiles and toys. 


There is a whole series of tactile mobiles that can be introduced to a Montessori baby. The first is generally a bell on a ribbon. This beautifully simple mobile allows even small infants to make a sound as they hit the bell. Then, they can track its movements and try again.


I introduced the bell to Augustus at 11 weeks after I noticed him starting to stretch toward his Octahedron mobile. I chose to wait until his movements were intentional, others choose to introduce earlier when more unintentional movement starts. Gus absolutely loves this mobile and flails wildly and smiles hugely when he sees it. He quickly has become adept at hitting the bell. I think it's even passed the beloved Octahedron as his favorite.


Next, have been some simple toys. Right now, I'm focused on toys that are simple to grab and not too overstimulating. Things that interest him enough to really work to grab. So far this has meant rotating through 4 small objects -- a wooden ring, metal interlocking rings, heavy fabric, and a gnome lovey {not pictured due to an unfortunate incident involving our puppy, thankfully a replacement was quickly procured}.


With these, we have done a combination of leaving them in Augustus' play area near him and placing them into his hands. Gus has torticollis (a neck/head issue) that has caused some weakness on one side. His PT has recommended placing in his hands. Otherwise I may have waited for him to completely grasp on his own.


The fabric is placed in a little "tent" shape for him to grab as he plays. It provides an interesting natural challenge. His favorite so far have been metal rings.

For me signs that he was ready for grasping and tactile materials included:
  • Batting at his visual mobiles
  • Grabbing my hair/clothes as he nursed
  • Grabbing the edge of the blanket he lays on
  • Opening his hand when objects come near

Remember these are just signs that I saw in my baby. Your baby may be different! Always observe and follow your own child!


Do you eagerly await the discovery of the hand? When did you introduce simple grasping toys and tactile mobiles?

Comments

I love reading your baby updates! It's so true, the gross motor developments often get all of the attention, but the fine motor ones are at least as amazing, and make just as much of a difference in the baby's life. Those metal interlocking rings look great.

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