Skip to main content

Using a Shelf -- Montessori Baby Week 26

From birth, a child seeks to develop and maintain order in their environment. Even small babies will pick up on changes to their environment and react to them. It's actually pretty incredible. One of the ways that Montessori environments encourage order is by using a shelf instead of a toy box or bins.

In Montessori baby spaces an open shelf can help to maintain order and make toys accessible to babies. Here are some tips on how to use a shelf in a baby play space.

On the shelf, things are neatly organized and clearly have a spot. The order on the shelf is clear and materials can be easily and independently accessed. Some might assume that this ideal applies only to older toddlers or children, but really this starts at birth.

But, this doesn't mean that a baby will use a shelf on his/her own right away, or even all the time! It takes time for a baby to get mobile enough to discover the shelf, and even longer for a baby to be able to maintain order.

Augustus has recently gained enough mobility to remove items from the shelf! And it's one of those incredible Montessori baby milestones to watch. He suddenly has complete freedom to choose the activity that he will be engaged in.

I love watching him make his way to his shelf in his movement area and remove the toy/material he wants to play with. It's also amazing just to see what and how he chooses to work with!

Tips for Using an Open Shelf with Babies 

Here are a few tips to consider as you incorporate a shelf into your baby's space: 

First, keep in mind your role in this process. You're  job is to help maintain order by joyfully modeling how to return materials. By starting that process at birth it becomes ingrained in them as they grown. Second, it's your job to really deeply observe your baby and choose materials to place on the shelf that will engage and interest your baby. 

Also, as you consider using a shelf, keep these things in mind:
  • Keep the shelf as low to the ground as possible {ours is from IKEA}
  • Limit the number of materials you place on the shelf 
  • Use baskets {especially softer ones} to maintain order 
  • Placing single toys on the shelf is also great at this age 
  • Make sure the shelf is safe to pull up on, since this movement is right around the corner 
In Montessori baby spaces an open shelf can help to maintain order and make toys accessible to babies. Here are some tips on how to use a shelf in a baby play space.

Have you used an open shelf with your baby? Did you enjoy watching him/her discover it? 


Popular Posts

The Ultimate Montessori Toy List -- Birth to Five -- UPDATED 2019

When you are interested in Montessori, it can be difficult to know exactly what types of products you should get for your home. Or which types of "Montessori" materials are really worth the price. There are no rules about types of products can use the name Montessori which can add to the confusion. Not to mention, every toy manufacturer slaps the word "educational" on the package for good measure!

2019 UPDATE: This post has been updated to include a variety of brands and new product finds! Just a reminder that no one child will be interested in all of this or needs all of this. These toys are just here to spark ideas and give you a feeling for some Montessori-friendly options available! 

So, with this post, I'm going to try to help with this confusion! Here's a list of Montessori-friendly toys and materials for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. 

First, let's clarify that there is no such thing as a "Montessori toy." Montessori never created to…

Sensitive Periods from Birth to 6 - A Chart and Guide

Dr. Maria Montessori spent her life observing, studying, and writing about children. During her lifetime of work she discovered that young children move through a series of special times when they are particularly attracted to specific developmental needs and interests. She called these times, sensitive periods. During the sensitive period, children learn skills related to the sensitive period with ease. They don't tire of that work, but seek it, crave it and need it. When the sensitive period passes, this intense desire is gone, never to return. 

That doesn't mean the skill is lost forever once the sensitive period is over. Instead, it just means that it will take a more conscious effort to learn. As Dr. Montessori explains, 
This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.
"A child learns to adjust himself and make acquisitions in his sensitive periods. These are like a beam that lights interiorly a battery that furnishes energy. It is this sensibility which enables a…

Working from Home with Kids - A Montessori Schedule

One part of my life that I haven't talked a ton about here on The Kavanaugh Report is how I'm a work-from-home parent. Eight years ago I started to work at home while parenting full time. For the first several years, I worked as a legal writer while maintaining this space on the side. When Gus was born, I moved into working on sharing our Montessori life full time. It has blossomed into a full time career sharing content here, teaching courses, and now the podcast! Through it all, my kids have been home with me. 
This all seems more relevant to so many of us now that Covid-19 has closed schools and forced parents to stay at home and work while caring for children. I'm not going to lie - it's tough. It's hard to balance work and kids, especially when children are used to a completely different routine. But, it's not impossible! And, it can even be enjoyable. 

As I talk about in my podcast Shelf Help, we block our days into 3 hours groups. It helps me remain fle…