Skip to main content

Cleaning with Your Baby -- Montessori Baby Week 39

I think there's a myth in the Montessori story that children's spaces always look perfectly together while one toy is being used happily and quietly. Toys stay separate, spaces stay clean, things are returned to their spots, and order is maintained at all times. But, this isn't reality. While a Montessori classroom may have a bit more order to them, your home is your home. It's lived in.

Babies can be like a whirlwind of destruction, pulling apart everything in their path. Here are some Montessori thoughts on cleaning up with your baby and setting routines to promote order in the future.

Augustus is at the age of exploration! All babies are. He is determined to learn about everything in his environment. And this means he has to pull it off the shelf, mouth it, shake it, bang it, toss it, drop it, pick it up again, and repeat dozens of times. Friends, this is not a clean process. 

He leaves a little trail of destruction wherever he goes. He's not worried about maintaining order or restoring work. He's too busy exploring. I can always tell which way he has been headed by following the little path of things that have been strewn all over. 

But, we do eventually want to get him to a place where he can use materials and place them back on the shelf. And, the work for this starts now! 

Responding to the Whirlwind 

The sensitive period for order will eventually strengthen with a baby, but it will take into toddlerhood and continue until they are into elementary school. But there are a few things that we have found help create the foundation for the order you see in Montessori environments 

Limit Options. I've found that limiting the options available is a big help to stop giant messes from occurring with Gus (or really any of the kids.) We personally stick with a few things out on his shelves at a time. So even if everything is pulled down, it's not completely overwhelming for him or for you. At it's worst, it's only a few minutes to restore order. 

Clear Place. Make sure everything you have in your environment has a clear place to go. For babies, I like small baskets or really small trays. Not only does the basket become part of the fun to explore, it gives both of you a clear idea of where things should go back to when everyone is done playing. 

Model, Model, Model. Before Montessori, I used to wait until Henry would take a nap then I would quickly clean up all his toys. So when he woke up, it was like magic, everything is ordered again. But, with Montessori, I've taken a different approach. It's all about joyfully modeling the behavior you want to see. So as Gus finishes with something, I happily put it back where it belongs. I don't say anything to him or make it a big deal -- he's watching and absorbing -- I just do it. I know eventually he will follow suit. 

So, hopefully you aren't thinking that your baby's movement area, or play space should always be perfect! It won't be! And, that's ok. Gus will get there, and your baby will too! 

Babies can be like a whirlwind of destruction, pulling apart everything in their path. Here are some Montessori thoughts on cleaning up with your baby and setting routines to promote order in the future.

Have you noticed the wave of destruction that comes with a mobile baby? How do you handle it? 


Petra said…
My 10mo old son is in exactly this place - the wave of destruction is so real! I've been trying to "joyfully model" cleaning up (as you called it in a previous post, I think) but I love the idea of not needing to make a big deal about it. He will be involved in his own way eventually! Thank you for all of your posts!

Popular Posts

The Ultimate Montessori Toy List -- Birth to Five -- UPDATED 2020

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! 2020 UPDATE: This list is updated for another year! Enjoy a variety of Montessori friendly finds from both major retailers and smaller shops!  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 toys, but only works for classroom settings. While there are many works that I recommend for home school use, you won't find these

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

Montessori Toddler: Favorite Toys and Activities 18 to 20 months

I've been putting off this post for a little while because I felt a little disappointed that I didn't have more to share. See, Teddy just isn't that into materials, especially those on the shelf. He tends to return to a couple of favorites over and over again and ignore all other attempts at shelf work. But, really that's my own adult feelings getting in the way of Teddy's own interests, and developmental path.  It's also me subconsciously valuing fine motor skills and stillness as more important than gross motor play and movement. I working hard not to do that, and want to normalize that all toddlers are different. All children have different interests and that concentration doesn't have to mean sitting still for long stretches of time.  This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. With all that said, here are some of Teddy's favorites over the last couple of months. Favorite Montessori Toys 18 to 20 Months I'm listing the toys that have be