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Practical Life with Babies -- Montessori Baby Week 45

I have talked about the importance of practical life with toddlers many times. Practical life work -- and I do mean truly practical work -- is the foundation of using Montessori at home. Getting your kids involved in the kitchen, in cleaning, in self-care, in the real and meaningful work that is taking place in your home is exactly the type of "activity" your child naturally craves. But, this desire and the ability doesn't just magically appear one day. It slowly builds over time. 

Practical life with babies can start at birth, here are some ways that Montessori babies can become involved in practical experiences

Gus is in this phase right now. The more he is able to move and explore, the more I see him watching, attempting, and participating in practical experiences. His mind unconsciously absorbs everything around him, so by being in our family, he sees, experiences, and learns how to participate. We just have to give him the opportunity to practice and show us what he knows! Now that he is really moving a ton, is the moment to give him that time!
"The child's conquests of independence are the basic steps in what is called his 'natural development.' In other words, if we observe natural development with sufficient care, we can see that it can be defined as the gaining of successive levels of independence." Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind 
A baby's first practical experiences start at birth, right? Gus has been involved in self-care tasks since he was born. As we talked him through diaper changes, dressings, and baths. Now that his experiences are broader, we talk him through those as well. We talk as we do laundry, or wash dishes, or eat dinner. And, each one of these experiences helps to bring him closer to full participation in practical tasks. Now as an older baby, Augustus really is at the point of starting to become physically involved in practical life tasks at home! 


So what practical tasks can an older baby actually do? Here are some ideas:

  • Put laundry into a hamper {like these pictures}
  • Use a comb 
  • Use a rag after meals to "wipe" hands and table 
  • Grab a diaper 
  • Pick an outfit choice from a limited selection 
  • Eat independently 
  • Use a rag during bath time 
  • Explore a hand broom
  • Put a dish on a low shelf 
  • Throw away garbage 
  • Explore a tissue while wiping their nose 



I'm sure there are tons of other practical life experiences that older babies can start to participate in. It is a matter of looking at what experiences are relevant to your home life and breaking them down into simple steps and giving your baby the opportunity. Now, I don't mean to imply that it will be done perfectly, or that this is in any way required. This is meant to be fun exploration, of course it's not always going to look and feel the same way that it will if you undertake the task. It's going to be messy sometimes, it's going to be incomplete sometimes, there will be times when your child has no interest. And, that's all ok! 

This day, Gus started and stopped putting his sleeper in the laundry several times, before finally abandoning it. He explored the task and I just gave him the space to do so. And when he was done, I simply helped finish the process! But, giving him this time helps him know he is capable, respected, and oh so valued in our home! 


Does your baby participate in practical life? How have you made it work? 


Practical life with babies can start at birth, here are some ways that Montessori babies can become involved in practical experiences


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Comments

Unknown said…
But my 10 months old still puts everything in her mouth...

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