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November 10, 2017

Starting to Dress -- Montessori Baby Week 49

There are little signs starting to creep in around our house -- besides the fact that these updates are getting dangerously close to week 52 -- that Augustus is going to be a toddler soon. I feel like the last year has gone by in the flash of an eye and suddenly I have this big child grinning at me. Everyday he is getting closer and closer to walking and talking. 

Montessori babies and dressing - preparing your environment as your baby starts to dress

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As these important milestones creep up, I can see that Gus is looking at the world differently. He is actively engaging in the world in a new way. And part of that comes a new found interest in helping to get dressed {and in other practical tasks.} 
"As soon as children are able to walk...children must become our best collaborators...all the activities connected with looking after yourself and your surroundings, such as getting dressed, preparing food, setting the table, wiping the floor, clearing the dishes, doing the dusting, etc. These chores belonging to "practical life"...children love these jobs and are delighted to be called upon to participate in them." Silvana Montanaro, Understanding the Human Being
And, since I see an interest, I know it's my time to respond -- by preparing the environment and offering some choice! Practically what does that mean? 

Offering Choice

Starting a couple months ago, I have begun holding up two shirt options for Gus when he gets dressed. Then, he gets to pick which one to wear. Now, some may balk at a baby being able to make this choice - but try it! At first it was whatever one he looked at, now it's the shirt he grabs. He is intentionally making this choice, after scanning his options. 

Changing our Dressing Routine

About a month ago, I started getting Augustus dressed on the floor. I did this as I was sitting behind him, so that the motions would be the same as if he were doing it himself. This is helping prepare him for the day he will pull on his own clothes. As I have done this, I have been intentional about going slower to give him time to help with the process -- pushing his arm through, lifting a leg, that sort of thing! 

Lowering our Environment

At this point, I don't have any clothes independently available to Gus. Although, a change is coming soon, I'm just not sure what it should be at this point. I would love a dressing area like this one from Eltern Vom Mars or this one from How We Montessori. But, at this point, I haven't found one in our budget that will fit our needs. I have another idea in mind, but I'm still working on the details. 

So, instead, I'm using the shelf that we have in his room. Several months ago we added a diaper changing mat to the lowest shelf that allows us to do more independent diaper changes. With this we can place a mat on the on the floor and he can crawl on and off. We also use this mat for dressing. Another cubby holds his hair brush at a spot where he can use it as he wants. 

The Dressing Chair 

Finally, our newest change has been adding a dressing chair to Gus' room. This will give Gus the support he needs as he starts to take over more of the dressing tasks on his own. Once he can reach his own clothes (or now once he picks his option) he can start to dress in the chair. At this point, I'm still doing most of the dressing, but he will get there! And, the chair has been an essential for us with Nora in helping that process. 

Montessori babies and dressing - preparing your environment as your baby starts to dress

Have you seen your baby start to take an interest in practical tasks? How do you get your baby involved in practical life? 


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Christina @
I have loved watching my 13 month old become more interested in helping! I also haven't full set up a dressing area for him yet, so for now I have a little cloth basket by his mirror where I *try* to remember to keep two outfit choices for him to choose from. He has another basket on the other side of the mirror for dirty clothes. I'm hoping to set up an independent closet space for him soon, but it hasn't happened yet.