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The Movement Area verses the Sleep Space

We are counting down the weeks around here until baby Theodore arrives. I'm feeling like we are in that limbo stage where it simultaneously feels like we have a ton of time before the baby arrives and no time at all. But, at 31 weeks, I am starting to make some concrete changes and preparations for the baby's arrival. Mainly, we're starting the process of moving bedrooms around to create our nursery space, gathering clothes, and preparing the movement area.  

A comprehensive look at the similarities and differences between a Montessori infant sleep space and a Montessori movement area.

{Picture is the beginning of Theodore's movement area in our home's playroom}

This process has me thinking a lot about the two main Montessori baby spaces we will have in our home - our sleeping space (nursery) and our movement area. I think some of the time the two spaces can become muddled in peoples' minds. And, it can be difficult to decide how these spaces should feel, if they should be distinct spaces, and what each should contain. So, here are some thoughts on Montessori infant sleeping spaces verses the movement area.

Sleeping Space

The sleeping space is any space where your baby will be sleeping. It could his/her own room, part of the parents' room, or another calm and quiet area of your home. For us, we have a dedicated nursery, but for the first few months (the exact time has varied baby to baby) we room share at night. 

The sleeping space should be a calm space and contain somewhere for the baby to sleep. Ideally, this is a floor bed, although we do personally use a small bassinet at night with our newborns, which allows for freedom of movement.  But, it doesn't have to include much else! The sleep space should be safe, and non-distracting. It should avoid mobiles, mirrors, or other objects that might stimulate the baby and make sleep harder. 

It can include a small shelf, but I personally like to make sure there is enough room between any toys/materials and the actual bed as to not be distracting. A few calming materials can be added as a baby grows and can explore. The room could also contain an area for diapering and dressing. The size of our nursery allows for those things to be included, but that may change based on your own living situation. The room should also be safe for exploration, especially when using a floor bed. 

Basically, it's important to remember that the main purpose of the sleeping space is sleep and not play/learning/exploration. This area can stay largely the same as your baby grows since a consistent sleeping space and routine can often lead to better sleep. 
A comprehensive look at the similarities and differences between a Montessori infant sleep space and a Montessori movement area.

Movement Area

The movement area, on the other hand, is for play! This is where your baby will spend active awake time exploring, interacting, and playing. It's the movement area where your child should use the bulk of his/her materials. This is where you'll want to use Montessori mobiles, and have a mirror. These are the objects that your baby will first interact with and that interaction comes during those times where your child is awake, alert and happy. 

This area doesn't have to be huge, and could even be included in a distinct space within the nursery ( maybe across the room from a sleep space) - depending on the space you have available. I, personally, prefer the movement area to be in a common living space. I know that by baby 4, there will be times when I am able to give my full attention to the baby, but there will be others where I just want to keep my eye on him and attend to something else. It's been my experience that including the movement area in a common room (like your living room) can make it easier to use the area and trust that your baby is safe. Instead of, for example, isolating the baby to one room where you feel like you have to sit and watch the baby at all times. 

The movement area will change slightly as your baby grows and begins to explore more and more. The freedom of movement is important in this area, as is the ability to explore. Therefore, whatever space you use for your movement area, it should be safe for the baby to move around and discover his/her world. 

Hopefully this makes it easier to distinguish between these two Montessori baby spaces. While there are a lot of similarities between the spaces, they really serve different purposes for a baby. Neither space has to be particularly complicated, large, or involved. Plus there are so many ways for both a sleeping space to feel and look and yet still meet Montessori purpose of the space. 

Have you used a movement area and a sleeping area with your baby? Any thoughts you would add to this list? 


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