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September 19, 2019

The Magic of the Topponcino - Montessori Baby Week 1

Now that Theodore is here I want to share his Montessori baby journey in the same way that I did with Gus - through a weekly series. So my hope is to share some aspect of Teddy's Montessori journey at least once per week. {Check here to see Augustus' weekly posts.

One of my Montessori baby must haves is a topponcino. A topponcino is this beautiful Montessori baby material that allows for a smoother transition for the baby from the womb to the world. During this first week of life, the topponcino has, hands down, been the most used Montessori material in our home. It is Montessori magic at it's finest. 

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A look at the Montessori topponcino - why they are used and why the are amazing for your newborn

The topponcino is a small oval pad, that a baby uses when being moved from one area to another. The topponcino becomes your baby’s first environment (outside of your own arms) after birth.  They can be purchased online or if you can sew, they can also be DIYed.

In Montessori we recognize that there are certain points of reference that are important to a newborn. These include a baby’s hands, the mother’s voice, smell and heartbeat. As Dr. Montanaro explains in her book Understanding the Human Being, "Points of reference" are special memories related to happenings during pregnancy. Some of them are maternal...others are fetal...Such memories are used to facilitated the passage of the child into the new environment and can enable the child to orient himself within it more easily." The topponcino provides the baby with a  new familiar point of reference no matter where the baby happens to be. 

Preparing for Baby

One of the beautiful parts of the topponcino is that the mother sleeps with it prior to the baby’s birth, so that it smells like the mom. So, no matter who is holding the baby, the baby has that comforting reference.

I didn’t use a topponcino with Henry or Nora but I so wish I had. With Gus it was so handy that even my Montessori-skeptic family members were raving about it. It was just made for such peaceful transitions from person to person, made it easier for little siblings to hold the baby, made it easier for elderly relatives to hold the baby, and made placing him down on a new surface (like in the movement area) much easier.

In preparation for baby Theodore, I slept with our topponcino cover. I also had it laying out in preparation for my dogs and other small humans as a reminder of giving the baby space. 

A look at the Montessori topponcino - why they are used and why the are amazing for your newborn

With Your Baby

By using the topponcino during those first few weeks, it becomes a new point of reference for a baby. It becomes a familiar and secure space no matter where your baby actually is. It provides a sense of consistency and security.

So, practically, what does this mean? The topponcino has been Teddy’s constant companion since his birth. If he’s not being snuggled in my arms, then he can pretty much be found on the topponcino.

We use it for:
  • Rocking/cuddling/hanging out/transporting - just a familiar place to be whether he’s in your arms or somewhere else. 
  • Passing between relatives - makes for a smooth transition and keeps him warm and snuggly. It also helps to protect them from all the smells from perfumes, or rough clothing textures as the baby meets new people. 
  • Just holding him - it does a great job supporting his whole weight much more evenly, his body can relax and be fully supported
  • Allowing siblings to hold him - again so much more supportive in little arms. They feel more confident and can participate much more fully in the process of bonding with their new sibling.
  • Putting him down to *sleep - laying him down is much easier since his surface stays the same plus he feels secure in where he is.
A look at the Montessori topponcino - why they are used and why the are amazing for your newborn

*Morgan and I are personally comfortable with our babies sleeping with their topponcino. I don't find it to be fluffy or something that will move around and create a suffocation hazard. We even used in the hospital bassinet and had nurses comment on how smart it was. However, I recognize that not everyone will have the same feelings. Make your own decisions about how comfortable you are using the topponcino for sleep. 

For everyday use, the topponcino is used for the first 6-8 weeks of life. With Gus he slept with his topponcino until he was 9 or 10 months old (I can't quite remember when he stopped.) The topponcino also does not replace skin-to-skin time or close cuddling with mom and dad. Your arms will continue to be the most important environment for your newborn! It does however, make life so much easier and more enjoyable for both me and for Theodore! 

Have you used a topponcino with your newborn? Did you like it? 

A look at the Montessori topponcino - why they are used and why the are amazing for your newborn


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KWu said…
I got a topponcino for my second (due in less than 3 weeks) and am excited to see how it works out for us! How do you handle washing it? Hopefully this time around we'll be better at preventing diaper blowouts, but we'll see. I've been sleeping with the pad with one cover on it and a second cover kind of tucked into it, and wouldn't want that to all just go to waste immediately.
Meaghan said…
^^ I was just going to ask a laundering/getting a second pad question! Ha. Laundry is always on the parental brain I guess :) Also is white over color preferable? Thanks!