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January 21, 2020

Montessori Parenting - When Your Baby Concentrates

There's a tendency to assume that small children - especially babies - are incapable of concentration. We can see that just by looking at the products that mainstream toy companies make and people buy for babies. They have lights, sounds, and artificial movement to the extreme. They are literally designed to distract and entertain a baby as if a baby is unable to entertain him/herself. But the truth is that baby's (and all young children) are able to deeply concentrate. And, they know how from birth. 

Baby Concentration - What to Look For? 

A concentrating baby can look a lot of different ways. A concentrating baby may be still, or they might move a whole lot! I always look for a baby that is focused on whatever they are doing. So that focus might come from trying to pull up, roll over or reach something new. Or that focus might come from deeply staring at a mobile floating above them. Basically, don't be fooled by movement. 

A recent example comes from these pictures with Theodore this week. I introduced a new tactile mobile (this DIY rainbow ribbon mobile) and he was very excited. VERY! There were squeals of joy, there was leg kicking, arm waving, grasping, rolling, MOVEMENT. But he was in the zone. His body was relaxed, focused, and joyful. I could tell he was connecting with the material in a really beautiful way. He used this mobile for 40 minutes before all went silent. 

By this point I was playing with the older kids in our playroom. I looked over to find him rolled over on to his belly staring quietly at himself in the mirror. This was the still concentration. The unmoving, slow blinking, deep in thought moments. This lasted for several minutes, until we needed to leave for an appointment and I had to grab him.

Baby Concentrating - What should I do? 

My initial reaction when I see my baby concentrating is to jump right in and join the fun! I want to talk to him about what he sees, what he's doing, and explore myself. But, by doing this I become center-stage. I become the distraction from what he has chosen to concentrate on. Instead, I focus on a few things: 

  • Observation - this is the perfect time to quietly observe your baby's interests, skills, and needs
  • Wonder - I can still wonder with my child, but quietly on my own
  • Protect and Respect - I can protect him from distractions (like siblings) or other noises/movement that might break his concentration. Now, this can't always happen, but I can make an effort when I'm available to protect the work of the concentrating child. 
  • Time - I can hold space for him, giving him time to concentrate. If I notice him concentrating, how can I make time for that to happen? I can give him a few more seconds, or minutes, even if it wasn't in my plan.
  • Acceptance - I can also accept whatever amount of concentration that he has, I don't need to compare him to others, and know that he is doing what he needs to do. 

Have you noticed intense concentration in your baby? How does that look for them? 

A look at baby concentration, what it looks like and what you should do when it happens

This post was week 18 of my Montessori baby series with Theodore. 


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