This website uses affiliate links at no cost to you. Thank you.
September 28, 2022

Montessori Toddlers: Connection to the New Baby

Humans have an incredible ability to adapt to their environment. We can live in the hottest and coldest places on Earth. We have developed thousands of forms of communication. We eat incredibly varied diets. And, with all these different circumstances, humans thrive. Maria Montessori was very aware of this fact. She said, "Humanity is different {to animals} in this all-important fact - adaptation. He can adapt to any environment. All men do not conform to the same habits, the same behavior." (The 1946 London Lectures, p82) She argued that it is this unique adaptation to our environment that sets people apart and is one specifically special part about children. They learn the language, customs, and ways of their environment and become perfectly adapted to it.

Connecting Siblings: Toddlers and Babies 

Yet, despite this incredibly ability to be flexible, you add one new human to your family unit and it seems like all hell breaks loose for children, toddlers especially. Their world is seriously rocked. Old habits for calm become hard to access. New behavior - sometimes aggressive behavior begins. Regression sets in. It can feel like a child will never adapt to this new little person in their lives. But, thankfully this isn't true.

"We cannot tell what any man born today will do...The child is the creator of the man, certainly with regard to his adaptation to the environment." Maria Montessori, The 1946 London Lectures 

In my monthly Q&A in my membership community, we were talking about how hard it can be for toddler siblings to connect to the baby. It is through this connection that a toddler is going to start to become comfortable and adapt. Sometimes I've fallen into the trap of thinking just let the toddler be affectionate toward the baby and they will love the baby as much as I do. But, affection isn't the answer for all toddlers and all situations. Here are some other ideas we use in our Montessori home to help toddlers connect to their infant siblings: 

  • Practical Life: Toddler's love practical work. Involve them in the practical care of being with the baby. Give them a job and repeat that job as much as they want. Maybe they grab diapers, pick out outfits, close a diaper strap, throw away something. Make something their big and important role - the baby needs them, the family needs them, and they are capable. 
  • Observation: Toddlers can be keen observers of the life situations around them. Invite them to observe the baby with you. Notice little details, do it on your lap. Make it a moment of connection between you and the baby and the toddler. 
  • Language: Hello, sensitive period for language. Show your toddler how they can talk to the baby. Invite the toddler to try it and try it often. Give the toddler specific lessons on language around the baby - what are the baby's clothes called, what are the baby's body parts, what are the baby's toys. Use their interest in language to connect them to the baby.
  • Movement: Mirror that baby! Make movement with the baby fun - invite your toddler to do just what the baby is doing. Can they show a baby a new way to move? Use movement to your advantage instead of just correcting larger movements near the baby. 
  • Work: Let toddler's be the guide. Let them show a baby a new material. Or let a toddler bring a work of their own over to a baby and show the baby how they do it. Be flexible in where and how a toddler is working so that they can show it off. (This works best for tiny babies that aren't going to explore the toddler's work.) 
  • Love: Let a toddler love on their baby. At the core of Montessori is love and we don't want to forget that toddlers are capable. Show them how to touch a baby, where to kiss them and open up opportunities for that to happen. 


"Adaptation must come first. Only after this first adaptation has been made can there be the possibility of flexibility and a variety of creative responses." Maria Montessori, The 1946 London Lectures (p87)

Adjusting to a new baby is big work for all humans. And it will happen. 

Tips and ideas from our Montessori home for helping a toddler connect with a new baby sibling.


Support me