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Happy Mom> Articles> How to take care of a newborn according to the Montessori Method: a complete guide
Raising a child is a collective undertaking: I have put together the basic principles of the Montessori Method to write a complete guide to baby care, thinking about how this experience can be – for two new parents – something wonderful and non-destructive.
An experience that speaks of attachment, of I listen, of mutual aid, of tribe: how we can team up to raise a happy and confident, free and empathetic child – all doing our part.
Stages of growth of newborns
The first two years of a child’s life represent an extraordinary moment, both for us who admire them, and for his emotional, relational and cerebral development.
In fact, children develop in the first years of life hundreds of billions of synapses, or connections between neurons, which represent the key to the development of memory, concentration, learning and even self-confidence.
The child experiences the surrounding world and learns specific functions, not only related to the senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell), but also related to space, time, self-perception, sensations and relationships – or the way in which it must behave in the its environment.
Parents, grandparents, siblings and family, together with the surrounding environment, therefore contribute to enhancing these incredible brain connections of the newborn, giving life to a unique, perfect individual, aimed at enhancing his complete development.
Here because Raising children is both an exciting experience and a responsibility: because our education, our imprinting, the way we love our children and bond with them, but also the way we stimulate them, contribute to making them better individuals, with greater self-esteem and better cognitive and relational skills.
And this may sound scary, but I assure you: it is not!
Why the main resource we have available to empower our children’s talents is simply unconditional love.
To love children without conditions, which means: educate them to the Good, with kindness, respecting their times and their talents.
Therefore, avoid black pedagogy, with blows, the rewards-punishment system, emotional blackmail.
Create a true and deep bond with your children, believe me, it is the greatest gift we can give them: thanks to this special bond, our children will feel safe, strong and courageous to discover the world.
Growth stages of newborns are:
- 2 months: raises and turns the head in the supine position, follows the parents’ face with his eyes and smiles’ casually ‘
- 2-4 months: raises the head in the prone position, turns the face towards sound stimuli, follows the parents’ face with the eyes and smiles on purpose, vocalizes in response to familiar voices
- 4 months: has control of the head in a sitting position, turns from the supine position to the side, brings objects to his mouth trying to grasp them with his hands, sees closely and laughs, begins to remember
- 6 months: lifts head, neck and trunk holding on to arms, manages to sit on high chair, manages to turn from supine to prone position, grasps objects, mimics sounds, emits vocalizations and recognizes parents, differentiating them from strangers
- 9 months: can sit alone with support, can crawl and start standing by clinging to furniture, uses thumb and forefinger to grasp objects, understands persistence of objects, understands the meaning of no and mimics the sounds of language
- 12 months: sits alone without support, can walk, says several little words, associates names and objects, imitates animal noises
Clearly every child has his own times and we must and can respect them.
During the routine visits of the pediatrician and the various health balances, we can rely on the experience of the doctor to resolve our doubts or understand how to stimulate the child in the correct way.
At any age, the right stimuli
As Maria Montessori already said, it is important that every child is given the right stimulus at the right time.
Slowing down the stimuli could make the child apathetic, but at the same time speeding them up could create the frustration of not succeeding in the enterprise we propose to him.
This implies an enormous respect for the natural growth stages of the child, which must be observed by the parents, to understand when he is ready to embark on the new adventure of learning.
In fact, children are more likely to learn if stimulated in the right way and if immersed in the right environment.
Their bedroom should be an interesting place, where beautiful objects are kept to use and admire:
- a low bookcase with illustrated children’s books
- toys made of natural materials, such as untreated wood
- delicate musical instruments, such as the xylophone and the pianola
- a low table with its small seats, complete with drawing and painting material
- access to a stereo where you can listen to beautiful music, even trying the classical
Why does children’s furniture (and even the house) have to be accessible?
Because the principle of the Montessori Method is: HELP ME TO DO IT ALONE.
To practice this progressive autonomy, therefore, children must be immersed in a stimulating environment, also beautiful to the eye, minimalist, but full of interesting objects that attract the attention and the desire for exploration: books, paintings, plants, music – just to give an example.
For Maria Montessori children are COMPETENT: depending on the age stages, I am able to carry out many activities of practical life.
Only we often don’t let them do it because on the one hand we see them small and we want, rightly, to pamper them.
On the other hand, we have no ‘time to waste’ and we want to do things quickly, without waiting for the child’s time.
Children – like all of us, after all, however, they learn more easily if they can experience things directly: if we don’t feed them until 3 years old, if we don’t wash and dress them until 9 years old, and so on …
It is also important that the child is free to choose – clearly within the rules we set ourselves as a family.
For example, choosing what clothes to wear, what books to read, what to play… without our constant direction or supervision.
I don’t know if you recognize yourselves in all this, but I do, a lot: I too had a tendency to want to ‘impose’ on my daughter the times and ways of doing things, and when I realized that I was wrong, a world opened up to me. .
I’ll give you a concrete example: getting ready to go to school on time.
In first grade, the first months, I was unnerved: even waking up an hour earlier (with the school 1km from home), we always came running. At 8 in the morning I was already nervous, sometimes so much that I felt I had ruined my day.
I kept keeping up with my daughter and putting her under pressure: get up, wake up, have breakfast, brush your teeth, comb your hair, get dressed, put your shoes on…!
And the more I marked the time, the slower she became, maddeningly: it seemed like it would take three times as long to eat a damn cookie.
One morning, while I was giving her the usual rhythm, she told me something that changed everything: I AM NOT A ROBOT, I AM A CHILD.
SBEM! Suddenly my daughter had given me a very important lesson, which had enlightened me. My own way of speaking, with imperative verbs, was not the right way to address a PERSON. I wanted to program it, not help it.
From that morning on, I immediately stopped giving orders and interfering. We set the right time to leave the house, and for the rest we were supporting the child, but no longer directing the operations. And I swear to you, I swear to you, we have never been late again, nor have we argued or screamed in the early morning.
Our daughter needed to CHOOSE: to choose how to manage that morning time (which by then instead of an hour had become 40 minutes), without our pressure or our tension. He needed to knowing that she WAS ABLE to organize and go it alone to dress, wash, put on shoes.
I told you this anecdote to tell you something important: leave space and time for your children, so that they can feel capable of looking after themselves and learning to take care of themselves, pets, plants, siblings and the house.
Practical life activities
For Maria Montessori, practical life activities are precisely those that teach children to take care of themselves, the environment and others.
We can divide them into:
- self-care activities: wash, dress, comb your hair, tie your shoes
- caring for others: help the siblings, water the plants or the garden, feed the cat, brush the dog, prepare a snack
- environmental care activities: mop, spread the tea towels, pass the sponge on the table, set the table and clear away …
Don’t wait to propose these activities when the children are grown up! They just show curiosity and above all the desire to help you around the house, give him a duvet and get ‘help’. It is clear that in the beginning it will be just an imitation game for them, and not really passing the dust, but in the long run they will have experiences such as to truly become part of the family organization.
And don’t think of these activities as a simple household help or, even worse, an exploitation. No!
These activities are important for two reasons …