Design a “yes” environment where your baby can explore freely:
- Your goal when baby-proofing your house is to make it safe for them to explore, creating “yes” spaces, where they can move freely with little to no supervision.
- By setting up a beautiful space for your baby to play, we're giving them opportunities to explore, with inviting toys and activities that encourage them to discover for themselves.
- Make things they can play with super easy to access, not only toys, but maybe kitchen tools that are ok to explore, like pots and pans. Toddler-proof not only the dangerous things, but also the things you don’t want them to access. The goal is to stop having to say “no” everytime they get somewhere you don’t want them to.
- Have a distinguished play and sleep spaces: the bed is a place to sleep, not a place to play with mobiles and toys. Have a separated space to play, when they’re awake and active.
Tips for an organized Montessori Playroom, even if it’s just a corner in your living room:
- Use low and open shelving they can access by themselves and choose what they want to play. Everything visible and with a designated space to put it back.
- Organize the toys with trays or baskets, keep pieces of the same toy together, it makes it easier for young child to access the material and to organize it back on the shelf.
- Place like things together. I always use baskets to organize my kid’s toys, for example, I have 1 basket only for animais. Handles are great to transport the material to and from the shelf.
- Organize the shelf at the end of the day! It only takes like 10 min to put everything back on the shelf after your baby went to bed (if they’re too young to do it themselves), and your kid will enjoy it much more the next day, when they can see and choose what they want to play
- Have your toddler put their toys back on the shelf after play. After every use, I tell him to put it back before getting something else. Sometimes I “bribe” him to do it, like “you’re only going to watch TV if you clean up your toys”. It works better when they want to do something else. It doesn’t work so well if they are not excited about the next activity, like going to bed. So make sure to plan for the best time to ask.
- Keep on the shelf only the toys that your child is interested in the moment, you can store more toys away and rotate when they get interested in something else. When rotating toys, don’t change everything at once, remove a few toys when it’s cluttered and toys are not being used and switch to something new (an old toy can be new to your baby if they haven’t played with it for a while).
- An activity has to be hard enough to be challenging but not too difficult that they give up. To find that sweet spot, offer a new toy multiple times to your kid, if it’s still too difficult, give it a little time to introduce it again.
- Observation is key to understand your baby's interest, you can learn so much by just watching them without interrupting.
And most important of all, let your child be independent!
Before offering help, let them figure it out by themselves, even if it’s the first time they’re trying to do it. Let them struggle a little bit before offering help. Ask them if they need help before jumping to do it yourself.
"We can provide the baby with things to explore, give them time to explore, and make the environment safe for exploration." The Montessori Baby: A Parent's Guide to Nurturing Your Baby with Love, Respect, and Understanding, by Davies, Simone; Uzodike, Junnifa