That gorgeous fella in the picture above is hitting the six month mark. Wow, has that whizzed by! From the moment he was born, Chip’s motto seems to be GO SPEEDRACER GO!!!! He’s already got some teeth, rolled really early and can crawl backwards. Looking to the future when he’s a toddler I can foresee some very tired parents… 🙂
He’s a very different character to his easy-going, book-reading, people-loving sister. Chip is a friendly wee chap, but he is far too interested in the world around him to be bothered too much by cooing adults or books. His favourite person is his sister, and his favourite things to do are to watch big kids playing and to look at light fixtures (he is the grandson of an electrical engineer after all).
I use Montessori quite a bit with both my children, mostly due to reading the wonderful book The Joyful Child: Montessori, Global Wisdom from Birth to Three. If you are interested at all in the Montessori approach I highly recommend this book, which is filled with realistic and practical advice for parents. There are many easy ways to add a little bit of Montessori wisdom into your routine and your home.
Here’s a snapshot of some of the things we’ve done with Chip so far:
- The mirror. Having a mirror down on the floor where your baby can see themselves is classic Montessori, and Chip loved it. He found the baby in the mirrorto be extremely friendly and interesting. He started to get bored with it at around four months, but mostly because he’s determined to get on the move and kept pushing himself into it.
- Natural materials: Not that our house is a plastic-free zone or I turn up my nose at plastic toys. Not at all. But I have made a concerted effort to give Chip toys that feel interesting in his mouth or his hands, like wood, metal and different fabrics. He’s like a magpie when it comes to shiny metal objects and loves nothing better than a wet cloth to suck on. Our families have given Chip some wonderful wooden toys which I’m sure will withstand many years of use – and they are perfect for my teething guy to munch on right now.
- Natural objects: As most parents discover often the best ‘toys’ for children are not toys at all. It’s often stuff you have lying around the house already, like boxes, jars, pots and pans and cutlery. Chip has whiled away the time playing with things like our metal whisk, pastry brush and lemon squeezer, and currently he is desperate to grab my fork whenever I’m eating dinner.
- Lots of floor time. We had to wear Chip in a front-pack quite a bit in the early days due to his reflux, but even then I tried to give him as much time on the floor as possible. Floor time is extremely important. It’s when babies really get to work so give them every opportunity to move, move, move. They may fuss and even cry (often due to frustration) but give babies a chance to figure things out before you swoop in to the rescue.
- A few things out at a time: This one is rather hard to police because, well, I have a toddler who is currently going through a kleptomaniac stage and loves to gather up as many toys and household objects as she can and then shed them all at once. Anyway, the theory is that babies and children feel safe and trust in an environment that is ordered and uncluttered. Yeah, good luck with that one. I do try not to bedazzle Chip with toys or objects, but rather give him two or three things at one time to choose from.
- Comfortable clothing: It’s so tempting to dress up my babies as if they were a doll, in things like hoodies and baby Nikes because baby clothes are ridiculously cute, but I do try to ensure they wear clothes that fit well and do not impede their movements in any way. Remember that as adorable as some clothes are, you might want to take bulky things off when your baby goes down for a nap. Would you want to wear your jeans and a hoodie to sleep? And be wary of putting your baby in clothes that are too big. I once saw a baby wearing an oversized all-in-one bodysuit, and its too-big feet were definitely stopping him from furniture-surfing about the room.
- Lots of time with his ‘village’. Chip is one lucky baby. Not only does his Dad work from home so he gets to see his Dad a lot, but we have many family members in town, some really great friends and a supportive, caring bunch of church-folk. I want my kidsto be widelysocialised and I do believe that love begets love. I want Chip to know that heaps of people love him, and that other people besides Mum and Dad are able to take care of him well. I never freak out when Chip is handed from one cooing elderly lady to the next at church because I know he is in good hands, and I trust that they will come and get me if he becomes unhappy. Sausage has really close relationships with herlocally-based family who she normally sees several times a week,and sheis cared for regularly by her Oma and Nana who take her toplaygroup, out and about or babysit. Chip gets the same amount of face-time with our family and friends and has recently started to have some one-on-one Oma time (Nana is away on holiday). My hope is that Chip’s formative years will be happy ones,and due to his socialisation with trusted loved ones he will grow up with a secure knowledge that the world is basically a safe place. And go on to invent a cure for cancer, discover unicorns existing on some unchartered isle and bring about world peace. Or something like that 😉