I've written a little about pregnancy and birth but before our baby arrives it's worthwhile for me to get down my thoughts on parenting a newborn, what do Montessori parents do differently?
It's important to note that all Montessori families do things in different ways. I've met parents who have Assistant to Infancy training who use a cot and pacifiers. So my intent is to share what has worked for our family and explain the reasons behind some of these Montessori recommendations.
No (or little) swaddling - Personally, I have never understood swaddling. I understand the concept of the startle reflex, but swaddling makes me feel like the child is being physically restrained. We know that newborns can look for their hands and bring them to their face as a point of reference as they did in utero. Swaddling restricts freedom of movement and even in a newborn, we want to encourage movement to increase coordination and strength.
No pacifier/dummy - This comes from our need to find the cause of the child's distress or discomfort rather than to use a device to 'pacify' the child - and allowing it to become a habit. It's also thought that pacifying the child through oral comfort isn't the best idea and could lead to comfort eating or soothing through food. We also know that beyond the newborn stage pacifiers are not recommended for language and dental health reasons.
No (or little) footed rompers, less clothing - Footed rompers drive me crazy, at least with socks or booties you can take them off when they are not needed. The aim here is to allow the child to experience the world around them, to have a sensory experience even on their feet. Obviously, we don't allow the infant to go cold (especially when sleeping or outside), but where possible we encourage bare feet and even bare legs so the child can move their toes and knees and begin to get some grip and push them into the floor surface/movement mat and begin to move. We want to do as much as we can to limit clothing that restricts movement.
No baby swings/bouncers and less time in containers - Car seats are obviously unavoidable however all other baby containers are not recommended or suggested to be used in a limited way. Personally, I also prefer baby wearing to using a pram. Again this is to encourage freedom of movement. Baby swings and similar devices are often used to entertain the infant which is completely unnecessary and some devices are detrimental to the infant's natural development. We encourage lots of time on a movement mat or playmat with some simple materials (toys or mobiles in the newborn stage), this allows for movement and self-discovery.
Talk to the infant, as a real person, from birth - I know Montessori isn't the only philosophy that encourages this. It is recommended to talk to the child about what is going on around them, talk to them before you pick them up, change them or wash them, from birth let them know what is going to happen next. Look them in the eye and talk directly to them. This is out of respect for the child and to promote communication.
Don't wake a sleeping baby - As a mother of soon-to-be three, I know this is not always possible (hello school runs!). But it's not recommended. At the newborn stage we need to (as much as we can), respect the natural biological rhythm of the infant. This also applies to feeding on demand and not to schedule. I know black-out blinds work for some families, however, I've always preferred to allow some soft light during daytime naps, so the child can adjust their natural rhythm and begin to know day from night.
Provide a rich sensory experience - Involve the infant in family life, play music, sing to them, expose them to the family's play, conversation, laughter, and joy. A small rug or blanket (or lambswool) is useful to move around the home so the child can be involved in all spaces, yet nap when needed. A mistake I made with my first born is that children do not need silence to sleep. Take the infant outside, show them the flowers and the trees.
I could keep on going but perhaps I'll leave the rest for another day! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!