I'm at the stage in my pregnancy where I can't get a good night's sleep. Remember what it is like? Not able to get comfortable no matter which way you lie? I'm also at the stage where I wished the nursery was finished. Well, it's getting there. I've put up some pictures and a fabulous friend passed onto us the most gorgeous wooden bed. We still have our low shelves from when Otis was little (a friend borrowed them but we now have them back!). So I have started to tinker and move things around a little. It has me thinking, what do you put on shelves for a newborn? Why even have shelves for a newborn?
We prepare shelves for the newborn as they provide a point of reference for the child. As the child's eyesight develops they begin to make sense of their room, they begin to make a mental map, their shelves are a significant part of this. It is where their toys and materials are stored and it keeps the space organised from the start! Once the child begins to move, commando crawl, often their first significant movements are from their (floor) bed towards their shelves to play!
I have found it best to prepare the shelves before the child is born and to keep it as simple as possible. I also try to think of ways to make the shelves look beautiful and bits of colour on the natural timber really help with this.
I try to put out materials the child is likely to use in the first three to six months, think grasping materials. With Otis I put out simple puzzles, stacking toys, palmer and pincer blocks but these won't be used until the child is sitting. I've done a quick survey and put together the top ten materials I have seen on Montessori newborn shelves!
- Small Bell Rattle
- Grasping Beads
- Interlocking Discs
- Small Bell Cylinder
- Ball Cylinder
- Board Books - including those with high contrast images (black and white) and those featuring baby, baby faces.
- Skwish Toy
- Wooden Baby Beads
- Various rattles and wooden rings
- Ball basket - small basket featuring various size and textured balls.
Baskets are useful as you can take them to the play area or movement mat, or into another room and just give one or two items out of the basket to the child. As much as possible it's also a good idea to have low baskets so the child can see and become familiar with what is in the basket from a distance.
So what do we actually have on our newborn/infant shelves (pictured above)?
- Board Books
- Basket with shakers and mini maracas
- Woven Ball Rattle (it has a bell inside)
- Textured Shapes (similar to these).
There are of course many materials not listed here that are perfectly suited to the infant environment. We can get caught up in sourcing specific products, these are listed as examples and to provide ideas only, not as an exclusive list!