I apologise for this narrow topic but it's one that I feel is important and useful to me! Today I'm writing about the Montessori Topponcino or security pillow.
The Topponcino is typically used from birth to six to eight weeks (or more depending on the size of the infant). It is recommended that the parent/s sleep with or put the Topponcino in their bed so it takes on their homely scent. The Topponcino is then used (from birth) to securely hold and support the infant.
From memory, Maria Montessori didn't design the Topponcino (although specific measurements are provided in the Montessori Assistants to Infancy course) but it was a concept she observed mothers using in India. So while I wouldn't say this is only used by Montessori parents it is strongly advocated for in Montessori communities.
The Topponcino is a relatively thin oval or elliptical shaped mattress made from wool or cotton. There are lots of organic options. Assistants to Infancy would recommend a plain or soft coloured covers, ruffles or lace is provided at the top.
What is key is providing a warm, comfortable, secure and supportive environment for the child. We want the child to build a sense of trust in their environment from the start. We need to provide an environment that supports the child through the symbiotic period.
The Topponcino can provide familiarity in touch (texture, warmth), and scent. It can assist with gentle handling and holding and with transitions such as being held by siblings and other family members, it ensures the baby is physically supported and this is especially useful when being held by or passed to young or older members of the family or those not familiar with holding an infant. It can assist with transitions such as being held and then being placed on their floor bed or movement mat.
Is is important to use the Topponcino regularly, daily so the child feels that sense of familiarity which can provide comfort and security. As Toppocinos are handmade they can be difficult to source. Here are few companies that have been recommended by readers and other Montessori parents.
- Bell and Ribbon (Australia)
- Topponcino n More (US), I've stocked this brand in my store and would recommend them, they have the largest range.
- Michael Olaf (US)
- Baby Burrows (US), the one we have is here (it's 100% organic with good international shipping).
- ByMuForU (France)
- Memamnali (France)
- ithmos kids (Greece)
- fuwariko (Japan)
- Labirintzivljenja (Slovenia)
If you want to try a DIY, Voila Montessori has a detailed tutorial here. Many Topponcinos are made to order so if you are planning on using one, order well before your baby is due. Also, the Topponcino is a lovely, thoughtful gift, even for parents new to Montessori!