In “My Top 3 Natural Parenting Principles,” I briefly discussed how my husband and I used Montessori principles to set up our home when our children were infants. Here are the steps we took.
1. We baby-proofed every room in our house.
We covered all wall outlets and used child safety latches to create a safe environment for our children, Will and Christina, to explore when they were babies.
2. We used safety gates to create large areas for exploration in our main living area.
We made the entire living room safe and available for a baby. Along with our adult-sized furniture, we had a horizontal safety mirror and low shelves for baby toys. We had a thin mat with a sheepskin on our living room floor when our babies were young, allowing them to crawl around, play with their toys, or fall asleep.
3. We had a bedroom with a safety gate at the door, a futon on the floor, and low shelves with our children’s toys neatly arranged.
This allowed Will and Christina as babies to have another large area to play and freely explore. They could take their nap on the futon and then wake up and choose which toys they wanted to play with. (This would have worked at night as well, although we had our children in our room with us at night when they were babies).
4. Instead of using a high chair, we had a special Montessori toddler table in our dining room/kitchen area that worked for babies and toddlers instead of using a high chair.
This table was next to our dining room table and was where our children ate when they were babies and toddlers. As toddlers, Will and Christina also used this table for their activities while I worked in the kitchen.
Preparing Montessori Spaces in Your Home
See “How to Create a Montessori-Friendly Home” for ideas for a number of levels. Here are some of my main home environment posts:
- How to Prepare a Montessori Baby Room at Home (roundup post)
- How to Prepare a Montessori Toddler Environment at Home (roundup post)
- Preparing a Montessori Newborn Baby Space at Home
- How to Use Montessori Mobiles to Encourage a Newborn Baby’s Development and Delight
- Preparing a Montessori Baby Space with Shelves at Home
- Preparing a Montessori Baby Space in Your Living Room
- Preparing a Montessori Baby-Toddler Space at Home
- Preparing Montessori Toddler Spaces at Home
- How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a 2 Year Old
- How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a 2½ Year Old
- How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a 3 Year Old
- How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a 3½ Year Old
- How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a 4 Year Old
- How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a 4½ Year Old
- How to Prepare a Montessori Home Environment for Afterschooling
- Create an Attractive Home Environment from Montessori at Home!
- How to Set Up a Montessori Homeschool Classroom
Jo Ebisujima and I have a free Montessori at home webinar and introduction to our Montessori Crash Course.
Would some or all of these ideas work in your home?
Learn more about my eBook Montessori at Home or School: How to. Teach Grace and Courtesy! I’m also one of the coauthors of the book Learn with Play – 150+ Activities for Year-round Fun & Learning!
The Montessori at Home! eBook and Montessori at Home! eBook and Materials Bundle are AMAZING resources! You can learn more about them here. Buy them in the Living Montessori Now shop.
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Counting Coconuts says
Oh yes, all of these would -and will- work in our home. 🙂 If we are blessed enough to have another child we’ve decided to take the Montessori approach from the very beginning. We’ve already sold James’ crib!
The Sew Liberated blog has a beautiful photo tour of her son’s Montessori nursery.
Thanks for posting about this, Deb!
Deb Chitwood says
Thanks so much, Mari-Ann! And thank you for the Sew Liberated suggestion! That is the MOST AMAZING Montessori infant room! Here are the links for anyone who hasn’t seen it: http://www.flickr.com/photos/montessoribyhand/3459533319/in/set-72157616928619160/ and http://sewliberated.typepad.com/sew_liberated/2009/10/its-the-little-things.html
Our Crazy Little Life says
Thanks for following, I am following back! You have a great site!
Deb Chitwood says
Thanks so much! And I appreciate you following me!
PENNY FRANKLIN says
Just hopping over to say “hi” from iFellowship!
Hope you’re having a wonderful & beautiful Wednesday!
Deb Chitwood says
Hi Penny! Thanks for visiting! I got sidetracked with computer problems yesterday, but things are looking much better today!
I tried a little table with my 13 month old but the mess was incredible. We sit him there for snacks still but prefer him to sit with the rest of us in his booster seat at meals. He feels like more of the family up there with us. With my daughter, we put a step stool next to the booster to allow her to be independent about getting in and out of it. I just need to get the step stool out for my son.
Deb Chitwood says
Thanks for your comment, Julie! That’s a good way to do things also. The step stool is a great idea! I think it just depends on what works best for each family.
I love this! We’ve implemented several ideas from here, such as making whole rooms available, and having all of her toys within reach. She also has her own table to sit at, though mostly just for art projects. She sits with us in a booster at the big table for meals.
Deb Chitwood says
Thanks for your comment, Laura – I love what you’re doing! I’ve had a great time following the ways you’re using Montessori principles at home!
the grumbles says
i love this! we created a floor-level toy shelf and a quiet-time crash pad in the living room when our son started crawling, and got him a toddler-sized table of his own for his birthday. i’m very enamored with the idea of putting his things on his level so he can interact with him at his discretion and take responsibility for his own items. cool stuff.
Deb Chitwood says
Thanks so much! What you’re doing sounds GREAT!
We have twins and we are trying to set up their room, but i am not sure if we should have two infant beds / futon matresses for them or if they should sleep on the same one… what do yall think?
Thanks for your comment, Richard! That’s an interesting question. I haven’t dealt with that for twins, but my guess would be that they might like to sleep on the same futon/mattress. Let us know what you end up doing and how it works out! 🙂
Thanks for the abundance of information on here! I would love to set up a room for my kids but how do you deal with varying ages? My kids are 4, 3, 1 1/2, and newborn. I really only have one large room where I can be with all of them at once. How do I set up shelves that are appropriate for each of them and keep them all from getting into one another’s shelves? I’ve noticed even the older ones sometimes still like to play with the baby’s toys and the 1 1/2 year old loves to climb every shelf and grab anything he can get his hands on. Also, I’m wondering if I would be able to realistically take time to present these activities properly so that the original purpose of the activities is not defeated. Any tips you have would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for your kind comment, Leandra! It is tough to organize a room for that many different different levels. Often, parents will have special lower shelves for the younger ones with the materials for the older ones on a higher shelf.
If you have a problem with your toddler reaching activities that are dangerous for him or her, you could try bringing out those materials during the younger ones’ naptimes.
My kids were 5 years apart in age. I typically kept materials on the shelves that my daughter (the youngest) could use when she was little. If there was something she shouldn’t use, I kept that in a storage area only my son could access. That worked well for us. Good luck!
I would like to find a mirror for my little one. I think her older siblings would enjoy using it with her.
Can you recommend a table that’s good for babies and toddlers? Similar to something that you used?
Can you recommend a mirror that’s safe?