The Montessori nursery holds a very special place in my heart. Long before I began my Montessori training, and very long before I had a child of my own, I would spend hours looking at photos of Montessori nurseries and other aspects of the Home Environment. There is just something so sweet and beautiful about creating a special place for the child in the home, and it should come as no surprise that learning about the Home Environment was my favorite part of the training. It only seems natural, then, that I would choose the nursery as the topic for Markedly Montessori’s very first post.
The nursery, when prepared in a Montessori fashion, is comprised of four main areas, which are meant to mimic the general areas of the whole house for those first months, where the infant will spend most of his time in his room. These are areas for sleeping, movement, feeding, and physical care. Elisha’s bedroom is fairly small, but a large area is not a necessity for a developmentally appropriate space for your child to learn and grow.
Of the four areas, the one for sleeping is, by far, the one that earns me the most questions. As you can see from the above photo, there is no crib. Instead, a Montessori nursery makes use of a floor bed. Some families choose to use a crib mattress, some use a small mat (such as the mat for a Pack-n-Play), and others still choose an adult-sized mattress. We chose the latter, clearly, as we happened to have a spare twin mattress lying around.
The goal with the floor bed is twofold. First, to allow the infant an unobscured view of his environment; Elisha can freely see his room, without interference from bars or mesh. Second, for independence and freedom in his environment. Now that Elisha is mobile, he can get out of his bed upon waking and explore his room in the mornings, which he does every day. This gives him time to play independently, while also giving me time to get ready in the morning.
Probably the second most notable area in the Montessori nursery is the movement area. This area is characterized by a small mat or rug, a mirror for visual stimulation and feedback as the baby moves, and a low shelf that contains interesting objects, such as rattles, balls, or books.
This particular shelf (of the Kallax series from Ikea) is a fairly new addition to Elisha’s room. Before he was mobile, he had a much smaller shelf that held just a couple toys at a time. Since he is older and moving now, though, we’ve upgraded to this larger shelf that holds more objects. (The empty spot on the end is for a special new toy that I’ll be discussing next week.)
The oar over the shelf is home to four photos of common forest animals (raccoon, fox, deer, and bear), and is hung at the perfect level for Elisha to look at them when he pulls up into a standing position on the shelf, which he does quite often, these days. Elisha seems very happy with this new setup, and really enjoys watching himself play in the mirror.
An important aspect here, also, is that artwork and toys in Elisha’s room are placed where he can see them. There is a mobile hung high over the shelf (visible in the first picture), but only because Elisha is past the point of lying under mobiles. Instead simply packing it away, I opted to use it to bring some color to that corner of the room.
The third and fourth areas, physical care and feeding, probably look more familiar.
Right now, either my husband or myself are handling Elisha’s physical care. Eventually, though, I will add ways for him to contribute to his own hygiene. Ideally, the changing table would be one that allows the baby to lie with feet facing you for a better view of his caregiver, but this changing table was graciously offered to us for free by friends, and we were happy to have it. In a couple more months, I will be changing this area to allow for greater independence for Elisha, which we will discuss when we come to it. The sign is hung at the perfect height for Elisha to look at it during diaper changes.
The feeding area also looks pretty typical right now. We have a cozy chair for feeding and rocking and a little table to hold anything I might need. I’ve also hung signs from some of my dearest friends, given to me during my pregnancy, with quotes, poems, and verses to surround me during those middle of the night feedings, which are technically too high for Elisha to look at, but are very dear to my heart, so I made an exception.
I’d like to hang some more artwork on that wall space between Elisha’s bed and the table, but I haven’t decided what it should be yet.
So, there you have it – a Montessori nursery.
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you stick around to see how it changes in the future and how else we incorporate Montessori into our home.
(As a side note: I have a feeling that now that Elisha is mobile, the bunting over his bed is not long for this world.)