Getting Ready for Baby: A Montessori Inspired Toddler Discovery
Baby number two will be here in sometime in the next of couple weeks! One of my biggest priorities has been to make sure Camden is as prepared as he can be for the big changes that will come with the new baby.
Big changes come with big emotions for toddlers and that has certainly been the case for Camden. Over the past month, we have worked together as a family to set up the new spaces for the baby. Camden has helped me assemble furniture (like the the baby’s changing table). One big change, is that we rearranged Camden’s Montessori room so that there is a movement area for baby. We put away his easel and added mats, a mirror and mobiles for the baby to look at. I hope to write more about our baby spaces soon. I love this little nook so much, but the changes were very hard for Camden to accept at first. He spent a significant amount of time tearing the mats apart, he colored on them, stabbed them with a screwdriver and threw toys at them. His discomfort with the upcoming changes was loud and clear, so after some lovely advice from a friend, I decided to set up the room as a baby care area for him to practice gentle interactions with a baby doll. The impact was immediate. Now the area has a purpose for him, while still being focused on the baby. Since I set this area up, Camden has been much more interested in baby care AND all destruction has stopped!
At 32 months, Camden is showing greater independence in dressing himself. A natural extension of this was to provide work so that he could practice dressing and undressing a baby doll. Camden has an anatomically correct male baby doll, who he calls Baby Doe that is central to this new work area. At this stage, Camden still struggles with sleeves and legs, so we had a stretchy fleece onesie designed with a toddler in mind. This sleeveless, legless onesie is easy for him to put on the baby independently. It has four snaps down the front, which initially presented a bit of a challenge for him. I haven't presented a snap dressing frame yet, but he was able to master snapping after a few attempts. He has spent so much time carefully dressing and undressing his baby doll.
Practice Changing a Diaper
Camden has been totally out of diapers for a while now, so he is very interested in the fact that the baby will wear diapers. Since this is something that we will be doing quite a bit in the next year, I wanted to present diaper changing to him before baby arrives. We had custom diapers, specially designed to fit the baby doll. These diapers are easy for little fingers to open and close with velcro closures. It comes with a pouch that has three wipes in it, so Camden can practice taking one wipe out of the pouch using a pincer grip. We have three main levels in our house and spend time in each of them, so I have three baby changing stations set up around the house. These are the perfect place for Camden to practice diaper changes on his baby doll. I love that it introduces this concept early because I see diaper changes as an excellent way to integrate him into caring for our new baby.
This work has been a total hit with Camden and is usually the first thing he selects from his shelves. He loves giving Baby Doe a bath! When I presented the bath to Camden, I told him that we will talk the baby through every step of the process so that the baby knows what will happen next. I love hearing him talk his baby doll through what he is doing. It seems to come so easily to him, which is probably in large part because this is how we have approached things with Camden since he was born. The baby bathing set comes with a custom made towel that perfectly fits the doll with a matching mitt washcloth, a small pitcher and also a small squirt bottle for soap (to regulate how much soap is used in each doll bath.) For these baths, we use a very small amount of water and focus mainly on washing the baby’s body and face. He uses the wash cloth to wash the baby’s face and takes great care to avoid the baby’s eyes, since this is something that bothers him in the bath. One thing I always emphasize to Camden is that we always have to support the baby’s head. Since Camden is working with this material in him Montessori room (which is not where we will give the baby a bath), we use a large bowl for this work instead of the baby’s bathtub.
Nursery Object Matching
We made a set of matching cards for these beautiful wooden nursery objects. Camden is in love with this set, although he has chosen to use it for mostly imaginative play. He has really enjoyed giving the little baby in the set a “routine.” It has really helped to drive home the idea that babies “eat, sleep and poop.” He has played with this set for over an hour every day since I introduced it onto his shelves. He has carried the stroller and with him around the house for over a week now!
LOVE Yoga Cards
Since I am currently 39 weeks pregnant and it is August (and a MAJOR record breaking heatwave just hit Seattle), we have been spending much more time inside than either of us is used to. It is important to me (and my sanity) that Camden still has gross motor opportunities in the house and I also want them to be things that will be safe to do around a new baby. The LOVE Yoga Cards from Kids Yoga Stories are the perfect solution. Camden can practice moving his body in new ways, while still being controlled enough for safely being around a newborn. I love the way these cards are set up so that each pose comes with a phrase like “I am loved.” It is soothing and fun for us to practice together!
Reading We Have a Baby
We have been reading books about having a new baby since we told Camden he was going to be a big brother. We Have a Baby is one of my favorites because it explores what life is like after the baby in a positive tone. One thing I really like about the book, is that the gender of the baby isn’t mentioned. Since we are waiting until the baby is born to find out the baby’s sex, I really appreciate books that don’t focus on the gender of the baby.
Encouraging Gentle Interactions with the baby
I wanted Camden to have a couple of ways to gently interact with the baby from the beginning. A stethoscope is a lovely way for him to be around the baby since it will give him a goal to achieve. He has had a wonderful time checking if every object in our house has a heartbeat. He even brought the stethoscope (at his own request) to our last appointment with the midwife so that he could help take my blood pressure.
Many of you may have heard that Lindsay, from This Merry Montessori, and I have opened a new online shop that focuses on high quality materials for toddler discovery. We put all of the materials above (stethoscope not included) into one beautiful box that will help prepare a toddler for a new sibling. We take every detail into consideration, including spacing of snaps, stretchiness of material and, most importantly, ease of use for small hands. Many of our materials are custom and we only use materials of the highest quality. Each of our boxes covers five components: language, matching/correspondence, fine motor skills, gross motor skills and practical life activities. This Getting Ready for Baby box is my favorite so far and is an excellent way to help your toddler prepare for a new sibiling! Visit our website Cactus & Fern for more details.