In Episode 28, I began discussing the Montessori idea of Freedom of Movement and how it applies to infancy! We discussed:
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Bianca A. Solorzano, M.Ed.
Baby Development & Montessori Consultant
And Your Baby Tour Guide
Bianca: [00:00:07] Welcome to Baby Tour Guide’s, Montessori Babies podcast. I'm your host and baby tour guide Bianca Solorzano And for the last decade, I have dedicated myself to helping parents, educators and caregivers optimize baby development through a Montessori lens. This podcast is all about evolving our Montessori practice to make our time with our sweet babies easier, relaxed and so much fun. Let's jump into it.
Bianca: [00:00:40] Welcome to Episode Twenty Eight of our Montessori Babies podcast. Today we have a short and sweet episode, but one that is so important to the life of a baby. And today we are talking all about freedom of movement in Montessori, specifically infancy. So that said, I first want to start with her quote for the week, and it's a quote about movement from the Montessori book The Joyful Child. And that quote is children who have freedom of movement feel they can pursue their own ideas and interests. The respected experience of seeing an object reaching for it and exploring it with the hands and mouth produces the reassuring sensation that when we want something, we can move and go and get it. So that I felt like was the perfect quote to enter this episode, because that just perfectly embodies some of the ideas behind freedom of movement. So freedom of movement is an idea that essentially means we're allowing the child to freely move within their environment. And of course, they would then be a prepared environment for the child to explore. So babies are naturally born with this beautiful innate inner will to learn about the world. And I know I talk about that a lot, and in my experience, you'll see the center will the most when we set up their space and allow them to freely move within it. That way, they're able to naturally guide themselves within their prepared environment.
Bianca: [00:02:06] So you'll actually see just this beautiful, driven child going to explore these things within their space that they're naturally driven to do. You know, it's really beautiful. So freedom of movement applies to all ages in Montessori, but we're obviously going to be focusing on infancy and in infancy. Movement is everything and, you know, movements incredibly important throughout all of childhood. But movement in infancy is just so essential. So movement is how our babies learn. Movement stimulates brain development necessary for learning about their world. Their entire body works together to create, you know, the amazing synapses as they explore their world through their senses. Using movement, of course. So, for example, babies brains double in size during their first year of life. So they are learning so much about their world within that first year and also within that first year. Babies go from, you know, squishy non-mobile newborns who were fully unable to hold up their heads to still squishy, but now cruising or walking, sometimes running babies who have now absorbed so much about their world. So it's just so incredible how quickly they're learning and all through, you know, through movement, through their exploration, through their senses. And it's all interrelated and interconnected. So movement is just so important in infancy. So the idea of freedom of movement in infancy is incredibly important for a lot of different reasons.
Bianca: [00:03:40] But because it allows the child to freely move as their inner world guides them. And you know, you hear me talk a lot about the inner will of the child. And what I mean by that is just the inner drive for our babies to learn about their new world. And you'll see it, you know, as they shake cabinets and you'll see it as they reach out and touch your face. And you know, as I say, they're laying on a carpeted rug beneath them and you see them moving their hands back and forth and really exploring that. All of that is exploration. It's all movement and it's all exploration through their senses. And that freedom of movement piece is actually one of the reasons that in Montessori in infancy, containers aren't often used. And what I mean by containers are things like bouncers and swings and seats and stuff like that. So things that would keep baby contained in one space for a chunk of time. Now don't get me wrong, I'm super familiar with these being common practice and want everyone to know and feel like I just want you to make the best decisions for your family. But I do want to explain the reasoning behind why they're not used in Montessori and why the extra floor time and the extra practice and movement is just so incredibly beneficial for baby. So containers often restrict the natural positive movement that a child would naturally otherwise be doing if they were offered floor time in this instance.
Bianca: [00:05:11] So, for example, in the Nido setting, we didn't have any containers, including high chairs, actually. And I know, you know, things are very different in costume and home settings, and every family operates very differently. Again, I very much just want to say that I'm offering the information to support your journey and want you to make the best decision for your family. But when I was running my Nido, we didn't have any containers. So when the babies weren't sitting at the table eating their food, they were, you know, playing on the floor, getting some floor time, laying under mobile, you know, depending on the age of the child, the walking children all played together. And, you know, or would be working on some of the Montessori materials or, you know, walking, waiting to use the toilet kind of depending we had, you know, obviously a couple of teachers in the space. And so that's another thing that makes things a lot easier as far as not having containers. And that's one thing I do want to say, and we will jump into a container topic later on because it's a big topic and this is just one piece within the freedom of movement piece within Montessori in infancy that's important to mention.
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Bianca: [00:07:33] But containers can often restrict the natural movement that a child naturally would be doing if they were offered that floor or just freedom of movement experience. I also have heard from physical therapists, so I've had babies in my classes who have been in physical therapy before, and I've also read studies that specific containers can impede the natural progression of motor development. It can put pressure on areas that maybe aren't ready for that type of pressure. It can affect, you know, the way that babies sit if they're in some sort of contained seat when their body is not quite ready to sit yet. So stuff like that, and it's just all good information to have. Again, I'm a huge proponent of informed decision making, so just offering you as much info as possible. Again, this is a bigger topic that we will get into later. As far as containers go, but that is a huge piece within freedom of movement. I do want to also say one thing if it's just you and baby or multiple kids at home, it may kind of, like I said, not always be easy to be fully container free as I'm very much aware. And so, you know, recognizing that so much goes on during the day. I was once told by a wonderful sleep specialist and she and I were working together on, you know, things to do during the baby's wake periods, and she would occasionally recommend using an infant seat when a baby is tiny and, you know, just a very simple infant seat, but not so the baby's entertained within the seat, but to have them by you as you're doing a chore so you can be hands free but offer an amazing sportscasting language opportunity as baby can observe your face.
Bianca: [00:09:18] So kind of similar to how you would talk to baby when you're changing their diaper, for example, at that angle that you know, forty five degree angle you would be super close to baby baby would have access to your face, your mouth, your expression, absorbing all that language. And I think that's wonderful. I mean, even having come from a classroom setting where we had absolutely no containers, I thought it was a great idea. And you know, if that suits you, that's wonderful. You know, I absolutely would suggest just very much limiting those moments as much as possible, just the baby as every opportunity to be free and move and explore and learn and grow within their environment. It's just so beautiful to see. But on that same note, as far as the chaw example goes, depending on the tour, you may be able to just have baby propped up by you or on their tummy by you or on the floor by you. So, for example, if you're folding laundry, baby can be on a mat on the floor by you observing or listening to you, talk about what you're doing, or or perhaps you're even singing about what you're doing and you're saying something like, I'm folding the laundry, the laundry, the laundry, you know? I mean, again, as I said in our music episode, I make up songs all day long with our babies, typically at a very similar tunes.
Bianca: [00:10:39] If I'm making up songs about what I'm doing. Like, I use that same tune for, you know, we're walking to the bathroom, you know? But it's definitely something that I would suggest if you're in the moment feeling funky about sportscasting or need a change or something, it's still a great language opportunity for babies. So anyway, slightly off topic, but regardless, just keep this Montessori idea in your mind and make the best decision for you and your family. I've seen so many amazing things come from letting babies just freely move and explore, and I couldn't recommend it more. So I want to say this idea of freedom of movement is also true in regards to sleep, and that's one of the amazing perks of having the Montessori floor bed actually and with. Montessori floorbed, the child knows in their infancy as they're growing that this is the place that they're sleeping and they have the freedom of movement piece within it, right? So they're able to get on their bed by themselves, get off their bed by themselves.
Bianca: [00:11:39] And of course, you know, we help them as they come to learn this routine and that this is their place for sleep and all of that. Of course we're there, but I have seen some truly amazing things with the freedom of movement piece in regards to the Montessori floor bed. So we had flower beds in our classroom, actually, and the neeta that I had, I had Montessori flower beds and my napping room, and I had babies three to 18 months. We were licensed up to two years, but the babies had the same bed and space the entire time they were with us in our classroom. And so our babies became super aware of their needs and routine. And so we were able to follow the child by following their cues. But also, we were able to honor their sense of order by providing a consistent routine for sleep. And it was always so beautiful to see our mobile babies joyfully begin their routine and finish it by walking to their beds and laying down ready for sleep. It was always so much fun to, you know, have witness them come from, you know, non-mobile babies, and we're carrying them to their bed and talking to them to sleep or padding to them or singing to them, you know, and going from that to crawling.
Bianca: [00:12:55] And then when you know, when they're crawling, they wake up from their nap. We still help them onto their bed and help them get to sleep, make sure they fall asleep and all of that. But then when they wake up, they have the freedom to come off their bed and join us back in the space. And it's very cool to see so they become so aware of their sleeping routine. And I will say that as that general concept goes, one of the amazing things that freedom of movement provides is a higher level of understanding of their needs. So, for example, if you allow the child to drive themselves to their sleeping mat or floor bed, they're actually aware of that being their sleeping space. And the same goes for diaper changing area or toileting area or eating area feeding area. So, for example, I had crawling and cruising and walking babies who would move themselves to our low Montessori weaning table and, you know, pull up to his stand and sign to eat and pull out a chair and sit down and, you know, just ready for their food. And it was always so cool to see just that the honoring their sense of order and honoring the freedom of movement and, you know, the prepared environment and all of putting all of these pieces together, you really start to see all of these really beautiful things happening within, you know, this, this child's development, it's just so cool and incredibly empowering, you know, for for our babies who want those levels of communication, you know, they want so badly to, you know, just be involved and to be an active part of the space.
Bianca: [00:14:36] And it's really beautiful to see when you know all of the pieces fall together. So anyway, I know this information just scratched the surface of the monastery idea of freedom of movement specifically in infancy. And there are tons of many topics within this topic that are definitely going to be discussed in the future. But essentially, the more babies have the chance to move, the more opportunities they have to learn and grow as driven by them. And I will tell you from personal experience, it is so beautiful to witness. So now to finish out this episode, I want to send a giant hug to everyone in our community. Thank you to all the amazing parents and educators and caregivers and our wonderful community for being just the rock stars that you are. And thank you to our amazing sponsor EZPZ. I have all of their amazing feeding products linked below, so check that out. And yeah, that's about it. So thank you so much for listening to Episode Twenty Eight of our Montessori Babies podcast, and I will catch you in our next episode bye.
Bianca: [00:15:44] Hey, it's Bianca, your baby tour guide here. Hopping back in to say thank you again for listening to this episode of Montessori babies, if you found this episode helpful and would like more information. Hop on over to Baby Tour Guide and download my three Montessori Guide to join our community and receive the latest on optimizing development through a Montessori lens. You can also find me on Instagram and Facebook at Baby Tour Guide. Also, if you found this episode helpful to your Montessori practice, I would absolutely love it if you would leave a review to help other parents and educators find our show. Thanks again for listening, and I will catch you in the next episode bye!