Somewhere in my last month of pregnancy, I started making a list of things the newborn and I would need. As I reflected on the needs of my soon to be newborn, I realized that we focus on the commercial mundane. Here, I’ve compiled a list of the true needs of a baby that help her adjust to the environment easily. More of a montessori baby essential checklist.
I believe that a child comes into the world with the belief that an external uterus that takes cares of her nourishment, exists. Breastmilk be provided within the golden hour and as and when required.
Side note- Close proximity of the mother and child, helps both of them.
A newborn is still relating to the environment around her and adjusting to it. It is important that there is an order in her environment. A particular place for feeding, a diaper station, a place to sleep, etc.
3.Rhythms and Rituals
Again, since she is just learning about her environment, it helps the baby greatly if the order of things done to and around her remain more or less the same.
Babies love rituals. It tells her what’s coming next in her ever-changing, all-new world and thus, empowers her. It also helps her feel secure.
For example, by 8 weeks, the moment I’d lay V or V2 on the bed and undress her for massage and reading, she’d relax. At a point of time, she would even look forward to and participate in the process.
We also respect her body’s natural rhythm and let V2 decide her sleep and nursing hours (Seriously, I had an app to keep track of V’s feeds and sleep and it was a nightmare).
Again, the baby has to explore her environment with full freedom, and with all senses. We must provide free space in the baby’s line of vision when she seems to be staring ahead. I prefer floor time to the cradle or crib or playpen for this very reason. She can see the whole room from where she is.
This is also why swaddling did not work for us. The baby can move her hands and feet and body without restrictions. She can bring her hands to her front as a point of reference to life in the womb.
Respect for her needs- We must respect the newborn’s needs. A cry for hunger, picking, comfort, sleep, eye contact must be attended to, as soon as possible. The baby, then understands that the family is a safe space where her needs will always be met.
Body autonomy- Although it may sound silly, always taking consent before doing something to the baby has helped us immensely. Informing the child about diaper changes, picking up, undressing or dressing, bath time, etc helps language as well as body autonomy.
During my antenatal class, my paediatrician mentioned- ” the baby comes to the breast, not the other way around.” I’ve taken that line to heart, even when nurses encouraged me to stuff the aereola into the baby’s mouth post-birth. Bring the baby to the breast or bottle, and let her consciously open her mouth to suckle. I believe this sets the base for good eating habits, later too.
That is about it! The country was in lockdown when V2 arrived, and I remember feeling a tad sad that I couldn’t procure those cutesy blankets, baby caps and matching onesies.
But as I write this post(about a 100+ days into lockdown), I am reminded that montessori is less about the materials, and more about the caregiver. An attuned and observant caregiver who knows when to step back, how to offer rich, respectful language, and stimuli is almost all that a newborn truly needs!