Why should one even focus on developmental materials for a newborn? You need not, but I believe the early years set the tone for the rest of the journey and help the adjustment from womb to outside, smooth. Here, I’m listing my top 5 developmental materials for babies from birth to 2 months.
“The new-born child does not come into a natural environment, but into the civilised environment of the life of men. But what providence has prepared a civilisation to assist the new-born babe, man who must achieve the greatest of all efforts of adjustment, when he passes by birth from one life to another.”Maria Montessori
5. Visual playmobiles
I do not mean the playmobiles placed above the bed or the cradle that lulls babies to sleep. Montessori mobiles are used when the child is awake and active. They help a child develop her visual sense and focus. The baby also learns to track and makes sense of her environment through these.
The first mobile I introduced was the munari. Although you can start these for babies from week 2 onwards, we started at week 4. The munari is made of 2-d shapes in high contrast black and white. They’re balanced off a glass sphere that reflects light.Because of the weight, it moves slowly in air and is easy for the newborn eye to track. Our munari is from Thasvi toys. You can get yours here.
Once V2’s interest in the munari started waning, the second mobile we introduced was the octahedron at week 8. It consists of 3 octahedrons in primary colours and made of shiny paper. They’re light weight and move easily in natural air. The metallic paper and sharp edges also reflect light.Our octahedron is a DIY project with my elder one.
What if you don’t have the space or resources for a mobile? You can diy black and white patterened balls or pom poms or cards and hang them above the child’s mat. If not, just ensure the child’s focus is not disturbed when she is busy tracking something.
4. Visual Stimulation cards
We started these at week 1. Again, because the newborn’s vision is fuzzy, black and white offer the highest contrast. Fun fact- did you know the mother’s nipples turn a dark shade during pregnancy and around birth? This actually helps the baby focus while breastfeeding. So cool no?
Back to the cards. We use these cards in her work area- again, only when she is awake and active. For me, the cards are a strict no no around the bed or diaper changing station or the bathroom where language and connection is more important. We started with cards of real life animals and objects. We then moved on to patterned cards. Try to alternate the background and foreground colours as you display them. We are slowly be introducing black, white and red images this week as V2 is now ready for the next challenge level. Our cards are from bloomybrain toys.
What if you don’t have them? Simply prop up a book with black and white pages. Or you can easily DIY them using black and white cardstock. If not, give her opportunities to observe and just ensure you dont disturb the concentration of the baby when she focuses on something.
I cannot reiterate the importance of books for babies in the early weeks. Prop them up during tummy time or set a solid bedtime reading habit. babies love rituals! Again, black and white board books or black and white fabric books are the best bet. You can find some of our favourite books at this stage here.
2. Floor time
If there is one thing I wish I’d done more with V, it is this. We started floor time for V2 right from the beginning and oh the difference it has made!
For starters, her position in the movement area is natural. She is not propped into a seated or standing position that we adopt while carrying her. It does not give her an artificial sense of her ability. She is simply on her back until she rolls over, sits, etc. And she has an unobstructed view of her surroundings.
We started tummy time in the early weeks as well. We planned to prop up a book or some pictures around her. But her akka lying down next to her is something both the girls love.
And most importantly, you- the caregiver or parent , you are the most important material.
You’re the one who will be giving maximum language input through speech, reading and songs.
You’re the one who will protect her concentration.
You are the one who will ensure her needs for order and unobstructed exploration are fulfilled.
You are the one who will set up her baby space keeping her in mind.
And you are the primary one who will restore her faith that the world outside the womb is a safe space.
As I write this, V2 is already trying to reach for the octahedron or our fingers when we place it in front of her. She is getting ready to touch it, feel it, possibly move it, and create a change in her immediate environment, and the world.
I cannot wait to learn what the next couple of months have in store for us, and document our journey.