Sunday, May 24, 2009

Infant Health: Safe Sleep for Your Baby

Some of our readers are volunteering with new mothers and asked for health information, so we have been looking... Here is a great article by the National Institute of Health that comes complete with free multilingual printable information.

I also thought it a useful reminder that soft plushy surfaces can pose Sudden Infant Death (SID) risks to infants because a lot of new organic mattresses and padding is not as firm as regular bedding.

Three useful tips from the NIH site include:
  • Babies sleep safer on their backs. Babies who sleep on their stomachs are much more likely to die of SIDS than babies who sleep on their backs.

  • Sleep surface matters. Babies who sleep on or under soft bedding are more likely to die of SIDS.

  • Every sleep time counts. Babies who usually sleep on their backs but who are then placed on their stomachs, like for a nap, are at very high risk for SIDS. So it's important for everyone who cares for your baby to use the back sleep position for naps and at night.
Also, given my experience with wonderful sinkable organic rubber tree derived latex mattresses at home, remember that if you sleep with your infant in your bed, the surface of your own bed will be important.

To read the entire article on Safe Sleep for Your Baby: Ten Ways to Reduce the Risk of Sudden Infant Death (SID) visit the NIH site. Those of you volunteering in the community will find the free printable material links there.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Toddlers: First Box of Color Tablets

The First Box of Color Tablets is the official name for the box on the right that includes three pairs of red, yellow, and blue tablets.

Superb for introducing toddlers to color names, these beautiful tablets are meant to be handled by the tabs on the top and bottom (the white bars). You can show your child how to hold them by simply grasping them with either one hand or two hands, depending on how big your child's hands are because he or she will copy what you do.

For DIY tablets, you can make colored bars with handles out of any material that allows the colors to come through well. If you are buying red, yellow, and blue child-safe paint, remember to get a lot because these colors are used frequently in the classroom for other material you will want later.

More Montessori House curriculum ideas for infants and toddlers.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hand Eye Coordination & Grasping Practice for Toddlers

"Crossing the midline" is a concept in a lot of toddler equipment that you can see clearly from the equipment itself. Look for the midpoint in the dowel and see how the relationship between the objects on the dowel and the arrangement interact. Your child will experiment with this relationship as he or she arranges all of the discs on this particular dowel. Since this is a horizontal dowel, your child will need to carefully push the discs past the midline to fit all of them onto the dowel, unlike the vertical dowel where the cubes go to the base by themselves.

One key feature of Montessori equipment is that it is well-crafted. Everything balances, stands, and performs its function flawlessly. If you find yourself looking at material that is not steady or does not fit well together (e.g. the lid does not close completely or the dowels are different sizes), don't buy it!

The easiest way to create a good DIY project out of this concept is to attach a vertical dowel to a stand and find a series of large symetrical round or square beads of the same color to use as disks. Of course, if you are good with woodworking, a horizontal and vertical dowel set would be great.

More curriculum and lessons for little ones in our Montessori curriculum monthly newsletters (only $12.99 a year).

Photo credit: Nienhuis Montessori equipment for infants and toddlers.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Montessori Practical Life for Toddlers: Dressing Frame

This Velcro frame is the easiest frame to use and make.

Use the same set up, shelf, and steps as shown above for the button frame. When you close the flaps, close the one on the bottom first. Then place the top flap on top of the bottom flap. Press lightly. Show your child how it sticks together.

Let your child work with this and other exercises for as long as he or she wishes.

The dressing frame sets include a number of different types such as buttons, laces, and zippers, but you can also make this into an easy (and cheap) DIY project. If you are making dressing frames for your older infant or toddler, the dressing frame with three large buttons comes next.

More curriculum ideas in our Montessori curriculum monthly newsletters.

Photo credit: Nienhuis Montessori Equipment

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Need to Touch

Infants and toddlers explore and discover the world around them using all their senses, but the sense of touch is much more important than one might think.

In the Montessori classroom, we create Mystery Bags full of objects that can be identified by touch. Taking this concept and adapting it for infants and toddlers allows us to help our children satisfy their need to touch (and taste) everything around them.

Put together three simple and distinctly different objects such as an apple, a baby-safe soft toy, and a block. Find a cloth or brown paper bag and place the objects inside. Now let your toddler sit on the floor and explore the objects in the bag. You can add or change the contents as needed.

If your child is still an infant, you do not need to use the bag now. Just sit with your child and let him or her explore the object. You can also let your child sit or lie on a mat on the floor and independently handle the object.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Our New Montessori for Mandarin Chinese Blog

We just started a Mandarin Chinese focused blog for parents of young children. Check out our Montessori for Mandarin Chinese!