When Dr. Maria Montessori opened her school in Rome in 1907, she created a classroom based around children, with child size sinks, toys and shelves, so that the children could freely and independently explore. She also had the children take responsibility for making each other's meals and cleaning up after themselves. Dr. Montessori quickly saw that the students had an increased attention span and respect their peers as they learned from their surroundings, themselves and each other.
Montessori for Babies and Toddlers by, Let Mommy Sleep

Here's how to develop this type of learning environment for infants and toddlers in the home:

  • Place developmentally appropriate furniture in their play space and around the house.
  • Don’t overwhelm your child by having too many toys.
  • Avoid any toys that have batteries, flashing lights, or that play loud music.
  • Have an open play space with a few toys out on a shelf that a child can choose to play with. Examples would be puzzles, blocks, musical instrumentals, and age appropriate art supplies. We like using yogurt as "finger paint" for babies just starting solids!
  • When your child is finished, direct your child with clean up and help if needed.

For sleep time and in baby's nursery, the Montessori method opts not to use a crib and simply use a mat so that the child can explore their environment as they wish. To many parents in the US this sounds unsafe and a little strange, but it's vital to understand that a child being in their own securely child proofed room for sleep would occur after 1 year -if and when a baby is ready to be on their own. Since the AAP recommends babies stay in the same room (but not the same bed) as their parents for 1 year, baby would sleep in a bassinet or Moses basket next to parents' bed for that first year.

Encourage your child's natural curiosity and independence and visit Let Mommy Sleep's list of items to help implement a Montessori style home.