Did you know that babies can concentrate for long periods of time ?
In Montessori we encourage and support this with a series of beautiful and slow-moving mobiles.
Often it is tempting to shake or rattle brightly coloured toys in front of their eyes right from the moment they're born, but with such underdeveloped sight, this is overwhelming and prevents your child from being able to deeply concentrate.
"The child who can concentrate is immensely happy" - Maria Montessori
Instead, we can support our child's brain development, sight and concentration by providing them with the Montessori mobiles, which are mathematically and scientifically designed to be suited to their stage of development. Experts say that exposure to mathematically sound materials from birth translate to mathematical abilities in the preschool years.
Hang the mobiles low to the ground, around 30cm from your baby's face so that they're able to see it efficiently. Lay your baby on a small mat or blanket so they're comfy, but also to define their space for others in the room - particularly handy with siblings!
As the mobiles move gently in the breeze, your baby's eyes begin to track the movement at their own pace. Unlike mechanical mobiles that move at a constant speed, your Montessori mobiles will demonstrate natural cause and effect based on the environment.
It is important to offer your baby uninterrupted time to observe the mobiles. In order for your child to get the most from them, and to build concentration, resist the urge to interfere or talk too much while they're busy.
If a mobile is too stimulating or your baby needs a break, you'll notice them look away. When the mobile no longer holds their interest, you can swap it out for the next one!
"Observe little babies. Look at their eyes, and you will see that they stare at the same thing for a long time. The child takes images from the environment with great energy and power. The unconscious studies the environment. The child takes in everything around him through the senses and absorbs the environment through his senses with great energy." - Maria Montessori
Here, I've provided you with an overview of the three main Montessori mobiles:
1. The Munari Mobile (0-6 weeks)
The very first mobile to be introduced, from birth is the Munari mobile. This is a simple, monochrome mobile made up of a glass ball and some black and white geometric shapes, igniting your baby's natural mathematical sense. You can easily make one for yourself! The mobile will satisfy your baby's needs to roughly 6 weeks old, longer if they love it or less time if that's what they need. You can find DIY instructions and PDF printable here.
2. The Octahedron Mobile (4-12 weeks)
The octahedron mobile is to be introduced after the Munari mobile. As your baby's sight develops they'll need something a little more challenging to look at. With it's 3D shape, sharp triangles and bold primary colours, it will help your baby to coordinate both eyes together. The octahedron mobile contains three octahedrons made from shiny blue, red and gold card - colours which are highly contrasted, enabling your baby to differentiate between them. You can find a DIY here.
3. The Gobbi Mobile (10-16 weeks)
This mobile is made up of 5 balls, suspended at different heights in slight variations of colour. From around 12 weeks old, your baby will be able to see the full colour spectrum. As the baby's eyesight develops, they'll be able to distinguish between shades, but also the depth of field the different heights of the balls offer. This is a more time consuming DIY, but I have included one here.
4. The Dancers Mobile (12-18 weeks)
This is the last of the traditional Montessori mobiles to be introduced, from around 12 weeks old. It consists of four mirrored dancing figures that twirl and "dance" in the light. A magnificent show for your baby as their vision improves further, and they're able to track moving objects as well as light. This is another easy DIY. Find a tutorial here.
You can also introduce some of the more "unofficial" Montessori mobiles such as:
The Butterflies Mobile (From around 10 weeks)
This mobile includes realistic imagery for your baby to study. Read more about the butterflies mobile from Midwest Montessori here.
I'd love to see your creations. Tag me @montysplayhub and stay tuned to learn about tactile mobiles, suitable from around 4 months old.