Last month we welcomed our third little cherub into the world, and for the past few weeks we have been busy soaking up ALL the newborn snuggles with baby Harrison! Now, at three weeks old, he has started becoming more awake and alert for little periods of the day, so it was the perfect time to start introducing high contrast visuals for Harrison to explore, including these Montessori inspired shapes on his play gym.
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I first came across the Montessori philosophy when Paige, our firstborn, was around six months old and I really resonated with the idea of fostering independence and encouraging learning life skills from a young age. Although we don’t follow the philosophy religiously, we do implement aspects of the Montessori principles in our home which is why I’ve decided to create a dedicated movement area and use Montessori inspired mobiles with Harrison.
The first Montessori mobile is this Munari mobile, and is used from shortly after birth to around the six week mark. As newborn vision is quite limited, babies can best see high contrasting shapes a short distance from their face. The Munari uses simple black and white shapes and is designed to hang around 30cm from the baby’s face, and helps support the development of vision and tracking.
Now I’ll be honest, I had every intention of making a traditional Munari mobile for Harrison, but I just never got around to doing it because #MumLife. We are also currently renting, so I wasn’t overly keen on putting a hook in the ceiling to hang it on (and I don’t think Nick would have been sold on the idea either!) which is why I ended up using the traditional shapes of the Munari mobile, but hanging them from Harrison’s play gym instead.
I found the shape printables here, printed them out and stuck them back to back on foam board. Then I used fishing line to hang them from Harrison’s play gym – all in all, it only took about fifteen minutes!
We’ve had these shapes on the play gym for a week now, and it’s been pretty incredible watching Harrison focus on the different shapes and watch them as they slowly spin around, even at such a young age. At the moment, the shapes keep his attention for up to five minutes or so at a time, and he’s pretty good at letting us know when he’s had enough, so when he starts getting squirmy and grizzly, we move them away.
We’ve also been using high contrast books for Harrison to look at while he’s in his movement area – we just stand them up near his face so he can look at them with his head turned, as he doesn’t have the strength to constantly keep his head looking up at the Munari shapes just yet. Harrison’s favourite high contrast book is ‘Black and White’ by Tana Hoban which has really bold illustrations on both black and white backgrounds.
Hopefully you’ve found this post useful as an alternative to using the traditional Munari mobile with your newborn, especially if, like me, you want to use aspects of Montessori but mum life got in the way and you just don’t have the time to make the traditional mobiles!