Babies Build Toddlers

Arc Montessori founder, Mariana Bissonnette, is near completion of her first book, Babies Build Toddlers: A Montessori Guide to Parenting the First 18 Months. This book is (very intentionally) going to be illustrated so that it is visually accessible to sleep-deprived readers and so that it looks and feels like a beautiful children's book...because it kind of is. This is a book for the child, just in the hands of the parent.

And the thing is, it's already written! Mariana is in the process of having the book illustrated (see more information below!) and wants YOU to stay connected by signing up for our newsletter to learn about updates on how YOU can help this project come to life!

About Babies Build Toddlers

There is a universal and predictable path to human development - we sit and then walk (we don’t walk and then sit). But within these predictable timelines, there is tremendous variability (some children sit at 4 months, others at 6 and some not until 7-8 months). In the moment that a parent is parenting, those months make a huge difference. A child who can sit at 4 months may be able to self-entertain much more easily and give the parent a much deserved break. Though also possible, the child that sits at 4 months may end up sitting up in the middle of the night all night long simply because they don’t know how to un-sit (which disturbs sleep for both the child and the parent). Balancing the predictability of child development with the variability of the individual child is a central focus of Montessori Education and therefore the "Northstar" of Babies Build Toddlers. The broader goal is to help parents see infancy as a foundational building block for the next developmental phase (i.e. babies build toddlers) so that they can make that foundation as robust as possible.

About the Illustrations

Mariana wrote Babies Build Toddlers to empower parents with a visual guide of the roadmap of child development (so they know what to expect), along-side specific, actionable steps to support the child in however that development is manifesting for them. To accomplish this goal visually, she aims to have the illustrative styles be varied through the use of several illustrators. In most child development books, information is largely non-visual or is based in photographs. Both of these approaches not only fail to capture the range of backgrounds and experiences of each parent and family, but they fail to communicate the variability of the child’s individual path of development. By having a variety of illustrative styles (from several illustrators), she feels she can most effectively visualize this experience for the reader: we all come from different experiences and backgrounds, but child development is the same. She hopes these different illustrative styles will cause the reader to pause and look at the same developmental information through a new lens.

If YOU are an Art Director and/or can help bring this coordinated piece to life across multiple illustrators, Mariana wants to hear from you! Email her directly at with a little about you and your work and your interest in this project.

Early Reader Reviews:

"This book is so fascinating and well-written that it is keeping me awake when I need to sleep! Thank you so much for sharing! I have only read the first chapter, but I am thoroughly enjoying it and can’t wait to keep reading. I’m so impressed with what you have created, as well as the knowledge you have to share. This book is a gem!" - Amy, parent of a 3 month old.

"This book is so helpful and so thoughtfully and persuasively put together! I know I'll read it multiple times, and my partner is excited to read it, as well! THANK YOU, Mariana! What a beautifully-timed, immense support!" - Whitney, expecting parent

"Thank you so much for the opportunity to read your book! I just loved how succinct, clear, well-organized and full of examples it is! Truly a useful tool to any parent wanting to understand a Montessori approach to 0-18mos. I learned a ton and know I will keep coming back to this with each stage of development." - Sabrina, parent of a 5 month old

"I really like the format of this book - the structure and use of illustrations makes the information very digestible and actionable. I read a lot of parenting/child development books, including on the Montessori method, and they are all a lot of text and theory. Your approach is very refreshing!" - Barbara, parent of an 8 month old

"This book is a non-intrusive set of guidelines for parents that is nicely focused on key areas of development, easy to understand, implement, and not overwhelming! I really like the way that the chapters are broken down by age and that the key nuggets of developmental information are shared along with real-life examples so that you can begin leveraging some of the recommendations right away." - Marta, parent of a 10 month old

"I found this book quite informative and very different from other baby books I've read. It felt like there was plenty of useful practical information in a small book, so two thumbs up! I love that you don't have to read a massive book to get several actionable ideas. It''s a great starting point for parents who haven't been exposed to similar ideas about Montessori or developmental education." - Rebecca, parent of a 14 month old