Sometimes you might wonder how exactly to play with a young infant who doesn't seem to be able to do much of anything! But when you set up a space for the capacities they do have, you will see what they can do and be able to support them in their efforts! These spaces are simple to put together and help your child take advantage of their many devleopming capacities!
#1 The Movement Mat
This is exactly what it sounds like - a cushioned mat for the young infant to lay on (tummy or back!). This can be a foam mat (left) or several rugs stacked on top of one another (right). This is a great play space item because it allows the child to move their body freely (whereas bouncers, swings and the like restrict the child's movements)! The child learns to coordinate her movements by moving and a simple mat let's them move!
#2 The Mirror
A low mirror hung horizontally along the play space adds so much to the child's world! They can start to see themselves and the room around them, something that is especially delightful for tummy time (every time I raise my head, I see me!). It's ideal to get a real mirror so the child's image isn't distorted. The mirror pictured is one of our IKEA Hacks.
#3 The Mobiles
Before the child can sit, they spend their playtime on their tummy or their back! Mobiles (anything dangled from above) are a great toy this age! There are some to look at (pictured first), to touch (pictured second), and to kick (pictured third). You can hang these directly from the ceiling or a mounted bracket or use a wooden play gym (though those can feel a bit tight for a child just starting to roll!).
Visual mobiles: something to look at
There are four main Montessori mobiles (from top to bottom, left to right): The Munari, The Octahedron, The Dancers, and the Gobbi. There are specific developmental purposes of each one (and they really are lovely!), but anything hung relatively low for the child to see is a great addition to the play space. This can be a plant, another mobile, something you make or a Montessori mobile.
Tactile mobiles: Something to touch
Once the child is grasping, a hanging teether or bell that is meant to be touched and grasped is a great aid to these developing fine motor movements.
the kicking ball: something to kick
The Takane Kicking Ball (left) is a fabulous toy for the non-sitting child. We all know the child has long since the womb loved to kick and yet we often don't give anything to their feet to keep it up! This can be any plush ball and is most appealing when you attach a bell to the ball or to the ribbon it dangles from as the child is able to hear and feel when they've kicked the ball!
#4 The Shelf
When the child can see their toys, they know what options they have and a low open shelf is a great way to store and display toys. It isn't until the end of this period that the child is grasping well and can start to use toys for their hands, but having the shelf out helps the child build a mental map of where they will eventually find their toys.
#5 The Pillow
A pillow can be a nice addition to the play space as it can help provide a slight incline for a newborn who is still spitting up a lot, but also can be a great aid to tummy time. The Boppy Pillow (left) is a versatile tool that have a variety of uses from birth to 6 months: as a nursing pillow, a pillow to lay in for tummy time (right), and ultimately a supportive pillow around an early sitting for those times when they topple over.