As I wrote here earlier, a low bed and a mirror alongside the bed assists the newborn to develop vision. Another item in a Montessori nursery that helps in development of visual sense is a mobile that is hung above baby’s bed and/or activity mat. By looking at the mobile, young infants work on their ability to explore the world visually by focusing on the object, tracing it, and becoming familiar with the perception of colour and depth. The mobile needs to be changed every two weeks to maintain their interest and should be brought back for further exploration later on. As the baby’s visual sense is being developed a new mobile is introduced to them at an appropriate time. Montessori designed such mobiles with deep understanding of newborn’s capabilities and developmental needs after years of observing infants. For a detailed explanation of all Montessori infant mobiles click here.
Unfortunately, I did not know much about this concept when I was pregnant with Baby S. My colleague and my dear friend, Carli who is specialising in 0-3 Montessori Teaching, made one for my baby as a gift and explained to me why they are used (as in the picture above). I thought that one mobile was enough for S to explore for at least the first month, giving me enough time to make the rest of the mobile series later on. But what I didnot know was that with a newborn and all the changes a new baby brings into your life, being a first time mum I may not have the time to make those mobiles. S was one of those babies that did not sleep much during the day unless being held (in the first few weeks) and I was still recovering from surgery. So I couldn’t really make any of them except for the Dancer mobile (below picture). I am disappointed that I wasn’t able to introduce all of Montessori mobiles to S and that I didnot know how much difference they can make in developing your child’s visual sense in the early weeks of their life, but I am going to make sure if we had another baby, they are all ready before baby is born.
Mobiles are primarily useful in the first months. During the first few weeks they are more used for developing visual capacities and concentration. After that they are hung at a level that your child can bat at them with hands, realising that their hand movement affects the mobile. Grasping materials such as the ones I explained here are the next ones that are introduced to the infants after mobiles. The purpose of using them is that your infant can make link between tactile exploration of materials with visual exploration when they reach for the objects, pull them, and even put them in their mouth. This is when the baby enters a new path of discovery and that is the relationship between sight and touch. Rattles now replace the mobiles as a source of sensorial exploration. By manipulating a rattle in their hand, they discover the physical sensation and relate that to the shape of what they see, acquiring an understanding of the relationship between sound, touch, and sight. This also gives them the opportunity to explore temperature and texture (e.g. woods and metal are smooth, metal is cool and wood is warm). These all assists the baby to reach to a point where they manipulate objects in their hand, taking in information about that particular object through sensorial exploration. That is when they are ready to explore everyday objects of the environment in more depth, time to add treasure baskets to the activity shelf which I will go in more details in another post later on.
This mobile is not one of Montessori mobile series but S loves it so much. It keeps her engaged for a long time and she babbles to herself looking at the butterflies and watching them move in the air.