Category Archives: Toddlers

Cutlery Options for Montessori Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers

Montessori Cutlery Options

Annabelle and Elliot’s silverware drawer

I’ve sort of put myself on maternity leave from the computer, but I have been reading and communicating on mobile quite a bit, as I’m putting in quite a bit of time pacing with or nursing a nearly asleep newborn. This has meant lots of conversing in various Montessori groups. Yesterday, someone raised a question about silverware in the group: Bringing up Montessori Infants and Toddlers and many of us chimed in to make suggestions.

I have said before that we Montessori guides often become curators of beautiful collections of small objects, delighting over bits and pieces discovered for use in the classroom. Some of us take this role more seriously than others. In honesty, though, I can frame this any way I like, but a couple of decades from now one of my children might be putting me on the modern-day equivalent of hoarders after they open a cabinet in my house and find themselves buried under a pile of miniature pitchers, tiny bowls of various kinds and, well, cutlery. Reading the comment thread about silverware yesterday, I realized I could put my collection to good use, as we own all of the various options that were suggested. I snapped a side-by-side comparison picture for those considering their options and a few moms found this helpful, so I thought I’d grab some better photos and drop them here in the blogosphere for easy reference. Continue reading

Incorporating an Infant or Toddler into a Montessori Primary Classroom

Both children were very enthusiastic about our first day of school photo shoot.

We had a few weeks of “homeschool” before our license came in and we were able to have friends come join us. This helped us work out some of the kinks for Elliot.

I’ve been talking with a lot of Montessori families lately, and I’m finding that the question of how to provide for a Montessori work period for an older child, while also keeping an infant or toddler happy, is not an uncommon one. My youngest, one-and-a-half year old Elliot, has been in our Montessori preschool classroom since he was five months old, so I’ve had a bit of experience with this and thought I’d share what has worked for us.

First, some of the back story. If you’re not interested in all of that, you can scroll straight down to the big text for some tips for working with an infant or toddler in a Montessori Primary Classroom.

I set out to start our little, home-based Montessori school for two reasons: I wanted to continue to be my children’s primary caregiver, and I wanted my children to be able to attend Montessori at least from age 3-6. Financially, these two things just did not go together. If I wanted to pay for Montessori for my preschooler, I was going to have to go back to work outside the home, and this would mean regularly leaving my infant in someone else’s care. Being a trained Montessori teacher, I saw a simple solution: if there’s not a school that works for our family, why not make one myself? Continue reading

Notes from an Introduction to RIE

Notes from an Introduction to RIE's Educaring Approach: Vibrant WanderingsI first learned about the RIE (pronounced like “rye”) approach to infant care when Annabelle was a baby and I have since enjoyed reading and learning about it through the inspirational Janet Lansbury’s blog. The first thing I thought when I discovered and began reading about RIE was, “This sounds like Montessori!” Naturally, I was intrigued, and I have enjoyed learning bits and pieces here and there since. Shortly before Elliot’s birth, I finally picked up Your Self-Confident Baby and Dear Parent: Caring for Infants with Respect, and everything I’ve read thus far has been enriching for me as mother to an infant.

It seems that I was not even nearly the first person to see how very in line RIE founder Magda Gerber‘s thinking was with Dr. Montessori’s and vice versa. Brilliant women, they were, with a shared belief in the importance of trusting and respecting even the youngest children. A lovely Montessori toddler guide in my neighborhood even informed me that the infant program at her school in DC marries RIE and Montessori principles, and that RIE materials were used as part of her toddler training. Naturally, I’m itching to pop by for an observation. On my list! Continue reading

Your Baby Can: Eat With Utensils

Elliot takes a fork to his first birthday cake

Elliot takes a fork to his first birthday cake

Before I begin, let me be point out that I said your baby can eat with utensils – not that he or she will do so consistently, or even effectively right now, or even in the next couple of years. Your results may vary but, more than likely, your baby can indeed eat with utensils. Details below!


Like many things that are challenging for small hands at first, our culture seems to wait on putting spoons and forks into the hands of small children until more or less random ages. Spoon feeding, of course, is a common way of delivering baby’s first foods, and often continues through the end of the first year and beyond. More and more families these days are opting for Baby Led Weaning instead, allowing their babies to feed themselves. In this case, first foods are usually self-fed, by hand. Continue reading

Your Baby Can: Clean Up

Vibrant Wanderings: Your Baby Can Clean UpLast week, I wrote a little post about drinking glasses for Montessori babies and toddlers, and that really should have been the first in this series, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to actually making it a series. I keep coming up with more post ideas, however, so here goes!

Our efforts to implement Montessori philosophy at home have led us to do quite a few things differently. I often get surprised comments from other parents who who aren’t used to seeing small children do [insert skill here]. I’ve heard variations of, “I can’t believe he’s doing _______! My baby would just throw that across the room/dump that out!” many times. Naturally, I think my kids are extraordinary – the best children there have ever been, probably. I am their mom after all. I don’t think it’s anything unique to them, however, that makes them able to do things like drink from a glass or use utensils while eating. What I do think is that cultural norms surrounding parenting prevent children from learning to do many things they might both enjoy and excel at. We consistently underestimate what even the littlest ones among us are capable of. To highlight this reality, I’m going to do an open-ended series on some of the many things that, contrary to popular opinion, babies can do. Continue reading