What’s on James’s Shelf? Round 2: 7 Months

Good morning!

How is your week going?  I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday.  My father in law just left yesterday, which made it seem like it was still the weekend so this week is flying by.

I’ve always enjoyed choosing what to put on James’s toy shelf in his room (I switch out at least some of it every week or so), but it’s been especially fun now that he rolls over to the shelf and selects his own toys.  Before, I would give him toys from his shelf, but also from the closet, so it didn’t make as much of a difference what I put out.

Now though, I love trying to choose things that I think will catch his eye or challenge him a little bit.  Here’s a look at what’s on his shelf this week.

Brio Motion Wobbler

I just introduced this one to James and he seems to like it.

This toy pops up again when pushed down and also spins like a top, though he hasn’t done this yet.  It’s a fun one for baby to play with when he’s laying on his stomach.  I like that it moves a little bit, but not totally out of his reach.

Sensory Balls

I couldn’t find the exact set we have on Amazon, but I think these are the same brand.  They look very similar anyway.  The set comes with six, but I put one or two out at a time.  James has loved the yellow knobby one for a while.  He likes to hold it and put it in his mouth.  He’s also been really interested in watching balls roll lately.

He’ll lay on his stomach and move them around or we’ll roll them back and forth.  I like this because it challenges him to maneuver in different ways to find the ball and to reach with his hand.  He does get frustrated with this if he’s tired though, as it’s pretty challenging for him since he can’t’ yet crawl.

Manhattan Toy Classic Baby Beads 

This is a wooden clutching toy.  James of course likes to put the balls in his mouth.  The shape also twists and changes, which is fun, and I love the colors.  This toy has a really nice weight to it too.

Sparky Dog Rattle

I don’t know what the brand on this one is, but James’s Grandpa brought it with him when he visited and James loves it.  It is soft and makes a nice, fairly quiet rattling sound.  I pretty much always have some sort of rattle or shaker out on James’s shelf.

James is also fascinated by the boxes I use as trays on his shelf.  I think he enjoys these just as much as the toys.

It’s fun to see his interests in different toys develop as he grows and I always love selecting what to put out for the week – it kind of feels like “shopping” the toy closet to choose.

Does anyone have recommendations for great toys for 7-12 months?

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Montessori Baby – What’s on James’s Shelf?

Good morning!

I wanted to share an update on James’s nursery today.  I set up his toy shelf before he was born, but it was really just for looks in the first few months.  In the last month or so though, James has been much more interested in toys.

He is all about using his hands and bringing things to his mouth these days.  Now that he actually plays with the toys on his shelf, I try to rotate a few of them at the beginning of each week.  Here’s a snapshot of what’s on his shelf now at five and a half months.

As a side note, Montessori has a big emphasis on using natural materials and I hope to collect some small baskets and wooden trays to hold his toys.  In the meantime I’m using these colorful boxes my Mom had from Birchbox.  I got the idea to use these as storage from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

This basket of books is the newest addition to his shelf and I am absolutely loving it.  There is a closet with built-in shelves right outside James’s room and we keep his books there.  However, I’ve been remembering to read to him a lot more now that there are a few right there on his shelf.  I rotate these each week, except for Goodnight Moon, which is a permanent staple as we read it each night before bed.  This basket is right next to the glider so it is super easy to sit with him there and choose a book to read.

Gund Fuzzy Frog

This has a special place in my heart because I spent way too long browsing stuffed animals and trying to pick the perfect one for him while I was pregnant.  He does not yet show any particular attachment to a stuffed animal, but he does seem to enjoy reaching for them and “wrestling” them.

Crochet Vegetable Rattles

I love these because I think they’re adorable, but I also like that each one offers a different way to grip and a different level of challenge.  For instance, James could grasp the mushroom right away when we gave him these at 3 months old, but the tomato and radish are more difficult.

This Etsy shop has some other really beautiful wooden and crochet toys as well.

Montessori Grasping Toys

These are classic Montessori baby toys, gifted to me by the head of school where I taught.  The one with two discs is great for passing back and forth from hand to hand and James loves to hold the one with wooden beads and work one of the beads into his mouth.

Haba Rainbow Clutching Toy

This seems to be one of James’s favorites.

It is easy to grasp, but also interesting as it bends and has lots of fun colors.  I love Haba toys in general.

Haba Rainbow Ball

Another Haba favorite.  I love this ball because it has lots of interesting textures and colors.  It also rolls away, but not too far, so James can still see it and reach for it.

When James is a little older and can crawl over to the shelf by himself, I will likely have fewer items on each tray (for instance, one or two vegetable rattles instead of all of them).  At this point though, I’m just bringing him the toys, so I can bring him one at a time.

If you have children, do you have any baby toys you recommend?

Are you more of a minimalist or do you like to fill your house with many things you love?

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Thoughts on a Floor Bed

I have pretty much zero talent with design.  I am simply not a visual person.  However, I very much believe in the impact of a well-designed environment, on adults and children alike.  I certainly saw this when teaching in a Montessori classroom, where simple tweaks in the organization and flow of the room could alter behaviors and classroom dynamics.  Thus, I was excited to design the little buddy’s room when I was pregnant.  I read many blog posts and articles about Montessori baby rooms, and couldn’t wait to put it into practice.  One thing I was the most excited, curious, and anxious about was the floor bed (a simple bed or mattress on the floor, rather than a crib).  I loved this idea, but wasn’t sure how well it would work in real life.

While I planned to use a floor bed, I had read that new babies liked to be in more confined spaces.  I also wanted to keep James close for the first few months, so we chose a lovely bassinet, gifted to us by my parents.  We set up James’s floor bed in his room, and put the bassinet in our room by our bed.  I chose one of the larger bassinets, with hopes that he could stay in there longer, until he was ready for his floor bed.

Things did not go as planned (shocking, I know).  When we brought James home from the hospital, he slept terribly the first few nights.  I put him in the bassinet awake; I put him in asleep; every time resulted in crying within a few minutes.  I thought he just had his days and nights reversed, as happens with many newborns.  One night, when he started crying, I took him into his room, figuring that at least this way, my husband and I could take turns sleeping.  There was no reason we should both be up all night.  This was what led me to first put him in his floor bed as a newborn.

It was an instant change!  He still of course woke often to eat, but he slept for hours at a time, for the first time since we’d brought him home.  No more constant wake-ups and tears!  I couldn’t believe it.  I’m still not sure what he so strongly preferred about his floor bed versus his bassinet, but he certainly made his opinion clear.  Perhaps the mattress was more comfortable, perhaps he liked being closer to the ground, perhaps he could see me better and felt safer.  I have no idea.  I feel so lucky though that we had that option available, or who knows how long it would have taken him to accept sleeping in the bassinet.

Another benefit has been the ease of comforting him when he has trouble to fall asleep.  It is so easy to lie next to him and put a hand on his belly (or back, now that he rolls over), without having to pick him up.  I think this has helped him learn to fall asleep independently (though this is still a work in progress).  I imagine this would be far more difficult in a bassinet or crib.  Also, since he has been sleeping in his own room from the start, we won’t have to deal with the struggle of transitioning him out of our room when he is older and more aware.  As he goes to bed around seven o’clock, we don’t go to bed with him, so he is already used to going to bed in there on his own.

The only downside has been that, due to the SIDS prevention recommendations of sleeping in the same room as the baby for the first six months, either my husband or I sleep next to him on the floor on a camping mattress.  This is obviously not ideal, but it’s only for a few more weeks.  We considered moving his mattress into our room, but didn’t want to create a future challenge of transitioning him to his own room later.

So far, our experience with the floor bed has been overwhelmingly positive.  I’m curious to see if this remains true as he gets older.  James is fighting every day to become more mobile.  His crawling attempts right now look more like swimming, with only his belly on the floor, limbs flailing, but I know it won’t be long until he’s moving about freely.  I very much hope that he adjusts well once he’s mobile and that the floor bed continues to work so well for our family.  We shall see!

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The Nursery – AKA, My Favorite Room in the House

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When I found out I was pregnant, we were living in a one bedroom apartment and knew we would move before the baby was born.  We decided to buy a house and the process took months.  While the search was sometimes exhausting and frustrating, it did give me plenty of time to research the type of nursery I wanted to have.  Since I couldn’t do any real nesting to speak of, I poured all of that pent up energy into researching Montessori infant rooms.  When we finally moved into our house when I was just over 30 weeks pregnant, setting up the nursery was fairly simple.

Right now, the room has four basic areas: sleeping, playing, diaper changing, and nursing.

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I’ll start with the one that I spent the most time researching: sleeping.  I knew I was interested in a floor bed, especially after seeing them work wonderfully in the infant room at the school where I teach.  I was unsure of the actual logistics of this though, particularly making sure that it was safe.  I researched floor beds and mattresses, but honestly didn’t find a whole lot of specifics, mainly just accounts of how a floor bed worked or didn’t work for different families.  I did read somewhere that Ikea had a thin mattress lower to the ground than most, and that is what we decided to go with.  We wanted a twin mattress that would give him more room to move and that would grow with him.  The Ikea mattress (I believe it was this one: Minnesund) seemed firm and was under 4 inches high, so that when he does eventually roll off, he won’t have too far to fall.  We also placed a rug by the bed to soften the landing.  While a bed frame is totally unnecessary, I fell in love with this one from Etsy.  When we assembled it, there was a small gap between the mattress and the frame, so we decided to wait until he’s a bit older to use the frame for safety reasons.  I’m not too upset about this though since, as it’s a twin sized bed, he will still get plenty of use out of it into the toddler years.  The flag bunting hanging over his mattress came with the bed frame.  One other note, we could not find sheets that fit the low mattress tightly enough for an infant, but used sheet suspenders (I believe these) to pull the sheets nice and tight.  We plan to start him out in a bassinet in our room, but to transition him to the floor bed for naps fairly quickly so he can begin getting used to his space.

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For the “playing area”, we hung an acrylic, shatter-proof mirror on the wall (pictured above with the bed).  We purchased it from Home Depot.  They have all different sizes and it was very easy to hang.  It is very lightweight, so there is no fear of it falling and hitting the baby.  We hung the black and white mobile above the mirror so that he can watch the reflection of the movement for added interest.  We were so fortunate and a wonderful Montessorian here in Austin gave us the beautiful mobile.  My mom is also making a more traditional Munari mobile, which I’m so happy about, as I love the Montessori mobiles, but am decidedly un-crafty myself.   I can’t wait to see him interact with both the mobile and the mirror!  Along the lines of play, we also have a low shelf from Ikea with a few books, toys, and photos on it.  The black and white rattle was part of a lovely giftset of Montessori baby toys I received and the pictures are photos my husband has taken.

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For the changing station, I knew I wanted to have this on the floor for a few reasons.  Since I know it won’t be long before he is mobile and crawling around the room on his own, I wanted to minimize furniture that may not be safe later on.  I also plan to do stand-up diapering as soon as he can stand holding onto something, so did not want to invest in a piece of furniture we would use for such a short time.

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Lastly, nursing: I was not planning to purchase a glider / rocking chair for nursing, but a wonderful family at the school where I teach gifted us this one and I could not be happier about it!  It is the most comfortable chair and I already sit in it all of the time to read.  Once the baby starts to crawl, we will likely need to move it to a different room so that he doesn’t hurt his fingers under the rockers, but for now, it is a great comfortable spot in the room where I’m sure we will spend lots of time over the next few months.

I’m sure this room will go through many iterations as we observe the baby in it and as his needs change.   Right now I just can’t wait until he’s here to test it out!

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