Building a new Relationship
Montessori goes beyond a method of education to an understanding of how to support natural development. Maria Montessori’s philosophy and developmental theories help us understand what the development needs are at certain points in life and the practice and implementation help us follow each child’s individual inner guide or developmental path through kindness and respect. Symbiotic life in Montessori theory is the first 6 to 8 weeks of a baby’s life also known as post-partum or the fourth trimester. A mother and a baby both need each other at this point in life and create a symbiotic relationship. A mother has just lost part of her body that she has been carrying for the past 9 months. A baby has just lost their warm familiar home in their mother’s womb. Being together in these first weeks are so important for the physical and psychological wellbeing of both mother and child.
The world outside the womb is so different the baby must immediately start breathing and not long after their digestive system has to start working to pass meconium (a dark tar-like bowel moment that passes what was in the baby’s intestines in the womb). The best way to help both of these is to do skin to skin immediately after birth. Skin to skin provides important points of reference for the baby that reduce stress. For example, while laying on their mother’s chest they can hear mom’s heartbeat as they did in the womb, hear her voice and her nipples release a fluid that smells similar to her amniotic fluid. Babies will smell this and wiggle their way over to the breast.
Babies are very dependent but not helpless and as always in Montessori practice, we treat all life with respect. A baby’s absorbent mind will learn through their interactions with their mother how to form an intimate bond and relationship. Depending on how you hold them, handle them and feed them will set their expectations for all future relationships to come. How can we establish a respectful relationship?
Respect their body.
Listening and Learning their cries and body language
Freedom of Movement
The developmental goal of this symbiotic life between mother and baby is to develop basic trust. This trust is built when the baby’s needs are met in a loving and timely manner. When the baby’s needs are met they learn that the world is a safe place and feel secure. As the child begins to build their personality through their experiences this sense of security lays a loving foundation that leads to a confident and optimistic baby, child, and adult.
Written by Emily Suarez