Yesterday I was speaking with a friend of mine who is about to welcome her second baby into the family. Her older son is now three, and the second is due in just a few weeks. When I asked how the nursery was coming along, she started telling me about a new parenting method they're trying called the Montessori method. I had heard of Montessori schools in my hometown, but I never knew that there was a whole parenting method surrounding the idea. I was especially curious how a method of parenting might affect the setup of a baby's nursery. 

She explained that the Montessori parenting method is based on the idea that a baby and  young child should be allowed to explore his or her surroundings without the harsh restrictions that many parents enforce. For example, a parent following the Montessori method would not hand their child a toy during playtime. Instead, the toys would always be available and within the child's reach at any given moment so that the child could choose when to play. Nurseries set up under the Montessori idea are designed so that all surfaces are within the child's reach. Of course, the changing table and crib are exceptions. My friend bought little tables, chairs and shelves to make all of her new baby's toys and belongings accessible. Only the safe items will be within her son's reach.

Whether or not babies raised under the Montessori method turn out smarter is up for debate. It's impossible to measure such a long term question, and there's no telling which other factors might have affected a single outcome. If you're thinking about using the Montessori method, just remember that your child's safety should always come first. Don't give him or her access to any potentially harmful items, and don't assume that he or she can communicate every need. You will still need to be a loving parent even if your child seems worlds more independent than his or her peers. 

Even if you've been planning on using the Montessori method of parenting for years, who knows how you'll feel when your baby is finally born. Many first time mothers find that their baby has more of a personality than they expected. If you're a second time parent, trying new methods can be a fun way to explore your child's development as long as you're safe about it. 

Source: Suzanne Ross: the Montessori Method: The Development of a Healthy Pattern of Desire in Early Childhood. Contagion Journal of Violence and Culture Volume 19 2012

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