I always get many questions when I post about our Montessori Mobiles on Instagram so I have decided to share with you our experience with the Montessori Baby Mobiles here on the blog.
We have started using them when my son was about 3 weeks old and we have introduced him to 3 mobiles so far: the Munari, the Octahedron and the Gobbi mobile. I will update this post when we will use the Dancers and potentially other Montessori-inspired Mobiles as well as the bell and the ring.
After having observed my son interacting with the Montessori Mobiles and occasionally with “non-Montessori” mobiles when we go to our paediatrician, I can tell you that I see a big difference.
What is different?
The Montessori Mobiles are not there for entertainment, they follow your baby’s development: the Munari will accompany your baby when she only sees black and white, then the Octahedron is there when she sees the primary colours but doesn’t distinguish nuances yet, the Gobbi will delight her when she starts to see them, etc.. They support the development of the baby’s visual skills: seeing the colors, distinguishing the nuances, understanding the depth of the visual field, and the movement of the objects later on
There is a sort of dialogue between the baby and the mobile. The mobile sets an invitation and the baby will or will not go with it. It’s up to her. She will when she will be ready.
As an example, when I have presented the Munari Mobile to my son he was not very interested in it. We have waited for a couple of days and tried again. Then he was ready and immediately reacted to the black and white shapes.
The baby responds to the mobiles by coordinating her body and her movements. My son was immediately attracted to the Octahedron and while interacting with this mobile he started for the first time to coordinate his arm’s movement in order to touch the blue octahedron. He seemed delighted when he managed to do so on several occasions.
They help babies develop their concentration
All in all, they are a way of being mindful about a baby’s development
I was often asked which mobile to present at which age and, although the Montessori-trained teachers and author do recommend an age for each mobile, my experience as a mother taught me that the best way to know when my children were ready for a Montessori material was to observe them carefully and intuitively offer them to try something new. Also by observing them I could say if they were interested in it or not. Each baby is different so the “right” age to suggest a mobile is different from a child to another. When you see that your baby is not interested in a mobile anymore, you can present her the next one
But here are some ideas for each mobile:
The Munari Mobile (the second picture here above), named after the Italian artist Bruno Munari, is the first mobile presented to a baby in the Montessori education, when the baby is around 3 weeks old. At her birth the baby’s vision is blurred but she can distinguish the light, the movement and the contrasts. In response to this developmental stage, the Munari Mobile is black and white and offers contrasts, movements (the elements move around a central axis), geometrical forms, etc… for the baby to explore.
We have presented this mobile to my son when he was 3 weeks old but he started to be interested ionly after a couple of days. We have kept the Munari Mobile around 3 weeks. All of us loved this mobile with its minimalistic colors and shapes. My 4 years old daughter loved laying down beside her brother and watch the Munari. And so did I. I’m sure that when my children will grow, I will keep the Munari as a decoration object, a sort of aerial sculpture.
The Octahedron Mobile (the last picture here bellow) is presented around 6 weeks old when babies don’t distinguish nuances yet but have the capacity of discriminating between vivid colors.
This mobile was a revelation for my son, who, as I wrote above, started coordinating his arm while watching this mobile with the conscious intention of touching the blue octahedron. We have showed it to him when he was exactly 6 weeks old, when the Munari seemed to have finished its work
The Gobbi Mobile (the first picture here above) is usually introduced between 2 and 4 months when the baby can distinguish better and better the nuances of the same colour. The Gobbi Mobile presents a gradient of the same colour from the lighter to the darker nuance. This mobile can be done in different colors: pink, blue, violet, … We have chosen pink.
The Gobbi was also designed to introduce the depth of the visual field.
The Dancers Mobile will be the next one we will present to our baby. It is usually introduced around 3-4 months. It represents 4 human figures “dancing” in the air. Their lightness and the holographic paper they are made of makes them look like “dancing”.
We have purchased all our mobiles on Etsy from this lovely family that hand makes them in Slovakia but you can easily find tutorials online if you would like to make them by yourself. I couldn’t find all the needed materials in our local shops and I preferred “invest” my time in knitting for my baby than in making the mobiles ;) But if I had more time and found the materials I would have love making them.
Some practical considerations:
place the mobile above an “activity mat”, a space that is separate from the sleep area. Don’t hang the mobiles above the place where your baby sleeps or the changing table. They are not there to entertain or distract the baby, they are there to interact with the baby when he can fully be present to them.
ideally mobiles are hung above a mattress, close to a wall where you have safely placed a mirror. This is the ideal Montessori activity area. Given the space in our home and the materials the walls and the ceilings are made from, we couldn’t hang the mobiles and the mirror in the same place so I had to choose between the mirror and the mobiles in the “activity area”. I have decided that the mobiles were more important in the “activities area” and I will find another spot to safely attach a mirror on the wall for my son. In real life you sometimes need to make choices and can’t go with the ideal Montessori setting
place the mobile at 25- 30 cm above the baby’s head
don’t expect your baby to look at the mobile for hours in a row. When they are little babies usually interact only a few minutes with a Montessori mobile. If you can, try to stay close and observe the baby. When they gaze on the side instead of looking at the mobile, when they start to fuss or when they call you (my son did a “special sound” when he was done to let me know that we doesn’t want to be there anymore) than it means that they had enough. If they cry then the stimulation was too long and the baby was stressed by it. You will need to watch carefully the next time and take them away from the mobile before they start crying.
If you would like to go further about the Montessori Mobiles and other Montessori activities for babies, I warmly recommend to my French speaking readers the book by Marie-Hélène Place and Eve Hermann: “60 activitiés Montessori pour mon bébé”
Would love to hear about your experience with the Montessori Mobiles here or on Instagram