Q and A with Simone Davies and Junnifa Uzodike, authors of The Montessori Baby
We sat down with the authors of The Montessori Baby for an interview and asked them to share their top tips for practicing Montessori with babies
The Guidepost Team
When we think of Montessori, we tend to think of it as an education method reserved for children in a classroom. But it’s possible to implement aspects of the Montessori philosophy well before your child is even born, and throughout the first 12 months of their lives.
That’s the premise behind The Montessori Baby, A Parent's Guide to Nurturing Your Baby with Love, Respect, and Understanding. Co-authored by Simone Davies, author of the bestselling The Montessori Toddler, and Junnifa Uzodike, certified Montessori educator and school owner, it’s a book filled with hundreds of practical ideas to help parents understand what is actually happening with their babies and how they can mindfully support their baby's learning and development.
The book will help readers:
- Prepare for parenthood–physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.
- Become an active observer–to understand what your baby is really telling you.
- Create Montessori spaces in your home, including “yes” spaces where nothing is off-limits.
- Set up activities that encourage baby’s movement and language development at their own pace.
- Raise a secure baby who’s ready to explore the world with confidence.
Davies and Uzodike will also be speaking at Discovering the Child, an annual global conference that convenes more than 10,000 educators, parents, caregivers, guardians, and advocates to engage in conversations on topics of education, child development, and Montessori.
We caught up with Davies and Uzodike after the release of their book.
Tell us what your newest book, The Montessori Baby, is about?
SD: The Montessori Baby is essentially a guide for any parent or caregiver who wants to apply the Montessori principles from conception through the first 12 months of their baby’s life. For the uninitiated, The Montessori Method can be quite overwhelming, but this is a myth. We help translate the wisdom of Dr Montessori into a very practical, beautifully designed guide to help families show their baby love, respect and understanding in their first year.
Do you have to be familiar with Montessori in order to use it?
JU: Absolutely not. The book is for everyone, whether you’re new to Montessori or know about Montessori, but want to learn more about applying the principles to babies. Many people are gifting it to friends having a new baby, or to family members to help them understand the Montessori approach. One of our early readers kindly said that it should be mandatory reading for every new parent or caregiver.
What are the most challenging aspects of having a baby?
SD: Whilst it’s difficult to generalize — every baby is different and each parent or caregiver will have their own way of raising them — in our research, many people mentioned lack of sleep coupled with helping their baby to learn to sleep properly as one of the biggest challenges. Making adjustments in existing lives to meet the needs of a new family member, feeding, and learning to understand what babies need also came up.
We’ve tried to address all of these and much more in the book — we’ve got dedicated sections on sleeping, eating and rituals, for example.
Our sleep section introduces the idea of the Montessori floor bed and answers common questions people have about babies and sleep. We also have a section on what’s known as the symbiotic period (the first 6-8 weeks after birth). This is typically when new parents and caregivers get to know their babies and can be helpful with as they transition into a new way of life with their new child. We also have a section on feeding supports when it comes to babies. Finally, we provide many ideas for learning to observe babies and the developmental needs for each stage.
And that’s just a taste — there are sections on bath time, teething colic, as well as a dedicated chapter on how adults can prepare for this new life stage.
If the reader could take away just one thing from your book, what would it be?
JU: We would love for readers to take away the fact that babies are so capable, even at this young age. They’re able to take in and do so much, sometimes much more than we give them credit for. In a Montessori approach, we aren’t pushing the child to learn faster, but to see how we can set up a space where they can explore, discover, express themselves, and collaborate with us on their road to independence.
We do all of this with a great deal of respect for our youngest humans. Babies are so deserving of our respect but many parents will talk down to them. We’re not suggesting you treat them as complete equals — they’re babies and need guidance — but by involving them in our daily lives and respecting them, this gives babies the freedom to build lives independent of their parents or caregivers. One of example of this could be when it comes to babies sitting or standing. We encourage parents to respect each stage their baby is at and allow them to reach these milestones independently, not by always propping them up or holding them up to walk before they are ready.
What led you to collaborate and write the book together?
SD: The main reason really is that we both love Montessori for babies. Junnifa was visiting Amsterdam (where I live) for an AMI board meeting and I invited her round for a home-cooked meal. During dinner, we realised that we were both thinking about writing a book about Montessori for babies to help parents, so we decided to do it together. That night at the dining table we wrote the outline for what is now The Montessori Baby book.
You have a workshop at this year's Prepared Montessorian conference, Discovering the Child. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
SD: Of course. The workshop will cover our favorite tips when it comes to raising your baby with love, respect and understanding. It will help people learn about some of the unique ways we see and understand babies.
JU: Participants will learn how to apply the Montessori approach from learning how to observe our baby to how we can show them respect. We’ll also be sharing our favorite must-haves for baby – spoiler alert: it’s a lot less than you think!
SD: Just as we hope with readers of our book, we hope anyone who joins this workshop walks away with a new way of looking at babies - as capable and deserving of our respect.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
To register for the Prepared Montessori Discovering the Child Conference, please visit this page to secure your spot.
Learn more about Simone Davies and Junnifa Uzodike:
Simone Davies is the author of The Montessori Toddler, as well as the author of The Montessori Notebook, the popular blog and Instagram, where she gives tips, answers questions, and provides online workshops to parents around the world. She is an AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) Montessori teacher, and she and her family live in Amsterdam, where she runs parent-child classes at the Jacaranda Tree Montessori school.
Junnifa Uzodike is an AMI-trained Montessori teacher for the 0–3, 3–6, and 6–12 age groups. She runs her Montessori school, Fruitful Orchard Montessori, in Abuja, Nigeria, where she lives with her husband and three young children. She also supports families and schools via her Nduoma Montessori consulting company, blog, and Instagram accounts.
The Guidepost Team
The Guidepost Team is a group of writers and educators dedicated to helping demystify all things Montessori.
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