Why do babies and young toddlers put everything in their mouth and what can we learn from it?

For sure you have observed your baby trying to place everything in mouth, whatever can be found in the close surrounding. You might have wondered why are they doing it? What is so appealing in trying to chew that wooden basket in which you placed some balls?

Baby’s mouth has more nerve endings than any other part of the body. If the baby really wants to find out what something feels like, she has to put it in her mouth. This is the way they explore the world! They are using the mouth to test the hardness, texture and taste of various materials. It is a very important experience. Additionally, a need to chew on something in order to relieve the pain of teething is an instinct within babies. There is no need to prevent this experience – only to be careful that it does not present a potential choking hazard.

Our daughter stopped being so much interested into putting everything in her mouth and chewing it after she turned 13 months (maybe cause she already had most of the teeth by that age). But her little brother with 15 months is still very much into exploring many things with his mouth. He ll take everything that seems tempting from the floor and put it into mouth – ranging from a snail to various flowers and grass. In case of the sand from the sandbox I let him explore, I just gently tell him sand is for playing and not for eating. I guess his natural instinct tells him to put it in his mouth as it helps him tremendously as a pain relief from teething. Since I am not a botanist and flower expert, thanks to him I have learned a lot about eatable flowers and plants. I find the following links very useful:

https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/surviving-in-the-wild-19-common-edible-plants/

https://matteroftrust.org/14760/62-edible-wild-plants-that-you-didnt-know-you-can-eat

https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/daisy-herb-benefits.html

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Daisies are really a common sights in the parks now in spring and he was attracted to them, especially when he had a runny nose;) Apparently they are very healthy and used as herbal remedy for common cold, bronchitis and other inflammation of upper respiratory track. We should definitely trust to our own and our children’s natural instincts;) In Austria daisies are a sign of spring, there is even an expression if there are 10 daisies below your foot, than you know that the spring is there. They are even used to prepare some meals.

This week we have decided to give it a try to prepare a daisy dish:)

The list of ingredients you will need in case you want to try it as well:

4 potatoes

1 parsley root

1 onion

100 g coconut milk

700 mL of soup broth

1,5 spoon of olive oil (or sunflower but we always use olive in our kitchen)

pinch of salt

150 g of daisy flower

Young toddlers can fully participate in making this dish and it is important to them to do so, as I have already written previously.

1. step: Wash the potatoes and clean them well. (very young toddlers can do this part and it helps a lot as the preparation for the peeling process). Wash the parsley root.

2. step: Peel the potatoes and parsley root.

3. step: Cut potatoes, parsley root and onion in small pieces. (On the photo Miro just tried to copy his sister in order to cut a potato – he still does not have force and technique to cut the raw potato, but he is trying hard to learn from his sister.)

4. step: Place everything in the big pot on hot oil, stir it a bit and add the broth in it and let it cook for 20 minutes.

5. When everything is still cooking in pot, wash the daisies, put 1/3 on the side for the decoration of the soup and 2/3 add to the rest in the pot after vegetables have been already cooked for nearly 20 minutes.

6. Puree the soup, add coconut milk and salt and mix it all well.

7. Serve in bowls and decorate with daisies and enjoy:)

Let me know which flower recipes did you try recently or how did your kid inspire you to try something new:)

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Toddlers in kitchen – how to encourage their independence in the most busy place at home

Kitchen is a sacred place in every home. It is a very busy place, where on daily basis various meals are prepared. Apart from cooking fun, also most of cleaning happens here on a daily basis. So maybe you wonder – why would you like toddlers to have full access to the kitchen, where they can make the biggest mess possible. Because this is the place where you can observe their growth in self-confidence the most at their young age. I have written already about importance of independence in children, but this is the hot spot to nurture it.

What you need to do first – is to lower your expectations, you can not expect that with your young toddler helping you around you will finish the same fast or the same clean. But with time you will:) Think of what skills are included in preparing certain meal – e.g. mixing, peeling, pouring liquids, measuring, cutting, etc.

With very young toddlers – such as 12 months, you should really not have high expectations. My son who is 13 months at the moment is mostly into chewing vegetables or fruits that his sister cuts. But that is also very important – he is observing and absorbing the environment. All of you who have siblings know that the younger one always would like doing the same as the older – that’s why for example when Natalia is preparing muffin mixture, I ll give a tiny bowl to Miro as well so he can mix with his spoon. You do not need to wait that your child is young toddler – Miro was with us in the kitchen as a baby, exploring various cooking tools (on the picture below with 8 months):)

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In order to motivate your young toddlers to participate in the kitchen – you should not give them immediately tough stuff to peel, you do not start from peeling a potato (sometimes it is still hard for me:P). But a courgette is a perfect candidate, Natalia was peeling and cutting courgettes with wavy chopper with 18 months. Another important thing is that you should have kids size tools. In the picture below you can see our current kids kitchen equipment:

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For example apple slicing has been a hit in our family – and introducing this tool caused that Natalia finally started eating more apples. Just one hint – it is very hard for your toddler to do it all in one goal (I learned it the hard way), but if you instruct to first cut the apple in half and then slice – than it is easily doable.

On the photo you can see a snail tool and wonder what it is – exactly the same thing I wondered when I got it four years ago as a Christmas present. It is an orange peeler – I did not really use it myself, but I gave it out of curiosity to Natalia to try to and she loved it! I always had big nails so for me it is never a problem to peel an orange, but for toddlers it can be quite challenging. I am so happy I did not throw it to garbage long time ago, as it finally found its daily purpose:D

Another recent hit in our family is the hand mixer. I never had one when I was growing up, but decided to purchase it as an experiment for Natalia and it was such a great decision. She loves this tool. It is the first thing she shows to her friends that come over, and if Natalia would make a menu for day it would definitely need to include preparation with a hand mixer.

Hope you enjoy your time with your toddlers in kitchen:)

What is your toddler’s favorite kitchen tool and recipe?

Our Montessori journey from 0-12 months

Tomorrow our little boy will no longer be a baby, but officially a young toddler. The year has passed in a flash. So how did this year old journey look like? During the first month we were getting to know each other, we all cuddled a lot. That is the most important thing for your baby – to get familiar with all family members, recognize their smell and feel their love. Your newborn needs no special equipment, no toys – he needs only you (source of love and food;).

“The baby should remain as much as possible with the mother directly after birth, and the environment must not present obstacles to his adaptation ”  ~Maria Montessori, Education for a New World

If you are friendly with sewing machine, in the last months of pregnancy you can sew a topponcino, it can help the older siblings to take the newborn gently in their arms;) In many Montessori homes, special mobiles are prepared for the baby. Some are very nice and in the link provided you can find many resources. I must admit we did not make any particular. I think Natalia was much more impressive for Miro, than any mobile would be. She was bringing him the paintings she made, surrounding him during the first month with various black and white photos he got as a present etc. And she insisted on holding him a lot. During the first 3 months of his life, most of the time when was not eating or we were not on a walk, he spent with his sister (on her lap or lying next her). In spring when he was 2 months old we were spending lots of times outside, so he could lie down on the blanket and observe the nature. He travelled to another country with 1 month and during his 12 months he has been on 14 flights and had opportunity to observe various things which offered him much more than any mobile or toy could.

“The childrens’ eyes are like two stars, fixed, looking intently at something. The logical conclusion is that in order to grow, the child in this first period of life must see many things. He must look at the external world in order to be prepared for the future, a future where he will be capable of movement.” – Maria Montessori, The 1946 London Lectures

With 5 and a half months he started crawling and exploring his surroundings much more independently. Soon afterwards he started standing – and wanting to “help” with setting up the laundry.

He explored the whole flat and based on his special points of interests, depending on what I would be doing with his sister, he would have a special basket to explore. For example when I would be preparing lunch with Natalia he could explore various kitchen utensils. He loves musical instruments so when his sister would want to assemble some puzzle – I would make sure that next to her puzzles he has his basket with musical instruments.  Around 7 months I introduced him Object Permanence Box which he still likes a lot, so that activity is always around and with it around, Natalia can also do some things alone, without intervention of her little brother. He still is quite a food explorer (I wrote about our BLW journey in the last post);) Last month, when he turned 11 months I made him a DIY box for inserting buttons, which he also enjoys.

But most of the time your child will simply amaze you by making a special toy or activity by himself. For example few weeks ago after playing with DIY button box, he started placing pencils through holes into the wooden box where we store all our pencils and crayons. Or when few days ago he just started wiping the table after he finished eating;) Time flies so enjoy every day of your parenting journey! In case you are wondering for some other fun practical activities you can do with your little ones I really like the overview written here. Enjoy observing your children and learning much more about the world surrounding us with them:)

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DIY Object permanence box – fun and useful Montessori material for babies

Even though it might sound fancy – object permanence is nothing fancy at all. It is just a term that relates to child’s ability to understand that the object still exists after it is no longer in sight. Around 30 years ago research demonstrated that some infants as young as 3,5 months can be aware of the existence of the object which is out of their sight – they might not look for it cause of lack of interest or lack of physical coordination.

So why would you want to make object permanence box for your child if it is already aware of object permanence? It helps for your baby to develop focus and concentration (gives you some time for yourself;)). Additionally it helps developing fine-motor skills through the whole-hand grasp. And of course, as you can guess by its name “object permanence box” – it is made for your baby to help develop the sense and experience more the object permanence – that  even though the ball is gone and not visible only for very short time and that it is not gone forever – it always returns (just like you from the toilet).

What do you need to make your own object permanence box?

  • shoe box (I am sure everyone has at least one at home;)
  • ball
  • scalpel
  • duck tape

Since its made from things that every home already has – you could say this is a “free” Montessori material which takes you around 5 minutes to make. First you need to cut one of the sides of the shoe box (in order to make the free exit for the ball). Of course in case you have more than five minutes you could make it even nicer –  make small exit doors (cut with scalpel a smaller door exit instead of just removing one of the sides of the shoe box). On the top of the box you should cut the round hole for the ball you intend for your baby to use with it. Opposite to “exit doors”, you should invert the side of the shoe box (check first photo) to make a ramp for the ball – making the box very inviting for the baby – as the ball will ALWAYS return😉 Last – but not least you just glue your box to the shoe box lid (which will present the tray on which the ball always returns and there it is:)

Natalia insisted we paint it blue when she saw it – so in the end we have a blue object permanence box. The cool thing about it – it can also be fun for toddlers not just for babies – they can check how it functions with various other things they find around home (potatoes, walnuts, etc.) Also it can be fun for you while making it 😉 You or your older kids can learn some physics on the way – before placing the ramp you can observe where does the ball go,  is it statistically significant, how it depends on the imperfections of the whole (on which side is the hole asymmetric etc.), how does ball rotate, does it rotate, etc.

Very fun and inspiring material!!!!