Designing the baby’s nursery is an important experience in our lives as parents. It’s a moment to live and share with joy and creativity but it requires care and attention. That’s why it often comes with questions and doubts.
Preparing the room for our child becomes an opportunity to reflect on their future as well. Because the nursery is not just the baby’s sleeping place: it’s also the place where he will grow, change, and become big, both physically and emotionally .
In this place, he should feel free: to move, explore and express himselves. Easy to say, but to do it…? For those who opt for the freedom-oriented approach, following Maria Montessori’s guidelines can be really illuminating.
WHAT IS A MONTESSORI BEDROOM
A Montessori-inspired bedroom can help foster independence, focus and love for learning, with respect for the child’s natural development.
But what distinguishes a Montessori nursery from any other children’s bedroom? First of all, the type of furnishings and elements that compose it, as well as their arrangement and organization; but also the prevailing materials, the type of lighting and the dominant colours. In fact, what characterizes a Montessori bedroom is the type of stimuli that it is able to offer the child.
Generally speaking, we can say that the essential elements of a Montessori bedroom include a floor bed, a front-facing bookshelf, a small table with chair and a wardrobe. Ideally, all this should be “measured to the child”, and completed by natural light, and soft, neutral colors. Yes, because nature, meant as source of source of calm and tranquility, is a key pillar of the Montessori method.
But let’s proceed step by step, and start with the basics.
SETTING UP THE MONTESSORI BEDROOM: General characteristics
Although it may seem obvious, the room must be healthy, clean, and safe. This doesn’t only mean respecting generic hygiene and safety standards. We need to design the nursery so that it meets specific requirements.
- Being healthy means being spacious enough to allow free movement, naturally lit and quiet to ensure a serene atmosphere.
- Being clean requires choosing a well-ventilated room and surfaces that are easily washable. Space, air, light and peace contribute to a balanced development.
Natural light and large spaces: the best starting point. (Photo credits: Philipp Berndt from Unsplash)
- Being secure implies a meticulous examination. Without becoming an obsession, the security of the space and the objects that inhabit it, is certainly important. Let us be guided by common sense, keeping in mind that the newborn will enjoy the space in a very different way from us adults. Not having a sense of danger, as soon as he can move around on his own, he will approach objects without fear, driven exclusively by his curiosity. Some measures can be taken to avoid risks from the planning phase, others to limit them. For example, it is important to pay attention to the position of electrical outlets, heat sources and windows, as well as the presence or absence of sharp edges and locks.
Also order and and organization are important factors, because they allow the child to gain independence in small steps. A room with limited, well-organized toys makes it easy for the child to use them freely, promoting care, and concentration. All this can simply happen respecting the child’s personality, preferences, and rhythms.
SETTING UP THE MONTESSORI BEDROOM: TAILORED TO THE CHILD
A child-sized room should not only be healthy, clean, and safe. Or cozy, well-kept, and functional. A child’s room should be a warm nest. But also a window to the outside world, and a launchpad for the future.
Allright, but how? As adults, we think from our own perspective. When designing the baby’s room, we believe we are adapting a place primarily designed for us, and this can be a big mistake. The effort is to reverse the perspective.
“To enter a child’s world, you must at least sit on the ground, not disturb him in his occupations and let him become aware of our presence” –Bruno Munari, Art as a Profession, 1966. (Photo credits: Victoria Borodinova from Pixabay)
We need to put the child and his needs at the center, create a space really around the baby, with furniture and objects that are accessible and able to stimulate his intelligence. So, let’s design it with furniture of his size, truly usable at his age, always remembering that the child’s “natural” development and interaction plane is the floor (ed. by Maria Montessori) . It’s on us, then, to change perspective, sit on the floor and look at the nursery from his point of view. In a way that, starting from the crib, is accessible for him.
And while reversing the perspective, we must keep in mind how important the whole harmony is: because the shapes and materials that surround him today, as well as their combination, will influence – silently – his aesthetic sensitivity of tomorrow.
SETTING UP THE MONTESSORI BEDROOM: SPACE DIVISION
Dividing the internal spaces of the baby’s room is a practical and effective solution. The baby can thus distinguish the sleep area, the changing area, and the leisure space. Connoting the spaces can help him recognize the different moments of the day, associate them with the different activities that will engage him in the first months/years of life and identify a first form of routine. Designing the baby’s room with these aspects in mind can be of great help.
The bed is the focal point of the design and the vital center of every baby’s room. And if conceived in the Montessori key, in addition to circumscribing the space dedicated to rest, it can offer new and different opportunities for play and sharing (first with mom and dad, then with friends).
The leisure area, ideally the largest and most fun, ideally includes low furniture and baskets for toys.
Wooden cubes A “classic” but always useful game that stimulates concentration and eye-hand coordination, while training also the sense of balance. (Photo credits: Tatiana Syrikova from Pexels)
As the child grows, a table with the right sized chairs will be comfortable for play and creative activities. Additionally, placing a rug between the bed area and play area can be very useful in allowing the child to move freely, thus promoting the development of their motor and sensory skills. Finally, the diaper/clothing changing corner, which is essentially made up of a changing table and dresser.
SETTING UP THE MONTESSORI BEDROOM: THE DIMENSION OF “NATURE”
We know it well: serenity promotes harmonious growth. It’s important for the chosen place to be serene and, as the Montessori method clearly highlights, nature is a powerful source of suggestions.
But how to embed nature in a baby’s nursery?
Working on the light, the colors and the selection of materials. An environment where natural light prevails is undoubtedly a more relaxing place than a dark room, mainly lit with artificial light. Hence the importance of large windows and openings, from which to let the sun in and through which the baby can observe the world.
Also the selection of materials, especially in the choice of furniture, textiles and decorations, is also crucial: natural materials are generally the best solution because, besides ensuring a healthy environment and reducing the risk of allergies, they strengthen the child’s connection with nature, a key element for his emotional and relational development (ed. Maria Montessori). A room maily complemented with untreated, natural materials (wood, cotton, etc.) has very different effects compared to a room where plastic or synthetic materials prevail.
The same goes for colors: the advice here is to prefer natural, neutral or in any case pale, soft colors, avoiding too strong and bright nuances. Let’s not forget that colors are emotions, meaning they affect children’s emotionality and, for this reason, it would be better not to improvise.
SETTING UP THE MONTESSORI BEDROOM: THE EDUCATIONAL VALUE OF ART AND BEAUTY
Just like nature, art also offers many ideas for recreating a serene environment. Art and beauty play a crucial role in kids’ development and education.
Choosing aesthetically pleasing objects and art display stimulates the child’s curiosity. It gradually teaches them about beauty.
Studies have shown that art education can improve critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and creativity in children. A review published in the International Journal of Education in the Arts found that art education can improve children’s motivation, engagement, and academic performance. It also helps children develop emotional intelligence and self-awareness, understand and express their feelings, which can improve their ability to form healthy, and balanced relationships. Furthermore, it can also help children understand and appreciate different cultures and perspectives.
That is why, when possible, it is recommended to complement the nursery with a few, selected decorations (prints, wall papers, posters, etc.), capable of intriguing imagination and evoking positive, constructive messages.
Babylodge® GIRAFFES & RAINBOWS • Nursery prints set.
The main ingredients to set up a Montessori bedroom are:
- a child-proofed environment in terms of space, light and safety;
- a floor bed to allow the child to get in and out safely, whenever he wants to;
- adding a small night light next to the bed can be useful to dim the dark and reassure the child in case of alarm;
- a front-facing bookshelf and/or an easy-accesible storage box for books and toys;
- a small table and chair set, useful for drawing, crafts, and the first independent educational activities;
- a closet with low drawers and shelves, to organize your child clothes and allow him to access them;
- decorations and art cues to stimulate imagination.
Depending on the kid’s age, involving your child in the process of nursery designing and/or setting-up can be a very stimulating activity: it will help him develop a sense of responsibility and ownership of his space.
In short, building the children’s room is a continuously evolving task because it follows the rhythms of our child’s development.
Just as our child maintains his identity while changing during growth, so too should his room, starting from solid foundations.
If you don’t feel confident about your choices, you can certainly rely on architects and interior designers. However, let’s remember that what really matters is not that the children’s room is perfect, but that it is personal and unique, like the child for whom it is designed. So… take courage, it will be a beautiful journey. 💛