Montessori Baby-Ed: Musical Development in the First Year


(photo credit)
If you look closely at the classic stages of development in Baby's first year, you can see that they correspond beautifully with creating a solid foundation in music.

And, it's just about effortless!

Baby's respond to sound even before they are born. 
Ask any pregnant mom, when she goes to a live music concert if she feels her baby moving to the music!

After Baby is born, we find that she continues to respond to music, and she especially loves the sound of her family members when they sing her a lullaby at night.

In fact, almost every toy that is engaging for a baby has some kind of jingly sound or rattling noise inside. 

And, what baby doesn't love the sound of a sweet and gentle hand crank music box?

Photo from Adobe Stock

Very early on, your baby will begin to grasp objects, and one of the first things we offer her is a rattle.

I like the nice wooden ones that have a gentle sound, not harsh and loud, but soft like the rain falling.

Emilio, a Montessori Baby-Ed participant, enjoying his rattle at age 2 months. 
When you offer your baby a nice wooden rattle, you are giving him/her the first opportunity to "make music." You probably have learned by now, that early musical experiences have the most benefit for the child when she is given ways to make music. Listening to music is fine, but making music builds the brain!

When your baby makes music with a rattle, she begins to explore the concept of "cause and effect." 

She also develops the small muscles of the hands and fingers, that are so important for writing, for cutting with scissors, and later for playing an instrument like the piano.

The sensory experience of shaking a rattle, gives Baby opportunities for developing auditory discrimination skills that play an important part in language development.

You can enrich the musical experience for your baby by shaking a percussion instrument along with her. Then, you can play a steady beat which will stimulate her senses to recognize and eventually to play a steady beat herself.

If you sing a simple song along with playing the instrument, then your baby gets the added benefits of hearing your voice (which she loves) and also how her home language sounds.

Photo from Adobe Stock

And, the sound that a little percussion instrument makes, will entice your baby to creep over and check it out herself!


Photo from Adobe Stock

In the next classic stage of the child's development, your baby has become mobile and can sit up on her own. She will spy an object and then head right for it! (especially if it makes a fun sound)

As sitting becomes more and more refined, Baby discovers that s/he has her hands free to manipulate the object that she crawled over to explore.

Emilio, at age 8 months, playing his Chime Bar from MONTH FOUR of Montessori Baby-Ed 
Providing musical objects (instruments) in Baby's environment, gives her the opportunity to not only use her large motor skills to get over to the object, but also to practice with her small muscle development as she "plays" the instrument. 

There is hand-eye coordination developing, along with sensory learning through auditory & kinesthetic experiences.

Once again, you can enhance the learning by playing and singing along with your baby.


By the time, your baby has arrived at the next classic stage, the standing/walking stage, s/he has celebrated her first birthday! 

She has also passed through a major milestone of life. She is an independent being and she now realizes it!

With more and more confidence in her abilities, Baby responds to music by not only singing along, but also by dancing to the beat. 

You can encourage Baby's musical development by inviting her to move to the music. You can model how to stomp, or march, or tiptoe when music is playing in the environment. Eventually, baby will have mastered the moves of her own little dance. 

Invite your baby to twirl a colorful ribbon while she moves to the music (Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius)

Spontaneously moving to music offers your baby practice with the large muscles of the legs and back that are important for walking, for running, and later for all kinds of athletics, including things like swimming, gymnastics & dance!

When you put on some of your favorite music and then dance, dance, not only release the stress of the day, you also bond with your baby in a sweet and happy way.

Want to learn more about what you can do to enhance your baby's musical development in her first year?

My newest eCourses are now open for enrollment. 

You can enroll in just one month...six months... 
or SAVE and enroll in my twelve month BUNDLE!

Thank you for visiting my blog today. I hope you got some inspiration for making music with your baby!

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Montessori Baby-Ed: 12 Musical Learning Activities For Your Baby "Month by Month"


Emilio, at the age of 8 months,  playing the Melody Harp 

Having musical fun with your Montessori baby brings lots more than family togetherness!

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(See how to enter at the end of this article.) 

Dr. Maria Montessori developed an amazing and historical educational method for working with children from birth all the way to high school age. After the birth of my third grandchild, I discovered the most endearing "curriculum" for baby learning that I've ever studied...from Montessori, of course! 

I found myself asking, "Why didn't I know about the 'Montessori Nido Environment'?" What took me so long to discover the many activities for creating a Montessori environment for the child from birth to the beginning of toddlerhood? I guess I've been a little preoccupied with my decades of working with the Montessori Preschooler! 

Even so, I began to really research how to set up a lovely baby environment that nurtures Baby's social, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual development, when my grandchild Jules came along. (now that has been more than 3 years ago!) 

My grandson and I playing and singing "The Little Rooster Song"

My Montessori-raised daughter asked me to send her a basket each month of activities she could do with her little one to nurture their family bonding and her baby's cognitive development. That is when I started developing the Montessori Baby-Ed "Nido Baskets"  for each month of Baby's first year.

Montessori Baby-Ed "Nido Basket" all packed up to send to my daughter

Eventually, I saw that these monthly Activities would be difficult for me to curate and actually sell to families, which was the first thing my entrepreneurial daughter suggested! I also discovered that the families I was sending these "Nido Baskets" to, (my daughter and also an old friend of hers, Amanda) were needing instruction about how to set them up and engage their babies, as well. 

So, I developed Montessori-style Lesson Plans to go along with the monthly "Nido Basket." Next, the feedback I got was: "Can you create an Instructional Video to go with each month's basket?" I realized that I wasn't dealing with Montessori teachers here...I was offering the Montessori Baby curriculum to parents, busy parents!

That's how my Montessori Baby-Ed eCourses evolved! And, these "Month by Month eCourses" are finally being offered to parents and caregivers. In my eCourses, I have created Instructional videos and some useful downloads for each month of the Montessori Baby's first year of  life. Click here to LEARN MORE about my eCourses.

I AM CELEBRATING my new eCourse!
Don't miss my Etsy Gift Card Giveaway. 
See how to enter at the end of this article.

Here are some of the Activities I have curated for Baby's musical learning (and fun!) in the first months of life:

I have been so fortunate to have Amanda taking my first version of the Montessori Baby-Ed month by month Lessons. She happens to be a wonderful photographer and she beautifully documented her family enjoying the monthly activities in photos and videos!

Emilio, when he was an infant, making music with his family

1. Play an instrument for your baby so s/he can hear and feel live music. In MONTH ONE of my Montessori Baby-Ed eCourse, I demonstrate the delightful and easy-to-play Mbira, "Kalimba" or "thumb piano." These are about the size of a cell phone, are played with the thumbs (much like texting) and have a beautiful sound. You can easily carry it around like a phone, yet make music instead of texting! And, if you happen to play the guitar, piano, flute...or any musical instrument...your baby will greatly enjoy (and benefit cognitively) when you play & sing for her!

2. Hang the Montessori-style Visual Mobile, "The Dancers" and play some ballet music while Baby watches the sparkly Mobile catch the light as it delicately moves in the air. There are actually four different "Montessori Visual Mobiles" and they are all very beautiful. They seem to "dance" in the air no matter where you hang them. A beautiful way to engage the youngest of babies! 

3. Invest in a sturdy baby-sized"Chime Ball" (or jingle ball) to play rolling games with your baby. There are so many ways to play little ball rolling games with your baby at any age. A soft, cloth ball with a chime or jingle bell inside, just adds to the musical quality of singing a simple ball rolling song while enhancing your baby's large motor development, too.

Here is a very delightful ball rolling song:

4. Offer your baby a Montessori style "Tactile Mobile" (wooden bells) that makes a sweet sound when Baby kicks or grasps it. In the 3rd and 4th months, the Montessori baby is given "Tactile Mobiles" to explore by kicking or grasping. Choose one that makes a nice sound when pulled or kicked like this one. 

HERE is an amazing little video of one of my eCourse family's baby, Emilio. You can see just how long he stays engaged making his own music! 

5. Play a high quality hand crank "Music Box" for Baby to have a sweet and intimate experience with live music. Young children, especially babies, have sensitive hearing and this is why it is important to offer your baby music (and experiences with sound) that is real as compared to electronic. The simple music that is produced by a nice music box is more appropriate for a baby to hear because it's real and not synthesized. 

6. Set up your Montessori Style shelf with baskets and include a basket with 2 or 3 small rolling toys that make a sound that will entice Baby to creep after when the toys are rolled across the floor.  I like the rolling ball toys from Plan Toy Co.

Emilio choosing a sound-making activity from his Montessori style shelf

7. Invest in 2 or 3 baby-friendly "instruments" that are made of wood and that sound nice. I like the ones from Plan Toys and also Hape Toy Co.

8. Display a high contrast photo of a musical instrument at Baby's eye level. In MONTH EIGHT, I suggest the Violin and I include a downloadable high contrast photo in my Montessori Baby-Ed eCourse along with an Mp3 music download of delightful & playful violin music to play for your baby's enjoyment. My daughter hung her pictures each month by her baby's diaper changing table.

9. Offer your baby some baby-friendly Montessori style "Sound Boxes" to explore. I found these really fun small wooden sound blocks that had things inside them that made sounds when shaken. Turns out they can be made into a matching activity,  almost like the Montessori Sound Cylinders in the Preschool classroom. 

10. Play a meditation bell/chime (or a recording) for Baby to hear a sustained sound and develop auditory & listening skills. I like this sweet and clear sounding Woodstock brand "Zynergy Chime."  Amanda's little ones learned to play it quickly. Her baby played by the time he was 10 months old! 

11. Provide nice sounding pitched percussion instruments to challenge Baby's small motor development. The ones that have been successful with the Montessori Baby-Ed families I've worked with are: "Stirring Xylophone" and "Melody Harp." 

12. MAKE MUSIC! Provide 2 or 3 high quality rhythm instruments, such as a small tambourine, small sand blocks, small maracas/chiquitas, or small stick bells for playing and singing with your baby. Be sure to keep that steady beat while you sing, so that Baby gets used to hearing it! I like the high quality child-size Rhythm Instruments from West Music Co.

Yes...Baby can pluck the stings of this sweet-sounding Melody Harp!

A Few More Helpful Resources

13. Marc Brown's Favorite Fingerplay Songs & Rhythms.  This is a fun board book (eBook, too) that has just a few simple but lovely rhythms/songs that have hand motions you can do with your baby. Since it comes in board book form, you can read it to your baby and toddler!

14. "You Are My Sunshine" music album by Elizabeth Mitchell. One of my all-time favorites because I love the song choices and the sweet, sweet way that Elizabeth and her family band performs them! Great listening and also wonderful songs to learn to sing together with your family.

~ "Month by Month" Mp3 Music and an Instrument Photo ~ Each month, you can display a realistic and high contrast photo of a musical instrument at your baby's eye level. Then you can turn on some baby-friendly, playful music that features that instrument! I know this seems to be very subtle, but we all know that the young child has that "absorbent mind!" (a phrase coined by Dr. Montessori in the early 1900's) And, it's a lovely way to listen to music with your family.

Montessori Baby-Ed eCourse downloads "Month by Month" (Mp3 music & high contrast picture)

**** You can see my recommendations for collecting items for creating your Montessori Baby Environment in my Sample Free Lessons from my Montessori Baby-Ed "Month by Month" eCourses. CLICK HERE to check them out!

Thank you for visiting my Blog today. I hope you found some fun activities to do with your little ones!

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