Supporting Infant Development

By Lara Gembicki

Infant development is full of “firsts!” While there are a number of areas of development that your baby will be working on during the first year, often the development of gross motor skills is a topic many parents naturally have questions about. The following describes some of the ways that a baby’s development of motor skills are supported in our infant Montessori classroom and at home.

Babies Develop At Their Own Pace

Every baby is unique and every child develops at his or her own pace. Montessori infant caregivers observe each infant closely to recognize and respond to the particular child’s needs and new abilities. In order to support each baby with the hard work of gross motor skill acquisition, adults in the environment allow for ample time and space during the baby’s waking hours for free movement. Floor areas are clean and soft, with mats or blankets for the babies to lie on. There are varied floor surfaces and low climbing equipment for children who are creeping and climbing. Interesting objects are placed near infants as an enticement to practice reaching, scooting, rolling, or crawling. Very young babies may be placed on their backs to allow free movement of arms, legs, and head. Babies who have begun to lift their heads or roll over on their own enjoy seeing the world from the perspective of being on their tummies.

Moving, Learning, and Feeling Capable

It is clear when observing babies that their efforts to get into various positions on their own play a large role in their cognitive and emotional development. A baby that has recently learned to pull himself up by holding on to a table edge or to crawl around the room exudes joy and a sense of accomplishment. This is particularly so if the adults in his life share his joy along with him! A baby that has begun to crawl with her arms pulling her body along behind her learns that she can get to a desired toy without help. Early problem-solving begins at this time, as well as focused exploration of objects. It it is more important for babies to work on getting themselves into different positions rather than simply being put in a position that they are not yet ready for by the adult. Montessori caregivers try to remove as many obstacles as possible for freedom of movement. Large amounts of time and room for the child is favored over use of contraptions that restrict movement, such as swings, bouncy seats, high-chairs, or infant carriers.

Did you know that gross motor skills are directly tied to brain development? Watching your baby make connections to their world is an exciting time! Enjoy this special stage while it lasts. Before you know it, you’ll be baby proofing your home and observing how toddling and walking will transform your child to their next stage of development and problem solving!

~ Lara Gembicki is a Lead Pre-Primary Teacher and Curriculum Trainer at Sunrise Montessori of Round Rock East. She holds a Montessori credential for both Primary (3 to 6 years old) and Pre-Primary/Infant (less than 2.8 years old). Lara started at Sunrise in 2007.

Resources that contributed to this article:

What’s Going On in There?: How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life by Lise Eliot, Ph.D., 1999

The Joyful Child: Montessori, Global Wisdom for Birth to Three by Susan Mayclin Stephenson, 2013

Being With Babies: Understanding and Responding to the Infants in Your Care by Beverly Kovach and Senise Da Ros-Voseles, 2008

Unfolding of Infants’ Natural Gross Motor Development by Emmi Pikler, M.D., 2006

Infants, Toddlers, and Caregivers: A Curriculum of Responsive Care and Education by Janet

Gonzalez-Mena and Dianne Widmeyer Eyer, 2009

Montessori From the Start: The Child at Home, From Birth to Age Three by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen, 2003

The Missing Manual

Who we are

At Sunrise Montessori, our vision statement is “Where your family belongs.” We want every family at our school to feel like they are part of a greater community of families and Sunrise team members. Being part of a family means that when one of us needs help, we offer it, willingly and with an open heart.

Why we’re starting a blog

Being in business for over 12 years, we have seen many things change, but one of the constants is children displaying the same type of developmentally appropriate, and sometimes inappropriate, behaviors —  and parents asking for guidance on how to encourage them, reduce them, or even if they should do anything at all. A question we often hear is, “Is this normal?” As my husband and I tell our teenage son when he gets frustrated with us, “John, they didn’t give us an instruction manual when you were born. We’re doing the best we can.”

Parenthood can feel overwhelming at times, but we’re in it together

Which is why we decided to start this blog! Both myself and other Sunrise Team Members will post about once a week on pressing topics that we hear from our Sunrise families, like specific stages of child development and how to support them, how to incorporate the independence we teach in our Montessori curriculum at home, funny anecdotes on parenthood, and general information from other professional resources we will cite. We hope you find The Missing Manual useful and if a particular blog post really resonates for you, share it with others! This blog is for our current families as well as a vehicle to help other families find us and discover that there is another option for child care. It can be done right, with loving care and a stimulating, advanced learning environment. You CAN have it all for your family at Sunrise Montessori Preschool.

3, 2, 1…

We hope over time that our blog gives you at least a chapter of the instruction manual on your child. 😉  And if you would like to hear about a particular topic, please let us know. Thank you for reading and your support. Let the blogging adventure begin!

~ Shannon

Shannon Black is the proud creator and owner of Sunrise Montessori Preschools. When she’s not embarrassing her teenage son or trying to read her husband’s mind, she is leading her team of fabulous Sunrise Team Members who want to make a difference in the lives of others. She also enjoys reading, all things sci fi,  playing board games with friends, and hanging with her two Australian Shepherds and calico cat.

Sunrise Montessori Preschool has two locations in Round Rock. Interested in learning first hand what we can offer your child? Then book a tour on our website at or call us so you can discover why Sunrise Montessori Preschool is where YOUR family belongs!