Why the Montessori Topponcino makes life as a new mom easier
Becoming a parent changes your perspective and your life completely. As any mom-to-be, as soon as I found out about the pregnancy I felt this urge to prepare the nest for our little one in the best way possible. I started reading Montessori and RIE blogs and books, made lists (can't help it), and got started instantly with cleaning and decluttering (yes I became a Konmari fan, like many Montessori moms).
I promised myself I would not start buying anything until later on, but that did not lasted long, thank you hormones! My husband was so skeptical about the first thing I bought, but it ended up being the most useful and used thing we bought for our son and he now recommends it to other new parents: the topponcino.
The topponcino was one of the items that I read about in all the Montessori parenting books and blogs and that was to be used in all the four areas. The toppone, a soft mattress made up of several overlapping pieces of cloth sewn together, has been used for centuries in Italy as a layer between the mattress and the bed sheets to make the surface softer and warmer for babies, children and elderly people.
Maria Montessori thought of a more practical use for babies, as a safety cushion that respects the movements of the newborn by adapting to his little body, creating a soft and protective environment like that of the womb and easing this way the baby's transition from the womb to the world and beyond, and mentions it in her books: The Absorbent Mind, Education for a New World and The Secret of Childhood.
The 7 Main Benefits of a Topponcino:
1. Bonding & building trust in the environment (first 6 weeks)
By the time I was 38 weeks pregnant I started sleeping on the topponcino in order for it to have my and our home's scent, and it was the last thing that I put in my hospital bag. The first days in the hospital, after our son was born we used the topponcino in the hospital crib in order for him to have our scent with him at any time, it was easier for me to lift him and hold him for nursing the first few days.
Babies need predictability and are very sensitive especially in the first few weeks, did you ever seen a perfectly happy baby suddenly discontented or fussy when moved from one surface to another? Their body temperature does not adapt to a new surface with as quickly as ours, and it does take us time too, think of when you just had a nice warm shower just to end up on cold bed sheets, not nice, is it? An infant’s perception of sound, sight, touch, taste and smell is fresh, new and acute and the topponcino prevents part of the over-stimulation like changes in surface temperature(yes, they do get fussy for that too), blows, different scents and surfaces by providing a safe platform from where babies can start exploring their environment freely and safely.
2. Meeting someone new
While Alex does not have siblings whenever he met somebody new lifting the topponcino instead of lifting him directly so he would not feel differences in temperature or scent immediately and it gave him more time to slowly getting to now his grandparents or other relatives and friends, it is more comfortable and reassuring for both sides. While we had lots of friends and family coming to visit in the hospital (did not come in contact with him directly but were able to see him from the nursery window) we did however had a no-visits from anyone rule the first 10 days at home, it was not easy but it helped us tremendously with bonding and allowing us to feel all the feels, to do things our way, to make hilarious (now not then) mistakes and helped my husband bond with our baby since I wasn't able to move a lot the first few days.
3. The movement area - tummy time from day one at home
The Sensitive Period for Movement and Sensitive Period for Sensory Perception start from day one, we prepared the activity area for Alex with and we placed him there on his back on the topponcino from day one at home he was able to get used to our homes scent, temperature, noises, light right from the start. After the first two three weeks we used the topponcino for tummy time starting very slowly and building up from about one minute of tolerance in the beginning until he started to roll over from back to tummy by himself. We still have the topponcino in the movement area now that Alex is almost 7 months old.
4. Transitioning from the moses basket (or baby cot) to the crib/mattress on the floor
We used the topponcino for any important transition since it was so soothing for him, from his movement are to his Moses Basket (for naps during the day, during the night he slept with us for the first 4 months) and when we moved him to his crib for all naps and night sleep we placed the topponcino underneath him until he showed signs that he learned this new environment.
5. Getting accustomed to a new environment
Some changes in the environment are necessary but if made with care it makes everything a lot easier for mom and baby. Whether it's the changing table or diaper station in the first few days of life, traveling by car the first time, to the first walks in the stroller to going to grandma's house for the first time or the car seat. It is great in transfers so we used it intensively anytime we had to make transitions more soft for him, he never cried as the topponcino always provided him the comfort that he needed.
6. Traveling with baby
We've traveled to Greece by plane when Alex was almost four months old, we went on a car trip for a family event when he was five months old and we went to the seaside for Christmas (at six and a half months old), you guessed it: we used the topponcino to bring the home with us when away. He did not sleep well during our first trip but we were going through the dreadful 4-months-sleep-regression. During the last two trips 3 and 5 hours by car he took his naps and slept through the night in the hotel cot on his topponcino for 11 hours straight just like he does at home. We were worried that traveling will disrupt his sleep but having the same predictable day and bed time routine and using the topponcino (even if he outgrew in the meantime) it still is his happy and safe place helped us make some beautiful first family memories.
Yes, we do use the topponcino as a support pillow for the weaning chair, it is just so practical I think we will end up using it as a pillow when Alex will show signs that he needs a bigger bed.
Hope this help!
- Emma H.
*Find ouy more information about Emma on Instagram @growfitplay