Montessori is probably known for these two concepts: follow the child and "help me to do it myself", so why is there something called the Adult Chair? Great question.
The Adult Chair is essentially the child's first dining room. It is the spot for the parent to feed the child, but there is more going on than simply feeding, there is bonding and observing happening during these important feeding times. This is also an area that is used regularly and right from the beginning. In the early days and months of the child's life, they are the most dependent on their parents/caregivers they will ever be. So what does that have to do with the Adult Chair? The comfort of the parents will be a very important aspect of the child's life in these early days because the more comfortable the parents are, the more attentive they can be to the child.
Adult Chair Basics
So, let's take a look at what exactly the Adult Chair is and where its located. Ideally, the Adult Chair will have a high back for optimal comfort. This Adult Chair is in The Horme Studio, so it's not used regularly by the parents multiple times a day, so I had some flexibility with this point. If this was in my home for feeding, I would definitely have the high-backed version of this chair. Another thing to add to the chair for comfort is an ottoman. This is so that the parent feeding can put their feet up and get more comfortable if they need. This ottoman will later come into play for the child once they start pulling up to stand and walk, but more on that later.
The location is flexible, but most families choose to have the chair in the child's room or near where the child sleeps. This is helpful for night feedings. One thing to keep in mind though is that wherever the chair is, be consistent about using the chair for feeding. Young children don't yet have an understanding of time and so they rely on routine and at very early ages and familiar places that they begin to link with specific actions. So what does this mean? When the child is fed in the Adult Chair, they begin to connect this space with the action of eating which can be calming and reassuring for them.
What should be there for the adult?
So, what are some things that should be at the Adult Chair?
Snacks and water
One way to help the parent feeding the child stay comfortable is to have their own food and drink. Having something there allows the parent or caregiver to not need to get up and interrupt the feeding, allowing for bonding to be longer. If you are breastfeeding, having nutritional snacks and water is very important to help your body keep up with milk production.
Always handy. Keeping them nearby can help clean the child's face and any spills that may happen on the parent. Remember, the name of the game is keeping things at hand to allow the parent to relax and enjoy this time with their child.
Nipple Cream and Nursing Pads
This one is for those that are breastfeeding. The cream will help soothe and moisturize dry skin and the nursing pads will help relieve skin irritation and wick away moisture between feedings.
These are helpful to keep on hand for when it is time to burp the child and wipe any remaining milk on the child's face. Again, having these things on hand right beside the table helps the parent linger and enjoy feeding time rather than needing to rush through and quickly get up and find what is needed next.
Notebook and clock
Having a clock here will help to track how long the child has been feeding in one sitting and also to take note of what time the child has been fed so that the parents can keep track of the last time and how frequently the child is feeding.
The notebook is there to not only track how long and how often the child is feeding, but also is a way to track of what side the child was breastfed on last (R, L) if you note it next to the time and also good for any observations you might have while feeding that you might be asked about by your pediatrician or that you might want to bring up with them.
What's Missing from the Adult Chair?
Well, simply put, tech.
It's a common act to use this time to go on one's phone and catch up on social media or scroll because, well, you finally have some quiet time!
But, let's examine this from another angle. This is a meal for your child. How do we feel when we are sitting at the table with loved ones and they go on their phone or leave the tv on in the background? It can minimize the time spent together or distract one's attention during a conversation. The same applies here. Even though the young child cannot yet communicate verbally with the parent, they are using this time to emotionally connect. Meals are not only a way for us to be physically nourished, they are a time to be emotionally nourished as well. Eliminating cell phones, tablets, tv, and other tech allows the parents to be present and in the moment and form a good bond with their child. So if you feel tempted, just remember how you would feel if your significant other decided to use their phone at a meal when you are trying to connect with them.
Eliminating tech during feeding early on will also help in the long run as well. Practicing this now will set the tone for what meal time will be as they get older and aid in preventing the child to want to be entertained during meals by having a show play on a tablet while they eat. Each step taken now will help lay the groundwork for the next step down the path in your childs development and the relationship you build with them.
So, did I miss anything? Do you keep anything next to your chair that helps you stay present? If so, let us know in the comment section!