I have three close friends who have completed the Assistants to Infancy training course (to support the development of children from birth through age 3). When they found out I was pregnant, all three told me to make a topponcino.
A toppon-WHAT?! A topponcino is a thin full-body infant pillow that provides the newborn with a sense of security when being passed from one person to another or when being placed onto his bed when he falls asleep in arms.
Being the crunchy momma that I am, I argued that the topponcino would interfere with the child feeling the mother’s arms around him. All three friends wisely smiled and said: “Well, you don’t HAVE to use it if you don’t want to.”
I went ahead and made it anyways (save your sanity and get yours here*)… But then I put it in the back of the baby’s closet and promptly forgot about it.
The baby was born, and as most parents of newborns will tell you, my life was turned upside-down. I went into survival mode, trying to figure out what my baby needed and how to best satisfy those needs. For four weeks I struggled with his naps; he’d fall asleep without any problems in my arms after breastfeeding, but whenever I placed him in his bassinet he would quickly stir and begin to cry.
One month after his birth, after countless infuriating cycles of “nurse, burp, sleep, put in bassinet, wake up & cry, repeat, tear my hair out”, I remembered the topponcino in the back of the baby’s closet, and my friends’ suggestion to use it when transferring the baby to his bed. I placed my screaming over-tired infant on the topponcino, offered the breast, and watched him soothe and fall asleep. I lowered him down to his bassinet on the topponcino, then very slowly and gently removed my hands from beneath it, and held my breath in anticipation of a meltdown.
Nothing happened. Baby slept. And slept and slept! And guess who’s sleeping as well?! I’ve since used the topponcino with my second child and avoided many of the sleep issues I faced with my first.
My baby needed to feel the consistency and security of a surface that wouldn’t change temperature, firmness, or smell during those fragile moments of first sleep. The topponcino does this beautifully, and as usual I am humbled by the simplicity and elegance that is Montessori.
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