If you’ve been to the baby section of a store recently, you’ll know there are more toys, gadgets, and baby items on the market than your child could ever need. You might be skeptical when you first hear of topponcinos; but we’re here to let you know the amazing benefits of this simple baby mat.
A Montessori Topponcino is a small mat that is worth purchasing for your newborn because it makes the transition to life outside the womb easier for the baby, provides comfort and security, and helps support an infant’s delicate body. A topponcino is inexpensive, clean, and gentle on a baby’s sensitive skin.
Although topponcinos are relatively unknown outside of the Montessori community, there are many amazing benefits and easy uses for this simple product. Here’s everything you need to know:
What is a Montessori Topponcino?
The word topponcino (pronounced top-on-CHI-no) comes from the Italian word toppone and roughly translates to “small mat”. A topponcino is a thin, blanket-like cushion that caregivers use to hold and carry infants almost everywhere in their first few months of life. They are typically oval-shaped and made from layers of padded cotton. Topponcinos are often encased in a removable and washable cotton cover that is gentle on newborn skin.
How big is a topponcino?
Topponcinos are small compared to typical baby blankets and mattresses- usually about two feet by eighteen inches by one inch. This size is perfect for portability while still being large enough to wrap around and provide comfort to a baby. The inch of padding provides a bit of support to a baby’s body and protects them from rough handling. Although babies are all different sizes and grow quickly, a standard topponcino will be a good fit for any young infant.
What are the benefits of a topponcino?
First and foremost, a topponcino provides a baby with a comfortable, familiar surrounding and this consistency makes the transition from the womb to the outside world less daunting and overwhelming for them. Because topponcinos are made to be used for feedings, cuddling, and almost everything in between, they acquire the scent of the baby’s caretakers. These familiar smells, combined with a topponcino’s soft, baby-friendly fabric, provides a baby with a sense of security in a world that constantly bombards babies with overwhelming new textures, smells, and other stimuli. Since a secure, soothed baby is less likely to be fussy, topponcinos can help alleviate parental stress as well.
Topponcinos are great for passing your new baby to friends and relatives not only because they keep your baby feeling more comfortable and secure, but because they allow for safer handling. A topponcino helps support a baby’s neck, keeps delicate fingers and toes from being caught or snagged, and provides a clean layer of protection between your baby and germy visitors. This degree of separation between visitors and your baby’s skin could help prevent your infant from contracting RSV, the flu, COVID-19, or any other sickness that could be especially dangerous to newborns with immature immune systems. Infants spend a lot of time exploring their faces and mouths with their hands. Keeping those tiny hands wrapped in a topponcino during visits could reduce the risk of contracting an illness.
The padding in a topponcino helps cushion babies and protects them from being injured or bothered by not-so-gentle handling. Newborns who are used to the warm consistency of their mother’s womb could become irritated by cold hands; a topponcino more closely imitates the comfortable environment newborns are used to and in doing so, reduces fussiness. Supporting a newborn’s fragile neck is so important and the padding in a topponcino makes it easier to hold a baby while supporting their body properly. This is especially beneficial for older siblings who want to hold the baby but might be unable to hold an infant with as much care as an adult.
Can a baby use a topponcino for play?
During awake periods or as babies grow older,
topponcinos make for excellent play mats. Younger babies who need to spend time on their tummies to strengthen their neck muscles and learn to roll can practice these skills on their topponcinos. Again, topponcinos provide consistency and comfort to babies who might otherwise dislike tummy time.
One of the main pillars of Montessori learning is that of the “prepared environment”- setting up an environment where a child can learn independently. A topponcino as a play mat essentially functions as a Montessori child’s first prepared environment. It is a clean, familiar space that provides the security an infant needs to foster curiosity about their surroundings. Give a few simple toys to a baby playing on their topponcino and watch them play! You’ll come to see how the topponcino provides an excellent foundation for learning to a baby.
Who invented the topponcino?
Dr. Maria Montessori did not invent the topponcino: but she coined the term “topponcino” and popularized the item in Western culture by promoting it and outlining its design specifications and benefits in her book, The Absorbent Mind. Dr. Montessori was inspired by mothers in India who carried their babies around in small mats. She observed the benefits of these mats and adopted the idea into her educational method as an early learning tool and comfort item for new babies.
Is a topponcino safe?
Topponcinos are not recommended for sleep or unsupervised play. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a firm mattress with no blankets or other objects in an infant’s sleep space- and this would include a topponcino. However, they are perfectly safe when a supervising adult is present.
How long do you use a topponcino?
Topponcinos are typically used from the time a baby is a newborn until they are about three to four months old. By this point in their development, babies will be well-adjusted to life outside the womb and will want to explore their surroundings with their arms free from blankets and other coverings. Since Topponcinos are smaller than regular baby pads and blankets, they may be outgrowing their topponcinos within a few months after birth.
However, if a topponcino provides security for a baby, they may want to keep it around longer as a comfort item. Babies can also continue to use their topponcinos for play until they begin to move around independently, near the end of their first year of life.
Although the lifespan of a topponcino may seem relatively short, a topponcino can be a valuable asset during those first few months of a baby’s life when your sleeping time seems so short and the days seem so long. The many hours parents spend cuddling and feeding their little ones make a topponcino a worthy purchase for any new baby.
How do you clean a topponcino?
You can clean a topponcino by submerging it in a tub of cold water with a splash of baby-friendly or hypoallergenic laundry detergent. Mix the water around and allow the topponcino to soak for an hour before draining the water, wringing it out, and allowing it to air dry. You can do this while the baby is sleeping so they won’t have to go for long stretches in their waking windows without their topponcino.
If you want to avoid hand washing your topponcino as frequently, you can purchase a cover for it that is removable and machine washable. Just make sure the cover you purchase fits it correctly and is made of soft, hypoallergenic material. Babies are messy and any number of casualties are likely to befall your topponcino- spit-up, diaper blowouts, milk spills, and everything in between. A waterproof cover is not recommended because these are usually made from synthetic materials (such as plastic or polyester) that will be harsh on your baby’s gentle skin or sensitivity to textures. Washing your topponcino will be inevitable; but a cover made of cotton or bamboo may help you go longer in between necessary washes.
Where can I buy a topponcino?
Feeling crafty? Topponcinos are relatively easy to make if you have basic sewing skills and the right materials. Everything you need to know is available here! Just make sure you select high quality materials that will be gentle on your baby’s skin and neutral colored fabrics that will soothe and not overstimulate your baby. Shades of beige, grey, and muted tones are Montessori favorites!
Is a topponcino necessary?
Although a topponcino is not necessary to have a happy, thriving baby, it is an excellent item to help your baby adjust to the world and to introduce him or her to Montessori learning! Topponcinos are the most popular item among parents of Montessori babies because of their versatility, simplicity, and comfort. Topponcinos are worth the purchase for your new baby because the risks are few and the benefits are many. Wrap your baby in a topponcino and prepare your little one for a lifetime of Montessori learning!