Starting at birth (and even prenatally, actually), baby is building her intelligence and learning about the world through her five senses. Movement is a huge part of that growth. For proper development, a baby needs opportunities for movement.
Designating a space in your home for baby's movement is more about being aware of her need for movement rather than filling a space with toys and equipment. Any spot will do, really, just so long as its safe and comfortable. All you really need is some floor space with a thin mat or thick blanket. Although my sister and I visited a home in which the entire front room (the living room -- this house had a separate family room too) was the baby's movement area, such luxury is not necessary.
What will baby do here? Well, first, baby will be in the supine position and explore her surroundings visually. She will also scoot and twist and turn. Believe it or not, Paloma is never in the same spot as where we lay her, ever since birth. This is also a good place for tummy time. Soon after birth, you introduce visual mobiles which you can hang in the movement area (better there than over her bed so she knows that bed is for sleep and movement area is for "work"), and then later you can set her under an activity gym for batting at tactile and auditory mobiles. Eventually, the whole house will be her movement area once she's crawling, but until then, the movement area is a place for her to work on her movement skills.
In our home, Paloma lays on a blanket because our designated movement area already has a plush rug. Since Hunter's room doesn't have much extra space and neither does our bedroom (plus it gets terrible light), Paloma's movement area is in our living room. It's not our entire living room (which is already small) -- just a spot that's hers. Have a look at the photo below. You may recognize the space from this post. That's right -- Paloma's movement area is right in front of my desk. In fact, my desk is a great place to attach the mobile hanger. Tucked under my desk is her activity gym, which I introduced to her this week.
And that's about it. Most families probably have a movement area for baby without labeling it as such, but for us, having that label makes me more conscious of giving Paloma daily opportunities to spend time in her movement area. One of the main reasons Montessori principles discourage bouncy seats and swings is that babies end up spending more time in those than on their backs. Seats and swings restrict movement and make baby used to being upright without doing any of the work herself. The more time she spends on her back, the more she will work on building the muscles she will need to sit herself up and eventually crawl.
Click here to read about the topponcino, which was my first post in the "Montessori Baby Essential" series.