Montessori floor bed in action

Posted on 22. Oct, 2008 by Kate in Baby Stuff, Parenting

I’m no expert in Montessori but I’m extremely interested and have been trying to put fold some principles in to the way we are raising our daughter.  I know, I know, you probably can’t cherry pick these things but for what it’s worth, I am and it seems to be working OK for us.  So, here’s our experience with the Montessori floor bed and how we incorporated the idea into a room that is actually quite cute.

Why a floor bed?  As my cousin (the real expert and the one I look to for advice - her blog is www.mommybahn.blogspot.com) says “a montessori infant should be able to get in and out of bed on her own power.”    A crib hampers a child from making their own decisions.  Essentially, you’ve made all the decisions for them - you put them in the crib and you take them out.  With a floor bed, they are empowered.  A double edge sword, you might say.  Nonetheless, a floor bed allows your child to begin to understand their power.

We put a single futon on the floor and placed it in the corner of the room, up against 2 walls.  I contemplated getting a floor bed frame but decided a futon on the floor would suffice.  Yes, it’s a little college for an infant.  But, for us, the frame wasn’t necessary to the principle or the design.  I must say it has far exceeded my expectations and my daughter loves loves loves it!  She sleeps soundly, hasn’t rolled off on to the floor yet (except when she intends to) and can entertain herself in the mornings quite well.  I should mention here that we close her bedroom door because her room is on the 2nd floor and ours in on the first so I can’t have her roaming about the house on her own…one reason why I cherry pick what principles we follow and what we don’t.  That said, the entire room is baby proofed.  You could, I guess, call the whole room her crib but that is getting way too technical for this mom and there are way more qualified Montessori gurus out there.  I offer this just as a real world implementation of the Montessori floor bed. Our family couldn’t be happier with this sleep solution.

UPDATE: Just to bend your ear about safe sleep, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association has a great resource on crib (and other sleep solutions) safety.

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20 Responses to “Montessori floor bed in action”

  1. Teresa

    31. Jan, 2009

    I really appreciate your posts about sleeping Montessori-style. I’m not a parent, but instead an infant teacher working in a classroom where we have been napping the children on mattresses on the floor. Though we’re not a Montessori school, we do believe that children should have the freedom to move about and make decisions about sleep and their own bodies. It’s definitely been a challenge, especially as they get older and want to get off their beds and crawl around the naproom! (The six children are between nine and eleven months old now.) I happened upon your site because I was looking for people who had tried floor sleeping with the children and what their experiences were, so we could perhaps get some insight into helping these little ones sleep!

  2. ktpix

    11. Feb, 2009

    Thanks! It’s true that the little ones do love to explore and sometimes nap time gets in the way of that. But, I’m so glad to hear you are trying out the floor bed idea, even if you’re not a Montessori school. Since I’m a Montessori cherry picker myself I love to hear how other people incorporate her principles in to their own routines. While I don’t really have any advice on how to keep your kids on their beds during nap time, maybe playing some soft music to relax them a bit may help. And, if all else fails, try running them a bit before nap time…sometimes that is what I do with my daughter and when her head hits that bed she’s OUT!

  3. marie

    13. Oct, 2009

    I will have a newborn in about 4 weeks. Where do I find information on how to sleep a new baby if you do not use a crib. All my friends think I am crazy for not wanting a crib…..

  4. admin

    13. Oct, 2009

    Don’t let any one else’s expectations get in your way! If you want to forego the crib, then do it. There is tons of information out there on alternative sleeping arrangements - I would start with investigating co-sleeping. Families the world over have co-slept and it wasn’t until relatively recently (think last 200 years or so) that we have begun to move our babies out of the family bed and in to their own rooms. Many many cultures still sleep together for years!

    I would start with BabyCenter - they have good information on safety precautions as well as the pros and cons of co-sleeping, or as they call it, “the family bed.” There is always wikipedia, too.

    As for my personal experience, we opted to use a “co-sleeper” so that we could keep our baby in our room and right next to me for as long as possible. The one we chose is called a BabyBunk and it worked absolutely great. In fact, we’re having our second child soon and I’m looking forward to using it again. Our co-sleeper basically allows the baby to sleep next to me but within her own defined space. This is a great situation for nighttime breastfeeding, soothing, and general staring in disbelief that there is a tiny human breathing right next to you. Believe me, you WILL check to see that your baby is still breathing during the night until you get used to the fact that he or she is actually living outside of you. Doing this without having to physically get up and out of bed is a blessing. And amazingly you will learn to do this all in the dark!

    There are some co-sleepers that fit inside your bed (in between you and your partner) as well as other bassinets that can be placed near your bed. So, you will have many options to choose from. I wrote a little review of co-sleeper choices out there - well, at least a handful of them.

    You should also know that we went straight from the co-sleeper to the floor bed, with a few nights in a pack and play just to get our daughter used to her new room and me used to not having her right next to me. To be honest, I think the pack and play was more for me because I couldn’t stop my brain from thinking about all of the bad things that could happen simply because I couldn’t see her all night long. She and I adjusted beautifully and she was sleeping soundly in her floor bed within days of the “big move.”

    Actually, she is still using her floor bed at 2 years. I think a big girl bed is right around the corner as she’s expressing an interest in being tucked in to sheets and a blanket just like Mommy and Daddy have. But that said, I’m a huge fan of both the co-sleeper and the floor bed and am so happy we decided against a traditional crib.

    Don’t let peer pressure steer you away from what you really want. I, too, got a few choice comments when I told my friends and family what we were doing. Good luck!

  5. heather

    28. Feb, 2010

    my parents are concerned with the lack of airflow under the floorbed. have you experienced the baby getting too cold? i figure there are many ways around this potential problem. what is your experience?

  6. admin

    02. Mar, 2010

    Hi Heather,

    I have not really experienced that the baby gets cold on a floor bed. Of course, we live in the Bay Area so our temperature doesn’t get super cold. If you are in an especially cold climate this might be a concern, although I doubt the temperature difference is very large between being on a floor bed vs. being in a crib or regular bed. One easy way to test whether a floor bed will work for you is to simply take out the crib mattress and place it on the ground. Lay your baby down on it for a night and see what happens. If she wakes up a lot and seems to be too cold, then either you’ll have to raise her up a bit or turn up the thermostat at night. Good luck!

  7. Ali

    12. Apr, 2010

    We are trying out the child bed and love it for many reasons, ease of cuddling, comfort and safety for the baby, the pretty space it creates for rest and play - However baby is hitting the 6.5 I can move now mom mark, and its hard getting him to stay in bed. Wish I had other floor bed moms to talk to about it! It makes me wonder if I’m nuts sometimes, but then, getting a crib sounds terrible now at this point.

  8. admin

    14. Apr, 2010

    Hey hey - so good to hear from another floor bed mom! I’d say stick it out through this moving period. We have definitely had our moments where we thought “are we crazy?” Our daughter has, on occasion, slept directly on the floor and will, when she wants to, get up out of bed. When she was crawling, she would crawl over to her bookshelf (that was attached to the studs in the wall behind it) and rifle through the books and toys. I used to think that was bad for her and wanted her to stay in her bed. But, I talked myself in to letting her play in her room even when I thought she should be sleeping. This all coincided with our sleep training, so we had a whole routine worked out for going in to her room if we needed to. I’m rambling a bit here, but my point is this…giving her a little freedom with the floor bed has done wonders for her ability to entertain herself and ability to put herself to sleep. Yes, she’s opted to play over sleep on occasion, but what kid doesn’t now and then. We simply stuck to our schedule for her and things have worked out great. Now that she’s 2.5 years old and still in a floor bed, she plays by herself in the morning before we wake up which gives us a little more sleep. Even though I’ve felt out there sometimes with our floor bed, I think it was the absolute right decision for our family. Our daughter loves loves loves her bed! And, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Let me know if you ever need any more advice/encouragement with a floor bed. At this point, I can’t imagine having a crib.

  9. Ali

    03. May, 2010

    I need more advice/encouragement. :-)
    I love the floor bed but need a floor bed mom buddy advice. Now that he is moving, if we miss his window of sleep and he is overtired, I cannot get him to settle down, stay in bed and fall asleep. Last night we had a battle - he could not settle down and was crawling out of bed, even when I was in it with him, no boob was good enough, and finally he was crying in both of our arms - until he finally collapsed, exhausted, on top of me, and i did the same under him.
    If I had a crib, I guess I would have let him cry it out for 5-10 minutes, and he would have fallen asleep on his own, hopefully, but then again, maybe i wouldn’t have.
    I guess I’m looking for advice on how to get a fussy sleeper down without trapping him in a cage. You must have some experience with this - eh?
    Again so happy to have found a montessori floor bed family that has blazed this path. I’ll email you when I post more pics of our set-up. Not as pretty as your posts on designing kids rooms but decent :-)

  10. admin

    03. May, 2010

    Sounds like you’re going through a tough patch. All I can say is we’ve been there, too, and made it. Our little girl is now 2.5 and still sleeps on her floor bed.

    When she was learning to crawl, we would find her on all fours rocking back in forth in her sleep. It was as if her brain just wouldn’t shut off. This, of course, would wake her up and she would start crying and then get all kinda riled up. We eventually turned to Dr. Ferber’s methods - which I’ll can get in to if you’d like.

    But first, let me just say that the grass is always greener. Luckily, at the times when our daughter was having troubles learning to sleep, our friends with kids the exact same age were experiencing the same problems and they ALL had cribs. I used to think if we only had a crib then all would be peaceful, she’d learn to sleep easy peasy and we’d all be soundly snoring away. The truth of the matter is sleep issues happen to all parents eventually. Even with the best of sleepers, something happens to cause them to not sleep at some point. I’m just saying, it may not be the floor bed. Then again, it may (I know, I’m no help!)

    What the floor bed does is allow you and your little one to lay down together, right? I mean, that’d be a tight fit in a crib :) Or, I bet you’d have fallen asleep in the rocker instead - even more uncomfortable. So, at least there is a comfy place for you to rest your head.

    Back to the sleep issues…I’d look in to some sleep training exercises, especially if you’re coming to your wits end. Dr. Ferber and his “cry it out method worked for us (it’s not as arcane as it sounds) but maybe there is another method out there that best suits your family. We basically continued to go in to our daughter’s room at timed intervals, placed her back in her bed, and calmed her down (within reason, we did not actually get her back to sleep - she had to learn to do that on her own). Then we left. And, stayed by the door biting our nails waiting to go in and soothe her again. Trust me, find a sleep solution and stick to the plan! But, that’s another topic…

    The floor bed and it’s freedom seems like a lot when you’re experiencing this type of commotion before sleep. But, I have a feeling that a crib would only serve to satisfy you that your baby isn’t getting in to anything “unsafe” while they are awake. I honestly don’t believe that a crib helps this process in the least. But, that’s just my opinion - I could be totally wrong, especially since we’ve never owned one. Good luck!

  11. Ali

    08. May, 2010

    Thanks for the encouragement. You are right that it wouldn’t be much different with a crib, except that he might be terrified by being trapped. I think I’ll check out Dr. Ferber. Rome does do the thing where he flips over and rocks and just naturally wakes up and starts moving out of his bed, towards our room, so we just have to get through it.

    Training him to fall asleep by himself now would be clutch.

  12. Shikakai

    10. Jul, 2010

    Hi,

    I’ve read all of your posts with great interest. I’m considering moving my 6.5 month old baby to a floor mattress but don’t feel that I can just leave her in the room to crawl about. I’m tight on space since I live in a typically small New York apt and it just wouldn’t be realistic for me to baby proof the room in a way where I would have to remove everything else to make it safe for her. Have any of you used a baby gate or some other security feature that wraps around the mattress to prevent the baby from crawling all about the room?

  13. me

    13. Jul, 2010

    I can completely understand where you are coming from. Right now I’m struggling with the same thing for my second baby. Our new baby’s room (while not small) has a baseboard heater that I cannot baby-proof. Because of that, I can’t in good conscience put her in the room on the floor. Safety first.

    Here’s my thinking about your baby gate question…the floor bed is a way to help teach decision making skills and instill independence. Using a baby gate either close to the mattress or a considered distance away from the mattress on the floor pretty much negates both of those reasons to do a floor bed. As for safety, a baby gate that fits close to the mattress may actually trap the baby between the mattress and the gate, being EXTREMELY dangerous. And babies are notoriously wiggly, aren’t they? - especially when they are just learning to use their body. I, personally, wouldn’t trust that type of set up. Suffocation can happen so so quickly - best to be safe. And it’s challenging to get a baby gate to be stable if it is configured in a circle around a bed. Now, you can try to affix it in a corner, but really, you’re just making a big crib, one that is completely against all safety regulations. So, as much as I want to encourage you to find a way to use a floor bed because I’ve loved being able to use one in our home, for your situation I’d recommend a crib. You’re in good company, though…sadly we’ll have to use a crib as well. There is just no way around the hazards of the baby’s room in our house. Good luck and let me know what you decide!

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