Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Update on the Montessori Floor Bed

On Sunday morning, Tate woke up, crawled to his shelf, pulled up, and began rummaging through a little wooden box with toys in it. It gave me the idea that now might be a good time to give an update about the Montessori floor bed since we've used it through two infants and are still using it with our toddler (is three the official end of toddlerhood?). 

Using a floor bed is similar to using a crib, except that the entire room becomes a crib. For both Henry and Tate, we used a crib mattress (a three-inch one from IKEA) and placed it in the middle of the floor on a soft rug for bedtime and naps. In Henry's first room, we moved it back to the corner every day; in Tate's room we simply leave it in the middle of the rug all the time. 

The Montessori books recommend placing the floor mattress in the corner because infants like the feeling of being more closed in, but it's always felt safer to us to not have it against the wall. 

The first reason I love the Montessori floor bed is the cost. It's much cheaper to buy a crib mattress than an entire crib. But more than the cost factor, I love what it communicates to even the youngest baby. It communicates that they have the freedom to explore their surroundings on their own terms. It also gives them an uninterrupted view of the room, as opposed to seeing it through slats. 

I also love that we never had to go through any huge transition to a "big boy bed." We did upgrade to a regular twin-sized mattress, but we didn't have to put up any bars to prevent Henry from rolling off. And now when we sleep in hotels, he can easily sleep on regular-sized beds when he needs to. 

I completely understand why people don't go this route (and I even know trained Montessorians who choose to go the crib route), but I just wanted to share my perspective about how well it's worked for both boys. It's definitely not a mainstream choice, but it has felt like the right one for our family.

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Anonymous said...

Do you do anything to keep him in his room, or does he have run (crawl) of the house at night? I love the idea of a floor bed, but my wife doesn't like the idea of the baby being so close to the ground for weird reasons I can't seem to understand no matter how often she explains them.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, tomakefire! We shut his door at night. The rest of the house is not as safe as his crib is. A baby gate could also work. This morning, I found Tate standing at his window sill looking out at the street. So beautiful!

Erika said...

Thank you for posting this update. I would like to have a floor bed for our 6 month old (She's still in a co-sleeper in our room/next to our bed). We're working on her nursery this weekend.
I see some sort of blanket around Tate. Do you use a normal blanket for nap and bed-time?
If he was standing at his window - do you bother with black-out curtains/shades? I know every baby is different - Our little girl has been a huge challenge with her sleep.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Erika! Because we've been doing Montessori since birth, Tate developed his movement muscles really early on and we felt safe using a regular blanket on his floor bed since he could crawl right out of it. We don't bother with light-blocking shades right now (I never got around to making the magnetic ones for his room!). He's always been on a regular schedule for naps (but to make that work I had to wear him in the Moby for the first four months of his life!), so he goes down pretty easily and pretty much stays asleep.

Maureen said...

This worked wonderfully for our daughter who is now 2.5. When we had her brother, she moved to a twin mattress on the floor, and her baby brother is on the thinner floor bed. We went with a natural latex RV sofa mattress from Plushbeds. We have a video monitor pointed right on the bed, and like Sara said, the room is as safe as a crib would be. Although at 4 months, he's not going anywhere yet!

Audrey said...

I love this - although I used a crib with our first, he moved into a normal twin bed at 18 months. I just put his crib mattress beside the bed in case he rolled off. Often he decided to sleep on it instead of the bed! With our next bub due this year, I think I will use a crib to start with then move onto a floor bed/normal bed sooner - we had problems with Teddy's sleep once he was able to stand and I'm hoping giving more freedom of movement avoids that! Thanks for the post :)

Allison El Koubi said...

Thanks to you, Sara, we have loved using the "child-bed" with our son! I had intended on him staying in our room in a bassinette until he was 3-4 months old; however, at 2 weeks, he seemed to sleep better on the crib mattress in his room and so we made the transition a lot earlier than expected. It was tougher on me to have to cross the house for night-time feedings, but his facility with sleeping was worth it. He moved into a toddler-sized bed when he was 14 months. It has a partial guard, but he can easily climb in and out of it on his own.

Recently, we have had to put up a gate at his door since he can open his door by himself (even with the child-proof knob on it!) and was coming out multiple times when we tried to put him down for a nap or at night. It's hard to hear him rattle on the bars - I feel like he's a caged! But after a couple days, at nap time he would cry for a few mins, then just lay down by the gate and fall asleep. Then I would move him to his bed for the rest of his nap. And after the first night with the gate when it took a couple times to put him back in bed, we haven't had any issues.

We are definitely going to use the childbed again with our second child, due in June. I am wondering when I can let them sleep together in the same room. They will be 22 months apart. I am planning on using our guest room for the baby for the 1st year, then maybe when s/he is 1 and our first is 3, we can get bunkbeds? Or just have a pair of toddler beds in the same room?

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Allison!

I'm eager for Tate and Henry to share a room, too. The plan is to put them together as soon as Tate is sleeping through the night.

Elsa said...

I really love the idea of a floor bed. I tried it with my son but it didn't work as he was so used to co-sleeping with us and just craved our presence. When did Tate start sleeping on it?

Kelly said...

I'm just about to go to Ikea next week to buy two thin crib mattresses for my coming-soon twins! I'm curious if you've had trouble with mattress pads and sheets fitting the thin mattresses. I'd planned to get organic mattress pads (since the ikea mattresses are plastic) but wonder if there will be too much bunchy fabric.

Thanks for posting the update!

Sara E. Cotner said...

I'm so excited for you, Kelly!

I haven't had any problem. If it's not tight enough for you, maybe you could get some of those clips that pull the sides of the sheet together underneath the mattress?

Julie said...

My daughter is 15 months and I'm a single mom. I'm so excited about the toddler bed idea but I'm having some trouble figuring it out. For the first five months she co-slept with me (either in the arm's reach co-sleeper next to my bed or in bed with me in a Queen sized bed). At 6 months when she became too mobile in bed (rolled a lot, flopped for hours) I moved her to the co-sleeper (but as a pack n play). She has been sleeping there for about 10 months in my room next to my bed. I love sleeping in the same room with her and don't have a good other option for a child's bedroom until she's older. (The only other bedroom is the guest room/craft room/office which contains her stuff-- changing pad, clothes, etc. But her grandparents come frequently and wouldn't work to turn it into a toddler room). So I had this grand idea that I could combine the toddler bed idea with our room, bring her clothes into my room and make it "our" room with her own closet and drawers, etc. My room is actually the best babyproofed room and would work for that purpose. I have been googling and haven't found any good examples of this, and I already have some worries: when she wakes in the middle of the night I sometimes pull her into bed but she often can't go back to sleep with me. Sometimes I have to leave her and go in the other room. Is she not "ready" for this? Also, should i lower my bed so she can get in it? Should I wait until she understands sleep a little better? Will she wake in the night and play with her stuff and start waking me up? Ah! Sorry for the unending life details but I'm looking for some guidance. I'd love to give her more control over her environment and support her development in this way.

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