All about our Montessori Floor Bed
One of the first things people ask us when we talk to them about Montessori, is: “Did your daughter use a floor bed?” or sometimes phrased, "Does she sleep on a mattress on the floor?" Our answer to this question is a resounding yes! In fact, we were using a floor bed for our daughter before we even started other types of Montessori learning. It could be said that her floor bed is what kicked off our Montessori Journey.
The top 3 questions we get concerning her floor bed are:
Were you concerned for her safety?
What age did you start?
Did you notice any benefits?
We are going to try to answer all 3 of these questions in as much detail as possible and provide as much insight into our reasoning and beliefs that guided our thoughts and actions.
Montessori Floor Bed Question #1
What age did you start?
Our floor bed journey started at 6 months of age. In fact, our daughter never had a crib. From 0-6 months she slept in a co-sleeper right next to our bed to make middle of the night feedings easier. Once she began sleeping through the night, at around 6 months of age, we moved her into her own space for that sweet 7 to 8 hour night-sleeping span.
Her sleeping space consisted of a twin mattress (not a child size version), a waterproof mattress cover and a fitted sheet. We cut pool noodles to fit around the edges of the mattress to act as a barrier and duct taped them to the mattress underneath the cover and fitted sheet. The noodles kept her from rolling off, and gave us some peace of mind.
Never having experienced crib-like boundaries, she has an insatiable desire to explore and learn. We definitely attribute this quality, at least in part, to having full reign of her own domain. She was never stopped from playing or learning, even during nap-time. Our routine was to tell her it is time to rest and leave her be. If she decided she wanted to play instead of rest that was fine as long as it was quiet. The thing to note is that her play time always wound up with her falling asleep on her own. She would eventually crawl into bed and pass out.
Another desirable quality we attribute to her early freedom is her ability to self-soothe. She has always had independence and was responsible and accountable for what she was doing in her own room. We believe this taught her how to reign in her emotions because Mommy and Daddy would rarely intervene if she was upset while in her own space. She would turn to books or blocks and play herself to sleep. That has continued into toddler-hood.
Montessori Floor Bed Question #2
Were you concerned for her safety?
No, here is why.
To this day where she is currently 3.5 years old, she still uses that same mattress and we only recently put it on a low bed frame at her request. We never saw a need for a crib as we wanted to encourage her to explore her environment and have her own little safe haven that didn’t have any barriers. But, in order for this to be safe for infants and toddlers, some precautions have to be taken. Here is a list of what we did, however, fit this into your mold and don’t rely on this info as the only things necessary.
Video Baby Monitor
This is number 1 for obvious and not so obvious reasons. Observe how your child interacts with their environment and begin to cater it to them. This is key to do without parental intervention. Watch what they grab and what they are attracted to. If it seems dangerous, intervene and make it safe.
Cover all the Outlets!
Kind of seems like a duh! thing, but this is probably one of the biggest precautions to take. If you need to plug in night lights or sound machines, consider super gluing the plug into the outlet or using an outlet behind something immovable. If it ever needs to be removed, a heat gun will break the bond.
Topple proof all of the furniture.
Secure all furniture, big and small to the walls. Even if it is not big enough to hurt your child, he/she may still use it to pull themselves up or climb on.
Remove all choking hazards
The last thing you want to have to do is intervene in your child choking on a toy because it looked tasty. Also, choking hazards that are commonly overlooked are ones that strangle - like blinds cords or any other type of rope/string.
Our daughter’s room was set up in a minimalistic way. A few baskets of books and quiet toys like puzzles with large puzzle pieces and a basket of stuffed animals were available to her to play with.
Montessori Floor Bed Question #3
What are the benefits?
I’ve already mentioned several of the benefits we saw day in and day out, but here is a list of them with descriptions on some I haven’t mentioned.
The ability for your child to learn and explore on their own creates a strong sense of independence for them. This independence directly translates into confidence in their ability and craving for knowledge.
Ability to sleep anywhere
This is a BIG plus and may be more the child than the sleeping arrangement, but our causation is that a floor bed teaches that sleep is not location dependent. There is merely a more comfortable place to lie than others.
Desire to learn
As briefly mentioned above, the lack of sleeping structure has forced our daughter to occupy herself independently. As the only options for occupying herself are learning toys and books, she has developed a huge desire to learn and not passively consume.
Ability to self-soothe
Little fear of the Unknown
When there are no “boundaries” there is no real unknown (to a child at least). Since there is no unknown, there is no fear of it. Our daughter takes on new things with voracity and we attribute this in part to her “unstructured” environment from a young age.
Ability to entertain herself
Ability to play by herself
She has never had trouble sleeping or separation anxiety
This is self-explanatory but is a definite benefit we attribute to her floor bed.
There is probably a myriad of other benefits that we cannot see. We cannot recommend our floor bed setup enough and encourage you to give it a try if you are considering it.
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