Pros and cons of utilizing a Montessori-Style floor bed

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The recent few years have witnessed a surge in the interest and acceptance of the Montessori method. With that, many parents and caregivers are now adopting Montessori-aligned parenting practices in their daily life. 

One such aspect that has created a lot of curiosity is the use of floor beds. And that’s exactly why we put together this quick guide that outlines all the questions you might have about them, the pros and cons of Montessori floor beds, and some ideas and suggestions to help you make your pick. Read on…

What is a Montessori Floor Bed?

A Montessori floor bed is nothing but a floor bed set up with the general principles of the Montessori method in mind. It allows your child to sleep on the floor while still being safe, as opposed to co-sleeping or sleeping in a crib. 

The bed usually does not have any railings and is close enough to the floor so that a baby can climb in and get out without any risks.  

This bed has several design elements to make it safe for an infant to use as a sleeping place. Most standard beds cannot be used until 2 years old, but Montessori floor beds are made with materials that are soft enough for younger children but still strong enough to keep them from rolling off or getting stuck under them. The floor bed usually features a wooden frame that is low to the ground and has a safety rail on one side to keep a young infant from rolling off.

It can also be covered with a firm mattress, which is much safer for infants than loose bedding. The bed allows your child to get his/her feet firmly planted on the ground when they are learning to stand, making it easier for them to walk when the time comes.

Why Use a Montessori Floor Bed?

There are many advantages to using Montessori guidelines in designing products used in everyday life. One common example is using Montessori-approved methods to potty train children instead of diapers.

Although the Montessori floor bed is not yet as common as other Montessori materials used in everyday life, this sleeping environment may be the next step in education, especially if parents begin to realize the many advantages over traditional beds.

Like with most other Montessori-powered approaches, the floor bed allows the child to explore and move around independently- something that cannot be done when the child is in a crib. 

Why Does Montessori Have Floor Beds?

The Montessori method highly encourages the use of floor beds. Why? Because it's what's best for the child. When a child is put to sleep in a crib, their ability to move freely is restricted, which is not the case when they are put in a floor bed. 

In a traditional crib, a baby naturally feels trapped and begins to cry out of fear when he realizes there is no way out. In doing so, he resists going to sleep until he is completely exhausted. This is because, in the current situation, the baby is restrained to a place where he can't see anything but four walls and feels helpless and becomes frightened by the lack of sensory input. This creates an environment that limits normal activity for healthy development during infancy. 

In contrast, floor beds provide a safe and healthy sleeping environment that nurtures the child rather than restricting and obstructing him.

When Can a Baby Sleep in a Floor Bed? 

If you’re wondering when a baby can start sleeping in a floor bed, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this one. You can start the transition as early as 6 months of age; however, the AAP does not recommend placing infants in bed until they are one year old. 

But if you have already started laying your baby down for naps or nighttime, there are safe ways to transition from being held for every nap. 

Remember that every family and every child is different, so there's no right answer about when it's time for your baby to transition out of being held or sleeping in your room. 

How to Make a Montessori Floor Bed?

Contrary to the popular belief, setting up a Montessori-style floor bed isn’t expensive. Instead of going ahead and purchasing one, look within your home and check if there’s a mattress that you can repurpose and set up as a floor bed for your child. You can even just get started by using your child’s crib's mattress and set it up on the ground. 

You’ll need to keep a few things in mind, however, before you go ahead and use what you already have. 

Are Montessori Floor Beds Safe?

One of the most pressing questions most parents tend to have when they’re trying to wrap their heads around the concept of using a Montessori-style bed is this- are floor beds safe for children who are still learning how to roll over, scoot, and crawl? Are floor beds safe for pre-walkers who can stand up but still lack balance?

While it might be scary to think of leaving your baby unattended, especially when you are asleep, remember that floor beds are generally safe. They are set up in a way that eliminates any potential hazards that could be within your baby’s reach. 

Children should be able to get out of their beds independently when they are ready without assistance from an adult because that helps develop confidence and independence. They will also be able to make movements that their body craves, and observe more of the space around them, which they won’t be able to do when they’re put in a crib or a bassinet. 

The child needs to know that he can leave her bedroom whenever she wants simply by getting up off her floor mattress or conventional bed. This practice also helps the child learn to soothe herself back to sleep if he wakes in the middle of the night without assistance from another person. 

If you’re worried that your child might roll over and fall out of bed, there’s a good chance that might happen. But, because the floor bed is so close to the ground, there’s almost no chance of your baby injuring themselves. Even if your child does fall out of the bed, it’ll be a learning experience for him, and he’ll be able to understand what happens when he gets too close to the edge of the bed. Eventually, this experience will help him learn how to get out of bed safely. 

Best Mattress for Montessori Floor Bed

Ready to set up your baby’s floor bed? You can start with just a mattress. Here are a few good options you can pick from if you don’t already have a mattress you can use. 

Newton Baby Crib Mattress and Toddler Bed

Completely washable and proven to cut down any possible risk of suffocation, thanks to its genius breathable design, this mattress has the potential to become the perfect Montessori floor bed for your baby or toddler. While it isn’t easy on your pocket, it will surely last you years. 

Plush Beds Latex Mattress

If you're looking for something that will last through the toddler years and beyond, consider getting a Plush Beds Organic Latex Mattress. I am a HUGE fan of latex as it's more supportive and better for the environment (and your health because there is no off-gassing) than memory foam.

Happsy Mattress

Happsy is the mattress we have for all our children. It's an incredibly comfortable latex mattress at a super affordable price point for what you get. It's legit the ONLY mattress in the house I could sleep on when I was pregnant, so I know it's amazing for hip and back support. It's also a bed in a box so super easy to ship and get set up in your space.

Remember that setting up just the mattress on the floor is great, but not recommended in the long run, since there is always a possibility of mildew of mold growing on the bottom of the mattress. You can set up rails underneath the mattress or opt for a Montessori floor bed. 

Should I Choose a Montessori Floor Bed with Rails?

While setting up a floor bed, you might be tempted to work on something aesthetically pleasing. 

If you’re setting up a mattress on the floor, you don’t need to add the railings, especially if your baby is over 6 months of age and can sit unsupported. 

You’ll find that many commercially available floor beds have a structure to them, with railings. You can opt for them too if that’s what you prefer.  

Here are a few good options for floor beds you can consider investing in if you want to stick to the Montessori style for the long run. 

The Montessori Bed (the original)

Crafted in natural wood and painted with eco-friendly water paints, this floor bed is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a Montessori-style bed for your baby. It is super easy to install, and you can use it for years! 

The Montessori Bed (house style)

This house-style bed is another good choice. And, of course, the house shape gives it a nice charm and character to your child’s bedroom. 

Both of these beds by The Montessori Bed are handcrafted and high quality.

What to Remember When Choosing a Floor Bed

Ready to set up a Montessori-style bed for your baby? Here are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind. 

  • The bed should have a low rise on the side where you sleep with a rail that runs across the length of the bed if you’re setting up the bed in the same room as you. 
  • If you’re installing railings, ensure that the gaps between the planks should be no larger than the width of your baby's shoulders. A small baby can slip or roll between gaps of more than 1″ or 2″, so keep that in mind. 
  • Make sure the bed is free from toys or pillows that could suffocate your child if he/she rolled into them.
  • Place the floor bed away from sharp items and place cords and wires out of reach. These items could pose a danger to curious little hands.
  • You will also need to consider accessibility. A Montessori floor bed should be somewhere your little one can easily reach when you are nearby. 

You’ll also need to ensure that the other furniture in the room is safe and doesn’t pose any risk to your baby. The furniture should ideally be heavy enough to not be moved by a baby and high enough so your baby can’t climb and fall. 

Another aspect you need to remember is that you’ll need to place a rug or a soft floor mat around the mattress or the floor bed. This will ensure that your baby can land softly in case he rolls out of bed. 

When to Transition to a Floor Bed

There’s actually no set age when you should begin the transition to a floor bed- you begin as early as when your baby is 5 months of age to when your baby has started to sit and move around on his own, at around 10 months of age. 

While starting early is great and highly recommended, too, it comes with challenges you might need to keep in mind. 

  • Your child might struggle initially, especially if you have been making him sleep in a bassinet all this while. 
  • You might need to install rails around the mattress that you’ve set up to keep your child from falling out if you’re making the transition at an age when he’s not skilled at adjusting his position. 

A good idea to start with the transition is to make your baby take his daytime naps on the floor bed and then slowly and gradually move on to the floor bed completely. 

Pros and Cons of a Montessori Floor Bed

A Montessori floor bed offers a safe space e where your child can sleep, play and learn on the same level as the rest of the living space as opposed to a regular infant crib, which does not allow enough room for toddlers to crawl around and explore their new world. Before you go ahead and finalize a floor bed for your baby, you might want to quickly dive into the pros and cons of having it set up in your or your baby’s room. 

The Pros

  • Setting up a Montessori-style bed will help raise your child into an independent individual. Having the bed on the floor will strengthen your baby’s decision-making skills and offer him the freedom to explore and move around once he wakes up. 
  • The floor bed will also translate into peaceful mornings for the parent and the child since your child can get out of bed without assistance. Your child will also get the flexibility of setting their morning routine and can leave his bed without your permission- again, a plus! 
  • You’ll end up saving money. Cribs tend to be super expensive and last for up to 3 years. In contrast, a good-quality mattress will last you for years. 
  • You’ll also be able to enjoy more time off and won’t need to look over your child or entertain him constantly. 
  • Children who sleep in floor beds tend to learn self-soothing strategies quicker and can fall asleep on their own even when they wake up in the middle of the night. 

The Cons

  • You’ll need to spend some more time babyproofing the room in which you’re setting up the floor bed. You’ll need to think about every possible scenario which could potentially be dangerous to the baby. Remember that babies are unpredictable, so it makes sense to be extra cautious. 
  • Montessori beds are closer to the floor, so they have less air circulation. You’ll need to make sure that your baby is in a well-ventilated room. 
  • With floor beds, there’s also a higher risk of exposure to allergens. 

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