As Montessori is all about giving as much independence to your child, an accessible bed…
What are the pros and cons of adopting a Montessori Floor bed?
Most parents interested in Montessori will consider having a Montessori floor bed as essential.
A floor bed is not as fancy as you may think. It is basically a bed at floor level. Whether a simple mattress on the floor or a house shape bed, the idea is to allow your child to be able to climb on their bed independently and also to be able to leave their bed when they are done sleeping. The absence of railing will also allow them to have a clear view of their surrounding.
For many who have "sleep issues" with their babies and toddlers, there is the hope that transitioning to a floor bed will be the solution to sleepless nights.
So, is it the case?
Let's explore what are the pros and cons of the Montessori floor bed.
There will be fewer transitions. As you could adopt a floor bed from around 4 months old, then it means that your child should have only one bed util they can use or want a proper child's bed. That was the main point for us. For my second child, we didn't buy an expensive cot, we use a good single size mattress, my child was used to their own bedroom nearly from the start (after 3 months in the Moses basket in my bedroom, we put the Moses basket for a week in their bedroom on the floor bed, the floor bed was already used for some supervised naps before that).
Another pro is the idea that your child will not cry for you to pick them up if they can explore freely their surroundings. Of course, they will still cry if they need a feed, if they have a soiled nappy, are unwell or needs reassurance. But when they are bored in their bed, they might find something to do instead of calling you. As they grow, they might start to play on their own. It means obviously that the whole bedroom must be totally safe.
From bed-sharing to independent sleep on a floor bed: it was also a big win for our family! Another big pro was the ease to comfort them at night. I remember how hard it was to try various things while my daughter was in a cot, she was constantly startled when we tried to transfer her. With my son, we were already on the mattress while giving cuddles instead of nursing, and each transition (from nursing to sleep to only reading a story) was easier.
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By the way, it seems that Maria Montessori daughter in law had her own bed in one corner of her son's bedroom, helping Maria Montessori grandson to fall or stay asleep.
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Cons: the floor bed gives your child the freedom of movement. If they are free to leave their bed, they are free to decide when they are done sleeping. They are also free to join you in your bedroom. For me it was a pros as well as I was happy for them to bedshare. They would sleep in their bedroom for a few hours then came back to my bed. Most of the time, I wouldn't wake up and found them next to me in the morning. I felt that we would all sleep more. Having said that, it can be an extra difficulty for many families. You might consider making your child's bedroom a giant cot by adding a safety gate at the door but there is a risk that your child calls you in the middle of the night and that would lead to more broken nights. Another solution is to have a small mattress in your bedroom (in addition to their own room) and some children will be happy to join you at night and sleep on that mattress instead of in your bed, allowing you a restful night.
Another inconvenience: you have to make their bedroom 100% secure! No small items and shocking hazards, make sure the furniture are strapped to the walls, check the plugs and strings. Can they read the windows? What about if they wander on the landing? Make sure you don't neglect the basic safety while setting up a floor bed.
The bottom line: Having a Montessori floor bed doesn't mean that your child will not want your help to fall back asleep, will not want to nurse, or will not want your presence.
You have to look at the big picture when it comes to sleep: Are you expectations about your child's sleep realistic? What does your child need? Do you have a calm and enjoyable sleep routine? How can you respond with calm and empathy to your child during the night?
The Montessori Floor bed is not the solution to all your sleep issues but might help you to help your child to feel safe and to sleep longer.
More questions about sleep? Check my post about misconceptions around sleep and Montessori, this post about where to find a floor bed in the UK.
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