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April 11, 2018

Montessori Floor Beds and Young Toddlers

Floor beds are quintessential for Montessori babies! Maria Montessori talked about the importance of having a bed that allowed for an infant’s free movement many times, as did her predecessors in the Montessori 0-3 community. We know that it is important that a child can move freely into and out of bed as a very young child. Montessori was very clear about the need to use a low and accessible bed for young children. 
"We suggest that a typical child's bed should be done away with...the child instead should be given a low couch resting practically upon the floor, where he can lie down and get up as he wishes." Maria Montessori 
But what happens as your baby grows? And suddenly your baby isn’t so much of a baby anymore? What is the role of the floor bed with young toddlers? 

Before I go on, I wanted to make it clear that I am in NO way a sleep expert or anything. Sleep can be an intensely dividing issue and I'm here only to share our experience. Everyone will take different safety measures in their homes and should take their own comfort levels into consideration when making sleep decisions. This is simply what is working for us at this time.

Thoughts about using a Montessori floor bed with a young toddler.

With toddlers, the need for freedom of movement is still strong and essential to Montessori. A floor bed continues to give them that freedom. With a floor bed a toddler is able to decide when to get up or go to sleep, the toddler can actual lay down on his/her own, and get up as they need to! Just like for a baby, these can be powerful tools for a toddler. And, therefore, an independent sleeping area, is still essential for Montessori homes during the toddler years. 
"One of the greatest helps that could be given to the psychological development of a child would be to give him a bed suited tho his needs." Maria Montessori 
But, toddlers are also different from babies. They are more agile. They can climb up and down. They have more predicable sleep patterns and routines. So, a floor bed can evolve and change to meet the needs of a toddler. It doesn't literally have to be a bed on the floor, for example. It just needs to be independently accessible. So it could be that it's a toddler bed a bit off the floor, or an otherwise simple frame. Or it could still be a mattress on the floor. Whatever still makes the space accessible to your child! 

Thoughts about using a Montessori floor bed with a young toddler.

For us, we have stuck with the same mattress that Gus has used since he was a baby. The only real changes we have made at this point are adding a pillow and a couple blankets (these additions were made after he turned a year old). Otherwise, we keep it simple. If he was my first child I would probably have a cute quilt, but for now some random cozy baby blankets are doing the trick. 
"We must give the child an environment that he can utilize by himself...a small bed in which he can sleep at night under and attractive blanket he can fold and spread by himself." Maria Montessori
Gus is not a strong climber, so at this point we haven't put the bed on a frame, but as he gets more confident climbing, we likely will get a frame for his bed. But the most important thing for me is that he can get in and out of bed at will. 

Thoughts about using a Montessori floor bed with a young toddler.

It's a spot for him to cuddle up, to read, to lounge, to nap or sleep. It's a place for us to cuddle. It's a place for him to roll around with a sibling. Or a place to examine his sister's shoe! It's a spot created to meet his needs. That's the important part of a floor bed! And, that continues well past the time your child is an infant!

Does your toddler use a floor bed? 


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alison said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
alison said…
After my now 11 mo old outgrew his bassinet, he's used a floor bed. Ours is an Ikea frame with the legs cut off with a mattress. He loves being able to get into and out of bed on his own!

(Ugh, sorry. I wanted to edit my comment, not delete)
Unknown said…
I love this idea but I am a little nervous about starting it this late in the game. I have an 18month old who used to sleep soooo well but now is fighting sleep both at nap and bedtime. We try to follow montessori ideas in our home as much as possible. She puts on her own coat and shoes already and sits at her table to eat and drink. We use montessori work and I do lessons and such. We are going this weekend to an open house at our local montessori school for more ideas and hopefully enrollment info. All that to say, we use a crib currently and I wonder if her hatred of going to sleep right now has to do with its complete lack of independence. But the way things are going I fear if given that independence she will not sleep at all. Thoughts on transitioning to the floor bed after being in a crib this long?
golb said…
Our daughter (almost 1) uses a montessori bed for naps, but still co-sleeps (in a sidecar bed) at night. In both cases, she breastfeeds, and then I lie down next to her until she falls asleep. Do you do something similar with Gus, or do you really just leave him and he eventually goes and sleeps on his own whenever he feels like? I would love to give more independence (especially as she gets older,) at the same time I know how important getting enough sleep is for growing babies so am worried about balancing the two if I just leave her to sleep whenever she feels like... Thanks!!
Auumn said…
This is my concern as well! Our baby is becoming quite mobile and while we have a floor mattress with bolstered blankets to keep her contained somewhat, I'm wondering how this will go. Maybe it will surprise me and she will instinctively learn to follow her bodies rhythms and cues and sleep when she needs??