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May 31, 2019

Does my toddler need a Montessori floor bed?

When I was first learning about Montessori, one of the first concepts I discovered was the "floor bed." At the time, I had my one year old sleeping in a crib and I didn't dare make the switch and mess up his sleep habits. (Silly me!) It took me awhile to get enough information about the floor bed, why it is important, and why it was worth it. By the time, I did, I had a two year old. I think many people end up in a similar situation, and wonder at this point if they should move their toddler into a floor bed. 

Thoughts on why your toddler may need a Montessori floor bed to promote freedom of movement and independence.

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Gus uses the Sprout Kids Floor bed which can be raised as a child ages. 

I think the answer is, maybe. First, let's be clear that Montessori advocated for a floor bed for little babies. This is clear. Floor beds are meant for infants. If you have a baby, a floor bed is wonderful. (Read more about why I love floor beds for babies here.) Let's see what Montessori, and some of the Montessorians that have continued her work have said on the subject of floor beds: 

"One of the most fortunate little children I know is my godson Felicino. Before he could walk, when he was only ten months old, he was given his own room, where he was free to engage in his own activities. Perhaps you will be surprised when I tell you what the room contained: in the center of the floor was a carpet, in one corner was Felicino's bed -- not a cot with high railings to keep him shut in a cage, but a low bed..." Maria Montessori, Maria Montessori Speaks to Parents 

"We must give the child an environment that he can utilize by himself...a small bed in which he can sleep at night under an attractive blanket he can fold and spread by himself. We must give him an environment in which he can live and play." Maria Montessori, The Child in the Family

"A child-bed prepares the baby to move about in her room just at the time that her brain is ready for more information to be absorbed through her senses. Thus she can provide for her own needs ad continue her learning. She is happy because her opportunities for learning match her abilities." Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen, Montessori from the Start 

"To assist in voluntary movement from birth, it is sufficient to provide a bed larger than the crib commonly used, and some interesting objects, that serve as a stimulus for movement...If the child is placed in a barred crib (or other forms of cribs that are even more restrictive), There is not much point in having the capacity for observation,  since it cannot be used or improved." Silvana Quattrocchi Montanaro, Understanding the Human Being 

"A mat on the floor, in a room that has been completely prepared for safety, allows a child to come and go, exercising all his developing abilities." Susan Mayclin Stephenson, The Joyful Child

Reading all of these quotes, a couple of things keep jumping out at me: freedom of movement, and the ability for the child work to his/her current potential (independence). These are two very important Montessori concepts that do not just fade away as a child reaches toddlerhood. In fact, I would argue those needs stay just as strong, if not stronger as a child ages. So looking at the ultimate purpose of a floor bed and applying it to toddlers -- toddler's, like infants, need a sleeping space that gives them freedom of movement and independence. 

Thoughts on why your toddler may need a Montessori floor bed to promote freedom of movement and independence.

So, does this mean a floor bed? Well, my answer is still maybe. For tiny toddlers, a floor bed allows them to get in and out of bed independently, and to have freedom of movement when they need it. If your toddler, is more adept at climbing or is taller, a regular bed might be just fine. Or maybe somewhere in between with a small toddler bed. 

The bottom line is that a bed for toddlers should promote independence and movement. How that looks and feels may be different in every home but these principles remain the same! 

Thoughts on why your toddler may need a Montessori floor bed to promote freedom of movement and independence.

Does your toddler use a floor bed? 

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Unknown said…
Thanks for the post! What about if we are concerned about our toddler rolling off the bed? Even if it's low to the ground, I'm just concerned it's going to disturb his sleep because he'll fall off and have to get back on. Will he adjust and grow out of this quickly? He just moves a lot currently.
Anonymous said…
My toddler doesn't even sleep on his bed most of the time. I had him in a crib until a few months ago because I hadn't really explored the Montessori ideas yet and I didn't want to mess with what was working. He's now 29m and I always put him to bed in his bed and he has to stay there until we finish singing our bedtime songs, but then he is free to move about the room. I have books in there for him to read and a mobile that plays music that he can listen to, but don't allow toys at night because he is the type that would stay up most of the night playing instead of sleeping. Sometimes he sleeps on the bed, but most nights he's asking to sleep on the floor before we finish singing. I just have a crib mattress on the floor for him since his room is small and there is a rocking chair at the end of it. I often find him curled up on his big pillow in that corner behind the bed where the chair is. Or sprawled on the floor. Or half on the bed half on the floor (either way, sometimes his feet are on the bed, sometimes his head is). Or once he was even under his dresser (it's an antique one that stands about 8in off the floor). Haven't had issues yet with it disrupting his sleep. He did wake up when he was under the dresser, but didn't get upset and just crawled out and fell back asleep quickly. When I asked him when he got up if he woke up under the dresser he laughed and said "Stuck!"
Anonymous said…
My daughter is 2.5 years old and like your toddler she moves a lot. The first night she fell on a few pillows but did not wake up. This was a week ago and each night she has been moving a little less. I still keep the pillows on the floor just in case.
Queenlily13 said…
We have a mattress on the floor for my son. He is 2 and 1/2 now but has been using this since he was 1 and we discovered Montessori. He loves it! When he was smaller, we put pillows around the bed to soften his fall, but he really didn't even fall. He wakes up before us often and plays in his room. He looks at books and rocks in his child-size rocking chair. It's all very sweet. I love watching him get off his bed. He walks to the edge then jumps into a sitting position where his feet are by the floor and just stand up. He taught himself that. When he was smaller, he crawled off but now he is so comfortable. It's full size mattress. That helps prevent falling off because plenty of space.
Whitney said…
I love the idea of a floor bed! I would love for my kids to listen to their bodies about when and how much sleep they need. I didn’t know much about Montessori when we had our first so she slept in a standard crib. I learned about Montessori about 4 months after we had our second who is now 16 months. I would love to have him in a floor bed, but he has to share a room with his older sister and at first his crib was a way to protect him from any danger she may create in the room after we put them in bed. We will soon move him to a toddler bed which is slightly raised from the ground. Any tips for room sharing with babies/toddlers and/or making the shift out of a crib?
Hakan said…
nice post. Thanks
Unknown said…
We just got our sprout bed as well and she loves it !!! She had a mattress on the floor when a baby so it was time for a change as she approaches 2. We keep it on the low side for now as this is great for her size and she likes to step on and down from it. When she is big enough we will flip it like Gus has.