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Can A Baby Sleep In A Montessori Bed?

While you may not have known its name — or the deeply trendy and sometimes controversial philosophy behind it — you’ve seen a Montessori bed. One buzzword away from being a mattress on the floor, a Montessori bed is a low-to-the-ground toddler bed. 

For many parents, Montessori beds are an aesthetic choice whose benefits are limited to the fact that it looks good and provides some peace of mind since kids don’t have far to fall if they roll out of it. For others, the perceived benefits go well beyond pragmatism and matters of taste. 

Some families use Montessori beds from birth as part of a larger philosophy that promises to foster empathy and independence in children. In certain corners of the internet, parents compare cribs to jail cells and hail Montessori beds as an ethical alternative that honours a child’s bodily autonomy.

But beyond design sensibilities and purported ethics, there are safety concerns to consider. For babies under the age of 1, Montessori beds are a no go since they fall outside of the safe sleep practices outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics and are aimed at reducing the risk of SIDS. 

For older, more mobile toddlers, Montessori beds themselves don't pose any grave danger, but their lack of restriction, which allows kids to get out of bed and explore as they please, means parents need to be on high alert for other dangers in the room. 

After the age of 3, most kids can stay in bed until an adult comes to get them. There’s little difference between a Montessori bed and a traditional toddler bed. It comes back down to aesthetics and the degree to which you buy into the Montessori philosophy.

Montessori educator, director of the Fruitful Orchard Montessori school in Abuja, Nigeria, and co-author of the forthcoming book The Montessori Baby, used a Montessori bed with her three kids from birth. 

By giving children the freedom to get in and out of bed independently, Uzodike says Montessori beds help children identify when they’re tired and choose when to go to sleep, prioritising the child’s needs over the adult’s convenience. 

She credits the Montessori bed with her kids’ advanced gross motor skills and independent sleeping. She says that all of her children could get in and out of bed by around four months old, so when they woke up in the middle of the night, instead of crying until she came and got them, they could play with toys or crawl to her room if they needed her.

Plenty of parents in the Montessori camp agree with her, promoting the Montessori bed as an ethical alternative to a crib that promotes independence and confidence by giving kids the freedom to determine when they sleep.

With a crib, you’re not helping them to be able to fall asleep. You’re just putting them in a lock where they’re falling asleep because they don’t have a choice.

The Montessori method emphasises helping a child identify when they’re tired, for example, by pointing out when they yawn and suggesting that they might be ready for bed. 

It also means recognising when the child isn’t tired and not forcing it. Of course, this philosophy can be applied no matter where a kid sleeps. The difference is it’s safer to leave a child who’s awake in a crib than a bed they can get out of.

The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics have specific sleep guidelines developed from decades of research on reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Suffocation, which takes the lives of 3,500 U.S. children each year. 

They urge parents to put babies to sleep in the same room as themselves and on firm mattresses fitted to a crib, so there are no gaps between mattress and crib and no pillows or blankets. Since the Montessori bed falls outside of those guidelines, it’s just not worth the risk. 

So if parents opt for a bed that their toddler can get out of, You want to kind of make it so that the whole room is a big crib. That means making sure there’s nothing they could pull down on themselves, like a dresser, and no loose cords or open electrical outlets. 

You also have to consider what other rooms they can get into and whether they can access stairs. Schneider says many parents she works with aren’t comfortable locking kids in their room, so they may want to consider a baby gate or a monitor. One benefit of Montessori beds that both Uzodike and Schneider agree on is that the danger of falling out of bed is mitigated when it’s low to the ground. 

Then there’s whether affording kids all this freedom does them any good. The idea that young kids are better off determining for themselves when they need to go to bed doesn’t exactly line up with mainstream theories of child development. 

Babies, toddlers especially, even school-aged kids thrive off routine and consistency. 

Sleep Tips For Implementing A Montessori Bedroom For Your Baby Or Toddler

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The Montessori method focuses on education, and many of the principles can be applied to any setting where your child spends time, including the nursery or their bedroom. 

With a Montessori nursery, you support the principle of encouraging your child’s independence by putting everything within their reach and at their level. This includes all of the furniture, their clothing, their toys, books, and play areas.

While most traditional nurseries include a crib when a baby or toddler is young, the Montessori nursery means placing a bed on the floor. Placing the bed on the floor supports several Montessori principles: freedom of movement, promoting independence, child empowerment, and some feel that a floor bed is a more respectful choice for the child than a crib. 

But a floor bed also means that the mobile child will be able to get in and out of bed whenever they want. And this can have an impact on your child’s ability to get to sleep, stay asleep, and stay in bed during sleep periods.

For those interested in implementing a Montessori bedroom for your baby or toddler, here are five tips for helping ensure that sleep isn’t negatively impacted.

  • Whether or not a floor bed will work for your baby or toddler has a lot to do with your child’s unique sleep history. If your baby frequently wakes at night or struggles with naps, it might be best to address any sleep issues before moving to a floor bed.
  • Your baby or toddler’s personality and temperament will play a role in how easily they adapt to a Montessori floor bed. If your child has a highly energetic or persistent personality, you may experience some issues with your child being able to settle into bed during sleep time. They may need reinforcement and gentle re-direction back to bed if they get up multiple times. Or, you may find they get out of bed to play when they should be sleeping. For some children, this may be a good way for them to wind down, and they may go to sleep once they are sleepy. For other children, it could keep them from getting enough sleep.
  • Babies and toddlers may not be developmentally ready to understand boundaries like staying in bed. Or, they may understand it but lack the impulse control to abide by the rules. You know your child best and try to keep in mind how developmentally able they are to understand a concept like “stay in bed” or “time to sleep.” If you feel like they might struggle with this too much, you might want to wait to implement a floor bed until they show a little more maturity.
  • If your baby or toddler is constantly getting out of bed and not getting enough sleep, you may want to consider switching back to a crib until they are older. We generally recommend switching from a crib to a bed between two and four years. Sleep and good sleep habits are essential to your child’s overall development, so waiting to use a floor bed might be the best option if their sleep is being affected.
  • If you would rather not switch back to a crib and you want to stick with the floor bed, then we advise you to be patient with your child as they get used to the new bedroom. Sleep coaching may be tougher and take a little longer, but it can be done. Consistency will be key in helping your child understand the expectations for sleep.

We hope you find these sleep tips helpful if you move to a Montessori-inspired nursery or bedroom for your child. Each child and family are unique, and we are very much in favour of families finding what works best for them and their children. 

If you have moved to a floor bed and are struggling with your child’s sleep, we can help and offer a wide variety of baby and toddler sleep resources. 

Montessori Toddler Beds

The benefits of a Montessori bed range from the intuitive (kids won’t fall as far if they roll out) to the unfounded (kids will be more confident if they’re given the freedom to explore their room). 

But if your kid is over the age of 3 and can stay in their bed until an adult comes to get them (or their room is completely childproofed), there’s no harm in using a Montessori bed. Here are four great Montessori floor beds to consider for your toddler.

Baby Nursery FAQs

The most widely discussed Montessori sleep arrangement is the floor bed, a crib- or toddler-sized mattress placed directly on the ground or upon a low bed frame. The idea behind this is that children can independently access (or exit) their beds at any time, requiring that the bedroom be fully child-safe.

The inventor of the method, Dr Maria Montessori, believed that children thrive when given the freedom to move and learn independently. So, generally speaking, a Montessori bed is a mattress without restrictive railings around it, close enough to the floor so that the child can get in and out of it by himself.

This, now, is their new routine, and they appreciate no deviation from it, just like with their old routine. This is sleep training in a nutshell, and it is the route many Montessori parents choose, as co-sleeping is not always desired by the parents and child, and many parents' work situations don't allow for it.

The Montessori bedroom is typically neutral in colour, painted white or muted, natural tones. These hues promote a sense of calm, allowing animated objects like toys, photographs, and artwork to draw the baby's attention. Lighting should be soft and warm, with minimal glare.

Maria Montessori favoured “real” toys made of natural materials like wood because they're healthy, safe, and inspiring for children. They're also beautiful and durable; some of the earliest toys ever discovered were made of wood.

Camden House Bed by Pottery Barn Kids

This classic house-shaped Montessori bed provides a whimsical frame for a twin or full-sized mattress. While it looks more polished than having a mattress sitting on the floor, the difference is only in the aesthetics. It provides the same elevation, allowing young kids to get in and out independently.

Poppy House Twin Bed

This iteration of the Montessori house bed sits a few inches off the ground, so it functions more like a traditional toddler bed while still enabling young kids to get in and out of bed easily. But perhaps its best feature is the built-in book rack at the foot of the bed, making bedtime stories always within reach.

Sweedi Twin Bed by South Shore

This twin bed provides that classic Montessori look in a more minimalistic way, with a headboard-like-frame shaped like a house. It sits slightly higher than a floor bed, at 3 1/4 inches off the ground, allowing kids to move in and out safely.

Toddler Bed by Home for Dreams

This paired back Montessori bed is enclosed by a railing with a gate that lets kids get in and out of bed while preventing them from rolling out of it in their sleep. For kids who are especially active in their sleep, this is a great option.

Pros and cons of utilising a Montessori-Style floor bed

A Montessori floor bed offers a safe space where your child can sleep, play and learn that is on the same level as the rest of the living space as opposed to a regular infant crib does not allow enough room for toddlers to crawl around and explore their new world. 

Before you go ahead and finalise a floor bed for your baby, you might want to take a quick dive into the pros and cons of having it set up in your room 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 both the parent and the child since your child can get out of bed without your 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 night. 

The Cons

  • You’ll need to spend more time babyproofing the room you’re setting up the floor bed in. 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 room that’s well ventilated. 
  • With floor beds, there’s also a higher risk of exposure to allergens. 

What to Remember When Choosing a Floor Bed

can a baby sleep in a montessori 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 with 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 any toys or pillows that could suffocate your child if 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 that your little one can easily get to 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 for your baby. The furniture should ideally be heavy enough not to be moved by a baby and high enough so your baby can’t climb and fall. 

Another aspect you need to keep in mind 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 if he rolls out of bed. 

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