Montessori Floor Beds vs Cribs

It goes without saying that most parents choose a crib for their baby once they’ve finished co-sleeping with their infant, or using a bassinet/moses basket. However, there are other options if you don’t want your baby to sleep in a crib. You might want to consider a Montessori floor bed. While putting your baby on a floor mattress might seem a bit strange for many parents, there are some advantages with this approach. In this article, let’s look at the pros and cons of using a Montessori floor bed, as well as how it compares to using a crib.

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So what’s the difference between a crib and a Montessori floor bed? A crib is a bed for a young child, usually rectangular in shape with high sides to stop a baby or toddler climbing out. Most cribs have a wooden frame with slatted sides and your baby sleeps on a crib mattress. Despite the name, a Montessori floor bed is actually just a bed or mattress which goes on the floor. It usually comes with a very simple frame.

What is a Montessori floor bed?

A Montessori floor bed is just a bed which lies on the floor. It can just be a mattress or you can use an old bed frame by removing the legs. The Montessori method is all about promoting independence in children, learning through play and offering choice. While this is an educational philosophy used in Montessori schools and pre-schools, some parents can take this concept and apply it at home.

Why are floor beds on the ground?

A floor bed really reflects the principals of Montessori as it allows children to go in and out of their bed when they choose, promoting their sense of independence and allowing them to play on the mattress as well.

Is a floor bed good for a baby?

As well as encouraging a baby’s independence, using a floor bed can develop an infant’s gross motor skills and creativity as they have more possibility to move around freely and play independently.     

What age can your baby use a floor bed?

Surprisingly your baby can use a Montessori floor bed from an early age, usually around the 6 month mark, once they’ve outgrown their bassinet in the parents’ room and they’re ready for their own space. However, some children may start using one later, around 2-3 years of age.

How to use a floor bed safely?

Using an actual floor bed is quite safe. However, you need to really ensure your baby’s room is safe and secure as they will be able to get in and out of their bed whenever they want. Here are some good tips to follow (all of which are sensible without a floor bed, but a wandering baby in your home can be dangerous, especially if you are asleep yourself!)

  • Make sure there are no choking hazards (small toys and other objects) left on the floor in your baby’s room or in places where they can reach.
  • Cover electrical sockets.
  • Place the floor bed away from any wall and other items of furniture, so your baby won’t get trapped if they roll over when they’re asleep or playing on the mattress.

Pros and cons of floor beds

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using a Montessori floor bed compared to using a crib.

Pros

  • Cost. A floor bed is basically just a mattress with a very simple frame. This is cheaper than a crib which has consists of more material.
  • Easy to assemble. Not only are floor beds cheaper than cribs, they are easy to put together as there are less parts to assemble.
  • Easier to keep children entertained. A Montessori floor bed allows children to play on it as well as sleep. This is a great way to develop a toddler’s creativity and independence.
  • Less transitions. If your child uses a floor bed, chances are they can use one for a number of years. This makes things easier as they won’t need to adjust to a new sleeping environment. i.e. moving from a bassinet, to a mini crib and then a larger crib/toddler bed.
  • Better gross motor skills. By getting in and out of bed by themselves, and playing on the mattress, your child will develop their gross motor skills faster due to all the different movements they’ll be doing.
  • Safer for climbing toddlers. Once a toddler starts trying to climb out of their crib, you know it’s time for them to move onto something else. You don’t have this problem with floor beds.

Cons

  • Safety around the home.  With more freedom for your child comes a greater safety risk. Although all parents should baby proof their home, the risks are higher with floor beds as babies and toddlers can wander off when you’re not watching them (for example, at night when you’re asleep). Ensure your house is safe for your child.
  • Allergens from the floor. A mattress on the floor exposes your child to bed bugs, dust mites, mold and other allergens which might be lurking in your carpet.
  • Exposure to cold and draughts. Being so close to the floor means your baby will feel the cold more, so ensure they have a good blanket and wear appropriate clothing.

Are floor beds good for adults?

There are some benefits to sleeping on a floor bed for adults too. It can help blood circulation and give you access to cooler air which can help if you tend to sweat a lot when you’re asleep. However, some of the disadvantages are similar to those facing babies and young children. You’ll be more exposed to bed bugs and other allergens from the floor. Also, there isn’t proper air flow under the mattress as it is straight on the floor. This can cause a build up of heat and sweat inside the mattress which can cause mold to appear.

Can your baby transition from a crib to a floor bed?

Although it is more common for babies to move from a bassinet straight to a floor bed, you may wish to use a crib first. This makes sense if you’re worried about your baby rolling over and falling off a floor bed, when they don’t have strong motor skills and muscles to pull themselves up. For some parents, a crib gives your little one a bit more security and safety. Just make sure you baby proof the room really well when you make the switch. If your child is a little older you can involve them in the process and mention that they’re ready for a bed for ‘big kids now’ as they leave the crib behind.

Montessori floor beds vs cribs

Should your baby use a crib or a floor bed?

If you follow the Montessori philosophy then a floor bed makes perfect sense as it encourages your baby to become more independent and have more freedom to move around and play by themselves. However, if you are uncomfortable with the fact your baby can freely get in and out of their floor bed whenever they like; at times you may be oblivious as you might be asleep yourself, then a crib offers you greater peace of mind and security. Providing you have the right size mattress, it’s only really when your toddler starts trying to climb out of their crib that it becomes dangerous.

You might also prefer using a crib if you don’t have a very clean household. Being so close to the floor on a floor bed exposes young children to dust and other allergens, particularly if you have carpet. They’ll also be more exposed to cold draughts.

However, there are a lot of perks to using a floor bed. It’s cheaper than a crib, easy to put together and it’s great for giving your child a greater sense of freedom and independence.

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