The Montessori floor bed is commonly used in place of a crib as it encourages independence – it allows the child to get in and out of bed without the help of an adult. This guide explains everything you need to know about using a Montessori floor bed. It also offers suggestions for the best ones available in each style.
Benefits of using a floor bed
Benefits of using a floor bed include:
- Boosting your child’s confidence and sense of self
- Communicates a respect for your child’s needs
- Creates a bonding space where the adult can rest with the child
- Less expensive as you can use it throughout childhood, rather than changing from a crib, to a toddler bed, to a regular bed.
What are the challenges of using a Montessori floor bed?
The biggest challenge of using a floor bed is enforcing bedtime. With everything in reach, your child may get up in the night to play with their toys or because they want to be with you.
While this is a possibility, children will often play for a brief period of time until they feel naturally ready to fall asleep. They are also more likely to explore their surroundings in the initial stages of using a floor bed. As they adapt, they are less likely to get out of bed – the novelty wears off!
The Montessori approach is to trust that your child will respond to their biological need for sleep naturally. However, this, as well as safety, is a challenge for many parents. If this is of concern for you and your child, choose a floor bed that has rails or gates that you can remove when your child is ready.
What age should my child use a floor bed?
Montessori beds are suitable for ages 0-12. While there’s no specific time when it’s best to start using a Montessori floor bed, here are some options for the earliest transition to a floor bed:
Infants (under 12 months):
Moving your child straight out of a bassinet to a floor bed means never having to buy a crib. It also removes the “transition” period from crib to bed that usually happens in toddlerhood.
Follow safe sleep guidelines and remove all other items like pillows or blankets from the mattress. At this age, you may prefer to add a floor bed frame with rails and a gate that can be removed later.
Toddlers (1–3 years):
Waiting until your child is a toddler to use a floor bed is totally fine, but older children often have a longer adjustment period. Some parents find it easiest to start with floor naps before transitioning to a floor bed for night time. Of course, every child is different. You may find that a floor bed with rails and a gate are an option for the transition period. As you feel confident, you can remove the gate and eventually remove the rails all together. Once the gate is removed, children can more freely move around their space, encouraging their independence.
Preschoolers (3–5 years):
Once your child is a preschooler, moving to a regular raised bed is an option. The Montessori approach is to follow the child and only move them to a raised bed if they display signs or communicate they are ready.
Floor Bed Safety
Consider instituting the following safety precautions with a floor bed:
- Add a rug on each side of the bed if you have a hard floor. If you baby rolls off during the night, they will only fall a couple of inches onto a padded surface. They’ll probably just fall back to sleep! Don’t be alarmed if you if your baby on the floor come morning.
- If your baby is an active sleeper or tends to crawl out of their bed, be sure to open the door gently – incase they have fallen asleep close to the door.
- Place the bed away from walls or furniture so that the child doesn’t become trapped if they roll off in the night.
- Thoroughly baby-proof the room with covered electrical outlets, furniture secured to the walls, and choking hazards out of reach.
- Use safety gates on the room, especially if the child is upstairs, you have pets, or there are areas in your home that may not always be child-safe.
- If you start using a floor bed under age one, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a firm, flat mattress. Only use fitted sheets with no extra blankets, pillows, or other soft items in the sleep space.
Floor bed mattresses
Mattress size and details
A crib-sized mattress is recommended for infants. A twin mattress is also an option as it allows a parent to easily lie with the infant for settling and feeding. Whichever option you decide on, make sure the mattress is firm with a tight-fitted sheet.
Look for a mattress that is 4–8 inches deep. A thinner mattress is best for a floor bed, as it allows the child to get in and out easily, fostering their sense of independence.
You may also like to consider other details like if the mattress is allergy proof/made from hypoallergenic materials, has a removable/washable cover, and if it can be flipped to adjust the firmness (some mattresses have a firm infant side and a toddler soft side – how cool is that!).
Buyer’s Guide for 5 Types of Montessori Floor Beds
Some Montessori floor beds are simply a mattress on the floor, which may be what you need. Dr. Maria Montessori stressed the importance following the child, meaning that every child has different needs and will respond to stimuli differently.
If you opt for the mattress only option, make sure you allow the mattress to air out once a week. To do this, simply flip the mattress against the wall.
Alternatively, using a Montessori floor bed frame will promote good airflow to the mattress. Montessori floor beds do not need to be distinctly labeled; they simply need to follow the guidelines of anything under the Montessori method, that is builds independence for your child.
Let’s take a look at five types of Montessori floor beds from which to choose.
1. Mattress Only
Mattress-only beds are the most basic type of Montessori bed. You simply place a mattress on the floor without a frame or rails. Be sure to choose a firm mattress for an infant.
Pros: Cheapest option, easy to make the bed
Cons: Having the mattress directly on the floor doesn’t encourage airflow, no rail or gate options for active sleepers
2. Low Montessori Floor Bed
A low Montessori floor bed frame sits just a couple of inches off the floor. This option is very popular as it allows high independence and is very safe.
Best Low Floor Bed: Sprout Kids Montessori Floor Bed
Sprout Kids provides the most flexible Montessori bed frame. Their floor bed has a really clever design – done in a way that not only will last a long but will also grow with your child. You can flip it to turn it into a taller “big kid” bed as your child gets taller, allowing your child to use it through to their teens if desired.
Pros: Easy assembly, can be modified over time to fit the needs of the child, high-quality materials, appealing visual design.
Cons: Price, some customers found their child would easily bang their head on the raised sides, difficult to find the perfect mattress fit.
3. Floor Bed with Rails
A floor bed with rails gives your child a great balance between security and freedom. Some children may find the transition from crib to bed is made easier when moving into a bed with rails, as it has similarities to their crib environment. This option is especially nice for toddlers who are still prone to rolling off the bed.
Best Floor Bed With Rails: Etsy Montessori Floor Bed With Rails
This hardwood floor bed has a simple, study design and is handmade in the USA. The floor bed frame offers great flexibility, as the side rails are removable to take your child through their teen years. The design is made from responsibly forested Appalachian Poplar, sanded to a safe smooth finish. The smooth finish is suitable for adding a DIY painted or stained finish to match your home décor.
Pros: Fast delivery, comes in three sizes, offers the option of a riser for older children, rails can be removed to covert to a regular bed or a day bed.
Cons: Some buyers found the instructions for assembly difficult to follow.
4. Gated Floor Bed
A gated bed includes rails with the option to add and remove a gate from the floor bed. While the gate restricts movement and doesn’t foster independence in the same way an open floor bed does, a gated bed provides a great transitional option for your child to grow into.
Best Bed With Removable Gate: Coney Island Woodworks Baltic Birch Floor Bed
Transitioning to a floor bed is easy with this quality birch wood bed. With four sizes to choose from and customizable door placement, this floor bed with gate offers a more contemporary design than other players on the market.
Pros: Easy to put together, includes gate, good customer service.
Cons: Supplier doesn’t specialize in Montessori furniture.
5. DIY Montessori Bed
If you are handy and you want to try your hand at building your own DIY floor bed, purchasing a ready-made plan is a great solution. This allows you to tailor the floor bed to exactly what your child needs, as well as fit your room perfectly.
Best Place to Find Floor Bed Plans: Etsy (of course!)
Etsy offers a huge range of Montessori bed plans. All you have to do is complete the digital download and start building! Choose the style of bed you’d like – reverseable, house bed or railed or gated bed – download the bed plan and build to your exact specifications.
Pros: Huge cost saving, thousands of plans available.
Cons: Time to build, skills required, sourcing quality materials.