Have you heard about Montessori floor beds or floor beds for babies? Are you wondering if they are the right choice for your little one? Montessori floor beds are a hot topic of conversation, so let’s talk through what they are, if they’re safe, the pros and cons of floor beds, and how to choose the best floor bed.
Expert Tip: If you’re here, you are likely weighing all of your options. I want you to make the most informed decision for your little one. Please know that as a pediatric sleep expert, I do find that most babies and young toddlers sleep best in a crib until closer to age 3, or when it’s no longer considered safe for them to remain in their crib.
What is a Montessori floor bed?anchor
A Montessori floor bed is a bed or mattress that is very low to (or on) the ground. It’s a bed that a child can crawl into and out of without adult assistance. Some are simply a mattress on the ground, some are a few inches off the ground, and some even have short railings around them.
What age are floor beds for? anchor
Most families who choose to use a Montessori or floor bed transition their baby between 5 and 10 months. However, I need you to know this: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says the only safe option for sleep under 12 months are labeled “crib,” “portable crib,” “bassinet,” or “play yard.” For this reason, if you’re considering a Montessori floor bed, you’ll want to wait until your little one is 12 months or older.
What are the pros and cons of a Montessori floor bed? anchor
If you’re considering a Montessori floor bed for your little one, you’re likely weighing the pros and cons. Let’s walk through them together.
Pros of a Montessori Floor Bed:anchor
Floor beds allow for increased independence. Some families love that their little ones are able to get in and out of bed easily and without assistance. For older children, floor beds may allow them to get up in the morning to get dressed or play independently. For some families, this independence is a priority.
Floor beds are low to the ground. If you have a toddler who is no longer safe to be in a crib, a floor bed can feel like a safe option.
Cons of a Montessori Floor Bedanchor
Floor beds require extra safety measures. A floor bed doesn’t offer the clear boundaries of a crib. This can make it tricky to keep your toddler in their bed and presents safety concerns as the entire room would need to be as safe as a crib would be.
Floor beds allow for independence during sleeping times. Before 2 ½ -3 years old, most little ones just don’t have the impulse control or developmental capacity to remain in their bed for naps and night sleep. When our little ones have the idea or desire to get up and out of their bed, or even leave their room, they usually do! The freedom of a floor bed can lead to bedtime, overnight, and nap time struggles.
Real Talk: As a parent, I know you weigh options and make decisions in the best interest of your child every day. This is one of those decisions. You get to take the recommendations, the research, and the advice of experts and choose what’s right for your family. As a nurse, mom of four, and pediatric sleep expert, I’d love to share why I recommend a crib for most little ones.
Although as adults, we may look at a crib and see it as a “little jail,” developmentally, the physical boundaries of a crib actually make most little ones feel safe. How can that be? Well, think of a walk or drive on a narrow bridge. Do the guard rails feel restrictive? No, they actually make the bridge feel safer by providing physical boundaries. In the same way, the sides of a crib provide a physical boundary, allowing a little one to rest easy feeling more safe and secure.
Is a floor bed safe for baby sleep?anchor
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the only safe places for baby sleep until 12 months are the ones labeled as a “crib,” “portable crib,” “bassinet,” or “play yard.”
Once your little one reaches 12 months or older, a Montessori floor bed can be considered safe for sleep as long as:
The mattress is designed for baby or toddler use.
The entire room is fully baby proofed.
Extra precautions outside of the baby’s room are taken (i.e. baby gate at top of stairs, door alarms, etc.).
When your child sleeps on a floor or toddler bed, the entire room becomes your child’s sleep space. We want the room to be as safe as a crib would be. Get down on your hands and knees and see the room from your child’s perspective. Is there anything that could fall on them? Anything they can get a little finger stuck in? Any choking or tripping hazards?
Be sure to:
Anchor tall furniture to the wall
Cover all electrical outlets
Adjust any decorations that may be accessible
Check blinds for any dangling cords
Consider adding a door alarm so you’ll be alerted if your little one leaves the room
How can I safely use a Montessori floor bed prior to 12 months?anchor
While the AAP does not recommend floor beds prior to 12 months, I do know that some families still decide floor beds are a good option for their family with younger babies.
If you do choose to use a Montessori floor bed prior to 12 months, it’s vital that you implement all of the same safety precautions above AND:
Ensure that the entire room is free of loose bedding, pillows, cushions, stuffed animals, etc..
Choose a mattress specifically designed for infants.
Take into consideration all of the other guidelines for safe sleep.
Can my child wear a sleep sack in a floor bed? anchor
Yes! Toddlers are very active sleepers and have a difficult time staying under a blanket. Using a sleep sack helps keep your child warm enough to sleep well. Using a sleep sack that allows for your child’s feet to be free can be a great option when using a floor bed. This reduces the risk of tripping should your little one be up and wandering the room without an adult close by.
How do I choose the best floor bed for my baby or toddler? anchor
If you have decided that a floor bed is the best option for your baby or toddler, here are things to take into consideration when picking one out:
Frame or no frame. Have you seen those cute beds that look like a house? If you have a child who likes to climb, this would be a safety concern to consider.
Size of mattress. A crib mattress is an appropriate size for most babies and toddlers. Floor beds also come in larger sizes, so take your child’s age and size into consideration when picking what size mattress to use.
Firmness of mattress. For little ones under 12 months, only mattresses designed for infant sleep (labeled “crib mattress”) are safe.
Safety rail. Some floor beds have a safety rail that resembles a toddler bed. This can add a sense of boundary that some children prefer!
Placement of the mattress. Should you opt to use a mattress that is simply placed on the floor, consider keeping the mattress pulled away from the wall to prevent the chance of your child rolling between the mattress and the wall.
Safety Tip: When a mattress is placed directly on the ground, this can create a mold or dust issue long term. You’ll want the mattress elevated off the floor by at least a frame. However, a mattress placed directly on the floor can be a great short term solution if you want to trial the floor bed.
Are Montessori floor beds a good option for older toddlers?anchor
Yes! I do think floor beds are a great option for toddlers who are ready to transition out of the crib and into a toddler bed.
If your toddler’s sleep is a struggle or you need help with this transition, my Toddler Sleep Training class can help! I’ll give you the tools you need to meet your toddler where they are developmentally and help create a great sleeper. It’s never too late to set loving boundaries around sleep to help your toddler grow into a successful sleeper.
Are Taking Cara Babies classes compatible with Montessori floor beds? anchor
Yes. My classes can be implemented with a Montessori floor bed if this is the best decision for your family. My 5-24 Month Collection and Toddler Sleep Training classes will walk you through how to implement each plan if your little one sleeps on a floor bed. Please keep in mind all of the safety concerns.
Can I sleep train my baby in a floor bed?anchor
If a floor bed is the right choice for your family, you can sleep train using a floor bed. You will want to follow all safety guidelines and remember that once a child is using a floor bed, their entire room needs to be as safe as a crib.
If you decide you're ready for sleep training, it's important to have a plan and guidance you can trust. My 5–24 Month Collection will do just that: I'll teach you everything you need to know to have a great little sleeper, while remaining emotionally connected every step along the way.
For those older than 2, Toddler Sleep Training can teach you developmentally appropriate strategies for independent nights, successful days, and smooth transitions through the toddler years.