Category Archives: Low Bed

Low bed update

S is now 13 months old and the low bed has been working so well for us. She crawls out of her bed in the morning and comes to my room. We have a little cuddle and I nurse her and she then crawls back to her room and plays with her toys while I take my time to get up (sometimes takes me an hour). nap time also works great, she sleeps for almost two hours in the morning and I know she is up when I can hear her playing with the toys off her low shelf. Sometimes she gets behind the door and starts knocking until I open the door for her. At the moment I prefer to close her bedroom door so I can do housework without distrupting her sleep but ideally the bedroom door should be left open (in my opinion) so she can independently go about exploring the environment when she wakes up.

I am still in love with this concept. It makes sense to me and is just so lovely to be able to put a child to bed and be confident that when she wakes up she has the ability to move about in the environment without any obstacle. I sometimes find her talking to herself in the mirror making faces, giggling to herself and it just makes my day.

Low bed has it’s own challenges though. For the past few days S fights sleep at night. She wants to get out of her bed and come to us. I sometimes allow that if I can tell that she is not tired and not ready to sleep because I believe nothing should be really forced upon a child and we should truly “follow the child” as Montessori said. but if I can see that she is tired I stay with her, sing some lullabies, rub her back, and help her to go to sleep. This could take up to an hour sometimes but mostly she sleeps within 15 minutes. I must admit that for the first 12 months we had absolutely no issue. this is just a new thing and I think it must be because S has mastered crawling and she probably wants to practice it even more and is so eager to discover her surrounding. I found that if I take more time to slowly get her ready for bedtime (a few stories before bed, a soothing song played with low volume in the background, etc), she tends to fight sleep alot less. I guess if we had a cot instead, I either would have stayed in her room until she went to sleep which could take same effort if not more (as you can’t lay down next to your child to soothe them) or I would have walked out the room, meaning let her cry to sleep, so having a cot probably only would have been a plus if I wanted to do Cry it Out or a kind of sleep training method which I don’t really feel comfortable with.

Here is S’s bedroom.

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left photo: low shelf, a chair for reading with some books in a basket for S to read on her own, at the moment S uses this chair ti pull herself up, more books on the top of the shelf to read together, drawing of some native birds of New Zealand, in choosing books I look for ones with real pictures or drawing that gives real information about real world.

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Low Bed

When I think about a Montessori inspired nursery the first thing that comes to mind is a low bed or a floor bed. It is a bed that is low enough for the infant to independently crawl in and out of. It gives your baby clear vision of the room and her surrounding and encourages her to move freely.

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Where we live, New Zealand, there is no Montessori shop like Michael Olaf  , so we couldn’t just buy a Montessori low bed. Instead, we decided to just put a mattress directly on the floor. We first went for a cot mattress. Baby S slept in her Moses basket for the first 2 months of her life for both day time nap and night time sleep. when she turned two months I decided to move her to her floor mattress but I found that it was not working very well for us. I had to get up many times during the night to nurse her so I decided to bring her to my own bed and my husband slept on the floor right next to our bed. He wanted to stay close to us and was just happy to sleep on the floor. In the mean time, I did some more research and looked at many different Montessori websites and blogs for ideas. We finally decided to invest in a single size mattress (double American). The reason is first it was big enough for me to lay down next to Baby S and nurse her at night, second she had more room to move freely on her mattress.

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When my daughter turned three months old we put her in her floor bed (below picture) for both day time nap and night time sleep. She is now 18 weeks old and our floor bed is working perfectly for our family. We are very happy with our decision. During those few weeks that Baby S slept in my bed, I realised how comfortable and easy night time feeding became. We all slept alot better and were alot happier. When we moved S to her floor bed, we were still able to snuggle alot in her bed and yet have our own bed back. I sometimes take a short nap with my girl in her bed in the afternoon and I wouldnt trade those moments with anything, just so precious.

You can see in both settings, there is a mirror alongside the bed. It allows the baby to look at her body movement which encourages her to move her body even more. It aids baby’s visual and physical development.

Why we chose a floor bed over a traditional cot (crib)?

Montessori believed children are born with specific characteristics which she called them “human tendencies”. Such tendencies assist them to discover the environment they live in. If these tendencies do not operate properly children can not develop to their fullest potentials. Montessori identified exploration as one of the human’s natural tendencies. A low bed provides the opportunity for the child to explore freely to gain knowledge of their surrounding environment in more depth which leads to learning about themselves in relationship with their environment, therefore, by self-exploration they progress in the path towards self-construction. Infants explore their environment through their senses as well as movement. A low bed allows the child freedom of movement which they benefit from in developing their independence, concentration, movement, self-esteem, and self-construction. These all leads to a happy, well-adjusted child in the future.

Imagine, your crawler wakes up in the morning, having the ability to crawl off her bed on her own, moves to the nearby shelf (child-size) and select an activity to do in her own pace, fully engaged without being interrupted. Instead of waking up to the sound of a crying-child asking you to rescue them from their crib, you wake up to the sound of your baby babbling, playing with her toys.

A very young infant is still developing their vision. A low bed with no side bars provides clear vision of the room, giving her accurate feedback about the environment.

Many parents are concerned about their baby rolling off the bed. I have done extensive research before I decided to go with a floor bed. Like a baby lizard that learns when to stop at the end of a branch and never fall off the tree, a young infant when placed on a floor bed from early days soon learns the edges of her mattress and wont fall off the bed when she starts rolling. If you are still concerned, you can simply go for a lower mattress (3″ futon mattress) or simply put a folded blanket next to the bed. Since your baby is not confined in a crib and can freely move about in her room, you have to make sure the room is 100% child proof, no heater in the middle of the room, all the wall sockets are covered, no small items on the floor or in reach. Some parents put a gate at the entrance of baby’s room so if they wake up before their parents in the morning, they stay in their room where it is very safe. I will probably wont do that as I wake up to the tiniest sound she makes and we also have a video monitor in her room which I highly recommend as I can watch her to see what she is doing. If I find her engaged I wont disturb her.

What I wish I had done differently?
A natural organic futon mattress instead of a spring mattress would have been much nicer. It is a lot thinner and is foldable and breathable.

The other thing is where I have the mirror. I wish I had more room to have a separate activity area. In that case, I would have placed the mirror in the activity area and the bed would have been only used for sleeping.