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Discover the secret of childhood from 0-3 year old:

Nap and sleep

The basics of floor bed

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011 9:57 am | By Stephanie Woo

Since people have been asking about floor beds, I thought I’d give a little information on the basics of a floor bed.

What Age?

Before the birth of your baby, prepare a basket and a floor bed. A portable basket is excellent for newborns – cozy and safe for the baby, convenient for Mom. There is a specific basket called a Cestina that is recommended by the Montessori community, that I will go into detail in a later posting. In the beginning, the baby basket will go wherever Mom goes. As the baby starts to develop a more regular sleeping pattern, you can start putting the basket ON the floor bed, so the baby starts to associate this area of the room with sleeping.  Once your baby outgrows her basket, she can start sleeping on the floor bed, usually when she is 2-3 months old.

General Description

The floor bed is a mattress on the floor, ideally a futon made of natural materials. There should be firm cotton batting inside. If it is not firm enough, it will be an obstacle for the baby’s movement. It should be 4-6 inches deep. If you are concerned with diaper leakage, use a rubberized flannel covering that is big enough to cover the entire surface of the mattress. Then cover with cotton sheets.

Floor Bed Options

Some families use a wooden frame around the mattress for the floor bed. (See picture below. The dimensions are there just to give you an idea of the size). Some say it makes them feel as if their child is sleeping in a ‘proper bed.’  Though it is not necessary, it is a great option for families who want it. If the wooden frame is used, it needs an open side, preferably the long side, so the child can get in and out of bed. The wooden frame can be bought at Michael Olaf.

Our girls’ floor bed evolved over time. As I mentioned earlier, we didn’t have enough room for a floor bed in our tiny 400 sq ft apartment when they were born. But when the girls turned 4 months, we moved into a 1200 sq ft apartment, where we decided to put both girls on a single mattress. It worked well because they were still little. When they turned 5 ½ month, we moved to Denver for the summer. There, we didn’t spend money to buy another mattress, instead, we laid down layers of wool and cotton blankets, a thick duvet, placed a cotton sheet over the whole thing and created our own version of a floor bed. Because the floors were newly carpeted, it worked out great. Since we’ve been back from Denver, they now sleep in two separate floor beds. See video here.

The point of a floor bed is something low to the ground that makes it easy for the child to climb into and out of. Mackenzie loves her bed and when she sees me making her bed, she will crawl over and climb under the sheets or into the middle of the duvet. And sometimes in the middle of the day, she’ll just crawl into her bed and plop herself down right in the middle and wiggle around, sorta like the way you jump into a newly-made bed!

Unexpected Benefit of a Floor Bed

The most unexpected benefit of a floor bed is the HUMOR it will add to your life and the stories you’ll be able to tell about your little one. Once your little one starts to move, you just don’t know where you will find them.

When Brooke was 5 months old, I left her in the room to nap by herself and when I came back, she had fallen asleep with her head and arms on the mattress and her body on the floor. She was trying to get back in bed but fell asleep before she could make it all the way back up!

Mackenzie was 6 months old when she really started crawling everywhere. Once I heard her crying and when I went into the room, she wasn’t in bed! I followed her cry and found her in the walk-in closet…Another night, I went into her room and again, she wasn’t in bed! I looked and couldn’t find her anywhere! I almost had a heart-attack until I saw a tiny little foot sticking out from under the bed skirt. She had crawled under my bed and fell asleep there!  I know a mom who actually called 911 when this happened to her. She couldn’t find her baby anywhere and she was sure someone had abducted her LO. When the police came, they carefully surveyed the house and when they lifted the bed skirt, they found the baby – fast sleep!

Additional Notes

  • If you are using a very large mattress, use tube pillows or bolsters to make the space feel cozier. A young baby especially needs to feel as if he is contained in a space.
  • A knitted, breathable blanket (the kind with lots of holes) is the best choice as a covering.
  • Put twins on two separate mattresses. At first we wanted to save money and only bought one. That lasted only 1 month before they started distracting each other from sleeping and we had to separate them!

Video: B and M’s Floor Beds

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011 9:49 am | By Stephanie Woo

Parent Q&A: Floor bed vs Crib

Thursday, September 1st, 2011 10:07 pm | By Stephanie Woo

Q: After reading your blog, I’m thinking of putting my 15-month old in a floor bed. Do I just let him stay in there till he falls asleep? It’ll be so different from his crib, will he be able to fall asleep? He’s already walking, is it too late to put him a floor bed? What are the benefits of a floor bed at this age?

A: First of all, it’s great that you are considering putting him in a floor bed. It is not too late! The first couple of nights will be very new and exciting for him, so stay in the room with him and help him get used to it. Being in a floor bed is very different from being in a crib. Design the room in such a way that there is an area for sleeping (where you put the floor bed) and an area for playing. Designate a toy mat or a toy area where you keep all his toys.  It should be an area he can see when he wakes up. Make sure his toys are not strewn all over the floor or all over his bed (after he plays with them, they will get everywhere, all parents know THIS, but when you tidy up, put them all on the toy mat).  Let the child know the order of the room, “Over here is where I sleep. And when I wake up, I get out of bed and come here to play with my toys.”

The most important benefit of a floor bed is the sense of freedom it gives your child. He gets to decide things for himself.  He gets to decide when he gets into and out of bed. The problem with containers like cribs, high chairs, etc, is that the child is helpless and dependent on the adult to get him in and out. The only way he can get out of these contraptions is through CRYING. Therefore, crying becomes a learned behavior – it is due to HELPLESSNESS.

When you put a baby in a floor bed or give him a small child-size table and chair for eating that he can get in and out of by himself, HE DOESN’T HAVE TO CRY TO GET ANYTHING. He can decide for himself and do it by himself. Through this freedom to decide for himself, he develops self-discipline. When everything is decided for him, the discipline comes from the outside. He doesn’t learn self-discipline till he is older and, like we all know, it is much harder to learn it when you’re older, if at all! Self-discipline is a skill that you want to teach your child from a young age, and miraculously, it comes from the freedom they get to choose for themselves….starting from something as basic as when he gets out of bed!

Simple Principle: More Freedom = less crying + a more self-disciplined child.