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.