In previous posts I shared the girls’ Montessori infant bedroom (here) and their bedtime routine (here). I was recently asked if I could share our experience with a Montessori floor-bed and T, since he was in a floor bed, when staying with me, since a young toddler. *As always, floor-beds can be controversial. The decision to use one is very personal, a decision that varies family to family, and should be discussed with your doctor. You must always do what is best for you and your family.*
I have found that the floor bed has helped greatly with the “awe factor”. Imagine getting a new item or freedom. Remember your first vehicle? When I first purchased mine, I drove everywhere! It was new freedom and I could go anywhere. It’s similar for a child when they first have full freedom of their room. Leaving their crib and going to a toddler bed for the first time is such a big step in independence and freedom. I’ve heard so many stories (and, through nannying, have experienced a few myself) about the difficulty of sleep with such new freedom. But, if you’ve only experienced the freedom to roam and have never been confined, the awe factor, isn’t as strong. It’s just considered your norm.
Since he was teeny tiny, bedtimes for T were different. He’s very much like me, a night-owl; so a set bedtime around 8 and 9pm didn’t really work well for him. But a set bedtime was a necessity as I needed to go to bed at some point.
When I read about the Montessori floor-bed, I thought it was a little strange, and yet, it made sense. It was also the perfect solution; it allowed T to have a set bedtime, but with the freedom to be awake in his room until he was ready to sleep (this seems irresponsible, but I’ll explain more). So starting when T was a year-old, whenever I lived where I had a spare room available, he had a floor bed.
When it came to bed and nap times, we had our routines and I would calmly explain that I respect the fact that he may not be tired, but I need him to respect that I need some “me-time”. This mutual respect for each other was the foundation to the floor bed being a long-term success. That being said, there was also an understanding:
- The light remains off (night-light was ok). Although once he was able to easily turn the light on and off, this wasn’t an issue so that he may read comfortably.
- Play was quiet. This was successful as we made sure that the items in his room were not “engaging”, but calming. Full disclosure: T has a wonderful imagination, so regardless of what was in his room, an adventure was always had. Even today, it’s a joy to watch him.
- When he was older, he was asked to only come out for the restroom or emergency. He had a fear of missing out, but don’t we all? So I always promised that I would make sure to share with him the next day. For instance, if we had a special treat, I would save him some. If something funny happened, I would share it with him. Honestly, I’m not an exciting person, so after a bit, he realized he wasn’t missing much-haha.
With keeping his bedtime and wake time the same, he slowly adjusted and started to fall asleep at a more reasonable time.
As he got older, there were times we had special nights. This might be going to a drive-in or putting together a fort for a living-room campout. These special times made him feel included and it helped solidify that he knows I won’t leave him out.
Does your family use floor beds?