The Floor Bed
You mean, I don't need a crib?
When I first told my family we were going to have our baby sleep on a floor mattress, their reaction was a mix of confusion and bewilderment. "Why?" and "Are you sure you don't want a crib?" they kept asking.
I had heard about the floor bed through my work as a Montessori teacher, but I wasn't too sure. It sounded great, but I didn't know anyone who had tried it. I also stumbled upon an article about some should-be baby essentials that weren't all that essential and the first on the list to get the ax was the crib. I was intrigued.
In theory it sounds great: nursing mothers can co-sleep in the kids room, a young infant can get up and play when they wake in the morning, but I wondered how it would actually work in practice. I've now done it with both my kids and can tell you its amazing! Provided the space can be made simple and safe, there's just a lot of benefits for all!
Nursing Mama Benefits:
- The floor bed is like co-sleeping in the child's room. If you've ever tried side-laying nursing, you know how much more sleep you get like that and this has the added benefit of still going back to your bed for restful slumber. Some families prefer co-sleeping, but if you plan to use a separate sleeping space, the floor bed makes life (and sleep) a lot easier on a nursing mama.
- No transferring! Imagine baby asleep in your arms, you go to put them into the crib and as soon as they are out of arms, they wake up - "whaaaaaaa!". Not with the floor bed! Snuggle up, mamas and papas, because you can cuddle them to sleep and lay down with them in their bed and then tip toe away when they're fast asleep.
- Sleeping in: (this is also a baby benefit) Instead of having to cry to tell you they woke up in the morning, they can crawl off their bed to go play - this means you get some extras zzz's.
- Long-term use: If you get a twin-size mattress, you can just get a frame for it when they are ready. That means no bulky furniture you end up needing to get rid of after 12-18 months.
- No "crib transition" in toddlerhood: Toddlers are a lot more capable and a lot more verbal that sometimes it can be challenging to give them freedom around their room - they get into a lot more stuff and have a lot more to say with their new-found freedom. The floor bed gives them this freedom from the start so its not a novelty later.
- Unobstructed View of the Room: Whether its bars or mesh, its hard to see through the crib for the baby. At a time when baby is making tremendous strides in their eyesight, the floor mattress helps them see clearly, focus on longer distances, and gets a clears view of the room.
- Sleep when tired (and wake when rested): As an adult, when I go to bed, I don't fall asleep immediately. I might read a book, look at my phone or watch something before falling asleep. After about 4-6 months, babies start to have more of a rhythm and a more typical "bedtime", but this doesn't have to mean "sleep time". Mobile babies may crawl off their bed to find something to do and can just as easily crawl back on. This might take a few nights of falling asleep on the floor for them to figure out, but come morning, they so appreciate the ability to get out of bed when they are rested and find something to do!
- No sleep regression in toddlerhood: A big sleep regression for toddlers has a lot to do with new-found freedom when they move to a toddler bed. They stay up later than they should just because of the novelty. With the floor bed, this level of independence is being introduced at such a young age that its just how their room is, no novelty.
How to Do It:
As you can imagine, the floor bed isn't going to work in every space. Perhaps you all share a room together (and you can't have baby crawling all over your un-prepared room) or you live in a loft and there is no door to prevent from falling. The basic premise is that the room is in is simple and safe. The actual mattress should be low enough that the baby won't "fall" very far if they roll off. We've liked mattresses 3-4" in height. You can start as early as birth (but most families have baby in the parent's room for a while). Its ideal to start before baby is crawling so that you avoid the novelty of independence around the room, but it can be introduced anytime. Find our top picks on set up in our Baby Essentials post.
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7:30pm: He is looking out the window to watch the dogs play in the yard or the trees or the sky (who knows!?). He is three things: very happy, not tired seeming at all, and no where near his bed (where he was when we said goodnight). But that's ok (and kind of the point!).
8:00pm: He is now playing on his bed (a strong sign he's getting tired, but not quite ready for sleep). He has a shoe of some sort and a cloth of another sort. He continues to be elated at whatever it is that he is doing when I check on him.
8:30pm: He is sound asleep...on his bed, head on his pillow and with lovies in hand (he must have collected them from wherever they had landed in the room during playtime). He did that (not me!).
do you have a floor bed?
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