What sets a floor bed apart from other, more traditional beds? The Montessori approach encourages providing opportunities for children to experience the freedom of movement, respect, and independence. Allowing your child to sleep in a floor bed is a great way to reinforce these same learning processes at home.
“What sort of environment must be prepared for the child so that it may be of assistance to him? There can be but one answer to this: the environment for the baby-child must be the world, the world that is around him, all of it!”
~Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
Floor beds promote independence by allowing babies and toddlers to have free reign of the entire (baby-proofed) bedroom, rather than be confined to a crib. This allows them to play with quiet toys and books as they wind down before sleep and upon waking up. They will become increasingly more comfortable seeking out new things and your child will see the world as a place to make discoveries. Because they’ve been allowed such freedoms from a young age, it will feel natural for them to be curious and follow up on those curiosities as they grow.
In the beginning, you might find your child sleeping on the floor after one of their exploration missions, but this is all a part of their learning journey. Some Montessori families choose to integrate the floor bed from infancy by setting a rug and pillows on the ground to soften the floor beside the bed. Safety guidelines recommend setting the low side of the bed at least 12 inches away from the wall. This ensures the child will have space to right themselves after they roll off the bed. The high side of the floor bed should be less than one and a half inches away from the wall. Many schools introduce floor beds right away. However, for overnight safety concerns and to err on the side of caution, most recommendations for floor bed use at home are to wait until the child reaches 18 months of age.
Over time, your child will learn to identify the floor bed as their sleeping space and begin to regulate their behavior around it, taking themselves to the bed whenever they feel the need to relax or sleep. Your child will learn they do not have to rely on you to come in and get them before they can start their day because their bedroom is designed around their needs and capabilities, it reflects a sense of respect. A child that grows up with this level of respect will develop feelings of empowerment. They learn to trust themselves and their abilities because you trusted them.
“How does he achieve this independence? He does it by means of a continuous activity. How does he become free? By means of constant effort. (...) we know that development results from activity. The environment must be rich in motives which lend interest to activity and invite the child to conduct his own experiences.”
– Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
There are many ways to support your child’s learning through a Montessori environment. Families who do not choose to use the floor bed still have many ways of incorporating this approach into their homes. Freedom of movement, respect, and choices are inherent in every aspect of the Montessori Method. This work happens in the classroom, and it happens at home. The floor bed is just one of many ways to support your child’s development.