So, you've got a new baby and you want to start right from the beginning with a Montessori-aligned lifestyle. Choosing a crib vs a floor bed is one of the decisions you'll have to make early on.
There's a lot to consider when making this decision and there are many strong arguments for and against each of these bed types.
Montessori purists will tell you that babies, even very young ones, need the freedom to get in and out of their beds.
Some will even liken putting a baby in a crib to putting them in a “jail”.
Montessori skeptics, on the other hand, will tell you that floor beds are not only unnecessary, but that they are unsafe, as well.
Who is right in this debate?
If both sides have strong arguments, and ultimately they are both good choices, which one is best for your baby?
In this article, we'll go over which is better, a crib or a floor bed, and look at the benefits and downsides of each of them.
You will get enough information about both beds to help you make your decision.
We'll also talk about whether or not cribs are really frowned upon in Montessori homes.
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Can a baby sleep on a floor instead of a crib?
If you are wondering if babies can sleep on a floor instead of a crib, the answer is yes.
Firm surfaces, such as floors, are considered very safe for babies under 1.
This is contingent, however, on the floor being clean and free of debris, fluffy bedding, stuffed animals, etc.
Essentially, you want to make sure there is nothing on the floor that your baby can put their face in and suffocate.
You also don't want anything on the floor that your baby can put in their mouth or anything that's dangerous to inhale.
If you choose to have your baby sleep on a floor bed, you'll want to set up the room like a “yes space” – a room that is baby-proofed.
Everything that's within reach of your baby needs to be ok for them to have without supervision.
Is a floor bed better than a crib?
Floor beds and cribs both have their benefits.
People who feel that floor beds are better than cribs often cite safety as the winning feature.
Babies can't fall from floor beds, after all.
Also, parents who believe in and enjoy bed-sharing are able to sleep with their baby in a safer and more controlled environment than their own bed.
Floor beds also make life a bit easier than cribs for parents who breastfeed.
With a floor bed, a mother can nurse her baby until it falls asleep and then quietly leave to get other things done or go to her own bed.
On the other hand, cribs are the recommended bed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and are widely considered the safest place to have babies sleep.
What is the downside to Montessori floor beds?
Clearly, I'm a fan of floor beds for babies. There are some downsides to Montessori floor beds, though.
Your baby will be on or very close to the floor where dust mites and other allergens live.
You'll need to take special care to clean the floor in your baby's room often, using non-toxic cleaning products.
I mentioned earlier that babies can't fall from floor beds. This is true in many cases, however, not everyone chooses flat mattresses for their floor beds.
If you are purchasing a thicker mattress, your baby will be able to fall several inches, depending on the thickness.
This is unlikely to hurt your baby, however, it will certainly startle them and wake them up.
Keeping a mattress directly on the floor can cause mold to grow on the underside.
This is preventable, but it does add a little bit of extra work for new parents.
You'll need to regularly rotate and clean your baby's floor bed mattress to prevent mold.
Another con to floor beds is the regular babyproofing you'll have to do.
Electrical outlets need to be covered and nothing should be in the baby's reach that they can pull down on themselves in addition to keeping choking and suffocation hazards off the floor.
You will need to do this when you introduce the floor bed to your baby and daily at nap time and bedtime to make sure nothing has been brought into the nursery by yourself, the baby themselves, another caregiver, or a sibling of the child.
Is Montessori against cribs?
Maria Montessori said that children should have their beds low to the floor so they can get in and out as they please.
Freedom of movement is a big thing in Montessori, after all.
Dr. Montessori also said, however, that we should give a child, “a bed suited to his needs”.
So, at the surface level, yes. Montessori is against cribs.
Many, many Montessori parents choose cribs for their babies when they are in the newborn stage, however.
There are plenty of good reasons that a crib would be chosen over a floor bed, even for the most strict Montessori follower.
Crib vs floor bed: which is best for your baby?
So, which one is better for your baby, the crib or the floor bed?
Let's go over some things you should consider when picking which one you'll go with.
Both cribs and floor beds are safe for sleeping when the right precautions are taken.
Cribs are easier to keep free of soft items and dangerous debris, however,
Will your baby sleep better in a crib or on a floor bed?
For many parents, the answer is “floor bed”, as floor beds allow for more closeness with the caregiver than a crib.
Some babies fall asleep easily and don't mind being transferred to a crib after the bedtime nursing session, though.
My middle child was like this – super easy to put to bed.
Your baby's temperament will help you make the decision.
Both floor beds and cribs have ergonomic drawbacks.
Lifting a baby out of a crib repeatedly after naps and night sleep can cause soreness and a variety of different injuries.
This is especially true for older parents and parents of larger babies.
If your baby has a floor bed, you will be getting up from a low position multiple times a day.
This can be very difficult for some people.
I don't advocate for “sleep training”, however, there are many gentle methods of getting children to sleep in their own beds that people use that are fine.
If you plan on having your baby sleep apart from you using any sleep training method, you need to consider how a floor bed or crib will fit into the equation.
Many parents have great success teaching their little ones to sleep in their own rooms using floor beds.
Floor beds make it easy for parents to lie with their toddlers and read books, snuggle, and do an enjoyable bedtime ritual.
There's so much to consider in the floor bed vs crib debate. Each type of bed has its pros and cons.
Have you had success implementing Montessori and having your baby sleep in a crib?
Do you have a floor bed for your baby? What advice would you give new parents who are trying to decide which to choose?
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