Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Montessori Bed

When I was pregnant I heard of a crib alternative called the Montessori bed. Named after the famed Maria Montessori, who promoted it, the bed is just a fancy term for a futon or mini-mattress laid directly on the floor.

Of course, I had to try it. Since we have no pets my pediatrician had no problem with this alternative. These days, using a futon is prohibited since it's too cushy and loose, which may contribute to SIDS. So instead, I got a crib mattress and set it up.

The first months were great. It was easier and better for my back to kneel down and grab the baby than it would be to lean over a crib and grab him. I liked being able to see him from the hallway, instead of having to walk in the room and lean over him. It gave baby a good view of the room so he could see more. Also, as time wore on, I began to nurse my baby on his Montessori bed instead of in the rocker or in our bed when he would wake up in the middle of the night.

Those of you who are not parents may not appreciate this, but that was a HUGE deal! It saved me from having to move him and risk waking him up after he'd nursed - sometimes 2 - 3 times per night. The anxiety this reduced, and the sleep I gained, was so worth it. (It also helped me keep nursing him.)

And finally, we didn't have to shell out $300 - 400 for a crib. That was nice since there were so many other bills to pay (hospital, midwife, other baby furniture, home remodeling) at that time.

But all was not sunshine in the Montessori bed. As baby turned 3 1/2 - 4 months, he began rolling right off his bed. Even if it was only 4 inches, it still shocked him and woke him up. So, we built a little padded rail around his bed. Everything still worked as before, but he couldn't roll off. But then, as he turned 7 months, he started crawling off his bed - over the railing.

So, sadly, we have had to resort to putting him down to sleep in his Pack n Play and we are considering getting a crib - hopefully used. But I would still do it the same way again. You might try it, if you plan to nurse your baby at night and still want to get some sleep, without having your baby sleep in your bed.


Lisa said...

Hello, it was so nice to read your blog on the Montessori bed. We too have done the same and now am working on a way to help her from not rolling onto the floor. I am curious what you ended up doing and how did you construct the padded railing? I put batting in a crib bumper and put around the bed to make it more of a ramp when she rolls off, but am now looking for a way to help keep her on the bed...thank you for your reply.

Peak Oil Hausfrau said...

Hi Lisa - at 15 months, we put our son in a crib. It has been working out well for us.

We never could find a way to keep him from getting off the bed once he was able to stand up. The padded railing only helped when he could still only roll. We just nailed 4 boards together in a rectangle (cut to the size of the mattress), wrapped an old blanket around them and tucked under the blanket under the bed. Not very pretty! :)

After that we had to move to the pack n play. Then the crib... the one good thing is that he was no longer really teething so much when we put him in his crib so the railings have not been destroyed.

Anonymous said...

For the record, my understanding is that the point of a Montessori bed is to allow a child the freedom to get up and move around the room, and get back into bed, when s/he wants. Obviously important to completely childproof the room! But with that, and with a low light left on, it creates an environment in which a child can wake up, crawl around, play with books or toys (if s/he's old enough for that) and then put him/herself back to sleep when s/he's ready. Montessori was all about empowering children and eliminating obstacles to self-directed growth and exploration, so this is one method for achieving that (besides the other benefits you mention!).