You Aren’t Using a Crib?!

    The first childhood development and education theory that I became familiar with was the Montessori Method. I am not a trained Montessori guide, and I have no affiliation with any Montessori school. I am just fascinated by the concept of ‘freedom within limits’ in the prepared environment , and with allowing children to do independently what they can. I like the concept of letting children do real tasks– household tasks, dressing and undressing themselves, preparing their own food, planting and tending their own gardens, etc. Montessori contends that children want to do these things. In fact, she says, they would rather do real tasks than engage in pretend play.

     The very first Montessori concept that I am incorporating into my child’s life is the floor bed. Although not a new idea, it is still decidedly countercultural. The idea is that by placing babies on a mattress on the floor to sleep rather than in a crib, the child will have an unobstructed view of his or her environment, and will have independence of movement. Once the baby becomes mobile, he or she can move onto and off of the bed without needing to cry until someone comes to remove the child from a crib. The whole room is really seen as the crib. Everything is child safe, and everything within the child’s reach is okay for him or her to touch. This fosters independence and maturity by allowing the child to learn that he or she can move to meet his or her own needs. Some parents who use the Montessori floor bed report that their children do not cry upon waking– they just crawl over to a toy or book that has been left in the child’s line of sight on a low shelf and play contentedly. Some of my favorite posts about the floor bed concept can be found here and here. A nice picture of a baby’s room with a floor bed can be seen here. I will upload my own photo when my baby’s room is complete, but I think the picture from Sew Liberated is one of the nicest I have seen.

     One thing that is vital to remember when choosing to do anything that contravenes societal norms (especially as regards the care of a baby!) is that you will receive criticism, and that is okay. For things like the floor bed, many people are likely to be shocked and concerned for the child’s safety. All an experimental mom or dad can do is explain the concept, tell the concerned party where more information can be obtained if desired, and let it go. It is not productive to be offended or defensive when someone criticizes or seems horrified by your choices as a parent. As difficult as it may be, remember that people are just concerned because they likely have never heard of what you are doing before. Know when explanation is helpful and when it is not. Then go forward confidently with your plans as a parent. If something doesn’t work out like you hoped you can always change it. If you avoid something just because others think it is weird you may regret it later.

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  1. I love what you have written here. It’s almost exactly how I feel about using a floor bed! I also love the ‘freedom within limits’ concept, and was first drawn to montessori by the ‘follow the child’ principle. I can totally see in myself the desire to engage in real tasks rather than pretend play, which is another reason why Montessori appeals to me so much. I have however integrated more value for creative unstructured play since first starting my montessori journey about a year ago. I think both are necessary for the spirit to be nurtured.

    I have documented my baby’s room on my blog here: I hope to add some more thoughtful reflection like yours, over time, although I find I am better at doing things than writing down my thought about them! Something I would like to get better at, since my mother is a bit dubious about this floor bed thing, and no doubt also some other things I plan to do! I actually told someone about the floor bed in the middle of casual conversation the other day and it went really well, no horrified reaction. She was interested in it after having lived in Japan for a few years and seen similar concepts there. (Which now has me interested to learn more about Japanese culture and babies.)

    (Oh, and I am using the same wordpress theme as you!! Oops. It’s like discovering you’ve turned up to a party in identical outfits!)

  2. Thank you for the comment. It is always encouraging to meet other Montessori-minded parents. I checked out the link to your post about Roo’s room and I like it very much. The similarity of the floor bed Japanese concepts is intriguing– I would be interested in learning about it also. This wordpress theme looks good on both of us, I think– and speaks to mutual good taste. 😉


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