Maria Montessori Would Not Approve

The ideal Montessori environment: uncluttered, beautiful, scaled to child size, simple. Something like this. I looked around baby D’s nursery today and realized that I have turned it into something quite different. I will spare the gentle reader from a photo, but suffice it to say that baby D’s nursery is cluttered and scaled to accommodate my needs, not his. I guess my next project is returning to my Montessori ideals and bringing order, simplicity, and beauty to his environment. I am an experimental mom, and this experiment took a wrong turn– but it is salvageable.

He is sleeping mostly in his Pack n’ Play. I still thoroughly believe in the concept of the floor bed, and he has slept on his floor bed sometimes. I just don’t feel comfortable with the floor level environment in his room. That is my fault. I have not maintained a child-safe floor level environment. So, momma, get it together! Montessori would not approve.


Can Parents Be Trusted With Children?

Today my husband and I went to a well-known baby gear store with the intention of buying a sleep sack for the baby. These seem like a good alternative to blankets and constant swaddling– the former posing a suffocation hazard and the latter not allowing for movement of arms and legs. We found a good variety of colors and patterns, from the plain, subtle colors that I prefer to the boldest patterns to suit the most colorful taste. There was only one problem: every single one had “Back Is Best” embroidered on the material. Really? This had nothing to do with the name of the company making the sleep sacks. It was a nonremovable warning label disguised in cutesy, colorful lettering. There was one lone representative from a different maker, and it did not have the warning, but it was in a girlie print and we do not know the sex of our baby. We approached a couple of sales people and asked if there were any more options. Online yes, in store no. But we have a wide variety… Yes, I said, they look nice. I just don’t like the instructions on baby sleep position displayed on the garment. Parents aren’t clueless. One sales person agreed with me, the other looked at me like I was crazy. Oh well.

I can see providing the information. One baby saved from SIDS is worth it. I just felt that stitching the warning into the garment was over the top. Due to litigious people we now have to be informed that coffee is hot, not to use a hairdryer in the bath, and that one can suffocate if one puts a plastic bag over one’s head. If adults can’t take care of themselves, clearly we can not be trusted with helpless infants. Perhaps I am overreacting, but I do not need the baby sleep sack to tell me how to put my child to sleep. I believe that parents can be trusted with children. We all survived somehow– when there were many fewer safety regulations than there are today.

A Multi-Generational Cradle


This is a cradle that my father made for me when I was born. Now my baby gets to use it! It has been newly cleaned and is waiting for the arrival of the little one.

Our Montessori Bed

Montessori Floor Bed

Our simple floor bed, ready for baby.

The nursery is ready for baby! I spent today doing all of the finishing touches– hanging new blinds and curtains, putting everything away, cleaning, arranging and rearranging the furniture… and setting up the Montessori bed. It is very simple, no toys or pillows as that would not be safe for an infant. I am displaying the lovely hand-knit blanket that a relative made for the baby, but it will be removed for safety while the baby sleeps. Ideally a shatter proof mirror would be securely mounted to the wall next to the bed for visual stimulation and encouraging the baby to explore and “interact” with his or her reflection, but we do not have one. So, following the principle of having a simple, clutter-free, developmentally appropriate environment for the child, I resisted the urge to add more “stuff”. We used a very firm crib mattress, although a low profile twin size mattress designed for bunk beds or a futon mattress would work as well. A floor bed must be low enough that a baby will not be harmed by rolling or crawling off, and firm enough not to sag and cause a suffocation hazard. Look for a mattress with the most coils you can find, and test it to be sure that it properly supports baby. Some parents choose to put the mattress in a wooden frame to provide a more finished look. We decided to forego the frame for budget reasons and also so that there is nothing hard between the baby and the floor once he or she is mobile. The reason for using the floor bed is to allow the child to get into and out of bed independently. A pre-mobile infant benefits from the floor bed by having an unrestricted view of his or her surroundings, which encourages visual and eventually physical exploration. When the infant becomes independently mobile, the transition from visual to physical exploration happens seamlessly– there is no crying to be taken out of a crib. When the child is ready, he or she crawls off of the bed and into the nursery environment. For this reason everything must be safe for the baby to touch. It sometimes helps to think of the whole room as the crib and prepare it accordingly.
An excellent description of the Montessori floor bed– one of the most thorough I have seen online, can be found at:
Please, please, please check out the link. If you have any apprehension about the floor bed concept, or if you need a place to direct curious (or furious) people, this is the post to read. The whole site is worth looking at– lots of articles and videos that explain many aspects of Montessori philosophy.
Once our baby is born I will post about how the bed is working out. It won’t be long now!