You may have found this post because you are curious about using a Montessori floor bed with twins or because you are curious if you can use a twin mattress as a floor bed. Either way, you are in the right place becuase I will dive into both of those topics! Let me first say that I am a Montessori mama to twins. As a Montessori parent, I wanted to try the floor bed experience. I was very intrigued by the idea of a floor bed, but I did not know how it would work with infant twins. I want to encourage you on your journey that using a Montessori floor bed with twins is possible.
Purpose of a Montessori Floor Bed
A Montessori floor bed is just like it sounds, a bed on the floor. A Montessori floor bed is intended to allow freedom of movement to a child. We are able to allow free movement by having a carefully and safely prepared sleeping environment. When we prepare a safe space then we can encourage and support a child’s independence by offering the child freedom. One of the main reasons you would choose to use a floor bed is likely because you are looking for an alternative sleeping solution to a crib or have an understanding of Montessori philosphy and want to give the floor bed a try like I wanted to.
Are floor beds safe?
I get lots of questions about the safety of a floor bed. I would argue yes, floor beds are safe. One thing to note about using a Montessori bed is that the mattress or bed frame is directly on the floor. Practically speaking, the child is only a few inches off of the ground. If they were to tumble off of their floor bed, which is likely to happen at some point, they don’t have far to go. You can also put a rug down, as long as it is done safely. In our case, we have carpet in our bedrooms which provides a cushion for when they get off their bed.
Another thing to note is that it isn’t just about the floor bed being safe, we need the entire bedroom to be safe. It is critical that you prepare the sleeping area with care to ensure that your baby or child truly is safe in that environment. I have a whole blog post about how to baby-proof a Montessori nursery if you want more details.
What if my baby falls off their floor bed?
For the first few months when we started using a floor bed, our boys were not rolling or moving much. As they started rolling, slithering, and eventually crawling they learned how to get down off of their bed.
If I say they “fall off of their bed”, it sounds really awful. The truth is that it is more of a tumble. I found that when they are getting off of their bed it is often an intentional action. However, initially, when they start to do this it is a little clumsy and uncoordinated. You would be surprised at how quickly they come to figure it out!
An infant will start to notice what the edge of their bed feels like. Even though my boys knew where their bed ended and the floor began, that didn’t necessarily keep them on their bed. But can you blame them? They have a whole room to explore! I have heard other individuals share that their baby did stay on their floor bed and rarely got off, but that wasn’t my experience.
How Do I Keep My Baby On Their Bed?
This is a very valid question. However, if you are looking to contain your baby a floor bed is likely not the best solution. The whole idea is that the child does have the freedom to move off the side of the bed. This can be a big adjustment and you may have a hard time offering this freedom when you have a different idea of what your child should be doing, like sleeping!
If you make the transition from a crib to a toddler floor bed, you may have more opportunities to explain to your toddler that the bed is where you sleep and you need to stay in your bed. However, that strategy is not likely to work on your 10-month-old who just discovered how to crawl!
The only tip I have for keeping your baby on their bed is to create consistent routines. After months of using a floor bed, and many times of putting our twins back onto their beds, they have learned that their bed is where they sleep. They don’t always fall asleep on their bed, but more often than not, by 10 months old they were consistently staying on their floor bed when we put them to bed for the night. In my experience, it has been more challenging to keep them in their bed for nap time so I usually don’t try. I will move them back to their twin-size floor bed when they fall asleep.
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When Should I Start Using a Floor Bed?
When you start using a floor bed, it is entirely up to you. You can start right from the beginning of their life and skip using a crib altogether. Or you could make the transition from a crib to a floor bed as a toddler bed, or anywhere in-between!
I personally would recommend using a floor bed as early as possible if you can ensure a safe sleeping environment. We started using a floor bed early on for naps and then nighttime was still in our bedroom. We used a crib-size mattress on the floor of our bedroom after our twin bassinet was no longer serving us as well as it did in the beginning.
Tips for Success
The first thing I recommend you do if you are considering using a floor bed with twins or any child is to start thinking about your expectations of sleep, your child’s freedom, and preparing an environment differently. The Montessori philosphy stretches our thinking to not just consider the norm or what is convenient for us, the adult. First, we look at the child and make a good choice based on their developmental needs. The first developmental need is their safety. Freedom of movement is definitely something we want to be able to offer our children whenever possible, but if we are not able to prepare a truly safe environment using the floor bed design, then it actually isn’t in the best interest for our children.
Another thing Anticipate redirecting toward sleep. The aim of our Montessori sleeping environment is to promote sleep. Sometimes, with two babies sharing a space and having freedom of movement they can get carried away with playing or interacting with one another. In the Montessori philosphy, adults can be referred to as a guide. I like to think of myself as a guide at times as well. When necessary, like when they are climbing on each other or just seem like they need a little extra help falling asleep, I will go into their room and move them back to their bed. I will also tell them it is time to sleep. This is a process and it may take a long time to accept that your child has a will, and it doesn’t always align with your idea of what their sleep should look like.
Consider having a bigger bed that will allow them to sleep together, even as they get older. If you intend to breastfeed, having a larger mattress may help during middle-of-the-night feedings as well.
Tips for Transitioning to a Floor Bed
If you are looking to make a transition from a crib to a floor bed, here are a few tips as you navigate the transition.
- First, make sure to baby-proof the entire room. Outlet covers, cord covers, furniture secured to the wall, and more! Check out this blog post for more tips on baby-proofing a Montessori nursery.
- Keep other naptime and bedtime routines the same. The only change is that they are now sleeping on a floor bed rather than a crib.
- Give your child time in the room to play and explore before the first time they sleep in there
- Depending on when you make the transition, you could place them on their floor bed asleep. Observe what they do when they wake up from their nap. Work up towards falling asleep independently if that is a goal of yours.
- Check-in with yourself and assess how you are doing with the transition as well. It will be an adjustment to offer this freedom of movement if you are used to them being contained in a crib.
- Lastly, give it a few weeks for your child to adjust. Give your child and yourself grace throughout the transition period.
Benefits of Montessori Floor Beds
I think there are a lot of benefits of a floor bed. These are my top 5 favorite things about using a floor bed with twins
It fosters healthy sleep habits
By preparing an environment that is entirely for my baby to move and explore through. I am giving them the space to move and sleep when they are ready. I am preparing routines and timing naps and bedtimes around age-appropriate wake windows. Also on my own observations of my child’s sleep needs. One of the biggest benefits I see is that they are able to move about freely and sleep when they are ready. They will sleep when they are ready, at least in my experience that is the case. There are also times I would imagine they would be exhausted, but then they play in their room and pull books off their bookshelf for almost an hour!
Non-obstructive view of their environment
When an infant or young child is on a floor bed, they can look around the room and see things as they are. There are no crib bars that they are looking through. They have a non-obstructed view of their environment.
With a floor bed, it is so easy to comfort your baby. Probably more of a benefit for me and part of the reason for choosing a floor bed is the fact that I didn’t want to be draping myself over the crib to pat a baby’s bottom to help them to sleep. I enjoy having the ability and freedom to sit right next to them or lie down with them. This has been so wonderful during seasons of illness when they needed more comfort or just on those more sensitive days.
I hear of babies learning how to climb out of their cribs. That is a big fall to the floor when a child figures out how to do that. With a floor bed, my babies are just a few inches off of the ground. There is no risk of them falling from a high height.
Peace of Mind
The Montessori nursery has offered me peace of mind knowing that they have space and toys available to them. They are not confined to one small space, instead, the physical boundaries are the room rather than the 4 walls of a crib. Another thing I love about having twins and using floor beds is they are never alone and they have the comfort of eachother.
Floor Bed Options
When it comes to options for a floor bed, there are a few types of things you can do.
Mattress on the Floor
One option is to just place a mattress directly onto the floor. No frame or anything. This was a very low-cost option, especially with twins! If you live in a very moist climate, having some sort of frame that allows the mattress to breathe is best. Regardless of climate, you should lift and vacuum under the mattress regularly if you plan to place the mattress directly on the floor.
Structured Floor Bed
If you want a little more structure for your floor bed, Sprout sells a Birch Montessori floor bed which has customizable side heights as well and it is available in a crib, twin, or full size. You can have it with two low sides or one low and one high side. The Sprout Montessori Floor bed can be used with a firm crib mattress, a twin mattress, or a full-size mattress.
My Experience Using a Floor Bed with Twins
I will break my floor bed experience into a few different phases and stages.
Birth – 4 months
We used the floor bed at times during the day to lay them down for naps. During these months, the babies were asleep when I put them down, or very drowsy. I was not laying them down awake on the floor bed at this stage. We used a sleep sack with each boy as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. We started our twins in a twin bassinet for nighttime sleep for the first few months.
4 Months to 8 Months
Around 4 months I was starting to lay the twins down for naps on their twin bed drowsy but awake. They were starting to put themselves to sleep more independently around this time.
8 Months to 1 Year
As I come upon the one-year mark with our twins our floor bed experience is still pretty similar to how it was a few months ago. They are much more mobile and are able to get on and off their floor bed with great ease. They will periodically get off but then later get back onto their floor bed to fall asleep. I have observed that they stay on their bed more when it is time for nighttime sleep, naps are more challenging. About half of the time I nurse them to sleep and just lay them down on their floor bed. Not necessarily because I intend to but it just seems to line up that they need to eat at similar times to when they go down for naps.
Can you do sleep training with a Montessori floor bed?
Whether or not you choose to sleep train your child, I can share based on my experience that it is possible to do sleep training with twins in the same room using a Montessori floor bed. We started our sleep training journey at around 8 months old. I slowly weaned the night feedings, and naturally, within a couple of nights, they were sleeping through the night. I was worried that they would wake one another up if they woke up in the night, but that really wasn’t much of an issue. Surprisingly, I found the Montessori-style bed to be conducive to sleep training.
When should I transition from a crib to a floor bed?
There is no right or wrong time to make the transition from a crib to a floor bed. I would say that when you are comfortable with the idea of a floor bed and ready to embrace the transition period, then it would be a perfect time to transition from a crib to a floor bed.
What Size Do Floor Beds Come In?
Commonly I have seen floor beds in crib size, twin size, and full size. We already had a twin-size mattress, so we used that. At a certain point, I wanted the boys on different beds, so we used a firm crib-size mattress as well. We did that for a short time and now they sleep together on one twin-size mattress. My recommendation would be to use either a twin or full-size mattress.
While they were still waking up in the middle of the night to eat, I would go and lay on their floor bed with them. I was able to nurse in the sideline position and then once they had finished eating, I would slip away and they would stay asleep. It worked out very well. Unfortunately, when we were also using a crib-size mattress I would not be able to do that with one of our twins, and so I nursed in the chair in their room and then put him back on his bed.
If I were to have twins again, I would start off with a full or even queen-sized bed on the floor. This would allow me to lay on their bed with both babies on either side of me. However, a twin-size bed is sufficient for one adult and one baby or two babies.