Our children have never slept in cots and all have slept on floor beds. This came around accidentally (I’ll explain) and then was continued because its actually a ‘thing’ and made a lot of sense to us and our parenting style.
The floor bed is based on the Montessori principles of allowing children to explore and learn through their environment. It is essentially what it sounds like- a bed on the floor. There are some beautiful frames you can buy or make but ours have been a simple mattress on the floor. We did find, however, that it needs slats underneath in order to allow some air flow.
Jude has just made the transition into his floor bed. He is 8 months old. If we were not on the verge of moving and had a bigger space then he would have moved into it a lot sooner. Alice was in hers at 6 months.
When we had Joseph, our first, he was a horrendous sleeper. I don’t say that lightly, the boy did not sleep for any longer than 40 minutes at a time throughout the night up until he was about 1 and then was awake every 2-3 hours till he was 2. He screamed on waking, wherever he was, whoever he was with and needed nursing to fall back to sleep. It was so so tiring and we ended up doing accidental co-sleeping. Accidental because that hadn’t really been the plan. Our bed broke and we couldn’t afford a new one so the mattress went on the floor. I would manage to feed him back to sleep and then the slightest movement and he would wake. I could never transfer him from the floor (or anywhere for that matter) to a cot, so I gave up in order to have some sleep myself! After researching Montessori more and her principles, we realised that this could be in our favour. That staying on the floor could work. And so our children sleeping on the floor came from there.
It is definitely not the norm in our society and many people are shocked when I state that the baby who can crawl/walk does not sleep in a cot, but it is something we embrace throughout our home and is part of how we parent.
We encourage independence right from the start. That means giving our children the freedom to move. We stay with them until they fall asleep or until they are old enough to decide that that is what they want to do and can manage this, its just something we do and it works for us. If they need one of us in the night they have the ability to come and wake us rather than shout from a cot in which they can’t get out.
There are a small selection of toys, materials or books to keep them occupied if they wake early (although this takes time to master!). We use a Gro Clock so they are able to see if it is time to get up or not. This does not make the younger ones stay in bed but it does give a visual as to the time before they can read a clock. We can then say, “wait until your clock turns yellow” and this has helped with the early wake ups and parents’ inability to function at 4 am.
As one of my friends once said, “you always cut out the middle man” and it is true, we do. There is then no need to make the transition from a cot to a bed when they are older and potentially more sensitive to change.
It is one of our parenting wins, the floor beds and a choice (ish) I’m glad we made. It is about creating the right environment for your child throughout your home, not about ditching a cot and popping a mattress on the floor. The room and environment around your child needs to be safe, stimulating and encouraging independence and the floor bed is one part of this set up.
Once we are up and running in our new home I will be able to post photos that show the bedroom set up more clearly!