Are Montessori Floor Beds Bad For Baby’s Sleep?

il_570xN.455124444_cf8oThere’s no shortage of theories out there about how to best raise a child. In fact, there are over 60,000 book titles in Amazon’s ‘Parenting’ category! But while many of those titles (and their authors) will be forgotten over time, a few may stand the test of time. Here’s one such time-tested theory: the Montessori Method. Read on to learn about this and all about Montessori floor beds and sleep!

What Is The Montessori Method?

Developed in the early 20th century by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator, the Montessori Method is a child-centered way of thinking about education and childcare. The Montessori Method stresses independence, freedom for the child (within limits), and respect for the child’s development.

Applying the Montessori Method At Home – The Montessori Nursery

The Montessori Method focuses largely on education. However, many Montessori principles can be applied to childcare in general, and to any setting in which a child spends time — including home. For example, the Montessori Method urges teachers and caregivers to encourage independence by putting everything that a child needs at the child’s level. Children should be able to get to their clothes, their toys, their snacks, etc. without help from an adult.

This principle applies to a child’s own bedroom as well. Since it’s their room, everything should be within the child’s reach, and on the child’s level. This includes all furniture, clothing, books, toys, and artwork.

Wondering what a Montessori-style nursery looks like? Here’s a picture of blogger Meg McElwee’s son’s room, to help you visualize…


Photo Credit:

Want even more Montessori-style nursery pictures? Check out Kylie’s tour of her sons’ Montessori bedrooms, over at

The Montessori Floor Bed

The biggest difference between a traditional nursery and a Montessori nursery is the fact that a Montessori nursery does not contain a crib. In a Montessori-style nursery, the child sleeps on a floor bed. You can find a variety of (often expensive) floor bed frames. But, you can also do a cheap, D-I-Y version by simply laying a mattress directly on the floor. Both work!

The idea behind a Montessori floor bed is in line with the general principles of the Montessori Method. A child should have freedom of movement, and should be able to move independently around his (carefully childproofed!) room. For this reason, a floor bed is preferable to a crib, since a crib restricts movement and limits independence. Montessori parents typically keep their babies in a bassinet or Moses basket during the newborn stage. Starting as early as 2 months or so, they transition baby to a floor bed.

Do Montessori Floor Beds Really Work?

If you aren’t familiar with the Montessori Method, the idea of a floor bed might seem surprising. Most of us who live in the West have been conditioned to understand that babies need to sleep in cribs. Many of us believe that they are not ready for a bed until they are toddlers. So the notion of putting a baby on a mattress on the floor may be hard to understand at first.

It may also raise questions, like “Is a floor bed safe?” “Do babies and toddlers actually stay in bed, or do they constantly get up?”

We should point out here that, if you use a floor bed, it’s critical that you carefully childproof your baby or toddler’s room first. This means getting down on your child’s level (ie: hands and knees) and carefully checking for any hazards that may harm your child. Only when you’ve childproofed can you put your child in his or her floor bed.

As for whether or not floor beds are conducive to sleep…that’s a different question altogether.

Montessori Floor Beds Work Well For Some Children…

As with so many other things, the question of whether or not a floor bed will work for your child depends on…your child. 🙂 Some parents have huge success with using a Montessori-style floor bed; their children stay in bed without issue. But other parents find that their babies and toddlers end up playing jack-in-the-box all night long and during naps, popping up out of bed every few minutes.

Specifically, whether or not a floor bed will work for your child has a lot to do with your baby or toddler’s unique sleep history (does your child still wake frequently at night or struggle with naps?) as well as her unique temperament (is your child perceptive? Highly persistent? Very, very energetic?)

A child who is naturally a “good” sleeper, who settles into a nice sleep and feeding schedule fairly quickly, and who is relaxed and cooperative by nature may do quite well with a floor bed, from a very early age. Children like this will probably be less affected by the fact that there are no physical boundaries keeping them in bed (the way there are with a crib). These children may be more willing to get in bed (and stay in bed) when they feel sleepy.

…But Not For Others

However, a child who struggles with nighttime waking and poor naps, who is intense and persistent and easily distracted and full of energy, may not do as well with a floor bed. Remember, babies and young toddlers are concrete thinkers. They do not understand abstract concepts yet. So the abstract boundaries of the floor bed are tough to understand, unlike the physical boundaries of the crib. Again, some children are able to understand and obey the ‘stay in bed concept’ very early, but others are not. Much of this is based on temperament and development.

Here’s the advice we give to our clients who use Montessori floor beds: if the floor bed is working well for everyone in your home, great! No need to make changes. But if the floor bed is not working (i.e. if the baby or toddler is out of bed constantly, and is not sleeping), then consider these two options:

  1. Switch to a crib for awhile. We usually recommend transitioning to a bed somewhere between 2 and 3 years, so if your child is younger than 2, and if the floor bed is simply not working, consider moving to a crib.
  2. Stick with the floor bed, and be patient. Some families are committed to a Montessori-style nursery, and just don’t want to use a crib — and we understand that! Parenting philosophies are deeply personal and unique, and at The Baby Sleep Site®, we make a practice of respecting every family’s unique approach. In these cases, we advise parents to be patient. Sleep coaching may be tougher (and probably take longer) since the child can get in and out of bed. Sleep can improve; it may just take a longer to get there.

Nicole’s Note:
“Creativity can take you far with a ‘non-traditional’ (so far) concept. If you are open-minded, you may find a different solution that is ‘fine for now.’ Perhaps it means your baby starts in her room and then you co-sleep the rest of the night after you go to bed. Or, perhaps you set up the Montessori bed in your room, so you are each in your own sleep spaces but in the same room. Once sleep has improved, you can try moving the bed to your child’s room. There are a number of different arrangements when you don’t have a rigid picture about what ‘success’ looks like.”

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54 thoughts on “Are Montessori Floor Beds Bad For Baby’s Sleep?”

  1. Our son is just turning 18 months and he is 90th percentile we’ve used a crib he has always went to the crib when he needed a nap and always by 10pm asleep for the night no crying but hes the size of a 2 year old and can climb like a monkey so we got him a big boy car bed with side that is on the floor next to our bed in case he ever figures out hey time to explore lol but all rooms are baby proofed and checked every day so far sleeping through the night still

    • Hi @Sandra, thanks for sharing with us! I hope he continues to do great! My son also transitioned really well to a toddler bed right after he turned 2. Glad it’s working out for you!

  2. Everything is very open with a very clear description of the challenges.
    It was definitely informative. Your site is extremely helpful.
    Thank you for sharing!

  3. Hi!
    My son is now 18 month, and after one and a half year of endless struggle to go to bed, nightmares, wake-ups every 30 mintues and me constantly feeling, that I am doing something wrong, I finally gave up and let him choose the place he wanted to go to sleep at. He took my hand and led me to a matress(we use it as a kind of “floor sofa” in combination with some big back-pillows). He got asleep in no time(whaaat?), perfectly happy(finally!) and didnt wake up during the night. We have this perfect life with a happy kid and highly puzzled mom for about 10 days now. He comes over to our bedroom in the morning and tells us that he is hungry. I am really happy I found your page – its great to see, that there is some other people who end up with this solution! Our son is super active and energetic kid, – who apparently absolutely hated to have the boundries of the crib…

    • @Julia, wow! Thanks for sharing with us. I am so glad your little one is so communicative and let you know what he needed and you listened!

  4. My grandson likes to sleep on the floor mat in his playyard. I thought about putting a crib mattress in there but worried about him rolling between the matress and the wall. Is this really safe? He is 7 months old.

    They say no soft stuff in the bed so worried about carpet or floor foam if he rolls off.

    • Hi Stephanie,
      Thank you for using The Baby Sleep Site as a resource! I’m not sure I know exactly what kind of floor mat you’re talking about, but if it’s part of a pack ‘n play, it should be safe for a baby to sleep on. If it’s been removed from the pack ‘n play to be on the floor, then it will depend on whether the type of carpet you have could limit his breathing if he did roll onto it. By this age, though, most types of flooring will be safe, so the worry is more whether he could crawl away and get into anything that would be a hazard. I hope this helps, but I’d encourage you to talk to your son’s pediatrician if you have any health concerns like this at all!

  5. Hi
    I am interested in floor bed for my 12 months old. What you suggest for my baby about floor sleeping? I am expected your answer and thanks for the sharing such a informative article.

    • Hi @Patrick Byas, I am glad to hear the article was helpful! I will not pretend to be an expert on Montessori Floor Beds as I am a representative of our Client Relations Team so am qualified to answer general questions and point you in the direction of more resources that can answer your question! 🙂 If you have specific issues you are encountering with sleep and using a floor bed for your baby, let us know. We have a team of sleep consultants that can help you through one of our Personalized Consultation Packages which you can read about here:
      I hope that helps!

  6. Hi I am interested in floor bed for my 13months old. We have queen mattress and I am wondering if I I should directly put the mattress on the hardwood or not concern of aircirculstion under the mattress. Also even though the mattress is on the floor she might roll and hurt since the mattress is taller than crib mattress

    • @Hannah, Thank you for stopping by the Baby Sleep Site and for you comment! That is great you are doing research on doing a floor bed for your toddler. As a Client Relations Specialist here at the Baby Sleep Site, I do not want to answer your comment incorrectly. 🙂 If you need help as you work through this transition our sleep consultants would be able to answer your specific questions and help! You can view our options for one-on-one consultations here if you are interested:
      Good luck with the transition!

  7. Hi
    Our little one is just starting to roll, we are on a double mattress, we are worried about him rolling off the bed or rolling into the wall and hitting his head.
    So I did a search, I discovered these fantastic Italian beds, ( Woodly ), handmade, with 100% natural materials, incredible! A really special product philosophy.
    They are a little expensive, but worth up to the last penny. We are very happy.

    • Hi @Marisa,
      Yes! Safety is first, so we are glad that you made a change and found something that works for you! Thank you for sharing!

  8. Need recommendation:

    Is it safe for a toddler to sleep on a floor bed with harder sponge pillow on one side near the wall.?!? Thanks.

    {email address removed by admin}

    • @Janet – Thank you for stopping by our sleepy little village! Toddlers can generally safely sleep on this montessori-style bed without issues if it works for them and for you. You can also run this idea by your toddler’s healthcare provider for their opinion in case your toddler has a special circumstance. The one thing we like to remind parents of is to be sure to toddler-proof the sleeping space since your little one will be free to roam around without the confines of a crib. Here’s an article that you may find helpful on just this topic – Thank you again for commenting and please stop in to see us again soon!

  9. Hi,
    I intended to do a floor mattress from birth and even set up my baby gift registry with a mattress and sheets. I chickened out when he was born and put him in the pack and play bassinet. I tried the mattress at 8 months and carefully monitored him with the baby monitor during a nap. I had set up the mattress with yoga mats underneath in case he fell off and moved everything away from him that could hurt him. That was last December so my memory is fuzzy but I recall him falling off the mattress and hitting his head on the floor. My husband felt I hadn’t done enough research to really tackle it at that time and we chickened out again! We have a one bedroom apartment in NYC so hard to figure out how to make this work and baby proof since it is our bedroom too. We were thinking maybe using our stand-alone play pen around the mattress with toys on the inside but I was thinking that kind of defeats the purpose of mobility and independence. Any advice would be great since I really do believe in this approach! He will be 18 months in November 2017. Thanks!

    • @Kellee, Thanks for using the Baby Sleep Site as a resource! Now that your son is a bit older, he is at the age where he is wanting to explore everything so since it is your bedroom as well, I do think it will be important to figure out a solution to baby proof at least an area so he doesn’t hurt himself. If you decide to move forward and change the traditional Montessori Method to fit your family’s needs, I think that is just fine! Thanks for commenting!

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