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The floor bed

Trust me, I’ve heard it all.

Mary Ann's Room

 I love your nursery, but where’s the crib?  Well, there isn’t crib and let me tell you why. Without crib bars, the baby sees an unobstructed view of their room and starts to visually map their surroundings. A mirror runs along one side of the bed so that they can see themselves and connect their movements with their reflection. Also, by eliminating the crib, you’re knocking out one of the most expensive pieces of nursery furniture. That’s a win in my book.

Wait…your baby sleeps where?!? The baby sleeps on a mattress on the ground. Sounds crazy, right? Maybe the idea of a floor bed doesn’t seem so off the wall to me because I slept on one thirty years ago. I opted for a crib-sized mattress for my daughter, but in retrospect, wish I had gone with a twin or full sized instead. That way, she could have used the same mattress for a longer period of time.

Aren’t you afraid she’ll roll out of bed?  Yes. As a new mom I was petrified that my daughter would roll out of bed. Guess what? It happened to both my children and they’re fine. Precautions should be made so that serious injury doesn’t occur. Buy a very thin mattress and place it on carpet  and/or a rug to provide adequate cushion in the event of a fall. Children quickly learn about edges and will even back away while they sleep, but barriers (like pool noodles, socks with rice or rolled up towels) can be used until the baby gains better control of their body.

IMG_2400How do you get her to stay in there?  This is the question I am asked most often. This type of set up is designed to promote movement so expect them to get out of bed. Expect them to explore their room and expect to need patience with the process. Their room should be completely childproofed. I crawled around on the ground to make sure I didn’t see any potential hazards. Dressers, shelves and other furniture should all be bolted to the walls. Remember, they’re going to be roaming around in there without you!  I follow the same routine with both my children: dim the lights, read a story, rock and sing to them until they’re drowsy. I lay them in bed awake, but sleepy. For the first few minutes, I watched my daughter on the monitor. If she got out of bed, I’d go in,  put her back on the mattress and tell her it was time to sleep. Eventually, she got it and I rarely had to intervene. When she woke up, she’d crawl out of bed, play with her toys or look at books for at least 10-15 minutes. This exploration and entertainment was possible because the floor bed allowed her the independence to get in and out of bed on her own.

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You could easily write a book about this topic. My post is just a snapshot about our decision to have our babies sleep on the floor. If you’re on the fence about a floor bed, or have other questions, I would love to chat!

 

 

26 thoughts on “The floor bed

  1. Paige Holloway says:

    Loved mine. Loved hearing Matthew up in the morning. Then Sarah. Little people moving and exploring. So so many years ago.

  2. Barbara Collins says:

    Floor beds also teach interdependence. Babies are not standing up in their cribs crying for you to come get them out when they wake up. They learn they can do it themselves. More discovery of what they are capable of and what they are not. Learning self confidence and strength as they move about sometimes army crawling over to grab a toy or book off the shelf. As a mom of six it gave me sometimes an additional 30-45 mins after nap where baby was happy and awake, but I did not have to dote or be in there making sure they were ok. I knew cause I could heart the baby having fun (in those days we did not have visual monitors, yikes I am old). I could keep doing what I needed to do before my hands were tied up with baby or toddler. Teaching them about edges is also great if you are in a two story house as they learn quickly to turn around and back down because they have experienced going over an edge in their bed. Which is usually no more than a 4 inch drop. The only time it was unfavorable was when the gerbil got out of the cage. I could not have it running around while the baby was sleeping…….solution? We let the cat in.

  3. Virginia says:

    Hello,
    I am very curious about your experience with the floor bed. I have a 2 year old and a 3 month old. Currently they both sleep in cribs. My question is this; when did you start having your kids sleep on the floor and for how long? My husband and I are struggling with our 2 year old currently because he climbs out of his crib constantly. While he is very good at, I do worry about his safety. We put him down at 8 for bed and most nights he climbs out of bed several times and it takes anywhere from 1-2 hours for him to actually go to sleep. Since he can’t get back in we have to start the process all over again of getting him in bed and singing to him to settle him down. My husband had suggested that we just put his mattress on the floor but I felt that it wouldn’t give him the boundaries to keep him in bed. Not that his crib does anymore either! Do you think that at this age it would still be effective or have you heard of children this age making that kind of transition successfully? I guess I’m just at a loss with him right now and would be willing to try anything.

    Thank you in advance.
    Best regards,
    Virginia

    • Paige says:

      Virginia,

      It sounds like he is ready for a change. I think transitioning him to a floor bed could be successful, but also know that it might be challenging in the beginning. Don’t give up! The first thing I would suggest is stripping down the room to the bare basics. Until he gets the hang of sleeping in a room with all of that freedom, I would take out anything that might entice him to get out of bed (toys, books, etc). My guess is that he’s getting out of his crib to fill a need for attention from you. When you come in to put him back in bed, sing to him and start the bedtime routine all over again, his behavior (climbing out of bed) is rewarded. He gets two extra hours with you–who wouldn’t want that?! So, let him get in and out of his floor bed without a response. By doing this, you are no longer rewarding his behavior with attention. He might ramp up his efforts to get a response from you, but stay strong! Just remember this is a process, not an overnight fix.

      I started both my children on their floor beds around 8 weeks old with naps and then transitioned to full nights shortly after. My daughter moved up to a twin bed right around her 2nd birthday because we moved the floor bed into the nursery for my son. In a sense, you could keep a child on the floor bed as long as they’d like. Bed frames are really just for looks anyway! As I mentioned in my post, I wish I had started her off on a twin or double from the beginning. I definitely encourage you to try a floor bed with your 3 month old.

      I hope this helps and am here if you have any other questions!

  4. Angela says:

    my partner and i are expecting soon and we’ve really been on the fence about having a floor bed for our baby. we love the idea of promoting independence. but at the same time we see the value in having structure around nap times and bed time.
    i do shift work and work long hours so establishing good sleep patterns for the baby is really important for us if i’m going to be able to manage when i go back to work.
    has anyone been able to establish and maintain a nap and sleep routine using a floor bed?

    • Paige says:

      Angela,

      I think it boils down to consistent routines around naptime and bedtime. I follow the EASY (Eat, Awake, Sleep, You) pattern with both my children and have had great success with their sleep! You can still promote independence with a floorbed and still have set times for nap and bed. Children crave routine and predictably. Follow the same steps before every nap (turn down lights, read a book, rock and sing, etc.) and do the same before bedtime (take a bath, get in PJs, read a book and rock, etc.) Establishing these routines at an early age is important while still respecting their need for movement and freedom with a floorbed. You can have both! I hope this helps and am here if you have any other questions.

  5. Stacy says:

    My boys (3 and 10 months) share a room. Have you ever done a floor bed or two with a shared room? or would it be better to do just a floor bed for the baby? Thoughts? We currently have baby in a crib and big brother in the top bunk of a bunk bed.

    • Paige says:

      Stacy,
      Let me start by saying that I don’t have any personal experience with floor beds in a shared room. I think my first concern would be for the safety of your 10 month old. You know your children better than anyone, but I know I wouldn’t feel comfortable with my 3 year old and 6 month old sharing a room with floor beds. It’s not malicious, but sometimes my 3 year old is a little over zealous with her little brother and I worry what might happen without proper supervision. My mom (who had all six of us on floor beds) said she started putting us together in the same room when the younger sibling was able to walk and protect themselves from the older sibling if needed. Is your older son able to get off of the bunk bed independently? Is there anywhere that could serve as a room for your 10 month old until he’s a little older? I know I’m answering your questions with more questions, but I’m trying to gather as much information as I can so I can answer to the best of my ability. I’m happy that you’re interested in using floor beds and look forward to helping you in your journey!
      Paige

    • Admin says:

      Janet,

      We used a crib mattress and we built the frame to fit the mattress using 1/4″ ply wood on the bottom and 1/2″ furniture grade pine for the sides. We cut the entry way out and routed/sanded all the edges smooth, then painted to suit. A couple lessons learned: use a thin twin vice a crib mattress, it’ll last longer (especially if your kids are as big as ours). Make the sides about 1/2″ to 3/4″ lower than the top of the mattress. Our’s is even and doesn’t provide a buffer for bumps when the little ones start to roll (although the pool noodles help). If you have any questions please let us know.

  6. Melissa says:

    Virginia, Paige’s response is spot on. We transitioned out at 1.5 yrs for safety(but will start floor bed from the beginning with our new baby). We had a baby gate at the door so that our son wouldn’t go roaming about the house. Now bed times are super easy- book, song, and then sleep.

  7. Bekky says:

    I am really not interested in repeating the bedtime troubles we had with our daughter when this next baby arrives, I wonder if this would help. She started finally taking naps when she turned one because I gave up on the crib and just put her down in my bed, now I love that she can get up independently instead of having to cry for me to come get her. She’s still in the crib at night though. Did you find that there were stages when they had a harder time staying in bed? Or I guess I should say did you have to repeat that training a few times?

    • Paige says:

      Bekky,
      Congratulations on your new baby on the way! It sounds like your daughter is ready to transition to a floor bed full time if she’s doing so well during nap time. I think the hardest stage for me was when they start to roll, but don’t have full control of their movements. I remedied this with my son by putting pool noodles around the edge of his bed (as seen in the post). Once he’s mobile, I will take them off and let the exploring begin! There were times with my daughter that I had to limit items on the shelf and encourage her to sleep in her bed, but it was usually during a growth spurt or time of new discovery. All in all, our experience has been fantastic! I suggest using a larger mattress from the start (twin or full) because it gives them more freedom of movement and transitions with them as they grow. Please let me know if you have any other questions! I’m so happy you’re thinking about doing this with your daughter and the little one on the way!
      Paige

  8. Bre says:

    Hi! I have a question. I had tried a floor bed with my second child a few years ago and liked it but she was already around one and it was just in her room. Now, with our third (3 months old), we are in a new house and she is in our bedroom for probably the first year or so. We’ve got her in a crib but I’ve been contemplating the floor bed again. Would you still recommend it in this case since it is a little harder to baby proof? I mean, I can do the electric socket shields but what about our table with alarm clock cords or our bed is up on a frame so she could eventually crawl under – those kinds of things. I could even see the rocker we rock her in being a problem. Not sure what to do in this case. Thanks in advance :)

    • Paige says:

      Bre,
      You’re absolutely right to consider the safety aspects of sharing a room with your baby. I use cord covers in both my children’s room because they safely keep cords out of reach and easily adhere to the wall. What about arranging your furniture in a way that partitions off her bed from the rest of the room? This would create her own little space in your bedroom and allow her to move around freely. Would you consider putting your bed on the floor until she is a little older or moves into her own room? It might not be as aesthetically pleasing to you, but remember, it’s only temporary! I hope this helps!

      Paige

  9. Sabrianne says:

    My 11 month old has had a floor bed since day one. I am a Montessori teacher and I really value the independence it offers. For about two months now, I have done the routine where we read, sing, and lay down drowsy. The problem is as soon as I lay her down and walk away she cries, crawls out and crawl to the door and cries. Within a minute she is asleep on the floor. I have finally put a blanket so she is at least sleeping on that and then she usually transfers fine once she is asleep. I figured it was a phase and I needed to stay consistent but now it almost seems like a habit. There are toys and a nightlight in her room. She has started to play when she wakes up but not before… Any thoughts?

    • Paige says:

      Sabrianne,

      I think your routine sounds wonderful! I encourage you to talk a lot about her bed using phrases like the following: This is your bed where you sleep at night. Let me show you my bed where I sleep at night. Your bed is very comfortable like mine! I know you don’t want her to sleep on the floor, but putting a blanket on the ground could be confusing because you’re creating another sleep space for her. It’s comfortable for her and she has no reason to get back into bed. I encourage you to leave her on the floor. The following routine gives no need for change: crawl to the door, sleep on a blanket, get put back in bed and wake up in her own bed. There have been many nights that my daughter slept on the floor and eventually made it back to her bed. I hope this helps!

      Paige

  10. Angie says:

    Our adult daughter started using a full-size floor bed for our granddaughter as soon as she outgrew the bassinet. One huge advantage not mentioned is the ease of breastfeeding. A mom can easily lay down on the baby’s bed to nurse them at bedtime and nap times. The floor bed has been perfect for our granddaughter.

  11. mary says:

    What about the doorway? I would be afraid we might open the door on the baby, but would using a “baby gate” work or would it be too distracting for the baby?

    • Paige says:

      Mary,

      I really think it depends on your child. My mom (who used floor beds with all six of us) used a gate in the doorway for some of us but not others. Some children need the security of seeing out of the room and hearing household noises, while others do better with it quiet. I don’t use a gate, so I slowly open the door and have never had an issue.

      Paige

  12. Pam says:

    Just found your post via Pinterest. Love social media that way. I have an 8 month old and he currently sleeps on a floor mattress. But Its a very old mattress and I am looking to purchase a new one. I’m curious to know if you’ve come across any thoughts around latex, cotton, foam futon vs mattrsss. If you could buy your floor bed again what would you get that won’t break the bank?

  13. BD says:

    So curious…. what age did you start your baby out on the floor? Where was the baby when it was a newborn? I’d like to mimic the idea, but I’d love to know more about the ages….

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