The Montessori approach encourages us to provide many opportunities for children — even babies!– to experience freedom of movement, respect, and choices, all of which contribute to the learning process. But you don’t have to be in the classroom to create these opportunities. There are many ways to do this at home. And, if you’re brave enough to try the floor bed, you can do it in your sleep! (Or, rather, your baby’s sleep.)
So, why do some families opt for a floor bed instead of a crib?
A toddler floor bed allows freedom of movement
The opportunity to move freely in their room gives your baby a feeling of independence. They become comfortable seeking out new things, and your little one will see the world as a place to make discoveries. They can scoot to the door to see if you really have left, and then scoot back to their bed. Parents are often surprised to learn that even young babies will choose to get back in their bed when it is time for sleep! Your child can wake up and check to see if there are new books in the book basket. All this opportunity for movement makes the world feel full of possibility. The freedom in their bedroom translates to freedom of thought as they grow older. It is natural for them to feel curious and then to follow up on those curiosities because they have had this freedom from the time that they were babies. As they get older, they will continue to make discoveries in their world, both physically and intellectually, and then determine new patterns and ideas from this exploration. Freedom of movement provides a good foundation for this kind of learning.
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Floor beds convey respect
When your baby’s bedroom is designed around their needs and capabilities, it reflects a sense of respect for them. Having the bed on the floor is a way of giving your baby a room that is on their level. A baby who grows up with this kind of respect will develop a feeling of empowerment. They learn that they can make changes in their world, and they can control their lives from a very young age. This feeling leads to confidence. Your baby will learn that they do not have to wait for you to come in and get them before they can do anything, because their room was created with their abilities in mind. They can change their environment as soon as they wake up and feel like it. Their day does not begin and end with your presence. This kind of empowerment is incredible for a young baby. They learn to trust themselves and their abilities because you trusted them. Having confidence like this from a young age will aid how they learn throughout their life. They will develop the knowledge that if they do not know something, they can trust themselves to go and find it out. Learning requires real effort throughout our lives. It is not easy. Having a deep sense of confidence will give your child the faith to push through the challenge. Your respect for them from a young age will encourage this confidence.
A floor bed encourages decision-making
The floor bed provides your baby with choices from the moment they wake up. Every morning, they can choose–the mobile, the mirror on the wall, the wooden rattle, or the cloth ball? (All vetted for safety). It’s up to their interest on that day. Because it is what is most interesting to them, they will exercise their concentration on that activity. The best way to develop skills in concentration is simply to practice concentrating. It’s a straightforward concept. The challenge as a parent is to find something that your baby wants to concentrate on. Thankfully, Montessori’s work lays out activities and objects that appeal to your baby at different times in their development. However, even with these specific instructions, we cannot always know exactly what they will want to do at any given time. This is where the genius of choice comes in. When your baby has (limited) choices, they will choose the activity that interests them most in that moment. We do not have to guess. The floor bed gives your baby developmentally appropriate choices and allows them to strengthen their budding concentration in the security of their own bedroom.
There are so many ways to support your baby’s learning through a Montessori environment. Families who do not choose to use the floor bed still have many ways of incorporating this approach into their homes. Freedom of movement, respect, and choices are inherent in every aspect of the Montessori method. This work happens in the classroom and it happens at home. The floor bed is just one of many ways to affect your baby’s development.