As a certified Montessori teacher
, I have truly fallen in love with Montessori's philosophy and attitudes towards young children. Hubby went to a Montessori school when he was young, and I am convinced it is part of what made him the intelligent, amazing person he is. Thus, it is perhaps one of my biggest parenting goals to use a Montessori-based approach to childrearing.
Before even getting pregnant I started looking into books about using Montessori for infants. I knew lots about how it applied to 3-6 year olds, the age group I used to work with, but little about the younger years. One of the ideas that intrigued me the most was that of using a floor bed
instead of a crib.
The idea is that a low mattress on the floor provides the child with a better view of his room and surroundings and more freedom to move about, which in turn makes for a calmer and happier child. Often a rug or pillows will be placed around the edges of the mattress, so if the baby rolls off he won't be harmed. It is of course important that the entire room be completely safe for the child to crawl around in, essentially turning it into a giant playpen for him.
I was conflicted for a while about whether I wanted to make this leap-- I knew it would probably raise lots of eyebrows, as it's pretty far from the "standard" way of doing things with babies. But as I read and researched, I didn't need to read too many stories of babies whose arms or legs had gotten caught between the crib slats, or of climbing over the rail and falling several feet down onto the floor, to decide that I did not want to use a crib. This feeling was reinforced by talking to friends who had used a floor bed for their babies years ago, and had nothing but good things to say about their experiences.
For the most part his room is set up to be safe, but there's still some more baby-proofing we definitely need to do. He sleeps on a small mattress that's just 2-3 inches thick, but otherwise about the same measurements as a twin-sized mattress. I worried that he wouldn't sleep well there after being used to sleeping in his cozy moses basket for the first 3 months of life, but he adjusted just fine. I put some pictures up on the wall next to his bed that he can look at as he falls asleep or wakes up. And I love that when I go in to feed him in the middle of the night, I can just sit on his bed, resting my back against the wall, and nurse him, and when he's done and has drifted off to sleep I just have to gently move him barely a few feet away to lay him back down.
It's a working experiment. So far, so good. Maybe I'll change my mind when he starts crawling and getting into things, as I'm sure no matter how well I try to prepare his room he'll probably find something to get into that I hadn't thought of. And if at some point it becomes clear that it's not working anymore, then we'll figure out something new. But for now, I'm liking this set-up. Doing tummy time on his bed after waking from a nap.