What is a Montessori bed
A Montessori bed is a type of floor bed that is low to the ground and easy for young children to enter and exit without adult assistance. The concept of free access is inspired by the Montessori method, an educational philosophy championed by Italian physician, Dr. Maria Montessori in the early 1900s.
Most people refer to this method in the context of the educational philosophy used in some preschools.
So what does it have to do with a floor bed for toddlers?
A Montessori-inspired bedroom, according to some, encourages a child to become independent and to explore their surroundings, just like in preschool1. They are also believed to help children develop responsibility and self-confidence.
Is there science behind it?
Not really. However, floor beds do have some other benefits for children.
For young children, beds are associated with a substantial portion of home injuries2.
The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System reports that 23000 children under the age of 9 are treated in emergency rooms every year for bed-height-related falls. 3.2% of them need to be hospitalized3.
These toddler beds tend to be low-profile platform beds that will mitigate this problem. They will help prevent fall-related injuries in young children.
Should parents choose a Montessori bed frame for their children
There is no scientific evidence proving its effectiveness in promoting children’s independence, yet they are marketed heavily to new parents.
In some parenting books, such beds are even recommended right after a baby is born4.
In some parenting circles, cribs are also believed to be an unethical treatment to babies, treating them like prisoners.
If you are thinking about buying it for your child, here are a few things to consider.
When choosing a sleep arrangement for young children, age is an important consideration.
In the United States, 3500 infants die every year from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), accidental suffocation, or strangulation in bed5.
They recommend that infants up to 1 year of age sleep on their backs on a flat, firm crib mattress, on a separate sleep surface such as a bassinet, play yard, or crib, and to keep the baby’s sleep area free from blankets, bumpers, toys, and other items.
Baby’s younger than a year old shouldn’t sleep in beds on their own or with their parents. Therefore, a bed should not be used for babies.
Age to transition from crib to bed
So at what age should a child transition from a crib to a bed?
CDC and AAP do not have specific recommendations regarding when a child transitions to a bed.
It is essential that parents consider whether their children are developmentally ready and how well their room, as well as the rest of the house, is child-proof.
In America, many parents let their young children sleep in their own big-kid bedrooms.
Because a low-to-ground toddler bed allows a child freedom to move, if mobile toddlers wake up during the night, they can easily get off the bed and wander around the house. Childproof the bedroom and your entire home. Make them safe for curious toddlers even without an adult present.
As your child ages, they will eventually need their own bed.
When buying furniture for little ones, don’t skimp on cost. Invest in safe, high-quality baby furniture. The last thing you want is a piece of furniture that will be unsafe for your toddler to sleep on.
Don’t just buy the first bed that you see no matter how cute it is (Have you seen the house-style frame ones? They are super CUTE!). But the first one is not always the best choice.
Of course, take your child along so they can choose among the many floor bed options, too.
Buy vs DIY
A Montessori bed made from natural wood tends to costs a lot more than a traditional toddler bed.
Vanity comes at a price. But if the goal is independence, then this is not the sole option.
When she was five, my daughter decided to build her own platform bed. She built it right next to our bed. She even made one for her stuffed animals so they could have “sleepovers”.
Here is her DIY Montessori bed and sleepover arrangement.
- 1.Montessori M, Hunt JMcV, Valsiner J. The Montessori Method. (Bienen H, ed.). Routledge; 2017. doi:10.4324/9781315133225
- 2.Zaloshnja E, Miller TR, Lawrence BA, Romano E. The costs of unintentional home injuries. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Published online January 2005:88-94. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2004.09.016
- 3.Mack KA, Gilchrist J, Ballesteros MF. Bunk bed-related injuries sustained by young children treated in emergency departments in the United States, 2001-2004, National Electronic Injury Surveillance System – All Injury Program. Injury Prevention. Published online April 1, 2007:137-140. doi:10.1136/ip.2006.013193
- 4.Lillard PP, Jessen LL. Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three. Schocken; 2008.
- 5.Moon RY, Darnall RA, Feldman-Winter L, Goodstein MH, Hauck FR. SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Evidence Base for 2016 Updated Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment. Pediatrics. Published online November 1, 2016. doi:10.1542/peds.2016-2940