What Is A Montessori Bed And How To Choose One

Kids playing with blocks

Curious about the Montessori bed? You’re probably not alone. For many parents, this may be the first time they’ve heard those words together in the same sentence. What’s more, the Montessori concept itself may be completely new.

That’s OK. Newton Baby is here to help!

In this article, we discuss what a Montessori bed is, how to choose one for your child, and what to look for in this unique sleep arrangement.

Table Of Contents

What Is A Montessori Bed?

baby on a montessori bed

A Montessori bed is a type of bed that is low to the ground and easy for young, mobile children to get on and off without adult assistance.

Technically speaking, a Montessori bed could be anything from a few blankets spread out on the floor to a complete bed frame and mattress. The point is to provide a bed your little one can use without your help.

But why is it called a Montessori bed, and what does that term mean for your little one? Read on to find out.

The Montessori Method

The Montessori method was named after Italian physician and educator Dr. Maria Montessori, who, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, developed and championed an alternative theory of education.

This alternative theory was more child-focused than traditional methods and was built to foster rigorous, self-motivated growth for children of all ages.

According to the American Montessori Society (AMS), Montessori education is:

Student-led and self-paced but guided, assessed, and enriched by knowledgeable and caring teachers, the leadership of their peers, and a nurturing environment.

The AMS goes on to say that, within the classroom, children embrace multi-sensory learning and passionate inquiry. Individual students follow their own curiosity at their own pace, taking the time they need to fully understand each concept and meet individualized learning goals.

Given the freedom and support to question, probe deeply, and make connections, the theory postulates that Montessori students grow up to be confident, enthusiastic, and self-directed learners and citizens, accountable to both themselves and their community.

They think critically, work collaboratively, and act boldly and with integrity.

How, then, does this theory translate into other aspects of your little one’s life and, particularly, the bed they sleep in? Let’s look further.

How The Theory Informs Furniture Choice

Mom watching baby on tummy time

The crux of Montessori education is that children are given the freedom to choose for themselves and to control their own environment more than in a traditional classroom setting, where the teacher is the sole determiner of the curriculum.

This dual idea — freedom and control — can be applied to other aspects of your child’s life and, specifically, to the furniture you (or they) choose.

A Montessori bed can provide your child with the freedom to access both their bed and the area around it whenever they choose. That, by extension, gives them more control of their environment and helps them develop their decision-making processes at an early age.

This lies in sharp contrast to something like a playpen or a crib that restricts freedom of movement to a degree, removes personal choice from the equation, and eliminates control of the environment.

That doesn’t mean that you have to start with a Montessori bed right away. But, when your little one becomes mobile, moving them from a crib to a low bed gives them the freedom to come and go as they please.

Similarly, the Montessori concept can also apply to other pieces of furniture — particularly the playpen. Traditional playpens (or pack and plays) restrict a toddler’s movements to a specific area.

However, some pack and plays — like the Newton Baby Travel Crib & Play Yard — adopt the Montessori concepts into their design and come with a removable mesh surround that allows a mobile child to enter and exit the play yard on their own whenever they choose.

Like the low bed we’ve been talking about throughout this article, an easily accessible play yard provides your toddler with the freedom and control they need to interact with and enjoy their environment.

How To Choose A Montessori Bed

young kid playing with blocks near his montessori bed

Newborn And Infants

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) both recommend that newborns and infants up to one year of age:

  • Sleep on their backs
  • Sleep on a flat, firm mattress (i.e., a crib mattress)
  • Sleep separately from adults (in a bassinet, play yard, or crib)
  • Sleep in an area that is free from blankets, bumpers, toys, and other items

An excellent choice for the first year of your little one’s life is the bedside sleeper. This option provides the safety, comfort, and nearness your infant needs to get the best night’s sleep possible.

From birth to 12 months, your little one is still developing the motor control necessary to move around. As such, they depend entirely on you to go from one space to another and aren’t capable of taking advantage of a Montessori bed.

Once your infant becomes a toddler (typically between ages one and three) and can safely move back and forth between two different surfaces, they’re theoretically ready for a Montessori bed.

That said, it’s entirely up to you to decide if this sleeping arrangement is right for your child.

Toddlers

Toddlers can benefit the most from transitioning to a Montessori bed when you, their parent, think they’re ready.

You still want them to get a good night’s sleep, so the mattress becomes a crucial variable to consider.

The simplest toddler bed is a crib mattress placed on the floor. Most crib mattresses are three to five inches thick so toddlers can easily move from the sleeping surface to the floor and back again without your assistance.

If you add some type of bed frame, the distance from the floor to the top of the mattress may increase slightly, so make sure your little one has the mobility and strength to get up and down safely.

Because you don’t absolutely need a bed frame, per se, choosing a Montessori bed is more about the appeal than anything else.

That doesn’t mean you should just buy the first frame you see, though. There are other important factors to consider. We’ll discuss those factors later on in this article.

Older Children

In most cases, your child’s “big kid” bed is a Montessori bed already — it gives them the freedom to lie down and get up on their own.

One of the things to keep in mind as you transition your toddler or older child to this type of sleeping arrangement is that they will have access to the environment around them (that is the whole point, after all).

With that freedom, though, comes some inherent danger. As they move, they can access different parts of their room (if they sleep in a separate space) as well as different parts of the home as a whole.

To keep your little one safe, it’s essential that you babyproof both their room and the entire home so they don’t get into trouble while you’re sleeping.

What To Look For In A Montessori Bed

mom watching son play with blocks

1) Quality

Your child’s bed will take a beating as they learn to maneuver up and down. Choosing a frame made from quality materials will help the bed last for years to come (despite your little one’s propensity to jump up and down on it).

2) Comfort

Comfort is also essential when choosing a toddler bed. And, often, this factor comes down to the mattress you choose.

Keep in mind that if your little one can’t get a good night’s sleep, it doesn’t really matter how cute or adorable the frame is. What matters is the sleep surface.

3) Safety

Another important variable to consider is safety. Make sure that the bed frame isn’t too high for your child to navigate. And be sure that the mattress itself doesn’t pose a health hazard.

A safe sleep surface is the start of a happy, healthy baby and a good night’s sleep.

The Foundation Of A Good Night’s Sleep

stack of crib mattresses

The foundation of a good Montessori bed (or any sleep arrangement, for that matter) isn’t the frame, the height, or the look — it’s the mattress.

In fact, that perfect Montessori bed for your little one may be nothing more than a firm crib mattress on the floor.

But not just any old mattress will do. The right choice for your little one — whether they sleep on a Montessori bed or not — is a 100% breathable and washable mattress from Newton Baby.

For infants and babies, our Mini Crib Mattress is the perfect fit because it’s only three inches thick.

For toddlers and older children, our regular Crib Mattress, Essential Crib Mattress, and Waterproof Crib Mattress make for a safe and comfortable foundation on which to sleep.

Whatever type of bed you choose for your little one, you can ensure that they get the best night’s sleep possible by using a Newton Baby mattress as the foundation.

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