I’ve thought about posting about this before, but given today’s events, now is the time to do it!
I have a background in Montessori education, and in their school of thought, the key to early learning is that children learn through all 5 senses, and they learn by doing. Don’t do for the child what she can do herself.
One of the unique things about their ideas for infants is that they shouldn’t be contained in a crib*. Rather, they should be on a floor mat in a child-proofed room so that when they wake up, they can entertain themselves by finding amusement, rather than wailing to be let out of the crib.
Had I been the first of my friends to become a mom, I don’t know that I would have been the renegade to try this out first. But since that wasn’t in the cards, I have the benefit of learning from those who went before me.
So the Babe has been on her floor bed (firm twin size futon mattress) since about 3 weeks of age. She loves it, and sleeps like a baby (lol). She has a full length mirror hung horizontally next to her, so she watches herself a lot. Now that she’s moving around, I often find her in the middle of the room after nap, exploring something or other.
Today was cool because after I put her down for her nap, she started playing around, happily at first. When I checked on her, she was facing away from her bed, playing with a rattle. Later, she started soundind distressed, so I went to see what was going on–she was now facing her bed, close to it but unable to creep back onto it! So I lifted her onto it, and she immediately put her head down and closed her eyes. It was the SWEETEST thing! *sigh*
So people ask me if she falls off while she sleeps, if she gets out of bed a lot, if she rolls into furniture, etc. Here’s a rundown of what we’ve experienced:
FALLING OFF: keep in mind this mattress is maybe an 3″ thick, so there’s really no falling involved. But what we found was that with every new motor skill she’s mastered (rolling one way, rolling the other way, inching this way and that), that she’d go through a phase of really restless sleep in which she’d end up off of the bed. It would last for about a week (we’d always put her back on–sometimes she’d wake up, sometimes not), and then she’d be fine. At 6 months, she now stays on the bed until she conciously moves off.
ROLLING INTO THINGS: the room does need to be child proof–she moves more than you’d think! We have padding along her dresser, and the full-size bed that’s also in her room. The floor needs to be vacuumed regularly, and all doors must be shut!
My parents thought we were being weird, but not having a crib has been great for us. We tried co-sleeping, but that didn’t really do it for any of us. She really sleeps better in her own space. So we give it to her. And when she needs us, we can lay down with her on her bed, and then get up when she’s asleep. It’s easier for us to move than to move her while she’s asleep.
Sweet Dreams Everyone!
*Unique in the modern world–I suppose most babies throughout the history of man probably have slept with their moms, sleeping on a mat or on a bare floor…*
UPDATE 2/6/08: Some time as passed since this post, and baby girl isn’t a baby anymore! I’ve written the sequel to this post–The Floor Bed: part two, if you will. Enjoy!