How Safe Are Floor Beds for Babies and Toddlers?
Whether you've heard about it on TikTok or come across them while perusing Etsy, the floor bed for kids trend is taking off in a major way. "A floor bed is a simple bed consisting of only a mattress or a mattress and a legless frame that sits directly on the floor," explains Junnifa Uzodike, co-author of The Montessori Baby: A Parent's Guide to Nurturing Your Baby with Love, Respect, and Understanding. "They can be a simple crib mattress or a larger mattress."
Here, everything you need to know about what a floor bed is and how to know if it's right for your child as well as a few floor bed ideas available for purchase.
The Story Behind Montessori Floor Beds
In the early 1900s, Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, developed what are now referred to as Montessori educational principles, which focus on hands-on experience, movement, choice, and order in the learning environment.
A concept called "Montessori at home" refers to parents who choose to apply the Montessori principles to their parenting, explains Uzodike. "This often looks like treating the children with respect, encouraging their independence, and preparing the home with care and attention to support their individual development," she notes.
The floor bed is a natural extension of these ideas, as it supports the child's development of independence by allowing them to get into and out of bed independently, says Uzodike.
But while the Montessori approach might be fueling floor beds' current increase in popularity, many cultures around the globe used floor beds well before the 20th century.
Benefits of a Floor Bed
According to Uzodike, there are many benefits to setting up a floor bed for your child:
They support a child's gross motor skills and body awareness.
"From birth, the baby makes small movements and can turn almost 360 degrees," she explains. "If you observe, you might notice that when they encounter the edge of the bed, they move back and don't drop off. This sense of their body within space is enhanced by using a floor bed."
She adds that floor beds also allow the child to enjoy an unobstructed view of their space.
It helps them develop their sleep independence.
Whitney Casares, M.D., MPH, FAAP, author of The Working Mom Blueprint: Winning at Parenting Without Losing Yourself explains, "Proponents of floor beds note that they provide children more access to books and quiet toys as they prepare to sleep and when they first rise in the morning or from naps, giving them more independence."
They can boost your child's confidence and sense of self.
Uzodike attributes this to their ability to decide when they are done sleeping. "They also have a positive association with sleep because their bed is not something they are stuck in and can't get out of," she notes. "It is a place they go to rest and can get up when they are done resting."
It creates space for bonding.
"Another advantage is that depending on the size of the bed, the adult can sit or lie in bed with the baby if they need it," says Uzodike. "Perhaps to read to them or breastfeed them or even just to comfort them without having to lift them out of bed or change location, which can interfere further with sleep."
They're easy to put together and affordable.
You can make a floor bed as simple or as elaborate as you like.
The Appropriate Age for a Floor Bed
Most children transition out of a crib around the age of 2 or 3, once they're able to put their leg at the top of the crib rail. It's around this time that Dr. Casares says it's safe to consider a floor bed.
Moving your child to a floor bed will help them avoid injuries from crib falls while assuring the child will be less likely to sustain any injuries from the floor bed itself, such as from rolling, she explains.
That said, all children are different, notes Dr. Casares. "A floor bed could also work as a transition to an elevated bed for an older toddler who is ready for the next step in sleeping arrangements but hasn't indicated a strong desire to leave the crib," she explains.
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The Best Practices for Floor Bed Safety
Dr. Casares warns that floor beds can be dangerous if a child's room is not properly safety-proofed and if the bed is not set up correctly. She recommends the following smart safety moves.
- Place the mattress away from walls or from furniture, ideally in the center of the room, so that if your child rolls while sleeping, they don't become trapped against a wall.
- Secure the furniture to the walls, cover electrical outlets, and remove small choking hazards.
- Remove any choking or other potentially dangerous toys from the room.
- Consider safety outside the child's bedroom, including installing safety gates if there are stairs.
You can also help prevent your child from rolling out by practicing sleeping on the floor bed during the day for naps when orienting to their new environment might be easier, explains Casares. "Likewise, using positive reinforcement and praise can help toddlers to stay in the bed for incrementally longer periods of time without calling out for a parent," she notes.
Floor Beds to Try
If you're on the market for a floor bed, check out these options: