Before we talk about how to set up a Montessori floor bed, lets dig into what exactly a Montessori floor bed is and why they are are an important part of the Montessori philosophy. We will also look at the safety aspects of using a DIY Montessori floor bed and answer the common FAQ’s about using one.

What are Montessori floor beds?

A Montessori floor bed is a low bed or mattress on the floor which makes it easy for the child to get in and out on their own. It can be as simple as a Japanese style futon or made into an adorable bed area using house-shaped frames for example. In fact I think the Montessori floor house bed has helped with the popularity of the DIY floor bed.

You don’t need to go all ‘Instagram’ though a simple floor bed works just fine. Minimalist beds with simple frames are a great option, especially if you are doing this to follow the Montessori method. There are some beautiful children’s interior design ideas that work well and compliment the Montessori philosophy.

a Montessori style bedroom with a floor mattress and soft toys and mirror

Why did Montessori think floor beds a good idea?

Dr. Maria Montessori was well travelled and I believe that this gave her insights into a different way of doing things. In the west, especially in that era, children were often ‘seen but not heard’ and contained. As time went on the safety issue became an important aspect of raising kids and so the beds with bars for little ones became popular. I imagine, Dr Montessori saw how other cultures had children sleeping on floor beds without issue and in fact they have many positive aspects.

In the Montessori method, it is important to foster independence in young children. This goes from serving themselves drinks to working at their own pace and having freedom of movement and learning to regulate their own sleep schedule.

What are the Benefits of Montessori Floor Beds?

Montessori floor beds offer a myriad of benefits for young children’s development. Primarily, they promote freedom of movement, allowing kids to independently explore their sleep space. Dr. Maria Montessori emphasised the importance of fostering self-reliance, and a floor bed aligns with this philosophy by enabling children to get in and out of bed at their own pace. 

This autonomy contributes to a sense of confidence and responsibility. The floor bed also seamlessly integrates with the Montessori method, encouraging independence in sleep routines and providing a tangible connection to the principles of Montessori education. By choosing a Montessori floor bed, parents create an environment that respects the child’s natural inclinations, enhancing not only their sleep but also their overall cognitive and emotional development.

While in a crib, children rely on adults to facilitate getting in and out of bed due to its height, making it challenging for them to manage independently. In contrast, a toddler floor bed empowers little ones to climb in and out on their own, fostering a sense of self-esteem and confidence. This newfound independence also grants them greater control over their body and surroundings. They can effortlessly reach for toys and books in their room, and when ready, climb into bed.

A Montessori style bedroom with a floor mattress and toys in baskets and a low shelf.

Is a Montessori style toddler bed safe?

This is often the first thing parents consider. What if my child falls out? What if they ‘escape’ What if they won’t go to sleep?

Children all over the world have managed to sleep at night on a floor bed without issue, what it really comes down to is setting routines and expectations and a good dollop of common sense.

A floor bed is, as the name states, on the floor so if the child does fall off the mattress, it’s not a big fall, in fact they often will wriggle off their mattress, it’s nothing to worry about. If getting cold is a worry, sleep sacks are an option but the chances are, if they wake up cold they will head back to their bed and snuggle under the blanket.

Getting out of bed once you have put them down to sleep can be an issue. For this, having limited toys available in the room and having a basket of quiet time toys can help. More on how to set up a Montessori space here.

If the child leaving the room is a problem, gently taking them back to bed, telling them it’s time to sleep and then shutting the door, it works BUT it takes patience. You might find yourself doing it multiple times a night to start with. Stick with the routine and repeat the message until they realise getting up is futile.

Cute DIY Montessori floor bed with a house frame. The bed has cute cushions

Make sure the whole room is safe

It is important that the rest of the room is safe. Children are injured and killed each year due to furniture tipping over, a big chunk of those are the under six age range. That’s why anchoring furniture is a priority, even if you don’t live in places prone to earthquakes. You should do a full safety sweep of the room before embarking on your floor bed adventure. Include electrical outlets and window coverings (draw strings on blinds for example) and window locks.

  • Secure dressers and furniture to prevent tipping hazards.
  • Protect outlets and ensure cords are out of a child’s reach.
  • Remove small toys and choking hazards from the child’s environment.
  • Make sure windows lock.
  • If you are using a frame for the floor bed make sure there is no chance of little fingers getting caught anywhere.

The final thing to consider is your little one ‘escaping’ their room at night. For us, in the house, this meant using a stair gate at the top of the stairs, we also have two ways into his bedroom so him falling asleep behind the door or blocking it with toys, and us not being able to open it wasn’t a worry, but that might be something you need to consider.

A montessori floor bed and toys in baskets

Does a Montessori kids bed need a bed base?

It depends. The frame under the mattress is there to help air circulate. This is especially important if you live anywhere that is humid or gets damp easily. Without the air circulation, mattress can get mouldy. 

Typically, Japanese futons do not have a wooden frame, they are thin mattresses folded out each night. This is what we used when we lived in the apartment until my son was 2. It was actually a great space saver, we would hang the futon out on the balcony on sunny days to help keep it dry and mould free. The rest of the time it was folded and put away in the cupboard. This freed up the room to be used for play. Sometimes my son would ask for the futon to be taken out for nap time.

Even if you are using a frame, remember to air the mattress on a regular basis. When we moved to the house we got an Ikea Kura bed but used it with a mattress under the bunk until he was old enough to go up top. In Japan you can buy slatted frames so we added those to go under the mattress, We also added top rails so we didn’t have to worry about him falling off the bed when he was playing.

Making a DIY Montessori Floor Bed

If you are happy making to make your own bed, there are lots of DIY Montessori bed plans available including the one linked below, I love how he has a step by step video to go with it for those who are new to furniture making. As I have readers all over the world, I recommend sourcing the mattress first and making the bed frame to fit what you have. It might mean making adjustments to the plans.

Buy the plans for this bed on Etsy here

Can you DIY a Montessori floor bed out of pallets?

Wooden pallets typically undergo one of two common treatments. The predominant method is heat treatment, where the wood is subjected to kiln drying or radio-frequency heating, reaching temperatures between 56 to 60 degrees Celsius. Another approach involves the use of methyl bromide, a pesticide employed for fumigating the wood to eliminate potential pests residing within it.

If you want to use them for your DIY Montessori floor bed, you want to be 100% sure of the type of treatment the pallets you plan to use have gone through. You definitely don’t want to be using anything treated with methyl bromide.

The other thing to note with pallets is that the wood is rough so it will need sanding and smoothing.

A rainbow themed montessori style bedroom with a low bed

What age is suitable for transitioning to a floor bed?

This very much depends on the sleeping arrangements you have had so far, and the temperament of the child. For us, our son co-slept on his own futon until we moved to the house when he was two, then he moved to his own room. Your little one should be able to move around independently before moving to a floor bed especially if they are not going to be in the same room.

Even though we slept in the same room, I’d sometimes wake up and find he had ‘disappeared’. Sometime he had wriggled off the futon or was found at the bottom of the futons. A couple of times I found him behind the curtains! You can see more on our set up in this post.

Can I involve my child in building their own bed?

Sure! Getting kids involved with their own room is great way for them to feel like they are part of the family. If you go for a DIY floor house bed that you are making from scratch you can get them helping (age and ability taken into account) there is so much learning to be had with diy projects. If your child is older they might want to get involved with the bed design and even take a trip to the hardware store. They might have ideas for a theme or colours they would like for their room. Help them take ownership of their space by letting them have some input in the design.

Wrap Up

A DIY Montessori floor bed is a great choice if you want your child to be independent. As long as safety issues are put first, there should be no issues for your toddler moving to a floor bed. In fact, if you want to save money, you can make the bed at a larger size then you won’t have the additional cost of another bed in a few years time. This was one of the reasons why we went with the Ikea Kura bed. We did spring for an extra mattress and wooden slates but they came in handy as a sleepover area when he had a friend stay the night. And also made for a great reading nook.

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