Setting up the Home: The Bedroom

By Christie

The boys turned 6 months last week and it is amazing to think that they have been a part of our lives for half a year!  Time flies and I love that we are able to document their development on this great blog, sharing our routines and methods with those people out there who are curious as to how things are done the Montessori way.  My hope is that from reading our personal stories, you may in some manner feel more comfortable incorporating even a little bit of this theory into raising your children!

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Photo by Felicia Chang: www.feliciachangphotography.com

I would like to continue on from one of my previous posts on setting up the home and this time let’s talk about preparing the child’s bedroom.  Please keep in mind that the fundamental principles incorporated are as a result of my AMI Montessori training, however some slight adjustments were made based on space and the logistics of having twins (and some personal choices).

I was so excited to start setting up the room as we had painted it a beautiful yellow colour and just got new carpet laid (part of our ongoing house renovations).  The room had two large windows which let in lovely light, however I had become obsessed with finding black out curtains in order to aid the boys in healthy sleep habits!  I ended up hanging blinds (so we could have them closed and the room would still remain bright during the day naps) and black out curtains on top, purchased from Canadian Tire.  We had them shortened as I knew the boys would be spending a lot of time on the floor in their room and I wanted it to be safe for them.  I was also focused on having the room pitch black at night so I attached industrial Velcro to the bottom of the curtains (and the underside of the window sill) and Velcro them shut before bedtime every night.  Seems like a bit much, I know, however R and P are great sleepers and I believe all these factors add up!

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I knew that the room had to be flexible and practical, and that it would change based on the boys’ developmental level.  The first stage was to prepare the environment for a child from birth to 5 months.  After this time, certain key factors needed to change due to the introduction of solid foods and the child’s development of movement.

There are 4 key areas to keep in mind when setting up the child’s room for this age:

Area for Movement:

As discussed in my previous post, we chose to place the movement mat, mirror, and low shelf out in the family area as opposed to in the bedroom (as it is suggested in our training).  This is generally where they spend all their awake and alert time, however we have a lovely sheepskin on the floor in their bedroom where I place them as I change or dress the other one on the changing table.  Because they are both not officially crawling yet (rolling and slithering don’t count) I have not had to think too much about setting up some toys for them to play with in their room.  I am sure it will happen before I know it and I will need to adjust their room accordingly.

Area for Changing:

When we are changing or dressing our child, it is such a wonderful time to engage with him/her.  We are typically fully present and close to our child’s face to participate in a conversation and provide a lot of eye contact.  We recommend not hanging mobiles over the changing table (as sometimes done) because we want this time to be special between the adult and the child.  In my case, we have a double dresser which we have turned into a double changing table.  So when there is an extra set of hands, both boys can be changed simultaneously.  I find changing/dressing to be quite enjoyable as it gives me some one on one time with each baby.  We are able to have at least a few minutes gazing into each other’s eyes, having a conversation, completely uninterrupted.

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Area for Feeding:

Carrie wrote a lovely post about the relationship of feeding your child and it starts by creating a space in their bedroom that meets everyone’s needs.  You need a comfortable chair, nursing pillow (double in my case), a place to put your burp cloths and water, and a foot stool.  In our training it is suggested to have a non-rocking chair as when you are feeding your child you are focusing on one thing and it is an active experience.  The rocking motion of course lulls the child off to sleep (which you may choose to do) and I chose to separate the two experiences for the boys.  In the beginning we were focused on getting their weight up so I had to work very hard to keep them awake while I nursed.  I remember having to blow softly on them, tickle their feet, rub their heads…anything to keep them sucking!  That definitely changed around 2 months (once out of the Symbiotic Period) as I began to put a routine in place which had R and P eating right after they woke up (bedtime is an exception).

Area for Sleeping:

When I tell people about how I have set up an area for movement with a mat on the floor and low mirror, they look at me with great interest and ask more questions.  However, when I tell people that I use low beds instead of cribs, they look at me like I have lobsters crawling out of my ears!  It is ‘against the grain’ and quite hard for people to accept but I hope that at least one of you reading this will have the courage to try it with your own child.  We don’t claim that this is a fail-safe method.  Rather, you will come across some challenges (like when your child starts rolling and crawling) however the hope is that the principles that you are instilling in your child from such an early age (independence, respect, confidence, good self-esteem, healthy sleeping habits) will make it all worth it!

For the first few months we have the child sleep in a bassinet, and then transition him/her to sleep on the low bed.  In our case, we kept the two bassinets in our room until the boys started sleeping longer stretches at night (which was the best thing in the world at that time).  This happened around 3 months, which was pretty much when they started hitting the sides of their bassinets so I knew it was time to make the transition.  I had them sleep for one week in their bassinets on top of their low beds in order to create a point of reference for them in their bedroom.  Then, it was time to make the switch!  I was so nervous that first night and barely slept.  I have a video monitor set up so I spent a good deal of night checking it.  And guess what?  They survived!

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It was a seamless transition and all was good…..until they started rolling.  The day P learned to roll I was woken up that night to a “Thump.  Waaaaaa!”  And P had rolled off his bed and was stuck between his and R’s mattress.  Back to sleepless nights for me!  This happened a couple more times before I decided to add a pool noodle under the edge of the fitted sheet so it would bumper my rolling children.  And sleep was good again.  So, I have made a small adjustment to what we learned in our training and I will reassess once the boys start crawling.  I want them to be able to get on and off of their low beds and believe that the bumper won’t hinder this (not very high) but only time will tell.

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So, in closing, I also have to keep in mind that their environment (and me) must remain flexible and practical.  I love spending time in R and P’s room and believe they do as well.  When I put them to nap, or when they wake from their naps they have the chance to look around at their space without the restriction of bars.  Both boys have pictures above their beds of our family which I find them observing, or they like to stare at the wall decals.  I enjoy watching them take their time looking and learning from their surroundings!

Please feel free to ask questions about any part of this set-up or the routine.  I had also previously written an article here: http://mariamontessori.com/mm/?p=921 about the benefits of using a floor bed instead of a crib.

Until next time!

53 Comments

Filed under 0-3 Months, 3-6 Months, 6-12 Months, Bedroom, Christie

53 responses to “Setting up the Home: The Bedroom

  1. Thank you for this post! As a fellow Montessori (though trained in the Primary age) I am interested in setting up an environment for our soon-to-arrive little one. I appreciate your simplicity and clarity immensely. The pool noodle-as-bumper is brilliant!

  2. What a beautiful summary of the infant Montessori bedroom! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Frank&Vivia

    When we were setting up for our daughters, others had similar response to our decision. We have only mattresses for our daughters. Our older daughter J learned to come out of the bedroom after a nap very early on. It nurtures independence and free choices. I highly recommend using only mattresses on the floor.

  4. Its really good article and knowledgeable content

  5. Your room is amazing!! I love those bassinets! What an amazing room and post — sharing on FB later today — and on Pinterest 🙂

  6. Thanks for the great information in a clear way! I am debating a floor bed for my 6 month old (she has also been in a bassinet thus far), but I was worried about the rolling issue, since she has become very mobile.

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  9. Becki

    Our son is 9 months and we are debating this concept. The crib seems to freak him out and the only way to get him to go to sleep is rocking first. Obviously we want him to learn to sleep on his own. If I use the mattress on floor I can kind of lie with him then silently roll away. It almost seems like he is experiencing attachment issues. I can just imagine what my parents would think to see a mattress on the floor! LOL It only makes sense that they do not depend on parent’s to come get them after nap b/c they are stuck behind bars. The only living creature using the crib right now is the cat! LOL I hope this works and we can make some progress. Great post!

    • We did exactly that with our daughter, although I started earlier. We would sleep with her at first (all night) and gradually we would roll away when she was deep into a sleep cycle. Although many sleep experts say that the child will have trouble falling back asleep when they wake up in the middle of the night and you are not there, this hasn’t been a struggle for us. There are some nights that she wakes up crying in the middle of the night and we just go lay down next to her and snuggle her until she falls asleep again. For the most part she sleep quite independently now. Good luck to you!

    • Kendal

      I just changed my 7 month olds bed to a floor bed. He refuses to sleep in his crib, I out him in asleep and awake and he immediately wakes up crying. Nothing works. I know I could lay with him and nurse him to sleep and roll away. That’s what I do in my bed with him. Did this method seem to work well for tou? How did he adjust when he could crawl?

  10. Where did you get your sheets from? they are so cute!

  11. Barbara

    I have 6 month old b/g twins and they’ve been sleeping on floor beds for a while now but I just moved them to their own room this weekend. I’m wondering about keeping the room light vs dark during the day. It just didn’t occur to me that they need some light to play so maybe blacking out the room isn’t the way to go. However, I need them to sleep also! What is your experience with this?

    • christie492

      Hi Barbara, yes something to think about! I keep the room dim (not dark) during day naps however do make it very dark at night. I was concerned about that as I wanted the boys to wake up in the morning and venture off their beds to play….just like they did after their naps….as well as create ways to aid them in sleeping through the night. I am happy to report that amazingly, they still get off their beds in the morning and make their way over to the shelf and play in the dark! It is quite cute hearing the musical instruments in the morning. I suppose it isn’t officially ‘blackout’ in the room as light comes through the door so they can at least see a little bit.

  12. Really a very good post ..for childcare

  13. Shannon Thomas

    I think this is amazing. I briefly worked at a Montessori school and fell in love. I would love to implement more of that philosophy in my boys lives(9 months and 2) but am not quite sure where to even start. I stay home with them and feel I am not teaching them to my best abilities(I don’t know why I find it difficult coming up with ideas since I taught young kids for 8 years). I love this sleeping arrangement but wonder if it would be too late to incorporate it in our lives, especially are 9 month old. I just found this post on Pinterest and wondered if your boys were crawling yet and how that has worked with their beds? I can not wait to read your blog and hopefully feel confident enough to implement this way of living(learning) in our lives.

  14. Mélanie

    Hi all,
    Very interesting article, I’m currently looking for a solution to secure the floor bed of our son.

    Could you please let me know a little bit more about the type of pool noodle you used for the bed to secure the kids? is it the foam one or the inflated model? and approximately which diameter?

    Thanks a lot

    Mel.

  15. Hi! I just came across your blog on Pinterest and love the idea of the beds on the floor. However, my daughter is 15 months old and walking. What do you do for your children now? Do you still have their beds on the floor? If so, how does this work? Thanks! -Whitney

  16. Rachael Fry

    Can I ask, where did you get those sheets? I LOVE them!

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  18. Dina Salomon

    I really enjoyed reading this. My twins are 6 months now and night is hell. I would love to solely set up a montessori bedroom for them but we don’t have the space. They room has a guest bed on one wall, and two ikea toy self on another, and then two cribs in the corner. Hmmm I need to think and see if I can do this. Also my husband is so not into Montessori or anything thats different then the “regular” that he knows.

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  23. natalie

    I am so happy I found this post. My son is 11 months and I have just 3 weeks ago switched from (unhappy) crib to twin mattress (happy sleeping more) on floor. I sleep with him. Looking forward to going back to my bed soon but dont know how to keep this mover relatively safe. He changes positions alot and inches his way to edge.
    What have you done now that your little ones are bigger?

  24. Jessica

    I see this post is a couple of years old now, but the idea of low beds is really interesting to me. I have a 2 1/2 year old daughter who began climbing out of her crib at about 15 months old. We converted it to a toddler bed right away, but the transition was not easy. The ability to just get out whenever she wanted wreaked havoc on nap and bedtime for several weeks. We’re trying for another child, and I’m curious if having an open, easy-out, low bed made it so your boys weren’t enticed by the lure of free play during naps and overnight because they were used to it. I’m retrospect, how did it work out for you? Any tips or useful info? Thanks!

  25. Krystal

    Hi there i do not know if you still look at the replies here but my question is did your children fall off the mattress alot when they tried to get outta bed once they became crawlers? if so how did you deal with that? ( My son is 11 months and with my back problems and height issues i cant reach the bottom of the crib at its lowest level and it is time to move it down before he falls out, oh also i am 9 months pregnant with my 3rd child so i cant bend over the rail properly)-Krystal

  26. Erika

    With twins do you hang two mobiles?

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  28. Krystal

    I would like to know how sleep training went as kids got older and more mobile.

  29. ursula

    Hi Christie,
    I think that your twins are 2 years old, when it´s time to sleep, and your put in his beds, they lie down or jump in the bed play..
    my twins are sleeping in cribs, i dont think how hard it´s going to be if i changed it.

  30. Jennifer

    Your boys don’t flop themselves over their pool noodle? Mine are 4yrs and 2yrs old but I feel like when they were transitioned to regular beds they’ll flop over all around the bed so a noodle wouldn’t help. I have thought about it but I think they’d flop over it..

  31. Caitlin H.

    Loved your article, I too have twin boys and am in the process of setting up a Montessori room. I have a couple questions, when you transitioned them into their own room did they still wake up through the night to eat? And if so did you just nurse them and put them back to bed? Also what did you end up doing once your boys started crawling? My boys are almost 8 months adjusted age 6 months, and are not crawling yet but definitely getting closer. I’m nervous about making this transition. Any tips or advise would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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  34. What are your thoughts about having a toddler, almost 3, sleep in the same room as a infant in a Montessori style bed? I want to not use a crib but am afraid that my son will wander into baby’s bed accidentally at night, esp since he wanders into my bed every night. I was hoping to put them in the same room eventually to keep each other company to hopefully increase my sleep.

  35. joanna

    is there a follow-up to this? We have a 1 year old and i would like to transition him to a floor mattress but worried he will get up and play instead of sleeping. Would love to hear more on your adventures. THanks.

  36. Candace

    This was so helpful! Is there a particular type of low bed you suggest? For example, is it a crib mattress, or twin mattress etc. Thanks so much.

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  38. Christa

    Hello. I am a mom of four in a two bedroom home. My kids are 6 yo boy, 4 yo boy, 3yo girl, and five month old baby girl. Space is limited, but baby has a crib in our room. I am interested in what mattress you’ve used as my baby girl seems to prefer my mattress over her own cold, vinyl mattress. I have material from a warm thin throw of mine to make into s fitted crib sheet to try and transition her more easily into her own bed. She is exclusively breastfed and generally sleeps through the night, but she’s hit s growth spurt and sometimes still eats at night. She will eat and pass out, but moving her to her bed never works as she wakes within minutes. She plays in her crib a few times a day and has rarely fallen asleep in it. Do you have any advice? The two bedrooms in my house are connected, and we have a “spacious” house with wood floors, so sound travels so easily. I hope you see my dilemma. Advice is much appreciated. Thank you.

  39. Lacy

    My friends 9 month old rolled in between the mattress and wall and suffocated to death.
    I’m sorry, but this concept looks frightening to me.
    Plus being a mother of six, I can tell you most babies will roll over a noodle roll too.

    I do love your bassinets though.

  40. jessica

    I love the low bed idea. Thats kind of what we have been doing with my youngest sense around 3 ish months

  41. Bri

    My daughter is 16 mo. now, and just recently have I seen a low mattress for a baby, so when I saw your post I had to check it out. I think this is lovely and I’m going to break out the Allen wrench and give it a try myself. I believe little H would just adore the freedom and independence. What a great idea! The pool noodle too!

  42. Louise schell

    Ohhhhhhhhhh I loved reading this and agree with all. Good for yous!!

  43. Tara Davis

    Help! I believe in floor beds, and likewise have been doubly blessed with twins!! I also like the idea of them bed sharing… Flash forward to 8 months and I currently have them sharing a double futon, but now one is perpetually crawling over and interfering with the other. Not sure whether to wait it out as they learn to work it out for themselves, or switch to separate beds, or stagger their bedtimes, or put them down in separate rooms then move one over during the night… I tried a pool noodle under the bed sheet as a divider, but that only worked for one night. Curious how your twin experience continued to unfold once they reached the crawling stages??

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  45. Zigrida

    I did the same thing for my son i thinknits such a great idea he learnd on his own to get off the bed n crawl so i think a lot of ppl should try this …

  46. Laure

    Great article, thank you! What is the brand of your bassinets please ? Laure, from France

  47. Hi. Thanks for this post. Our son is a bit older – 22 months and slept in the crib since he was born. We are now considering transitioning him to a floor bed and I have a concern : we also have blackout curtains in his room and I’m afraid that the benefit of him having a floor bed will be lost once he wakes up in a dark room and will not be able to get out of his bed and safely play by himself because he will simply not see anything. Any ideas on how to solve this? I refuse to have him sleep with a night light all night. Thanks!

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