Oh, You Haven’t Got Your Crib Yet

By Carrie

“Actually we’re not going to use a crib.  We’re just going to use the mattress on the floor.”

Oh the looks I received.  Oh the comments.  Probably the most common was that A. wasn’t going to sleep once she started crawling.  Or that she was going to fall off.  Like many parts of our Montessori training, I had no idea what reality would look like with my daughter but thought I’d give it a try.

For the first few months I had a cestina loaned to me by Montessori Mom Yvonne who had made it for her daughters.  I also had a Moses basket that I used with a topponcino.  While A. slept peacefully during the day in her Moses basket, night time was a completely different story.  She slept in our arms while we slept in the nursing chair.  She never did sleep in the cestina but greatly enjoyed playing in it  and just observing her world during the day.

moses basket with topponcino cestina


One night my body had enough of sleeping on the chair so I set up a fold-out mattress beside A.’s crib-sized mattress.  It was firm and happened to be exactly the same height.  A. then either slept on me or beside me, laying on her side.  Mostly cuddled in the crook of my arm.  It was a slow transition from beside me, to on her own bed.  Her startle reflex was still quite strong and she woke up if she was on her back but kept sleeping if she was sleeping on her side and “startled” into me. 

Around 3.5 Months we made a few changes as she was crying for 2-3 hours every night before falling asleep.  It was exhausting for both of us.  We introduced the soother, started a solid half-hour bedtime routine, made a firm bedtime, and introduced probiotics.  I think everything helped her but I believe the most dramatic change was introducing her to probiotics.  Within 3 nights of introducing them, it was like I had a different baby.  She didn’t cry every single time she fell asleep for naps and she didn’t cry for hours at bedtime.  She either didn’t cry at all or the crying was very minimal.  During the day for naps she mostly slept in a baby carrier (ring sling, Moby wrap, or Beco carrier).  photo (1)  DSC_0044_crop

floor bed sleeping

Peacefully sleeping. She was rolling over by this time so I felt comfortable putting her on her stomach to sleep.

Up until this time I had been sleeping with her all night long.  Around 4 months she started falling asleep peacefully and I changed to just laying with her until she fell asleep.  As she was already in her own bed, I didn’t have to do the “put the baby down” dance.  Eventually I just took away the mattress that I slept on.  I would lay on the floor until she fell asleep.  For a long time she struggled with “the 45 minute intruder” so my husband or I would go lay with her until she fell asleep again.  During the night she would wake once or twice for a feed and then go back to sleep.  If she was crying in the middle of the night (not for hunger) we would lay on the floor next to her until she fell asleep again.

Within a month she learned to “slither” off her bed in the morning and was able to roll to get to her toys.  She never rolled off her bed either at night time or during daytime naps.  Around 6 months she started army crawling.  Mornings would start with her army crawling off her bed to her toy shelf and she would begin playing her maraca and opening the drawer.  She would do so after naps too. floor bed

What about daytime naps with the crawler?  Did she actually sleep??  She would army crawl around her room and fall asleep on the floor when she got tired.  Sometimes she would use the firm nursing pillow as a pillow.  Often I would check the video monitor and when she fell asleep I would transfer her to her bed as I found she took longer naps on her bed and I also thought it would help her learn that her bed was for sleeping, not the random spot on the floor.  It took a couple of months but she eventually started crawling back onto her bed for naps.  There was a transition of sometimes using the bed as her pillow while sleeping on the floor.  At evening bedtime she would always stay on her bed.

IMG_0975 IMG_1209

Soon after she began crawling on all fours (8.5 months) she stopped crawling around her room.  She preferred to sit on her bed after her nap or in the morning.  She would play with her blanket, her soother, or her one book beside her bed.  She would do so happily for at least half an hour (I usually went to get her by then).  It has only been quite recently, around when she turned 12 months and has begun the process of dropping her second nap, that she has started crawling around her room again.  Instead of sleeping she happily plays in her room.  She has started to play with her toys when she wakes up in the mornings again too.

IMG_0969 IMG_1334

Sleep hasn’t been an easy part of my motherhood journey.  Those first few months were very difficult.  I feel the floor bed really helped to make a gentle transition for A. sleeping with me to sleeping independently.  Since she was a month old, she has slept on her own bed at night, so strongly associates sleep with her bed.  Throughout her first year it hasn’t always been independently.  We have snuggled her all night long, as she fell asleep, and in the middle of the night when she needed.  We have also given her some time to cry a little as she learned to settle herself to sleep.  She is now able to independently fall asleep for naps and at bedtime.  Very occasionally she still wants some snuggles in the middle of the night, but for the majority of the time she sleeps independently throughout the night.  After a year of using the floor bed it seems so normal to me that I do a second glance when I see a crib.  I have to remind myself that yes, some babies still sleep in cribs.  If you haven’t checked it out already, Aid to Life has a great explanation, photos, and video of the floor bed.   1 year old, sleeping on her floor bed


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

21 responses to “Oh, You Haven’t Got Your Crib Yet

  1. montessorilifeasweknowit

    This is wonderful. I hope to use a floorbed with our next child 🙂 Thank you for sharing your experience! Practically speaking did you find that your child got cold?

    • Not at all. Her room always seems warm, even though we don’t keep it warmer than the rest of the house.

    • I think the temperature has a lot to do with the type of heating system you have. If you have heat vents in the floor or baseboard, or you have radiators or a whole-house floor furnace, the floor is a cozy place unless in a room that overhangs an unheated porch. But if you have heat vents in the ceiling or high in the walls, the floor can get chilly. In that case you’ll want to dress your child warmly for sleeping.

  2. STSchepens

    As the Father in the above post, I was one of those people that gave Carrie a weird look when I first found out that we were not using a crib.

    Fast forward 12 months and I think the floor bed has worked out great. It took some getting used to (not that I was use to a crib either), but I think that it helped me get through our sleep challenges with A. If we were next to her, she would sleep and then we were able to sleep.

  3. Ana Fleming

    Hi Carrie! Great post!
    I have a 3 month old that still sleeps in her bassinet during the night (we will wait to introduce her floor bed when we come back from a long trip we are taking to Brasil). However, during the day she never sleeps there. She much rather sleep in my arms/carrier/car seat/stroller. According to your post, A. napped in the carrier as well. When did she start napping on her floor bed? How did you make that transition? I am almost thinking it might be a milestone type of thing because I heard from many other moms the same type of issue. Did A. accept the soother? Did you think it helped her fall asleep for naps? I want to move her to her room, but I am very scared of SIDS! :/ How old was she when you put her down on her tummy!? You mentioned that you let her cry a little to learn how to self-soothe. What is a little? I feel so uncomfortable letting her cry! One more thing, does she have a pattern for her naps!? She sleeps when she wants too, but I guess we have to stick around the house when she normally goes down, right?Anyways, thanks for the post! It came in a good time! Xxx Ana

    • Wonderful questions Ana! A. started napping on her floor bed when night time sleep was established and when I had the time to devote to A. I thought that I would be taking full naps with her and I wanted no other distractions so I could fully be there for her and not be anxious about my other things to do. Turned out she did really well. I started with the morning nap and laid with her until she fell asleep then left her to sleep independently. She struggled with the “45 minute intruder” so I would sometimes go lay with her to see if she could go back to sleep (sometimes successful, sometimes not) and other times I would let her cry for a bit to see if she could get herself through it (sometimes she did, sometimes she didn’t). Once A’s morning nap was established, I stopped putting her in a carrier for naps and worked on establishing the afternoon nap in her bed.

      You were asking what I meant by “cry for a bit.” This was usually 10-15 minutes for me. This time frame was established because very early on (before I introduced probiotics) she would cry for at least this every time she fell asleep so I got used to that time frame. At bedtime when I first stopped laying down with her it was a little bit longer for the first couple of nights (no more than half an hour) but it gradually decreased to no crying and she goes to sleep right away now. It is always hard to listen to your baby cry but I knew it wasn’t an upset cry, more of a fussing cry and I wanted to give her time and space to fuss it out and settle herself to sleep. I would always look at the clock and have a project for myself (e.g. fold the laundry) so I wouldn’t be tempted to go to her too soon. If she was really upset (higher decibel level) then either I or my husband would go lay down with her.

      A. didn’t accept the soother the first time. We tried a different type and she loved it! She really looked soothed and relieved. It took me a long time to introduce the soother as we learn about a lot of negative aspects of the soother in our training. She didn’t take it and fall asleep instantly. She would suck on it to sooth herself and then be able to fall asleep. We used it when I was co-sleeping with her and when she was in the carrier, so it wasn’t something that I introduced so she could be independent from me, just calm enough to fall asleep as I’m pretty sure she was sleep deprived.

      As for a pattern for naps, yes she does have that. Well she did until recently when she started dropping her second nap and the pattern has gone out the window. She never had particular times. When she slept was always in an “eat, play, sleep repeat” pattern. The play stretches and sleep stretches gradually got longer so there were fewer of them. I found that eventually she wouldn’t really nap on the go and we didn’t to be home for naps. I think establishing one nap in bed at first helped me to slowly give up some flexibility in my schedule to eventually stay home for both naps (whenever possible as some days she would nap in the car).

      A big help to me was reading “Healthy Sleep Habit, Happy Child” by Dr. Marc Weisbluth. http://www.amazon.com/Healthy-Sleep-Habits-Happy-Child/dp/0449004023/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394095870&sr=8-1&keywords=happy+sleep (That’s me devouring the book in the photo in the blog post) I did as he suggested and do whatever you can to help the baby sleep in the first few months. Then I charted sleep patterns so that I would know when she naturally needed to go to bed. I worked on establishing night time sleep, then the morning nap, and then the afternoon nap as he suggested.

  4. Susan

    Such a great article. Really a good deal of information. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. Ana Fleming

    Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my quetions, Carrie! ❤

  6. randi slobin

    Such a great article. Thanks for sharing Carrie. Both my childre slept in cribs. I didn’t have this knowledge when they we’re young. If I we’re doing now I would definetly try this way. Such cute photos.

  7. Ana Fleming

    Hi Carrie!! I am re reading this post as my daughter just started on her floor bed. Quick question, you say you knew she was sleep deprived. How did you know? Nina slept with me the whole Brazil trip by my matress in her own. She usually would roll to my mattress in the middle of the night. But now in her home, she rolls out of the mattress constantly, wakes up crying and has a hard time sleeping again….i have a crib mattress…

    • I think she was sleep deprived because she wasn’t sleeping, just crying. She would cry for at least 10-15 min. prior to every nap (sometimes 30-40 min.) and at night for about 2 hours before falling asleep. I know when she did sleep well she was able to play independently and I saw she was progressing with her abilities. When she was sleep deprived was cranky & clingy to me and I observed her abilities back slide. At that stage, I followed Dr. Weisbluth’s advice and did whatever I could to get her to sleep and then I worked on good sleep habits. Have you tried co-sleeping since you got home from Brazil? A. slept on her crib mattress and I slept beside her on a fold-out firm foam mattress, something like this: http://www.amazon.com/Brand-Shikibuton-density-resilient-Folding/dp/B004SOQGVQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398199090&sr=8-1&keywords=fold+out+mattress Slowly she was able to sleep independently. Good luck!

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  11. Wonderful article. I thoroughly agree that it is easier to transition a child to sleeping alone when she is already in her own bed than if you have her in your bed! My son was a tough one with sleeping habits and clinginess–read all about his sleep history here–but he eventually did start sleeping completely on his own. My daughter is 5 months old now and already a more consistent and independent nighttime sleeper than her brother at the same age, although her naps are less predictable. At this point her bed is on a low frame and we have pillows along the edge to help her avoid rolling off until she learns about the edge (this worked with her brother) but if it becomes a persistent problem, we can take the bed off the frame for a while.

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  13. Jen

    I’m trying to find a relatively non-toxic mattress to use as a floor bed for my baby. Any recommendations? What is the highest mattress you think might work? Thanks!

  14. jessacorinne

    Hi! I am not very familiar with Montessori methods, but very much like the idea of transitioning my daughter onto a floor bed instead of a toddler bed. Would you recommend doing that if we have had her in a crib so far (11 months)? I understand that she might get up and want to play, but with some training should she adapt? Interested to know personal experiences or advice!

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  16. Nathalia

    I don’t have a baby yet, but I wondered if there are people that put the mattress directly on the floor (or on something like a rug or “plastic” rug). I think this is a great idea because cribs are so expensive and it would save some money, and I believe that the baby/toddler should be able to craw/walk in their room and explore, always safe, without things that they can hurt themselves. I remember when I was younger that I used to love to sleep on the floor on a thin mattress or even on a blanket (I am from Brazil and where I live is hot, so I liked the cold floor).

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