Montessori Beds – Sleep development

Young children and babies sometimes spend a large part of their time either behind barriers (playpen) or strapped into a pushchair or baby carrier. They are strapped in or in a high chair for their own safety. When designing the nursery and therefore the crib according to Montessori, we try to counteract the above trend. The aim is to give babies and toddlers a great deal of freedom of design and movement so that they can develop optimally. For babies and toddlers, this also means that they can get out of bed and lie down independently.

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Who was Montessori and what characterises her philosophy?

Maria Montessori was born on 31 August 1870 in Chiravalle (near Ancona, Italy). She grew up as an only child in a sheltered family. Her parents, her father Alessandro Montessori and her mother Renide Stoppani, were members of Italy’s ruling political class. Her father, Alessandro Montessori, was a member of the Italian Ministry of Finance and also ran the national tobacco factory. Maria Montessori wanted to study medicine without her parents’ consent. However, the university refused. So she began by studying mathematics and engineering. After completing her studies, she also obtained the right to study medicine. In 1892, she was the first woman in Italy to start studying medicine, and in 1896 she was also the first woman in Italy to obtain a doctorate.

After graduating, she worked as an intern at Rome University Hospital in the child psychiatry department. It was there that she developed the first learning methods working with these children. In the years that followed, she developed the broad outlines of Montessori pedagogy.

Mrs Montessori’s Montessori pedagogy is a kind of developmental process that each child goes through in three phases. The first phase (which she also called the childhood stage) begins at birth and ends at the age of 6. This phase is particularly significant for the young child, as it is at this time that the child’s abilities, personality, psyche and mind are formed. The 2nd phase then begins in primary school and continues until the age of 12, and the 3rd phase as a young adult begins, according to Montessori, between the ages of 12 and 18. According to Montessori, young children or babies are particularly receptive to stimuli in their environment and, at this stage, are more inclined to learn. Sensitivity to movement is part of this in the first years of life, which is why she developed special toys and a special bed to stimulate this increased readiness to learn. Anyone interested in Montessori and its philosophy should also be attracted to Emmi Pikler and the innovative toys she has specially developed.

What is the Montessori bed?

A Montessori bed is a single-level indoor bed for toddlers or babies. It is therefore a bed at ground level, which, according to Maria Montessori, enables young children or babies to be more independent. Young children or babies can leave the bed as they need to and independently (i.e. without help), and they can also lie down in it independently when they feel tired. With a bed like this, autonomy is a cornerstone of Montessori pedagogy.

So a floor bed without a high level of fall protection is still a Montessori bed. This allows small children or babies (even those on all fours) to reach the bed independently and autonomously.
There is a wide choice of floor beds with very different compositions and equipment.

3 top-of-the-range models

Best For Kids Children’s bed Household bed – children’s house with anti-fall protection

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This model is a handmade Scandinavian house bed, specially equipped with a fall protection for a toddler or baby. The fall protection is removable at any time and can be removed from both sides. The surface colour of this model is natural wood. It is manufactured in the EU.

A modern, elegant element is also rounded off on the inside. The wood used is first-class knot-free. Every part of the bed is hand-sanded and hand-rounded. This guarantees maximum safety for babies. The frame has no glue elements.

This indoor bed comes complete with a frame that is placed 3 centimetres above the floor. This means that the mattress does not rest directly on the floor and is not too high for a small child.

The maximum authorised weight for this model is 150 kg.

Riverbank 90 x 200 pine anti-fall crib with slatted base

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This crib has an intense colour. A water-based paint has been used to avoid chemical odours. The colour is almost odourless.

The frame is made from solid pine, making this bed suitable for years of regular use. The beams are designed to support the weight of an adult.

Assembly is accompanied by visual and video instructions. The anti-fall protection also ensures that the baby or toddler cannot fall out in the middle of the night. The edges are rounded.

VitalSpa Designer cot 90 x 200 cm nature

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The wooden slats used for this home bed are made entirely from solid wood and, because of the existing nature, this model is particularly suitable for children. The bed’s high-quality structure means that the nursery can be individually designed. The dimensions are 208 x 149 x 96 centimetres (width x height x depth).

A durable bed and illustrated assembly instructions are included with this model. A mattress is also available as an option.

Thanks to the materials used (which are virtually warp-free), this is an attractive, durable model that blends easily into the home.

Who benefits from Montessori beds?

There are a number of points that need to be borne in mind if a baby’s or toddler’s bedroom is to be designed using the Montessori method, and if children are to be able to enjoy it. The bed must be freely accessible. A floor bed or a simple slatted bed base is ideal for this purpose. This way, children can rest or sleep when they feel the need to.

In addition, no other objects should be placed in or around the bed. Too many hanging decorations, cushions or stuffed animals tend to distract attention, which defeats the purpose and meaning of the sleeping area. Furthermore, loud colours and agitated patterns should be avoided, as the bed should provide a sense of security.

It’s also important for children’s independence that they can switch the light on and off themselves. To achieve this, the light switch for young children should be at a height of around 60 centimetres. If this is not technically possible and feasible, a step stool can be placed under the switch if the toddler is already able to climb up safely. You can also place a low floor lamp in the bedroom, so that the light switch is within easy reach.

If these points are respected and the young child is capable of acting independently, the Montessori pedagogy will apply sooner or later.

What should I look out for when buying a Montessori bed?

Because of its low height, a Montessori bed does not require a restrictive barrier. As a result, the child’s independence and freedom of movement are preserved, even after bedtime. If the various models are fitted with a slatted base, the mattress is sufficiently ventilated, so it’s a good idea to make sure it’s fitted with a slatted base when you buy it.

For this type of bed to fulfil its function, the sleeping surface should be close to the floor if possible. For young children, from 2.5 to 3 years of age, the slatted bed base already mentioned comes into play to maintain air circulation under the mattress.

What’s more, a Montessori bed (like other items in a child’s bedroom) should be made exclusively from non-toxic materials. In the case of non-natural wooden beds, care must be taken to ensure that they do not contain any harmful materials. Models made from cembro pine, for example, are very popular. Cedar wood is sometimes said to have sleep-inducing properties. Montessori beds are generally made of wood. As already mentioned, it is essential to ensure that the wood does not contain any harmful substances or chemicals.

Opinions differ on the use of fall protection. Young children sometimes move around a lot at night. If this is the case, it’s unlikely that young children will injure themselves in such a bed. However, toddlers can catch a cold if they roll out of bed.

Young children’s spines are not yet fully formed. The physical health of young children is therefore enhanced by a suitable mattress. If the child falls out of bed, there is no ergonomic sleep. That’s why it’s a good idea to use anti-fall protection. If it’s no longer needed, it can be removed at any time.