Is a floor bed right for your family? The ins and outs of floor beds for toddlers

November 29, 2023

As parents, we're constantly seeking the best ways to foster our little ones' development while ensuring a good night's sleep for the whole family. It's my job as a sleep coach, to help you attain this. One trend that has gained popularity in recent years, especially within the Montessori philosophy, is the use of floor beds for toddlers. The concept revolves around promoting autonomy and independence in sleep, but it's essential to explore both the advantages and disadvantages before making the switch from a traditional cot to know if it's right for YOUR family.

I practice gentle sleep training, with my main values being to provide a holistic sleep coaching service to those that I work with, and I do this through empowering families with the knowledge to make their own choices. There are both advantages and disadvantages (in my opinion!) of floor beds, and I often work with families who have already made the switch. Read on for my thoughts below.

Advantages of Floor Beds

Autonomy and independence

Embracing a Montessori-inspired approach, floor beds encourage autonomy in children by allowing them to access and exit their beds independently. This not only promotes a sense of control but also aids in developing essential life skills. As a holistic sleep coach, I actively encourage parents to do what works with their child's emerging personality.

Freedom of movement

Unlike cribs or cots with high railings, floor beds offer toddlers the freedom to move around and explore their surroundings. This can be particularly beneficial for active little ones who may feel confined in a traditional crib, and can actually assist positive sleep training where ther may have been some cot aversion present.

Smooth transition to a 'Big Bed'

Floor beds serve as a transitional phase between the confines of a crib and the openness of a regular bed. This gradual progression can make the shift to a larger bed later on more seamless for your child, and really help with the sleep coaching process.

Disadvantages of Floor Beds

Toddlers are NOT rational beings

It's crucial to recognise that toddlers, despite their growing autonomy, are not always rational beings (or ever!). The newfound freedom of a floor bed may lead to nighttime adventures, as toddlers are more likely to get out of bed on their own accord, so be sure that you are ready to deal with numerous ups & downs. It's also important to make sure the rest of the house is safe for your toddler just in case they do have any night time adventures! As a holistic sleep coach, I can also help you manage your environment.

Safety concerns

The Lullaby Trust emphasises the importance of creating a safe sleep environment for babies and toddlers. While floor beds can offer a sense of independence, safety must remain a top priority. Ensure the sleep space is free from hazards and follow safety recommendations to prevent accidents. In every session i run, I always cover safe sleep guidance, and am more than happy to guide you in implementing safe sleep in your home.

Challenges in sleep training

Traditional sleep training methods, such as the "cry-it-out" approach, may be more challenging to implement with floor beds. The ease of getting in and out of bed could make it harder to establish consistent sleep routines. I believe that this is where gentle sleep coaching really comes into it's own.

Safety First

When opting for a floor bed, it's crucial to adhere to safety recommendations from trusted organisations like the Lullaby Trust. Ensure that the sleep space is devoid of loose bedding, toys, and any potential hazards. The mattress should be firm, and the surrounding area should be childproofed to minimise risks to ensure the safest sleep environment possible for your child.

Floor beds offer a unique approach to toddler sleep, aligning with the principles of autonomy, Montessori philosophy and gentle, holistic sleep coaching/sleep training. However, it's essential to weigh the advantages against potential disadvantages, particularly considering the unpredictable nature of toddlers. By striking a balance between encouraging your child's independence and maintaining a safe sleep environment, parents can make informed decisions that contribute to both their child's development and a peaceful night's sleep for the entire family.

Important information

There is constant research in this field to ensure the safety of our children and guidelines and recommendations are updated regularly. Please remember that this article is a summary only of current guidance and check the links listed for more in-depth information. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list, only to be used as guidance. Your own country may also have their own guidance. If in any doubt about any aspect of your baby/child's care, please consult with your paediatrician.