Transitioning our Toddler from a Crib to a Floor Bed
Disclaimer: I am not a sleep professional and have no expertise in this area. I am just speaking about my personal experience with my child.As a Montessori teacher, I have been trained to observe, follow the needs of the children in my care, and prepare the environment accordingly. This recipe was no different when it came to transitioning my daughter out of her crib and into a floor bed.
Typically, Montessori families start with a floor bed from infancy. This was not our experience, as we spent the majority of the first years of my daughter’s life with family and not in our own home. A floor bed just wasn’t an option for us.
Now, at 2 (32 months), we made the decision to set her up with a floor bed. There were a few reasons we chose to make the transition:
- She was getting too big for her crib
- She was showing interest in “quiet time” instead of napping consistently
- She was able to climb out of her crib
- We were ready to support her through the transition
I was not eager to move her out of her crib. She had consistently slept through the night to this point, and after all those months of sleepless nights, I was hesitant to undo all the progress she had made. I was also nervous about how she would feel because I know she loves her crib. I was so scared that I would take my well-adjusted toddler and completely turn her world upside down.
Preparing the mind
Understanding the major transition this would be, and our toddler’s need for order, my husband and I spent a lot of time preparing her for the change. We talked about beds, looked at pictures online, and pointed them out in books. When the bed came, we let her open the box and work with us to put it together.
We set up the bed in her room and did nothing else. She still slept in her crib, and her room remained the same. The only difference was there was now a bed on the floor. She’d play on it, and we’d read books. I wanted her to feel comfortable with it, safe and oriented before we made the switch.
Preparing the environment
When preparing the environment in her room, there were a few things I took into consideration:
We baby-proofed her room. We covered all electrical sockets, removed her unanchored dresser, and put it in the guest room, and we added command hooks to hang the strings for the blinds, so they were out of reach.
We removed most of the toys and books from her room. I left the comfort items that she sleeps with, a few books, and two or three toys.
The Big Day
The bed was ready, the crib siding was removed, and we were ready for her to take her first nap in her bed! I put her down on her bed, covered her with her blanket, kissed her goodnight, and with a tiny whisper and a tear in her eye, she said, “I want my crib.” I picked her up and moved her to her crib.
At this moment, I understood how big of a change this was for her. She’d spent her whole life in her crib, and now she was expected to sleep in this new, big, unfamiliar bed.
Immediately, when I set her down in her crib, she relaxed. She still had no side to her crib, so it wasn’t much different from the bed, but it felt safe. I followed her lead, letting her process in her own time. She took a great nap in her crib and never once got out.
I am pleased to say that there weren’t many challenges. I was nervous about the transition, but our slow and respectful approach made everything pretty smooth. Of course, there were a few expected bumps in the road.
Bedtime has moved way back as she plays in her room much longer than she used to. This is why I simplified her room. She reads, plays with toys, and sometimes rolls around on the floor for HOURS before falling asleep.
I didn’t foresee the lights being an issue. She now can get up and turn on the lightswitch. When the light is on, she has a hard time winding down. We ended up turning the dimmer down, so when she turned on the light, it is very dim. This took me a few days to solve. I am sure it’s only a matter of time until she figures out how to use the dimmer switch.
Leaving her room
This only happened a few times in the first two weeks. I would walk her back to her room, lay her down, sing a song, kiss her goodnight and leave. I had to do this about five times in the first two weeks before she stopped leaving the room.
She is now fully settled with her bed. She sleeps on it without any issues and is comfortable in her room. She stays in her room (other than the random peeks she takes by cracking the door open). It took about two weeks to feel settled into our new routine for all of us.
Through this experience, I have solidified what I’ve come to learn within the Montessori philosophy - follow the child. There is no timeline, no rush, and no judgment. My role as the adult is to set up a developmentally appropriate environment, observe, adapt and reflect. I couldn’t make her sleep in her bed, but I could set up an environment where she felt safe, prepared, and respected.
Products that helped us
There were a few products that I felt were helpful in our experience transitioning out of the crib:
We chose the platform for its simplicity and how low it is to the ground (since she is used to the bars of her crib keeping her contained).
My husband did most of the research for the mattress, but we ended up choosing the 7 inch Avocado mattress. We love that the mattresses are organic, non-toxic, and made in the US. Here is a mattress guide for the Sosta Bed.
Instead of going with bedding, we had a mattress sheet from Avocado and then purchased the Kyte Sleep Bag Walker. For many naps and nights, our toddler has fallen asleep on the floor instead of her bed. So instead of buying bedding, we purchased a Sleep Bag Walker. She has slept in Kyte Sleep Sacks her whole life (they are bamboo and so soft), so we bought one where she could still walk around but had the same feel as a sleep sack that she’s so used to. I felt like this was a massive help to the transition as she could be mobile, but it slowed her down (they aren’t the easiest to walk in).
I would have never thought to buy this, but it was gifted to us by a family friend. This thing ended up being a considerable comfort for my daughter. She controls the lights. It projects stars on the ceiling but isn’t too bright. She loves it so much, and it keeps her calm and comfortable when we leave the room.
If you are transitioning your child to a floor bed, check out our Youtube video with a sleep consultant, Jordan DeBry. 7 Tips For Switching From a Crib