Welcome to 'A Montessori Home'.
With so many of our friends and family living in far-off lands, I hope that this blog might help our loved-ones get to know our gorgeous Finlay as he grows up. I also hope that these posts may provide inspiration, provoke thought and conversation about creating beautiful Montessori environments for infants and toddlers at home. I'm always happy to hear your comments, thoughts and suggestions. Feel free to pop in now and then to see what we're up to!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A floor-bed update

Sleeping like an angel... Finlay at 6 weeks old

I have been promising a floor-bed update for a long time! I was amazed at the response from my post back in december when Finlay finally started falling asleep in his room without feeding to sleep. It seems that most parents experience some level of anxiety over their children's sleep (or lack of!) and I have received many emails and questions regarding this topic. Recently, Neptune from the lovely blog Montessori Ici, asked:

'Do you keep the door shut after leaving your baby for nap or sleep time?'

The short answer:
Yes, I close the door until he falls asleep. After a while I quietly open the door so that he can come out independently when he wakes up.

The long answer:
We have been through so many phases since December that sometimes this works, other times it doesn't. If parenting has taught me anything, it is that nothing stays the same...

A few months ago Finlay suddenly went through a phase where he didn't want to be left in his room at bed-time. He would scream and cry when I left and I would be in, out, in, out, for what seemed like hours every night. In desperation, I started bringing him into our bed to go to sleep, which he LOVED, and since this worked so well, we kept doing it until it became his routine. Even his daytime naps were in our bed. He also started feeding to sleep once again. (I think this started again while he was sick and we never quite dropped the habit!)

I had known for a long time that Fin's cot-sized floor bed was not big enough but it wasn't until about six weeks ago that we finally got him a single (US twin) sized mattress. This has made all the difference and now, finally (again!), Finlay is sleeping in his own bed during day-time naps and for the first part of each night. We leave his door open so that when he wakes at night he can come down the hall into our bedroom independently.

Another factor that has complicated our sleeping scenario has been the presence of other children napping in Finlay's bedroom during the day. When we first started our home-daycare business Finlay was so excited to see another child in his room, that he would call out and try to crawl over to them (he was 10 months old at the time). That's when I started putting him into my bed to sleep during the day - it just made it all so much easier! Only recently has Fin been able to fall asleep in his room when other children are here, and only when I distract him by feeding him to sleep. He has also learned to come out of his room upon waking, without waking up the other children... a huge breakthrough!

So, would I say that my bed-time parenting choices have been led entirely by the Montessori philosophy?.... Well, no. Most of my parenting in this area has been led by instinct, necessity, and Finlay's strong personal choice. For a long time I wondered if I was doing the 'right' thing. I worried that I wasn't supporting Fin's independence by bringing him into bed with us and feeding him to sleep. Was I lazy? Was I trying hard enough?

One wonderful conversation set my mind at ease. I was fortunate enough to meet a visiting US AMI trainer who listened to my concerns and reminded me that if Finlay was showing signs of independence during the day (and my goodness, is this boy independent!) then by allowing him to choose where he sleeps at night I was, in fact, 'following the child'.

Meg over at 'At Home With Montessori' also speaks eloquently on this subject in her blog post, Montessori and Attachment Parenting. I love her quote: 'My opinion is that if the child is given the freedom of movement provided by a floor bed, and then chooses to leave that bed to sleep in a shared bed, that this is in fact reinforcing the autonomy and freedom of choice that we wish to cultivate in him through the provision of the floor bed.'
Thank you, Meg. You articulated this message so well and eased my conscience after many months of uncertainty.

Our next challenge will be to wean Finlay off night-time feeding. I'm really hoping that this will encourage him to sleep through the night because he still wakes at least 2-3 times each night wanting to feed back to sleep..... and I'm afraid I'm getting deliriously sleep deprived!

Ahhhhhh the joys!

The cheeky monkey keeping us awake at night...!


  1. His little smile would just melt your heart - I couldn't say no to that face either! Thanks for linking to my article - I love being quoted ;)
    Makes me feel extra special!!!
    As always, you articulate yourself beautifully and your enthusiasm for parenting your little boy just shines through.

  2. I'm so thankful that you wrote about this, because it has been on my mind! I'm trying to work out whether there is anything in our sleep routine that needs 'fixing,' and how best to fix it if I do. When did Finlay start getting up and going into your room after waking at night? Did you do anything to encourage this? I would love to see Annabelle coming in to join us on her own, as she currently cries until I come in to get her, despite having the freedom of the floor bed and an open door in the room right next to mine. I'm not sure if this is just her personality, or something I'm doing (or not doing).

  3. eeek I somehow missed this post!
    THANK YOU for it.

    I am in the same place where I cannot leave E alone in his room to fall asleep. he too cries until I come back in, I feel it is like an insecurity he is going through. So right now, we have to rock him or feed him to sleep. I am trying to teach him to be able to fall asleep on his own, but for a reason I do not get, he fights falling asleep right to the end.
    I have been feeling the same feelings of not helping him be independent. SO I am grateful for you sharing these words of wisdoms! I really needed all of them.

    Tell me, what is your plan at this point to help Finn wean at night? We are right at the same spot.

  4. Just found you through How we Montessori and had to say it is nice to find another "bad sleeper" mom with a constantly changing plan of attack for how we get and keep them asleep.

    Lucy is 13 months old and still wakes up several times a night. She starts out with me on a floor mattress in our room and I bring her to our bed after the first or second time she wakes up. Once or twice she has walked over to our bed but she normally just cries until I bring her over, even though she is only a few feet away and as soon as I lay down with her again, she knows she will be nursing soon so settles right down. But I consider myself lucky because it has only been in the last few months that she has started napping by herself, before that if I left her side she would instantly wake up. Talk about not a lot of time to myself :-)

    Anyway, its just nice to hear more confirmation that I really am following the child and that I am not alone in my sleep deprivation.

  5. We really are not alone, are we?! It seems we're all facing the same challenges!

    Meg - thank you again, your words are obviously comforting to many many parents!

    Melissa and Neptune - my answers to your questions rambled on so long that I've made them into their own post!
    I hope some of our experience might help you both, even if it's just to confirm that every child is different and only we as parents know them well enough to decide how to respond to the challenges that we meet along our journey.

    MacKenzie - It does help to know there are others out there who are sleep deprived, huh? 'Constantly changing plan of attack'... indeed! I seem to always be trying something new to just get through the night. I wish you many hours of sleep in the near future :)

  6. Here is the European floor bed from Michael Olaf. Thank you for all of this wonderful information! http://michaelolaf.com/store/1gentle.html#48

  7. Thank you for your link, Susan. I drooled over these for many months before Finlay was born. If only it were easier/cheaper to send such large items all the way to New Zealand!
    Thank you, also, for your wonderful videos on the Michael Olaf website - these have provided me with so much inspiration. What a gift to parents everywhere :)