Sleeping on the floor is not for every family, (although let’s be honest, there are many parents who have sometimes found it a necessity at 3am!)
However, when it comes to sleeping on the floor, I am talking about your infant or toddler sleeping on a floor bed - a bed as close to the ground as possible - which can be as simple as putting a mattress on the floor (just remember to flip it every now and then to air it!) or for more support, a Floor Bed frame.
There are many benefits for sleeping on a floor bed from including helping babies learn about their environment so that when they are crawling as infants they feel safe. And despite the fear that giving them freedom of movement in the bedroom, it is actually more likely that they will become a more confident and independent sleeper as a toddler too.
So if you have decided that a floor bed is worth giving a go, and from personal experience we highly recommend that you do,
HERE ARE A FEW TIPS FOR YOUR TRANSITION:
1 | Transition gently
Whether you are going straight in with an infant at 6 months, or introducing a toddler after sleeping in a cot or bed-sharing first, start slow. With a baby, introduce them by laying them on the bed at playtime to get used to it without you, with an infant, begin with naps only, and then with a toddler, start by giving them the choice to nap on the floor or cot, before slowly removing the alternative when they choose the floor bed most frequently. That way, they have felt part of the decision and will feel happier sleeping on something they have chosen.
For us, we went from bedsharing until 8 months, to cot on the floor at 9 months (as we already had this) before introducing the floor bed at 10 months. He was then happily sleeping in his floor bed by 14 months. Not to say there isn't the occasional wake in the night (leap, regression, Friday night) but it was one of our smoothest transitions yet.
2 | Introduce as a team
No matter when you decide to transition, let them feel involved in the decision. If you are introducing it to an infant or toddler, build the floor bed together, or take them through the process of moving the mattress onto the floor. If you are introducing in addition to a cot at first, only change one thing at a time, keeping the cot where it is, and finding somewhere else for the floor bed. If you can, remove the feet off the cot as a small step to begin with, can also help them get used to the lower height too. You can then give them the choice of where they would like to put the bed when the time comes if that is an option, making sure it is at a safe distance from the wall to ensure there is space for movement.
3 | Don’t be afraid
One of our most common questions, is based on the worry that they will roll out of the bed, onto the floor, which in all honesty, is most likely to happen at some point. But remember this, one of the greatest benefits of sleeping on a floor bed, is that it helps them to learn their physical boundaries from a young age, as instinctually they are programmed to move back into the middle of the bed if they feel themselves hanging over the edge. Also remember, that rolling onto the floor, from a 25cm height is a lot safer, then if they were to climb out of their cot at a later stage.
So try and take a deep breath, give them the opportunity to learn at a young age, and know that if they do fall, they are unlikely to hurt themselves, (and if they are anything like our toddler, it won't even wake them up!)
4 | Safety first
And our final point, is probably the most important, which is to make the room the are sleeping in as safe as possible. Remove or tie hanging cables, cover sockets, secure furniture and remove any items that could be considered a choking hazard, and secure windows and doors in a way that will keep them safe. Also, if you have a baby monitor, it is a great idea to move this to the corner of the room to give you full view of their movements if needed.
Likeliness is, that because they have the freedom to move around the room, it is unlikely that they will in the middle of the night, but as with everything, it is better to be prepared and know you are doing everything you can to keep them safe.
And that's it, hopefully you can see that just like any other transition, it is all about preparation, taking it slow, and in lots of ways letting them lead. They will show you what they need when it comes to sleep, whether that is a few more months bed-sharing with you, or having the freedom to move actually makes them feel safe. Whatever it is, we wish you the best of luck with your transition, whenever the time comes!
Have you transitioned to a floor bed? We would love to hear your experience!