Every new mom can surely relate to the magnitude of questions that one is presented with when having that mama glow and darling baby bump.
“Are you having a boy or a girl?”
“Honey, have you decided on a name yet?”
“Will you be using cloth diapers?”
“What theme are you doing in the nursery?”
“Did you get your crib yet?”
And the list goes on and on.
Now I should note, I was one of those moms who absolutely adored being pregnant. I opted for shirts that were nice and snug, putting my bump right in the limelight. With that, it was very obvious that I was expecting which made the questions come flooding my way right from the start.
I couldn’t go anywhere without someone asking me something about baby.
And while I was able to skirt the questions and make light of most, the ones that really shook me up and gave me angst were surprisingly in relation to the nursery.
I didn’t have the slightest clue what I wanted to do. Aren’t moms supposed to feel all “nesty” and stuff? That wasn’t me.
More times than I can count, I would fill up my Amazon shopping basket with beautiful items for the perfect nursery, only to empty it out moments later.
Even though the pressure was high, there was something so unsettling to me about committing to such a mainstream designed room.
At 28 weeks, my husband, who was admittedly feeling the pressure, too, made me venture with him to one of those big box stores in search of our nursery furniture. He thought we could at the very least start there, and then fill in the rest of the gaps later.
We walked from crib to crib for what seemed like days. Finally, he suggested we take a break and relax in the neighboring rockers. As I sat there, feeling defeated, I was overcome with a thought, “why do we need any of this?”
I realized in that moment, that I could not and would not be buying baby a crib. I didn’t know exactly why yet, but there was something tugging away at me, telling me that it just wasn’t right for me. It wasn’t right for us.
And that was that.
My husband wanted “research” supporting what he, at the time, thought was just an irrational, emotionally driven, pregnant brain decision.
At this time in my life, being somewhat familiar with the Montessori philosophy, I immediately began researching crib-less rooms – specifically the idea of simply having a mattress on the floor (known in Montessori as the floor bed).
The more I dug, the more I was intrigued. The floor bed made so much sense. Yes, it was different and “weird” in comparison to my all my friends’ adorable (and very perfect) nurseries, but I couldn’t argue with the facts I was finding.
As you may have guessed, we went against the grain and chose the floor bed (which was an organic twin mattress) for our son’s room. Now 19 months into parenthood, I am even more convinced that it was the best decision we could have made for him.
If you are on the fence about going mainstream with your nursery, consider these six reasons to skip the crib.
1. Cribs aren’t exactly safe.
We are trained to believe that the crib is the safest place for baby to sleep. I’m not convinced… While much regulation has been put in place to address the structural deficiencies of cribs, still thousands of babies die each year falling into the side rails and suffocating. Even more children are hurt when they begin to try and climb out of them. Less obvious, yet just as dangerous, our government doesn’t adequately regulate the chemicals used on the baby furniture. There’s much scientific evidence that off-gassing of chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), from furniture, which have been linked to a range of diseases and conditions, such as asthma, cancer, immune disorders, etc., when being inhaled even in low concentrations over a long period of time. This is not okay!
2. Cribs are confining.
Cribs are confining and don’t allow the child the freedom to fully explore their environment. The idea behind a Montessori floor bed is in line with the general principles of the Montessori Method: a child should have freedom of movement, and should be able to move independently around his (carefully childproofed!) room.
3. Cribs are uninspiring.
“A crib is not an inspiring place for an infant,” writes Montessori Experts Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen. Think about it for a minute… The view from the crib is mostly “cage” or “jail-like” bars. That’s no way for sweet babes to take in this brand new world. A floor bed allows him to explore his environment visually, until he is able to physically.
4. Cribs limit independence.
Allowing for freedom of choice between sleep and play allows the child to explore his own environment when he so chooses. It is important to remember that the prepared environment plays a key role in this process. Make sure that accessible objects and toys are safe and attainable. We want to foster independence and allow for movement within the room. After all, a crib’s main benefit is making the parents job easier and not necessarily helping to shape your child to become independent and purposeful. We don’t want to hear those cries from “baby jail,” just giggles as they explore and engage with their environment.
5. You can’t snuggle together in a crib.
Having a bed on the floor makes all the difference. Let’s face it, you can’t really crawl into the crib and cuddle, breastfeed (or bottle feed) your baby comfortably. It’s simply not realistic. Babies were meant to be next to mama or daddy. Having a mattress on the floor makes life easy!
6. Non-toxic cribs are extremely expensive.
As a natural health advocate, I was highly discouraged to discover that not only are most cribs toxic, but that the “safe” ones are extremely expensive and hard to find. They do exist, but will cost you an average of $1,000 – that’s not even including the organic mattress!
Every day parents all around the globe are amazed by the advantages of a Montessori education for their children. Skipping the crib is one simple way to embrace Montessori from birth. Your little one will relish in hands-on learning and self-discovery. This will only mark the beginning of a beautiful journey to independence!
If you are looking for permission to skip the crib, consider it granted. Remember, only you can decide what’s best for baby!
Here’s another great article on the topic.
Tonya Holcomb has a true passion for natural parenting and the infusion of Montessori principles and attachment parenting. She dreams of one day (soon!) opening a nature-based Montessori school in her community. As a Holistic Health Coach and real foodie, she works to help guide busy moms towards their most nourished and balanced selves. Through her health coaching programs, she specializes in helping moms achieve desired weight-loss goals and adopt natural living through all aspects of life. Tonya is a true example of a busy, entrepreneurial spirited wife and mother who always makes time for her health! Get to know her at LikeMindedMamas.com