For me, when I first started learning about Montessori, it was the bedroom which inspired me the most. This was the first Montessori principle we applied knowingly in our home; a bedroom for our child, not for us.
Over the months I was pregnant with Jack, my husband and I excitedly planned his nursery. But now that I look back on it, it was actually another room for us which he would sleep in. It wasn’t until I started reading about Montessori (when Jack was about 10 months old, that I started to see things from a different perspective.
And so we made some changes. Changes so that Jack’s bedroom was in fact, a room for Jack. We took his cot down and made him a floor bed, we took the change table down and made a small area on the floor, we thought a lot about what toys were available to him and arranged them simply and beautifully on a low shelf.
When Sarah was born we were more intentional with her room from the start.
Here’s a few things to think about if you are wanting to set up a Montessori style child-focussed bedroom.
How can I make this room safe for my child?
- safety plugs on power points
- LED battery-operated lamp (no cable and no hot bulb)
- low shelving and furniture (nothing high that they could climb up on and potentially fall)
- curtain/ blind cords out of reach
- if you are using a floor bed, consider a stair-gate across the doorway so you can keep the door open but your child is safe inside at night
- First thing, look at the room from your child’s perspective, literally. Get down on the floor and have a look. What can you see? What view do you have from the window? How high up the wall is your line of sight? How many shelves can you reach in the wardrobe? Can you see the toys? Are they in reach?
- For a change table, consider a light mat on the floor and a basket with wipes and nappies in the wardrobe. There’s no chance of them falling and as they grow your child can be more involved in the process; crawling to the mat and laying down, then when they are walking, getting the change basket (with wipes and nappy) and taking it to the change area.
- For a bed, consider a floor bed. A floor bed gives your child more freedom to move around their room once they are mobile. For both Jack and Sarah, we started them in a bassinet in our room, moved them to a cot in their own room when they were about 4 months old. Then when they could crawl confidently (around 7 months) we moved them to a floor bed.
- For toys, low shelving is great if you can find it (or make it) but it really isn’t essential. Here, you can see a beautiful bedroom for a toddler. They use little cubbies which you can pick up unfinished rather cheaply or if you are a little handy, could easily make some. This was Otis’s room when he was 4 months old. You can see the low shelving as well as how Kylie has set up a play area with a wall mirror. Babies don’t need a lot of toys, particularly when they are really young. I tend to find battery-operated toys are far more expensive than beautiful, simple, wooden toys. They also encourage the child to sit passively while the toy does something as opposed to the wooden toys which encourage the child to interact with the toy, stack it, assemble it, play with it. Wooden toys also appeal to the child’s developing senses. So if you can, try to choose beautifully made simple toys which encourage exploration over plastic toys which can be overstimulating to children with the flashing lights and noise.
- For the aesthetics of the room, try to make the room simple, uncluttered, ordered and beautiful. Use baskets to keep sets of toys together, and then choose a few toys to have out at a time, depending on what your child is interested in at that time. Think about books, maybe in a small basket next to the bed for bedtime reading. What about art work on the walls? Think about real art prints instead of character prints. If you have a mobile for your child, think about putting it somewhere besides above the bed/cot. This way your child can wake up peacefully. Consider putting the mobile more towards the centre of the room or over a play area (with wall mirror). Add a little more line so it hangs within your child’s line of sight.
* Bed Start is a wonderful resource for inspiring baby friendly nurseries – lots of wonderful floor beds