Yep, my kid still sleeps in a closet: our post-crib sleeping solution

Tavi's new bed
Those of you who have read Offbeat Families for a while may recall that, since my family of three shares a one-bedroom home, our son's bedroom is a converted walk-in closet. It's worked out really well for us, but my son Octavian is now a very large 19-months-old (seriously: dude is bigger than some of his three-year-old friends. He won a genetic lottery) and his second-hand crib was on the small side of things to begin with. It's become increasingly clear that it is time for our son to graduate to his next bedding situation.

The closet nursery before shot
Inspired in part by Alice Lasertron's Montessori bedroom, we started considering a floor mattress for Tavi. It makes sense given the size of the closet/room: we could fit a very small child's bed into the closet, but it would take up the entire space. Complicating matters further, a back corner of the room is taken up by a 1'x1' enclosed pipe, so a bed wouldn't be able to fit against the wall. A mat on the floor also means there's nothing for him to fall out of — if he rolls off the mat, it's a 2" slide to the rug on the floor.

Even with all these reasons for why a floor-bed made perfect sense, I felt myself fighting the idea a bit. My son… on the floor? But, shouldn't he have something special-er? Something less "here's a pile of pillows; 'night kid"? He's my precious baby beans! NOBODY PUTS BABY IN THE CORNER ON THE FLOOR!

I even took a cursory glance at some toddler beds, but it just made no sense. It was basically my own misguided issues of pride and weirdness getting in the way of clear logic. A bed on the floor absolutely makes the most sense for our space and my son's age. Special-er concerns be-damned!

So, our solution? Well, it was pretty straightforward: we bought some crap at Ikea and dumped it on the floor.

Tavi's new bed

Ikea crap we purchased:

As you can see, there's absolutely NO unifying theme. We're still using the rainbow stars and skulls bedding from Rockerbye Baby, and now we've got a lot of green, and there are animals, and shark and whale posters on the wall. But jumbled aesthetics aside, the true test of the space is whether Tavi likes it.

Tavi's new bed

I was ready for a rough transition. Tavi goes to bed pretty easily, but would that still be the case if there was no cage to hold him in when I laid him down? Would he be pounding on the closet door, screaming to be let out? The first night, I took him in after his bath for pre-bedtime stories.

"Lay down!" he instructed, flopping down on the mattress. We read stories, and then I snuggled down next to him on the mat. (Major bonus of mattress on the floor: I can lay down and snuggle with him!) When it became clear that my presence was being more of a distraction than a reassurance, I gave him a kiss and slipped out the closet door.

Tavi's new bed
The Twilight Turtle, doing its thang
It definitely took Tavi longer to fall asleep. For 20 minutes or so, I could hear him in the closet, chatting quietly to himself, "Lay down … blanky … nana bear … leaf … lay down …" but there was no crying, and certainly no pounding on the door. Eventually the chatting petered out, and when I peeked in on him, he was splayed out on the mattress, wrapped around the Krokodil.

In the morning, instead of waking up with a scream and demands to get out of his crib, I heard one squawk and went in to find him sitting up, happy, looking at some books from his book box. It was sort of amazing. The nights and morning since then have been filled with more of the same, making it clear that dude is super happy with the new arrangement. He's even been sleeping in a bit later! Who knows if it has anything to do with the bed, but this morning he slept in until 8:15! Amazing.

As for me? I love that I can lay down and snuggle with him in his own little space, under the leaf and surrounded by sharks and rainbows and stars and monkeys.

Tavi's new bed

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  1. I think it looks fantastic. With the green and the leaf, it reminds me of a little outdoor hide-away nest. It seems like a very special, cozy place.

    13 agree
  2. Floor beads are awesome! I used to have a wooden slat platform bed from ikea that was only a couple inches off the floor, which is awkward because I was tall, but I love floor spaces to just hang out in and for a critter it must be ideal!

    3 agree
  3. very special, in all the best ways — be sure to keep these pictures, as he may have some very fond memories of this space as he gets older…

    6 agree
  4. The twilight turtle is at the top of my "Items Needed for Baby" list. Are you guys liking it?

    8 agree
    • I'm not a mom. But I HIGHLY recommend them. I plan on getting one when I have a child.

      My husband and I bought one for his nephew, and he adores it. Can't sleep without it.

    • Love the twilight turtle! It even automatically turns off after 40 minutes, perfect for falling asleep.

      6 agree
    • My newborn is fussy without it when he's in his "awake moods" in the middle of the night. Also it has just enough light for nursing or diaper changes without making everyone wide-awake.

    • the twilight turtle is awesome! if my son spends the night with his grandparents, we have to send it along, because he askes for his stars at night. we even bought the twilight lady bug to put in my daughters crib too so my son can have his on blue and hers is on green. honestly most nights their room looks so soothing, i want to sleep in there!

  5. I would have LOVED this when I was little. I plan on doing something similar for my little man when he graduates to a big boy bed.

    1 agrees
  6. My kiddo was on the floor when we first moved into our apartment after leaving my parents house, where we co-sleep. He liked, i liked it, but then my BF parent's found a super sturdy bunk bed at a rummage sale and bought it(it came with two twin mattresses). He was wary at first but then I helped him make a fort with the bed and he was sold!

  7. Yay! For happy sleeping babies, er, toddlers! I would snuggle down in that in a heartbeat. it has the aesthetics of a blanket fort. which is awesome.

    Our baby's sleeping set-up is similar, tucked right next to our big bed…the only other available space for sleeping. First time in my life a bedroom has been strictly for sleeping.

    2 agree
  8. We moved my son to a twin mattress on the floor at 10 months due to his intense hatred of the crib. As you said, the ability to lay down with them to comfort/help them fall asleep is beyond awesome. My guy is 2.5 now and still on the same mattress, but we did add the box spring underneath it. I think since we started him there so young, we never had a problem with him getting out of it at night or even during nap. Works great for us!

    1 agrees
    • Exact same thing here with my 4 year old. 3-6 months: battle with crib. 6-10 months: co-sleep. 10 months: floor mattress. No problems ever since.

      1 agrees
  9. I LOVE the leaf canopy! I think that might be the key to success. I remember being very little, and attempting to prop my own blankets up around me to make a sort of fort/cocoon/cave because it made me feel safer and, as you put it, more special-er. Makes going to bed fun! Good job!

    3 agree
    • There are some fascinating architectural studies on ceiling height and how it makes us feel as a person in that environment.

      I can imagine that 8-10 ft ceiling height compared to a child's height might feel high and echoey the way an official building or church might feel to an adult. High ceilings can creates more of formal feel – not very cozy…

      So forts and canopies and ways of lowering the ceiling height to a child's level can make the child feel extra cozy and snuggled in those spaces.

      1 agrees
  10. I have all of those ikea items in our nursery.I love the set up! I am now pitching this idea to my husband!

  11. This reminds me of my sister's room when she was in high school – my parents caught her dancing/jumping on all of her furniture (bed to dressed to bookshelf and back), so they took all her furniture except her bookshelves away. She slept on the mattress on the floor and LOVED IT. People would anticipate a typical teen whiny reaction – but she was just psyched she had more room to dance! So she slept on that floor mattress for years.

    1 agrees
  12. I have a question–can you have a floor bed in a climate where mold is an issue? I had my own floor mattress a few years ago, which was awesome until we had to throw the whole mattress out because of the big colony of black mold on the bottom. Is there anything you can do to prevent this happening to a floor bed?

    • Raise it up a few inches off the floor with some peg board screwed to some boards. It will provide some air flow underneath the mattress. Also, flip your mattress at least once a month. And try a fan (or electric heater, depending on how cold it is) pointing underneath the bed during the especially damp times.

  13. The cuddle bonus is definitely the best part! We have a full size bedroom for our 2 year old and he's been on a mattress on the floor since before his first birthday (he never did like his crib). We thought very briefly about a toddler bed but they just seem so inconvenient. Where does the parent lie when the little one has a bad dream!?! Answer me that. He's now in a full out fancy bed that his super radical Grandpa made him but if it weren't for that I'm sure he'd still be happy as a clam on the floor.

  14. Look to Japan! Japanese kids sleep on the floor their entire lives and have hot, humid summers often without a/c in the home πŸ˜‰

    Tip #1 is use a futon, rather than a western-style mattress, and make sure to fold it up an store it off the floor when not in use! This helps air out the futon so you don't end up with a mold invasion. Tip #2 is once a week or so, lay your futon out in direct sunlight for a couple hours. Make sure to flip it so both sides get sun. The direct sunlight will help kill off dust mites, mold, and other nasties that could otherwise take hold. Tip #3, if 1 and 2 aren't doing the job is to buy some of those desiccation packets like you find inserted into packages of candy, crackers, etc, and place them underneath the futon. That will help collect any moisture underneath the futon and trap it, but you need to make sure to change these out fairly regularly. A dehumidifier will also work, but maybe not as well since it won't get directly underneath the futon.

    But to be honest, #1 and 2 is all you really need. I lived with a futon in Japan for four years, and have one in my guest bedroom now, and so far haven't had any mold issues!

    2 agree
  15. This is a BRILLIANT idea! My son and I shared a room until he was three. His half was separated from my half by one three-shelf bookcase, which was essentially like Less Nessman and his masking tape walls.

    Astin's first bed was a camp bed. It was perfectly sized in that it was only about a 8 inches off the floor. He was so tiny I didn't see any need to buy a huge (by comparison) single bed or even the relatively new (for the time) idea of a toddler bed. Besides, the camp bed was $15 at Ikea. Still-n-all, every morning, I awoke to find him in my bed.

    Had I to do it over, I would have loved to use this idea of the floor bed (and saved $15). Honestly, it seems so much more cosy than a bed bed.

  16. I love this!!!! Totally something I would 100% consider when Anique gets old enough!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  17. This is wonderful! How funny, I was just thinking about this very situation, wondering how you were going to tackle this situation when he got bigger. And look! I get up to find an article all about this! <3

  18. He's huge, but it was also a mini-crib we inherited from some French friends. It definitely wasn't the standard US crib size.

  19. I love the leaf canopy so much! So precious.

    Do you ever snuggle underneath it with Tavi? Is there room?

    • Totally do, and there's totally room. Dre and I were both in there this morning! πŸ™‚

  20. I LOVE that leaf! Not only is it adorable, but I'm sure it makes Tavi feel more comfortable by not overwhelming him with the vertical height of the room. I can totally understand loving to sleep in cozy, small spaces.

    I don't know how well it would work with the available vertical space, or even if you're thinking this long term, but it looks like the closet would suit well to an eventual loft bed. Build a railing on it to keep him from falling out, give him a ladder to climb up, and it would still preserve all of the floor space for playing and cuddling.

    1 agrees
    • Oh yes: if we stay in this condo, we're totally planning a built in loft-bed as the next iteration. The window in that room is sorta high, so it's perfect for a loft bed/club house. πŸ™‚

      2 agree
  21. Great post! My #1 will only be about a year and a half old when my #2 comes and I don't want to have to buy a second crib. Her room is already a closet (though she is sleeping in our room until hot weather/SIDS risk/needing to eat at night is over). We can easily make a cozy space in her closet when we need to take the crib for #2 though we'll have to do something to prevent her from getting into all the clothes, toys and other baby stuff stored in there when she's supposed to be sleeping.

  22. I love it, it reminds me of the forts we built as kids, and who wouldn't want to get to sleep in their own fort every night. Very cool.

  23. Oh wait, I only just now saw how you wrapped the bumpers around the base of the wall and around that sharp corner. Smart!

    • Yeah, those bumpers were too cute not to keep around, and that boxed-out corner desperately needed some major padding. It could use a little bit more, even — he's bonked himself a couple times!

  24. We're totally grown-ups without kids and we totally have that Ikea leaf mounted over our bed. Leaf canopies for all!

  25. WOW! The leaf really does it. I think that leave + the coordinating green rug makes it VERY special!

  26. Love this! I was also inspired by the montessori post on OBM! We were trying the "let her cry it out" method for a few weeks, and I was going nuts! So I got inspired and threw the mattress on the floor. She now sleeps through the night! In the morning she crawls out of her room and comes to cuddle with me & her papa : ) We're currently turning her crib into a club house! (I don't want to waste the damn thing!)

  27. I desperately wanted to get one of the Twilight Turtles for my future baby but when i tried to buy one they wouldn't post it down here to Australia πŸ™
    I think having a bed on the floor as a toddler makes alot of sense.

  28. I love his little bed. It's perfect for a 19 month old. Nowhere to fall! Also great for you to snuggle with him too. Two of our children sleep low down to the floor like this and it's much better.

    • Yeah, the twilight turtle is NOT just a kid's thing — it's just plain awesome.

      1 agrees
  29. I love the leaf so much I just dded it to our nursery list, and the krokodil looks alot like the dragon, I'm dying for them to bring the dragon back.

  30. Ariel! My husband and I were redecorating our daughter's room today (painted the walls purple and blue!) and as I was setting up the pillows on her floor bed, I remembered this post. What is around his bed? Is it a bumper or a pillow or a cross between? I need one posthaste!

    • It's a custom bumper from Rockerbye Baby that we're now using as a body pillow/thinger?

  31. I love this idea for all the practical reasons (and NOT just because it's adorable, though it totally is), but I wonder if it could work in a bigger room, or if the coziness is a prerequisite.

  32. "NOBODY PUTS BABY IN THE CORNER ON THE FLOOR!" LOL! I love the room, of course, but it was the quote that really made my day πŸ™‚

  33. My daughters (7 months) is on a floor bed and has been since she grew out of the bassinet. Its has been the best thing we could of done she wakes up in the morning gets out of bed and plays, wakes me up about 9 in the morning banging on the door and calling out. We are doing the Montessori method and after reading up on it all I just couldnt bring myself to put her in a cot even though I was rather scared about putting her in the floor bed. It took a while to get use to it (we has to put her strait from the bassinet to the floor bed cold turkey when she sat herself up at 5 months) but now shes great :). Love Love Love the floor bed.

  34. So, if Tavi ever wants to visit Canada by doing a bedroom swap with me, I'm totally down for that! I'm almost tempted to turn my walk-in closet into a reading nook that looks like this!! What a lucky kid!

  35. I wish we had come across an idea like this before spending the money on a real bed since 95% of the time my son climbs out of his bed and falls asleep on the floor anyway. When I'm going up to bed I put him back in bed but still…

  36. Obviously, this is working for you and Tavi! I just wanted to say that as a kid, and even now as an adult, I love sleeping on the floor. When I "graduated" from a crib to a bed, I didnt like it so much. I would insist that my mom build me a "nest" to sleep in on the floor. My parents got rid of the bed frame finally, and let me nest away…

  37. If and when you're looking into some different spacial arrangements, I suggest a loft bed. All you'd need to do is build a frame on the wall, throw a piece of plywood on top, and put the mattress on it. I had one from 4-18, and LOVED IT. It really opened up the space in my bedroom. (Heck, I'd still have one if my body wasn't eating itself so I can't guarantee that I could climb the ladder every night.) Even if you only put it up high enough that you need a single step to get up there, it would give you some storage space for toys/extra bedding/whatever underneath.

  38. YESSSS!!!!! I am SO glad I am not the only one who has this Idea! I have 20-month-old twin boys and while one is still tiny (23 lbs. Yes. TINY) My other lil man is a BIG boy and ready for a bed. I think this is a GREAT solution. Still the big-boy bed idea….but at least we don't have to worry about him falling out of bed and whacking his noggin on our hardwood floor!

  39. this is a really great solution you've come up with. it looks so cozy and relaxing!

    however, i have to wonder, why doesn't your family move into a 2 bedroom apartment? i also live in seattle and am well aware that there are nice, affordable, and safe 2 bedroom units available, just so long as you are willing to live out of the "trendy" neighborhoods.

    • A couple reasons:
      1. Because we own our home, and are not in a financial position to sell or rent it.
      2. Regardless of the neighborhood's current personality, this hood has been my home off 'n' on for 15 years (and I grew up visiting my grandma here in the late '70s and early '80s). I've written elsewhere about our larger home we had in a different neighborhood, and it didn't work for us.

      1 agrees
    • Truth: I nap in there sometimes, and it is dark and silent and cozy and AWESOME.

  40. Hey Ariel. I have been wondering lately how this set-up is working now that Tavi is getting older. We currently still have Lyric in our room since we don't have the extra space (she is 3 now!) but I am looking for ways to make her part of the room more "hers". Hope all is well with you, Kat (your former OBT Minion <3)

    1 agrees
  41. My brother graduated straight from crib to a floor bed (futon mattress, in this case). He discovered how to climb out of the crib as a young toddler anyway, so my parents figured if he's already on the floor, his climbing habit would lead to less potential injuries. He was also very much a toss-and-turn-er sleeping, so it was actually better to have him on the floor where falling out was only a couple inches, and pillows could be put anywhere around the bed to keep him in more or less the same place. I don't think he graduated to a "real" bed until he was a teenager and pushing 6' in height. And as far as I know, it worked out for him! So carry on, says I.

    1 agrees
  42. I love, love, love this idea. You can feel the love that went into this creation. My 3 year old great granddaughter won't knowingly sleep in her toddler bed (we wait till she falls asleep and then put her in the bed and every time she gets up and cries to get in bed with me… of course I give in. I'm going to try the mattress on the floor and see what happens.

    • Aww, thank you Carol! I'm so glad the love comes through… even though the kiddo is sleeping on the floor. πŸ™‚ Two years later, he's still loving it!

      1 agrees

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