We turned a bedroom into a crib for a formerly co-sleeping baby

Updated Feb 1 2017
Guest post by Shelly G
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All photos by Shelly.

We co-slept until my daughter was eight months old. It was an amazing experience for me, but she started teething at eight months. As I am the primary breadwinner of the family, and also the lightest sleeper, my husband felt it would be best to transition her to her own room, so that I could get at least a little sleep before embarking on what is typically a 13 hour day. But I hated putting her in a tiny crib (to be fair, she is big for her age)โ€ฆ so we decided to turn her room into a crib.

We had already painted — she has green mountains that mimic the mountains on all sides of our home, three purple walls above the mountains and one dark blue. We have asked those who love us and her to come and add a bit to the walls — a bush, a UFO, a bird, anything as long as it's done with love. This is a slow process, but one I feel is worthwhile.

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We put a futon mattress on the floor — it's softer than crib mattresses, but at eight months, she was easily able to free herself from blankets and whatnot, so we decided it was okay. We placed the many homemade blankets made for her as well as the stuffed animals gifted to her against the wall, so that she had a very soft bed area.

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The plugs and lamp we hid behind a large dresser, which was painted green to blend in with the "scenery." The lamp has very soft lights, which makes it easy for her to sleep (and easy for us to see her on the baby monitor). The baby monitor was mounted in a high corner and the exposed cord was painted in accordance with the wall to prevent her from becoming interested in it.

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On the outside of her bed, there are a ton of toys. She will often play with these until she sleeps, then wake up to play again. She has become very adept at playing by herself, knowing that if she cries, one of us will be there. This room is always going to be a work in progress — we plan to add stars, finish the murals, and buy a rug.

When she gets older, we will buy her a big girl bed and paint the walls what she desires, if she desires. But now she's surrounded by love in a space that she can not hurt herself, which is perfect.

  1. We did something similar, though not as creatively as you! Montessori-floor bed was how I originally heard of the idea. At 11 months our son REFUSED to sleep in our bed anymore, but loved snuggling on the twin mattress on the floor in his own room. I'm in there half the night, so we still get some co-sleeping action, but overall it's made us much happier than a crib!

  2. I love the idea of people adding to the mural!

    My 9 month old twins would never survive a room like that! (Or rather, the room wouldn't survive! Ha!) They would have crawled over to the pile of blankets, unfolded them all, wrapped up like burritos, chewed all the other ones, snatched those diaper packages from under the dresser, probably managed to get them open and play with the diapers, and then totally find the painted wires and try for an hour to get them free!

    • Oh, my- it's never this clean! Notice the distinct lack of a child in the pictures, lol. These were taken while she was spending quality time with Grandma, shortly after I had finished the laundry.

  3. I love the art work and how special it must be to your family.
    Just make sure the dresser is screwed to the wall with mounting hardware, once she's toddler sized and can open a couple of drawers to climb on them the dresser could easily topple over onto her.

    • Ya know.. my almost 4 year old has yet to attempt to climb a dresser. I realize this is totally legit safety advice, but not all kiddos are climbers. I'm sure they're thinking ahead, or will do something if their kid starts to climb things. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • We've already gotten the wall mounts, just a matter of finding time! So far, she doesn't seem to notice that it's even there.

  4. I think this is a great idea! My daughter hated being stuck in her crib for more than moments upon waking. We coslept for a while but ultimately none of us got good rest in that situation. Now she has a twin mattress on the floor of her room and no furniture she can climb up on (or fall off of.) Her play kitchen is bolted to the wall. She can access her toys when she wants to and get in and out of bed safely. These days she's tall enough to turn on the light switch in her room (she is 2 now) if she wants to, and knows to turn it back out as well. She went from sleeping only 6 – 7hrs at a go to 10-12hrs happily in her room! Much happier and healthier little girl.
    Our big question now is how well she'll transition to sharing her room with a crib – and a baby sister. We're having another little girl in May and after a few months in our room, the girls will end up together. Wish us good luck!

  5. I wish I could see pictures while I'm at work! My son has slept in a full sized bed, on the floor since he was about a year old. I was often sleeping next to him, so he wasn't going to fall out. We did this simply because it's a bed we already have. It seems to have worked out fine, and we never needed to use a crib. Before the full sized bed he was in our bed or a bassinett.

    We are having another baby, so I think I'm going to get a mini crib and hope they sleep ok in the room together. I'm sure I'll end up in there with them 1/2 the time too…

  6. Love love love the shared mural idea! Someday when we have a house I might have to do the same. ๐Ÿ™‚ We did the mattress-on-the-floor thing for awhile and it worked pretty great… until we went to rearrange the bedrooms and found that the underside of the mattress was completely covered in mold, to the point where there was no way to salvage it. So word to the wise if you live in as damp a country as I do: you may want to elevate the mattress slightly to get some airflow underneath or make sure you have a good waterproof mattress cover…

  7. I love this! My son isn't here yet, but I think we will likely do something similar. I was definitely a climber as a baby, and at about 8 months would climb to the top bar of my crib and teeter-totter myself on the edge. This terrified my mom because I would always teeter head-out, my crib was taller than most, and my nursery floors were hard-wood. After I did this twice, my mom just took the crib mattress & put it on the floor, removing the crib from my room completely. The funny thing was, I was only doing this for entertainment, I wasn't trying to "escape" the crib or anything like that. Even when my mattress was on the floor & I could have easily "escaped" I'd just sit and play on the mattress until one of my parents came to say it was time to get up.

    I don't know if my son will follow in my footsteps or not, but I love this idea regardless. I think especially if you have climbers, this is just a pro-active way to make sure your kid doesn't hurt themselves on a crib. Kudos for going with an out of the box solution that works for you all!

  8. traditional cribs were just not for us. we felt that they were alienating and unsafe. so we chose instead high quality, fume free, natural berber carpeting with padding and a firm futon for the floor. unbreakable mirror in the closet (doors removed), soft cotton roman shade, and we removed the top part of her door, so it's like a dutch door. the money spent on these quality features was a fraction of what you would spend on a traditional layette and furnishing at a basic box store. we also enjoyed putting her to sleep, snuggling beside her and saying goodnight just as she was about to fall asleep, parting while she was still awake so she wasn't frightened. once she could crawl we left her door open so she could explore safely at night and come to us if she wanted to.

  9. You have totally stumbled upon a huge montesorri theory without realizing it! Totally cool. You are not alone in this. We have a floor bed. Our room is much more simple than this. We only leave out a few toys for our little man to choose from. You should totally google Montessori floor bed and you will find lots of people with the same philosophy. Thanks for sharing!!

    • You are absolutely right! Of what I've observed through friends and family, it's co-sleep or crib. I was happy with the co-sleeping. But when Ripley was up most of the night, just screaming with little relief, I found myself driving the hour to work wondering if I should be behind the wheel. The final straw came when I started to nod off during my drive home one night. We already had the mattress in the room for guests and the rarely used crib was in there. She loathed that crib and I hated seeing her with her hands against the mesh, crying, like I had placed her in jail. My husband told me one night that he was just going to co-sleep with her on the "guest bed" and told me to get some sleep. Slowly, she's required less and less co-sleeping, but I still curl up with her on her bed on Friday (and sometimes Saturday) nights. That's more for my good than hers, lol, but she tolerates me in there.

      I read a bit on how this style of "crib" affects children, and that helped reinforce the idea that we made the right decision on this. Awesome!

      • I am the worst sleeper ever! In that, I mean I toss and turn a ton before I fall asleep and still toss and turn while I am asleep. My husband hates sleeping with me a little because of it so co-sleeping was never really an option for us. We did a bassinet in our room until our son was mostly sleeping through the night. It was just easier on everyone. Our arrangement works well for all parties involved. We live in a rental house right now so we mostly just put up pictures and a plastic mirror for him to look at, but it seems to suffice. The mural is awesome. We are so totally not that talented

  10. We did something similar! After co-sleeping exclusively for 8 months, we transitioned our daughter into her room, with a mattress on the floor, for about half the night at that point.

    We didn't know it was a Montessori thing, it just seemed silly to put her in a crib at that point, and so a mattress on the floor seemed reasonable.

    We got derailed a bit when summer hit and her room got too hot, so she came back into bed with us for 5 months, but now she's in her room full time all night (at 22 months).

    I asked our family doctor about it before we starting, and found out she did the same thing with her kid. She mentioned that the funniest part was that her son won't get out of bed…even though he totally can, he just won't. We've found the same thing (so far) with our daughter…she obviously can get out of bed, but most times she won't get out of bed until one of us goes in there and says 'ok morning time!' (or 'it's still sleeping time!' as the case may be…she's not ALWAYS sleeping through the night yet…). And the mornings when she wakes up a bit early, one of us can go in and cuddle with her (and get a bit more sleep) until it's actually morning, so we still get a bit of co-sleeping closeness. We loved co-sleeping for the cuddling and closeness (and ease when I was nursing all night!) but as she started to get older, we didn't love the feet in our face or trying to sleep with her hand in one of our mouths (or other weird toddler thing…toddlers are so weird man).

    I think for me the part I like the best about having a floor bed is being able to put a sippy cup of water beside her bed for her to access when she needs to. We do sometimes hear her through the monitor wake up and have a drink then go back to sleep.

    • So I told my husband about your comment, and he actually went out and got a sippy cup that we have kept by the side of her bed with water in it. She didn't notice it for the first couple nights, but last night at about 11, I hear I wail over the monitor. I got out of bed expecting a second wail, but when that didn't come, I took a peek at the monitor (we got one of those fancy ones with video) and sure enough, she had laid back with the cup firmly attached to her mouth and ultimately went back to sleep. Thank you so much for sharing such a brilliant idea!

      • Yay! I have no idea how it will or won't work when we get more 'active' about potty training, but it seems like sometimes she's just thirsty in the night and wakes up because of that.

        The other night, we heard the kid calling for us over the monitor in the morning, so I went in to get her up (it was morning) and she was sitting up on the bed. I put my hand near where we keep her water, and she said, "Where did water go?", then pulled it out from behind her back with a big smile. She's a tricky one. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. I did something like this for my twins but not with their bedroom (we co-slept till their little brother came 4 years later, and still co-slept after that when they so wished.) They had the entire living room floor as a playpen – no shoes allowed, clean comforter on the carpet to wallow on, and all plugs and outlets safely blocked off. Gates to the kitchen, hallways. The only thing we couldn't block was the fact it was an open floor plan between living and dining room, so our couch blocked part of the way and we had some ammo crates we used as a coffee table that we moved to block the rest. If I needed a nap (and often I did) I just laid in the middle of the floor while they played or napped, and never had to worry about their safety. ๐Ÿ™‚ In fact, while their dad was deployed we often just slept in there because it was safer and less hassle. I wish it had been that easy and simple with the rest of my kids – we have more 'stuff' in the house now (and have moved twice since then) and less freedom to turn a whole room into a baby safe zone. (Thankfully, there are also more 'helpers' to assist with keeping baby safe! Gotta love older siblings!)

  12. I love this idea and hope to have a space to do it for our daughter once she's not in a crib side-carred to the bed. My greatest appeal, however, is what you described:
    "She will often play with these until she sleeps, then wake up to play again."

    What a greater way to foster independence than allowing your child to wake, play, and sleep at her own schedule.

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