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

Posted by

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: [related-post align=”right”]

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

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

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

  1. 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!

  2. 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…

    • 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.

    • 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

    • 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.

  6. 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!

    • 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

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

    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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

Read more comments

Join the Conversation