Ah yes, a story that we all have: a sleep story.
This is our story of trying to go all-out-Montessori for M’s sleeping arrangements and realizing along the way that actually, the most Montessori thing to do is to follow the child. Here goes the story:
When M was first born, he slept all the time, like most babies. We, however, could not put him down to sleep. He slept on our chests and laps and for the first three weeks we were happy to hold M constantly. After three weeks, my husband headed back to work and I realized that I was tired, extremely tired. I needed M to lay down next to me rather than on me so that I could get comfortable, but every time I laid him down on his back, he would scream after about five minutes.
I finally realized that M had acid reflux and that it was very painful every time he laid on his back. We tried putting a wedge beneath his bassinet mattress and setting him in his swing for sleep, but these things were not working. I was really against putting him on medicine for this issue because I wanted to find a natural remedy. Soon enough I realized two things: M loved, LOVED to sleep on his tummy (dun dun dun) and he needed medicine to help him get through the acid reflux stage.
M was about 2.5 months old when he started taking medicine for acid reflux and when he first slept on his tummy. I was so terrified that I slept on the floor right next to his floor bed. I was waking up every 15 minutes to check on him. I had heard that it could be dangerous for babies to get too hot while they sleep, so I cranked up the AC and put on a fan to be extra sure that the room would not get hot. I was basically a crazy person, but I found solace in the fact that my son was actually getting the sleep that he needed (once he had gotten bigger we were both not getting very good sleep).
Once M could roll over by himself, I felt a lot better about him sleeping on his tummy.
The Montessori floor bed worked really well for us until M learned to roll over and to crawl. He has always been really big and strong, so things like a rolled up towel at the side of the bed did not work well to keep him on the bed. He was waking up lots of times per night and crawling to his door and calling for mommy. My husband suggested that we try the pack-n-play that someone had handed down to us. I was so against it since I wanted to keep M’s sleeping arrangement inline with the Montessori method (no trapping children in cribs or pack-n-plays), but I finally decided to give it a try.
It was like the pack-n-play was the nest/womb-like bed of M’s dreams. Once we got him into the pack-n-play he slept for way longer periods of time. It was certainly not until 1 or so that he started sometimes sleeping through the night, but this was a huge change.
M still sleeps in the pack-n-play till this day (he is turning 2 tomorrow). I purchased a very nice crib and organic crib mattress for him and he sobbed and sobbed and pointed to the good ‘ol pack-n-play until I thought, “why in the world am I fixing something that is not broken?”. A friend gave us a really soft bamboo mattress that fits perfectly inside the p-n-p and that has made me feel a lot better about this bed choice. Ultimately this experience showed me that yes, Montessori offers us many pointers on what types of materials to use in raising our children, but the Montessori philosophy of following the child can out-weigh the use of specific materials, like the floor bed, in certain cases.
These lovely photos were taken by the wonderful Natasha Komoda. Check her site out at http://www.natashakomoda.com .
What is your sleep story? They are all so different!