Our newest products have arrived at Mini Maison, with a bit of a fanfare! The response from you guys, our customers, has been PHENOMENAL, I think because products like this - great design, great concept and one that kids can really embrace - don't come around very often.
Our house bed is based around the principals of the Montessori style of early years teaching, and I've put this blog post together to help you understand the thought process behind it and why it's such a pivotal piece of furniture in the design of a child's bedroom.
First up, what is the Montessori method?
If you haven't heard of Montessori it's a method of teaching that focuses on play and discovery, founded by Italian doctor, Maria Montessori in the early 20th Century. It's during a child's early years (between the ages of 0 to 6 years old) that they have the greatest capacity for learning, and Montessori's method focuses on an individual child's development rather than a pre-designated series of 'tick boxes'. Briefly, this method of learning focuses on helping children develop the confidence to become independent and productive members of society; to think and make good choices for themselves; to treat others and their environment with respect and kindness; and to enjoy their work (i.e. play).
In fact, much of the UK's current Early Years curriculum (followed by all nurseries and pre-schools in the UK) is based around Maria Montessori's principals, but when they were first developed over a hundred years ago, they were revolutionary to say the least.
How does the Montessori method work?
To facilitate the principals of Montessori teachings, Montessori classrooms include child-sized utensils, tools and furniture that help foster the independence that's core to the method. It allows children to explore their surroundings and discover things for themselves. There are some wonderful resources you can find that will help you incorporate the tools from a Montessori classroom into your home. Check out The Bump and The Spruce for some more great ideas. Focussed around having everything easily accessible to your child and having child-sized products as part of the design, I love the ethos behind the method.
What is a Montessori House Bed?
The house bed comes from the Montessori concept of 'floor bed', which to you and I is a mattress on the floor. This is recommended for babies too, not just toddlers. Now, I'll be honest, this was never going to work for me. Having my babies get as MUCH sleep as possible was one of my main priorities in life for the first two years. And while the pros of the floor bed have seemed tempting, I know that for me, the thought of a one year old not napping because they weren't contained in a cot was enough to drive me crazy. BUT, and this is a big one... if your baby/toddler goes to nursery, there's a 90% chance that they already nap on a mattress on the floor. I've yet to meet a parent that wasn't astounded at this information... 'they just lie down and go to sleep?!... they didn't try to get up and walk around?'! I had this exact reaction too, but we all know our kids can be angels for other people but a nightmare for us, right?! Anyhow, I digress. We've gone for a floor bed from the age of 2, because I feel like he now has enough of an understanding of what he is allowed to do and what he isn't.
Floor beds are core to the Montessori method, (for more info, check out this brilliant article) believing a child should have freedom of movement, and should be able to move independently around their (child-proofed) bedroom as they wish. And, of course, in large parts of the world this is how most children sleep.
Our house bed or one of our tipi beds is just an extension of this concept. It incorporates the floor sleeping principal as well as developmental play aspect - upon waking it can instantly transform into an exciting den for a little one. And for that added touch, our housebed comes with a feature chimney, because we've thought of everything.
Some people might be uncomfortable with the idea of putting a mattress directly onto the floor... well, guess what? We've thought of that too and you can select to have a layer of slats included, if you would prefer.
The house bed comes in THREE sizes - UK single, EU single (if you have an IKEA mattress it may be an EU size so make sure you check!) and toddler bed (cotbed size - 140 x 70). And if you like the extra feature of a fence on three sides, we can do that too.
Our Tipi beds are also hugely popular as they incorporate all the Montessori principals but give a more adventurous look to your child's bedroom. Available in toddler or single size, these remain very popular.
And the best thing about the house or tipi bed for a parent, it is GREAT for accessorising. The possibilities are endless and so easily adaptable as your child's taste grows - it is a bed at nighttime and a whole world of possibilities during the day time. Any piece of furniture that is functional AND can ignite a child's imagination has got to be a win-win.