When Marshall turned 7 months old and began to crawl, we transformed his room from a nursery to a child centered Montessori Bedroom.
I changed everything right before his afternoon nap time. At first we just put the crib mattress on the floor and put some padding around it in case he rolled off. Jerad screwed a mirror into the wall, and we taped up a few calendar pictures and parts of his mobile at his level.
I flipped his little shelf on its side and put out a few books and toys for him to see when he woke up.
When he got tired I put him on the mattress and rubbed his back and cuddled him until he fell asleep.
I was sure there was going to be a transition time for him to get used to the new setup. Instead he slept for 3 hours straight!
When he woke up he was thrilled to find the baby in the mirror. He talked and coo'd and laughed for a few minutes, then crawled right out of bed.
He thought being able to get right out of bed was pretty funny:
He automatically discovered the book shelf:
Crawled right over and pulled the books out:
Day one was a success.
After a few weeks of that setup, we knew we were ready to take the plunge and sell the crib and buy a twin size mattress for the floor. It has been amazing!
Marshall is one of those weird babies that will ONLY nap in his bed. Seriously. Since he was 3 or 4 months old he stopped falling asleep in our arms, and has never once passed out on the floor or under his play gym. Around that time he also started refusing to fall asleep in our bed, and even getting him to sleep in our bed after a night time feeding is hit or miss.
Now his bed is big enough that on lazy afternoons we can nap with him. I can lay down to nurse him instead of one of us having to bring him in our room during the night (although usually that's what we do).
The first night we had his new mattress set up he had come into our bed in the middle of the night but was flailing around and crying so Jerad put him back in his bed and fell asleep in there too. In the morning I heard giggling and this is what I found:
He was so happy to wake up with Jerad in there. It was adorable.
I rotate out the toys in his room as he gets tired of them, normally once a week. Usually there is 3 books, a ball, one toy, and a different "big toy." Like the bead maze, his Melissa and Doug push toy, or the block cart.
The goal is to not overwhelm him, and for me to be able to completely pick up his room in under 60 seconds.
As soon as he wakes up, he is free to crawl out of bed and entertain himself:
At 8.5 months he put himself to bed for the first time. He was playing, rubbed his eyes, crawled over to his shelf and grabbed his paci, then crawled into bed and put himself to sleep.
I love the independence that his room gives him.
I covered him up with a blanket and documented the occasion:
Don't get me wrong, he doesn't always put himself to sleep, and sometimes I do lay with him and rub his back, but it really has been amazing. Believe it or not but naps and bedtime has gotten easier since we decided to forgo the crib.
The way our house is set up, his room is literally 4 steps from our room. We haven't put a baby gate on the door yet because we can hear him the second he wakes up. In the morning sometimes he will wake up and play, or he will crawl into our room and stand up wanting to get in our bed where we'll have some morning snuggles.
If I am going to be outside or in the basement when he's napping, I just close his door. Otherwise if I'm in another room I leave it open and he'll crawl out and find me. If the door is closed, he will crawl over to it and bang on it. Its recommended to put a baby gate across the doorway but at this time its not necessary for us. The way our house is situated (plus he is a LOUD crawler), you can hear him as soon as he wakes up.
Occasionally he will wake up and fuss until I come in his bed and cuddle with him. My favorite thing about this setup is that he is able to communicate what he wants and it is easy for us to determine what it is. Sometimes he wakes up and wants to play alone, sometimes he wants a buddy, sometimes he wants to go to where we are, sometimes he wants some cuddles. And now we are able to figure it out easily instead of him waking up in his crib and automatically crying to be let out.
So far, so good!