our nursery now

There hasn’t been any knitting since I finished the second pair of Maddypants, but I figure that doesn’t mean I can’t blog! So, how about a baby-related post? Y’all remember this post about our nursery? Well, as is bound to happen when babies are involved, we’ve made some changes that seem to work better for all of us since I made that post, so I thought I might write about them. I always found the “this is what works for us” posts really helpful when reading about nurseries and cloth diapers and whatnot before M was born, so why not add one to the bunch?

Here’s our nursery now:

M's nursery now

The big difference? No more crib.

Why not?

Maddy wasn’t sleeping in it. We planned on our little munchkin spending the first few months in the co-sleeper next to our bed, anyway, so we anticipated that she wouldn’t sleep in it right away. But it turned out even the co-sleeper wasn’t close enough to mama (for a variety of reasons – I couldn’t even lift her out of it given my injuries after her birth so it was easier to just nurse her in bed next to me and not bother putting her back. Plus, starting in week 3, she’d only sleep touching me, anyway), and so now we’re full-on bedsharers. We didn’t plan it that way, but it’s just what works for us. But it doesn’t QUITE work for us.

Why not?

Well, here’s the thing: when your wee baby will only sleep next you, but also goes to bed around 7pm, guess what that means? That means mama goes to bed at 7pm, too. And believe me, I’m exhausted enough most days that I probably ought to go to bed that early, but what I realized is that I was getting depressed by being shut off in the darkened bedroom within about an hour of when my husband got home from work. And going to bed earlier than I was ready to sleep was setting me up for a nighttime of insomnia. So even when Maddy slept well, I basically didn’t sleep at all for awhile. It wasn’t pretty.

Enter: the crib mattress on the floor.

In brainstorming some possible solutions, I remembered reading about the Montessori philosophy regarding baby rooms. The general idea is to have a room centered around the needs and abilities of the child, and one of the things that characterizes such a nursery is having the bed on the floor. This allows the child, once they’re ready, to get in and out of bed themselves. There are many aspects of this philosophy that I like (and in fact, if we can swing it, financially, I’d love for M to go to Montessori school), but there are other reasons to prefer a crib mattress on the floor to an actual crib. Such as:

1. Now I can lay next to M and nurse her to sleep before rolling off the mattress and leaving her there for her first block of sleep of the night. Once she wakes up wanting to nurse, I just bring her into bed and we go back to being bed-sharers. Down the road we may end up transitioning to her staying on the crib mattress the whole night and me getting up and nursing her there when necessary, if it turns out that one or both of us sleeps better that way. We’re still figuring it out. (Please don’t give me crap about nursing her to sleep. It’s what works for us. I know about the “sleep associations” stuff, but I’m not interested in hard-core “sleep training”, for a variety of reasons. So just…don’t. Thank you.) But in any case, no WAY could I lay with her at all if she were in a crib! (Of course, this would all be even nicer if we could fit a regular twin-sized mattress on the floor, but for one thing, there’s not room in the closet-turned-nursery for one, and for two, we lost the twin-sized bed we were saving when our basement flooded last summer).

2. This is very specific to my own situation, but if you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you know I have some back/joint problems. I’m quite frankly shocked that I can still wear Maddy as much as I do (she’s pushing 20 pounds at this point, my little giant!), but it honestly doesn’t hurt my back (it helps that I have crazy-strong core muscles). But what DOES hurt my back is trying to bend over something like a crib railing while carrying her weight. I just can’t do it. My back seizes up and I just can’t. The crib mattress on the floor lets me squat/kneel with her (which I can do) if I’m putting her down. They always say, “bend with your legs, not your back!” but crib railing makes bending with your legs impossible!

3. It makes a great changing-station spot. You’ll also note in the above picture that there’s no more changing pad on the dresser. Once baby gets wiggly (and our dear Maddy got wiggly really early on), you DO NOT want to be doing diaper changes up high. Or at least, I did not. The mattress on the floor gives me a convenient, soft place to lay down a wipe-clean change mat and changer her diaper. She can’t really get hurt if she rolls off. We’ve got a soft (but not overly “fluffy”) rug (which we picked because it brought the bright greens that used to be in the crib back into the room) next to her mattress, and it’s a very shallow drop, so I’m not worried about her safety.

On the diaper-front, stay tuned – I’m also working on a “what has worked (or not) for us” post regarding cloth diapering!

Now that the dresser is free, we’re using it for Maddy’s books:

M's books

The Very Busy Spider has become our “nighttime ritual” book for now. Maddy loves to “help” us turn the pages – it’s so adorable. We also keep her sound machine (thank goodness for white noise!) there. A tip for anyone embarking on the baby thing: in terms of white-noise, don’t even bother with the Sleep Sheep (which we do have, it was a gift from her great-grandparents, and it IS cute), for two reasons: it’s WAY too quiet, and it’s got a timed shut-off. Guess what happens when the (too quiet) white noise shuts off? Baby wakes up! Why on earth the makers of the Sleep Sheep think the timer is a good idea is beyond me. Perhaps none of them have babies. Anyway, you want your white noise LOUD and CONTINUOUS. I use a white noise app on my iPhone when she’s in bed with us, but didn’t want to leave my phone with her for that first sleep of the night, so we got one of these, which we like, though we don’t really use the “projector” feature at all.

Another lifesaver in the nursery: blackout shades!

Blackout shades

The curtains I made for our windows back when we first moved in just don’t keep light out very well at all. So we ordered some blackout roller shades to hang behind our regular curtains. This works great – the roller shades are kind of ugly but you never actually see them, anyway!

So that’s our nursery. She still only sleeps in it a fraction of the time, but it works for us, and that’s all that really matters.

11 thoughts on “our nursery now”

  1. I love the idea of the crib mattress on the floor! I’ve been wanting something similar, due to my own back problems. On a related note, did you develop your core muscles by baby-wearing? I’ve been kinda traumatized by what happened with my back, so I wonder how other moms do it! Also, your nursery looks like a sweet place to sleep.

    1. Well, I’m sure babywearing has contributed to my core muscles, but I’ve always had really strong core muscles (like, I could do crazy amounts of situps back in elementary school without even trying, and I have no idea why!). Swimming, as well as the yoga-based physical therapy I’ve done since injuring my back several years ago, has also helped a lot!


  2. I wish I had thought of putting the crib mattress on the floor for my kids! Great idea!
    Oh, golly, getting babies to sleep is such a minefield. No advice ever worked for me – mine were terrible sleepers as babies and toddlers. They do grow out of it eventually, and I think as long as you are meeting her needs and your own, you can’t go wrong :)

    1. I seriously feel like I’m going to become a crib-mattress-on-the-floor evangelist or something, but it’s really great! (and while our crib only set us back $99, it pains me to think of the folks who spend a ton on a crib that ends up not getting happily used).

      I’m starting to learn to tune out all of the advice/opinions/etc regarding baby sleep, but oy, a minefield is right.

  3. White noise that works is a beautiful thing. Each of my children had different sleep habits, and different needs. You’re the best judge of what works. My favorite sleeper was my third, because my husband worked very late, and I got up very early for work. Most nights I’d be up when he awoke, and I could feed him, and then I’d lean my chair way back and he’d sleep on my belly while I typed almost laying down. Totally worth it, though, because he was so regular about daytime naps. I’m so glad you’re finding what works for you!

  4. We put the twin mattress on the floor in our room. But it took us a long time to figure that out. Not as savvy as you!

    I know how you feel about giving up the crib. It was so beautiful! Luckily I sold it to a friend. Remember babies find lots of needs met from nursing: closeness with mama, sucking, and our milk. Sleeping with another is what most cultures do all over the world. Only our civilized world knows their baby is “safe” down the hall with the monitor. It’s safe physically but what about instinctually?

    Here’s some information about sleeping with your baby and how it supports breastfeeding.

  5. Bed sharing is a well-known and proven risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. However, co-sleeping is a protective factor.

    1. That’s actually not true, or at least, it’s rather misleading and oversimplifies a lot. Bedsharing, when done *safely*, provides similar protective factors to plain-vanilla “co-sleeping”. The studies that find bedsharing to be a risk factor for SIDS conflate all sorts of “bed”-sharing, including some very obviously unsafe types (like couch-sharing). But bedsharing *can* be done safely (see here: http://cosleeping.nd.edu/safe-co-sleeping-guidelines/ or here: http://www.askdrsears.com/news/latest-news/dr-sears-addresses-recent-co-sleeping-concerns; these are just two links I have handy), and bedsharing facilitates breastfeeding as well as more frequent arousals for baby, both of which are protective against SIDS. This is a topic that my husband I both researched extensively before deciding it was the best solution to our family’s sleep problems.


  6. It’s always fascinating to me to hear what works for other parents. The choices that you’ve made absolutely didn’t work for us, for a variety of reasons, but I’ve become a big “WHATEVER WORKS FOR YOU IS WHAT WORKS FOR YOU” evangelist. There are several pieces of advice I give friends who are about to become parents, and the biggest one is “Never feel like you have to follow ANY piece of advice FROM ANYONE. If it works for you and your baby, that’s what you should do.” And not that you need encouragement, but I DID “sleep-train” my baby for daytime sleep (it’s what worked for us) and I still nursed him to sleep at bedtime until he was probably 9 or 10 months old. At some point it wasn’t necessary anymore, and that was the end of it. No drama for us. You’re thinking seriously about what keeps all of you most happy, and you’re loving your little girl. That’s all that matters!

  7. I loved reading about your nursery setup! Sleep is such a touchy topic – it sounds like you are really listening to what Maddy needs, and doing what works for y’all, and that is AWESOME. You are a great mama! FWIW, I still nurse Charlie to sleep ;) and he’s doing just fine. Also: we love the Very Busy Spider around here too!

  8. My daughter is now 23, but I remember all the thoughts and concerns about how to deal with every issue as it came along, and all I have to say from this vantage is that by the time you have it all figured out, that phase will be over and there will be new questions. Enjoy the ride!

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