DIY: Montessori bed with free manual

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Because Oskar was a ‘wild’ sleeper and constantly woke himself up by bumping into the bars of his crib, I started searching for a toddler floor bed where he would have more freedom of movement. That’s how I ended up finding the idea for this Montessori floor bed after a search on the internet.

Update April 2024: Simon is almost 2 years old now, and there’s a little brother or sister on the way. That’s why we also made a Montessori bed for Simon. The boys now sleep happily together in one room, and so far, it’s going well!

Of course, you can buy a Montessori bed, but Tom and I thought it would be fun to design and make the bed ourselves. By studying the beds online, I drew up a design that was precisely tailored to fit this IKEA slatted base and mattress.

This mattress and slatted base might be a bit much for young children, but we bought them with the future in mind and hope that Oskar and Simon will be able to use them for many years to come.

The result is impressive! We are quite proud of our first DIY project. I find that making the bed ourselves gives us so much more satisfaction than buying it, so we intend to do several more DIY projects.

DIY Montessori bed with a mattress, a pillow, and a few cuddley toys
The Montessori bed of Oskar

What or who is Montessori?

To explain what a Montessori bed is, it might be better to explain who Montessori is, or rather, who Dr. Maria Montessori was. When people talk about Montessori or the Montessori method of education, they are referring to the method developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian educator and physician who founded the well-known Montessori school.

What is the Montessori method?

The Montessori method focuses on a child’s natural urge for self-development. In the child’s environment, both in upbringing and education, it should be made possible for the child to develop themselves.

Montessori bed

How does a DIY Montessori bed frame fit within this method? A Montessori floor bed is designed so that the child can go to bed independently. In general, it is a low bed, with or without a frame of bars. You have all sorts of floor beds on the internet. A simple floor bed with only a slat beneath a mattress or Montessori floor house bed frames like this one and all sorts of other beds in between! 

Although I loved the Montessori house bed I don’t think Tom and I have the skills to make such a bed ourselves. That’s why we decided to make a floor bed with a partial frame and an open section. With this bed, there still are some bed rails but the open section on the side panel gives our boys the independence that makes a bed a Montessori-style bed. In short Oskar and Simon can go to bed by themselves. In the beginning, we used to put a lot of cushions here to prevent them from rolling out of bed at night. 

Our Montessori bed consists of a slatted base, mattress, and wooden frame of side rails. You can easily change the dimensions of the bed so you can, for instance, make the bed fit a twin-size mattress, make a double, or even make a smaller size so you can fit a crib mattress in the bed.

Materials needed:

  • 9 Wooden beams (2 inch x 3 inch x 142 inch)
    • 3 Beams for the long sides horizontally (length: 75 inches)
    • 4 Beams for the short sides horizontally (length: 38 inches)
    • 1 Beam for the long side horizontally (entrance side, length: 48 inches)
    • 1 Beam for the long side opening horizontally (short entrance, length: 27 inches)
    • 4 Corner beams vertically (length: 22 inch)
    • 20 Vertical beams for the long sides (length: 16 inches)
    • 14 Vertical beams for the short sides (length: 18 inches)
  • Wood saw (optional)
  • Wood glue (optional)
  • Sandpaper and/or a sanding machine
  • 94 Wood screws (6×100 mm)
  • Screwdriver and cordless drill
  • Wood drill 5 mm

How to make the Montessori bed?

Before buying and sawing the wooden beams, measure how large you want to make the bed. We used the following dimensions:

  • A slatted base (IKEA) of 38″ x 75″)
  • The frame 51″ x 81″ x 560 x 22″ (outer dimensions), 38″ x 75″ x 22″ (inner dimensions)
  • We left about 3″ of space between the beams.

We had the beams cut to size at the hardware store, but you can of course do this yourself. We were actually planning to save costs by sawing the beams ourselves. Since I hadn’t checked beforehand whether the wooden beams would fit in the car (oops), we were glad that the hardware store could do this for us free of charge!

all wooden beams after they are sawed in the right size on a carpet
All wooden beams after they were sawed to the correct dimensions (note: these are sawed on EU measures so the number of beams does not correspond with the number of beams as described above).

At home, we sanded the beams so the boys wouldn’t get splinters. You can also paint the beams in a fun color if you like.

a wooden beam that is been sanded with a sandingmachine and a hand holding the beam
Because there were quite a few splinters on the sawn beams, we sanded them first. This can be done by hand or with a sander.

Once all the beams were sanded, we assembled the individual elements first. We started with the short sides and the long sides. Then we connected the elements with the corner beams (see the photos below).

two beams, a measuretape, and a screw
We placed the intermediate beams at approximately 9 cm (note in US sizes this should be around 3 inches).
a picture of how two beams are screwed together with a cordless drill
We screwed the beams together with a cordless drill and 6×100 screws. I recommend that you first pre-drill the beams so that the screws go into the wood easily.
the two ends of the bed frame on a carpet
The ends.
the long side with the opening of the bed on a carpet
The long side with the opening of the bed. Screw two additional screws into the bottom of the long beam to secure the entrance beam.
the long side without an opening on a carpet
The long side without an opening.
The montessori bed frame with the slatted base in a small room.
The entire Montessori bed after the corners have been screwed down and the slatted base is in the bed.

How do we like this Montessori bed?

We’ve been using the bed for two years now. Oskar sleeps through the night now! In the beginning, the transition from cozying up between mom and dad to having his own room plus a big bed might have been a bit challenging. Fortunately, he immediately slept through the night but had some trouble falling asleep.

Fortunately, the Montessori bed is so big that I can lie in bed with Oskar and breastfeed him a little before he falls asleep peacefully. After a few days, Tom was also allowed to put Oskar to bed again (with the help of a bedtime story or singing a few songs), and after a few months, holding hands was enough.

The second Montessori bed

Now that Oskar and Simon are sleeping in the same room, each with their own bed, Oskar is fine with being a big brother. We can cuddle Simon for a bit longer, and Oskar chats for a bit before he falls asleep wonderfully by himself (!!). Sleeping has been a bit of a challenge, so we’re very happy that we’ve finally reached this point.

Because the boys sleep in the same room we made the beds so that the opening of the beds face each other. Oskar’s bed has an opening on the right side, and Simon’s bed has an opening on the left side.

Simon still has to get used to his new bed, he still has a pile of pillows in front of the opening of his bed. If you don’t want to use a pile of pillows, placing soft rugs or something like that will be a good idea. If your child rolls out of the bed he/she will have a soft landing!

In short, we are completely in love with this bed!

Are you planning to make this bed, or have you already made it? Let me know below; I’m curious about how you like the bed!

Een montessori bed zonder matras

DIY Montessori children bed

Yield: 1 Montessori bed - Twin size
Prep Time: 2 hours
Active Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 5 hours
Difficulty: Beginner

Follow this guide to make your own Montessori children's bed.

Materials

9 Wooden beams (2 inch x 3 inch x 142 inch)

  • 3 Beams for the long sides horizontally (length: 75 inches)
  • 4 Beams for the short sides horizontally (length: 38 inches)
  • 1 Beam for the long side horizontally (entrance side, length: 48 inches)
  • 1 Beam for the long side opening horizontally (short entrance, length: 27 inches)
  • 4 Corner beams vertically (length: 22 inch)
  • 20 Vertical beams for the long sides (length: 16 inches)
  • 14 Vertical beams for the short sides (length: 18 inches)
  • Optional: Wood saw
  • Optional: Wood glue
  • Sandpaper and/or a sanding machine
  • 94 Wood screws (6x100 mm)
  • Screwdriver and cordless drill
  • Wood drill 5 mm

Furthermore

  • Slatted base (38" x 75")
  • Mattress (38" x 75")
  • Optional: a small floor mattress or cushion for the entrance.

Tools

  • Sandpaper and/or a sanding machine
  • 94 Wood screws (6x100 mm)
  • Screwdriver and cordless drill
  • Wood drill 5 mm
  • Pencil
  • Optional: Wood glue
  • Optional: Wood saw
  • Optional: Wood paint

Instructions

1. Cut the beams to the correct size or have this done at the hardware store.
2. Sand all beams so there are no splinters.
3. Start assembling the long side:
· Take a long beam (75") and lay it flat on the ground on the narrow side (2").
· Take an intermediate beam (16") and the tape measure and measure 3", place the intermediate beam on the long beam and mark approximately where the intermediate beam should be placed. Then measure 3" again and mark again where the beam should be placed. Repeat this until you have marked all 12 intermediate beams on the long beam.
· Screw 12 intermediate beams (16") to the marked locations with the 6x100 mm wood screws.
· Take another long beam (75") and screw it to each intermediate beam.
4. Then assemble the ends (repeat this step twice):
· Take a beam for the end edge (38") and place it flat on the ground on the wide side (3").
· Take an intermediate beam (18") and the tape measure and measure 3", place the intermediate beam on the beam for the end side, and mark approximately where the beam should be placed. Then measure 3" again and mark where the beam should be placed. Repeat this until you have marked all 7 beams on the beam for the end edge.
· Screw 7 intermediate beams (18") into place at the marked locations.
· Take another beam for the end edge (38") and screw it to the intermediate beams.
5. Then assemble the long side with the entrance:
· Take a long beam (75") and lay it flat on the ground on the narrow side (2").
· Take the beam for the entrance (27") and lay it flat on the long beam. Secure with two screws to the bottom of the bed frame.
· Then take an intermediate beam (16"), place it against the beam in front of the entrance, and mark it.
· Screw the first intermediate beam and screw the beam for the entrance via this intermediate beam.
· Measure 3" from there, place the intermediate beam on the long beam, and mark approximately where it should go again. Repeat this until you have marked all the remaining 7 intermediate beams on the long beam.
· Screw 7 intermediate beams (16) into place at the marked locations.
6. Assemble the bed by screwing the corner beams to the 4 elements. Make sure that the corner beams are in the correct orientation with the intermediate beams (see photo) and keep in mind that the screws in the corner beams must be screwed at different heights so that they cross each other and do not touch.
Good luck!

Notes

    • Assemble the bed with at least two people or use clamps to secure the beams together.
    • I recommend pre-drilling each screw so that the beams do not split and/or become crooked while drilling.
    • You can use wood glue for extra strength.
    • If you draw a straight line across the long beams where the intermediate beams come in, you have a guideline where the screws can be screwed. This gives the bed a sleeker appearance.

Pinterest pin, two pictures with a text overlay. One picture of the montessori bed, one of a sanding machine, a wooden beam and a hand.

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