I had read about the Montessori child bed concept (in a book I highly recommend to all parents of < 3 year olds) and thought it was interesting, but wasn't sure if it was right for our family. It seems pretty far down the Montessori rabbit hole, when we're less interested in being tied to one particular parental dogma.²
Lillia's room is Tier-1 childproofed anyway, so we figured she could get in and out of bed when she was able. The belief is that when a child can do this (and has a better view of their surroundings), they become more calm. A calm baby is a baby ready to learn throughout the day (see Brain Rules For Baby for the research behind this). People often comment on how calm yet alert Lillia is, and while I'm not ready to give all the credit to nurture over nature (i.e. having chillaxed parents), her bedroom setup couldn't be hurting.
Along with this, there are some other benefits:
* When she wakes up in the morning, she can play with toys so she doesn't cry out right away (sometimes she chooses to cry right away anyway).
* When we put her to bed or when she wakes up in the night, Venessa or I can lie down beside her.
* No chance of crib-related injuries (climbing out, limbs caught in the frame, etc)
* One less baby item to buy, maintain, and either store for the next child or get rid of it
The child bed isn't without its drawbacks, however. So far we've experienced the following:
* When she doesn't want to nap, she just gets out of bed and plays with toys (which is a mixed blessing, since when a child in a crib doesn't want to nap, she cries or tries to climb out)
* Sometimes she rolls out of bed. We put pillows around the bed to prevent injury but it can still wake her up and startle her.
* There's a small area of the bed, adjacent to the wall, where the mattress tapers in height and slants down. When Lillia was younger, she used to get "stuck" here when she rolled all the way to the wall. This lasted for the couple-month phase between the time she got really good at rolling over and the time she got really good at sitting up. This is probably our fault for graduating her to a twin-sized mattress too soon.
This setup isn't for every family, but I'm glad we were sort of pushed into it by my lack of crib preparation. If you're curious about it, I encourage you to read Montessori From the Start, especially the chapter on sleep. Or you can ask me about it. I'm sure I've forgotten some pros and cons. Here's a bonus photo of Lillia:
¹ as in, the crib I slept in as a child. One of the boys used it too.
² and I learned to pick my Montessori battles after unsuccessfully trying to get rid of all Lillia's "fantasy" toys, something that Montessori suggests for children not yet in the second plane of development. For reasons I have trouble articulating.