Can a Montessori-Inspired Nursery Make Your Baby Smarter?

When Angela and Sam Ballard hired designer Rachel Crawford to create a nursery for their newborn daughter, Norah, they knew they wanted to include some unique Montessori-inspired elements, including a floor bed and pull-up bar. To get the space just right, Crawford collaborated with Montessori educator Jeanne-Marie Paynel from Voilà Montessori during the design process.

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Nursery at a Glance

Who uses this space: Angela and Sam Ballard and their daughter, Norah

Location: San Diego, California

Size: 150 square feet

Designer: Rachel Crawford, owner and head designer at Rachel Larraine Interiors

A Montessori approach: The Montessori Method is a child-centered educational approach that views the child as a naturally curious and active learner. In Montessori spaces for infants and young children, the emphasis is on creating a safe space to explore, filled with beautiful, child-size materials arranged with care.

When beginning this project, Crawford had no experience with the Montessori approach. “Jeanne-Marie educated me throughout the entire process,” says Crawford. “I love that she showed me the child’s perspective and their developmental stages. It was fascinating.”

The floor bed: Your eyes are not deceiving you: there is no crib in this nursery. In its place is a simple mattress placed right on the floor. While a bassinet is recommended for the newborn stage, once a baby is ready to move away from the parents’ room, a Montessori nursery uses a bed on the floor instead of a crib.

“The floor bed gives the child the freedom to go to bed and leave the bed when she wants so she is less dependent on her parents,” says Crawford. When using a floor bed, it’s essential that the entire room be thoroughly baby-proofed—including windows, tip-able furniture, outlets, cords and anything a little one could pull over or get stuck beneath.

Easy-access toys: A small selection of soft, cuddly stuffed animals sits in a basket on the floor, where little Norah can explore during playtime. Keeping the selection small and carefully chosen makes cleanup easier, and offers choices without overwhelming.

Nursing nook: A modern glider and matching ottoman was a worthy splurge, providing a comfy, inviting corner to sit and nurse. Slender wall shelves keep a selection of favorite storytime picture books within reach.

Pull-up bar: Another Montessori-inspired feature that combines two favorite activities of babies everywhere—looking at themselves and practicing standing—the mirror with pull-up bar gives Norah a place to see herself and, as she grows, practice pulling herself up to cruise.

Rug: Colorful carpet tiles make a practical flooring choice for the nursery, since they can be easily removed and replaced, tile by tile. Plus, the cushy texture makes a pleasing surface for crawling and playing.

Encouraging independence: A key component in Montessori spaces is child-size furniture. With this in mind, Crawford had a custom bookcase made that allows easy access to a small, rotating selection of toys and materials.

Room to grow: By choosing a color palette with rich, bold hues rather than pastels, this space will still feel appropriate even as Norah moves beyond babyhood. The dresser, with changing pad removed, will serve her for years to come, and the sleek modern glider can transition easily from nursing chair for mom to cozy reading chair for Norah.

“[Angela and Sam] were so filled with love thinking about the moments and memories they will be creating in this room with little Norah,” says Crawford. Here’s to many beautiful years to come.

This article originally appeared on (author: Laura Gaskill)



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