How we built a low bed, for co-sleeping with baby.
We sleep in the same bed as our baby, and we like it. To reduce risk with a young baby, we slept with baby on the side of the bed, next to mum.
But on the side of the bed, particularly once baby starts rolling, they can fall out of bed. Higher falls hurt more. You can put bed rails up, but rails have their own risks: it seemed simpler to lower the bed.
Pre-Baby: A very high mattress
We had a queen mattress, on a box spring base, elevated on legs. Probably over 50cm over the ground. We put a camping mattress next to the bed to dampen falls.
What do people do? We found lots of opinions online:
- Put a mattress on the floor
- Place the mattress on the bedslats on the floor (or just planks of wood)
- Sleep on a camping mattress / tatami mat
- Saw the legs off the bed
- Buy a short bedframe
- Build a custom pallet bed
For how popular co-sleeping is, this is surprisingly unclear! Many of these options are uncomfortable, annoying, or require you to be handy.
First Try: Mattress on the floor
Our first attempt was to just put the mattress on the floor. Height: 25cm. The obvious problem is mould growth. Reddit threads said it'd be fine.
You’ll want to prop up your mattress against a wall every now and then to air it out and prevent mold from growing underneath. – cosleepy
So we dutifully propped up our mattress on the wall. A huge mattress, this was very annoying, so we didn’t do it often. Perhaps predictably, we found mould on the bottom after a few months. Perhaps Sydney is more humid? Maybe we didn't do it enough? I don't think we'd have the energy to do this after every naptime.
We bought a new mattress, and researched what to put under it.
Option: Wood slats under the mattress
A common opinion:
go to the hardware store and ask them to cut some boards to put under the mattress so it’s not right on the ground
So we just took the bed slats from our bed frame and put them underneath the mattress
But I'm pretty sure the slats will move under the bed and scratch the floor. Slats need a frame to hold/stretch them in place!
Option: Buy a short bed frame
I tried to search for a short bed frame. They aren't very short! Most are at least 20cm high:
- 21cm legs: $69: GRIMSBU Bed frame, grey, Queen - IKEA
- 20cm legs: $199: VEVELSTAD Bed frame, white, Queen - IKEA. same style as single bed we have
- 20cm legs: $229: TARVA Bed frame, pine, Queen - IKEA + $70 slats
- 20cm legs: $279: ASKVOLL Bed frame, white, Queen - IKEA
- 20cm legs: $299: KLEPPSTAD Bed frame, white/Vissle beige, Queen - IKEA
- 15cm high: $179: Studio Home Harmony Low Rise H15cm Bed | Temple & Webster. has slats.
- 15cm high: $189: Tori Low Queen Bed | Fantastic Furniture
- 24cm high: $1,445: Eva Timber Bed Frame
Some people advised to "get a wood ikea bed frame and cut the leg off with 1cm clearance" which I guess would work, but I'm not that handy.
Solution: IKEA LÖNSET Slatted bed base
IKEA's LÖNSET bed slats are just 9cm high: truly short. The slats bend, offering more flexibility vs mattress directly on the floor.
They come with their own rectangular frame to keep them in place. IKEA intends for them to be used nested inside another bed base, but they work perfectly fine standalone.
To make queen-size, they come in two units. We tied them together with some gardening ties so they don't skew apart:
We were a little concerned about the wood slats scratching the wood floor, so we bought some cheap non-slip pads:
I kept stubbing my toe on the ends so we added babyproofing (well, daddy-proofing) foam edge/corner protectors. See bottom right:
The end result is about 32cm high, and almost all of that height is the mattress itself. The slats flex, giving significantly more comfort than having the mattress directly on the floor. At the start, it's annoying bending down to the floor, but your muscles adapt and get used to it.
An unexpected benefit: the baby can climb in and out of bed by himself. Saves us getting out of bed.
I'm pretty happy with how this turned out!