By Mary Engle
Parents know that creating a stimulating environment helps kids navigate the path from helplessness to a child capable of entertaining him or herself, exploring the world, and growing in healthy ways, both mentally and physically. Furnishing a child's room is your unique opportunity to create an environment that provides for such growth. This article offers some ideas to use to create a wonderful kid's room.
Combine reality and fantasy in choosing kids bedroom furniture. For small kids, it's a fine line, so make the most of it. Use a combination of small and regular-sized furniture, if possible. Kids love a world sized for them, where they are not constantly reminded of being small. There are wonderful miniature foam sofas and chairs available in colorful, stimulating prints that are not very expensive. A side benefit is their ability to open out for guests, just off the ground, so you will be instantly ready for sleepovers. They are lightweight so they are easy for kids to move around. We found that sleepovers were much easier to handle when we were prepared with the right kind of bedding. Any type of fold-out foam furniture, loungers, or sofa-sleepers will make you instantly prepared.
Rockers are wonderful, but chiefly for Mom and Dad. Beanbag furniture is more comfortable for children and is sized for them. Beanbags conform to childrens' shapes as they nuzzle in, supporting lower back, shoulders, and arms simultaneously. Beanbag couches and chairs come in wildly stimulating colors, textures, and prints. They can be furry, lime green, wet-look vinyl, tiger print, or shaped like a horse or elephant. They are lightweight, so they are easy for the child to rearrange at will. With both foam and bean furniture, choose models with hidden, cloth-covered zippers that enable the cover to be cleaned or laundered, but that prevent scratches (on kids and floors) as children move them around. Many beanbag chairs have child safety zippers to ensure that everything stays inside.
Kids need floor space in their bedroom! There they will spread out toys, create fantasy worlds, hold tea parties for stuffy animals, construct toy sets, dump their Legos, and arrange and rearrange their world endlessly. Creating floor space can be difficult when the child gets the smallest room in the house, as is often the case. Furniture that changes shape is, then, the smartest investment for parents.
Futon beds are great because they begin as a couch, creating a comfortable space for parent and child(ren) to cuddle around a book. Later they easily unfold into a twin or double bed. Kids futons are relatively inexpensive because, given the kid's light weight, it is not necessary to invest in an expensive mattress. Kids sleep soundly on the floor, so a cotton mattress will do just fine.
Sitting together on a couch and reading to your child is the best single activity you can do with our children. Reading time is quiet time for focusing, relaxing, relating to each other and to the characters in the book, and for drawing out life's lessons. Reading to your child stimulates a child's imagination, develops vocabulary, and prepares little ones for a lifetime of reading on their own. It is much easier to progress from reading to bedtime than from other activities, particularly the TV. (Leave the TV and the computer in grown-up areas where you can closely monitor what your child is watching).
Once finished reading, the futon couch unfolds, transforming into a cozy bed. A child who has just had a loving, warm time with Mom or Dad is much more relaxed and willing to go to sleep than one who has not. By day, the futon folds back into a sofa to expose all that floor space where brave new worlds will be constructed.
As your child ages, bunk beds or futon bunks make use of airspace to preserve that hard-won floor space. We saw bunk beds as climbing structures where kids could practice climbing in a safe environment. The sleepover stage reaches its peak at pre-teen years, when a child learns to bond with people outside the family. Bunk beds are advantageous as older children tire of sleeping on the floor. Futon bunks combine a single bed on top and a double sofa-bed below. The futon bunk bed is the ultimate space-saver for a child’s room as the bed rises above the clutter while the couch is still available as a comfortable reading space and additional sleeper. All of these make for great kids bedroom furniture.
Mary Engle is a contributor and author for the website Futons and Beanbags