As your child gets older they will become more adventurous and curious. This may result in them attempting – and succeeding – in climbing out of their crib. This can become both frustrating and worrying for a number of reasons. Including that you wanting them to stay in bed and sleep, not to mention concerns about their safety. It is important to address climbing out of the crib as soon as it starts to prevent injury and to protect your sleep. Here are some strategies to help you with this task:
Keep toddler in crib for as long as possible
- We recommended keeping your child in a crib until at least 2.5 years of age and even longer (unless of course you have opted for bedsharing or a floor bed). Before 30 months of age they do not understand completely that they need to stay in bed until morning.
- Children often feel safe and cozy in cribs.
- Keeping your toddler in a crib can help eliminate or reduce many of the common sleep problems toddlers have. The two most common sleep problems are:
- Taking a long time to fall asleep
- Resisting going to bed
The amazing toddler escape: Most children climb out of their crib feet first as this little guy is demonstrating, however, on occasion a child may attempt to catapult themself out head first, which is more concerning and adventurous.
Strategies to help keep your toddler from escaping the crib
1. Remove any bumper pads or toys from the crib. These can aid your child in climbing out of the crib.
2. Move any furniture such as dressers, chairs, toy chests from beside the crib. These can also aid your child in climbing out of the crib.
3. Alter your toddler’s pajamas. Crib pants are easy to make – simply sew a piece of fabric between the two legs (around the thigh). This will prevent your child from being able to lift their leg up over the crib railing.
- Works best with footie pajamas since the pant leg is unable to ride up
- Strip of fabric still allows your toddler to walk around and play normally
This is an example of one Dad's ingenuity to solve crib climbing. Unfortunately is Kickstarter campaign was a non-starter but from the video you may get some great ideas.
4. Try putting your toddler in a sleep sack which may restrict the ability to lift the leg and get it over the bars.
5. Rotate the crib. If the front of your crib is lower than the back, as in a sleigh bed, you can turn it around so the lower side is facing the wall. It may also help to push the crib up into a corner so there are only two sides that your child can escape from.
- If your toddler is still able to get out of the crib this way, lower the mattress in addition to turning the bed around.
6. Lower the mattress to lowest setting. If your child is still managing to get out, you may need to take the next step which is to lower the mattress to the floor.
7. Drop the mattress to the floor. Some cribs will be able to easily convert to a floor crib, while others will need some augmenting to maintain safety and keep it functional.
- Be cautious of the gap between the top of the mattress and the bottom of the crib railing. It can often be big enough for the toddler’s head to get stuck.
- If their is a gap between the mattress and the crib railing, then you can build a platform to rest the mattress on. For an examples of how other families have done this visit Growinguptriplets.com and Giddyupcycled.com
You can see in with this model of crib, which was purchased at Rooms to Grow, the mattress and the rails meet, so as long as the mattress is nice and firm, the child should not be able to escape. If you live in a place where humidity or moisture is a concern, you may want to place a barrier of some sort under the mattress to protect it and potentially provide some ventilation.
*Special thanks to an awesome client for allowing us to post her pictures!
8. Take a behavioural approach. This option is not be the easiest but your child may be able to learn that climbing out of the crib is not acceptable.
- Keep an eye on your child and when they lift their leg to climb out, say ‘no climbing’ in a gentle, yet firm voice. If needed, gently push their leg down as well.
9. Try a travel bed such as a Pack n Play or a playpen. Some toddlers may be more likely to stay in bed if they are sleeping in a travel bed.
10. Avoid using their crib as punishment or a time-out place. This can create a negative association at bedtime, making the bedtime routine longer and more difficult. It may also make them climb out more often as they associate being placed in their crib with being punished.
If bed sleeping is absolutely necessary:
- Make sure bed is low to the ground
- Baby proof their room as much as possible. Consider using outlet covers, remove or bolt dressers to the wall, removing furniture and items they may get into such as diaper cream, etc. Basically, you will need to turn the room into a playpen so you don't need to worry about what your child is doing when you are sleeping.
- Gate the door to prevent your child from roaming the house. Place gates high enough so they are unable to climb it but low enough that they cannot crawl or get stuck underneath. You can also purchase an extra tall gate.
- Be okay with your child sleeping on the floor. Sooner or later they will learn that their bed is more comfortable than sleeping on the floor. Don’t make sleeping in the bed a power struggle.
- Make sure your child is not anxious about sleeping in a bed or in their room. You can test this out by putting them on the bed during the daytime while you are close by and see what their reaction is. The good news is that if they are not comfortable about the bed (or in their crib for that matter), there are things you can do to help with this. If you would like to discuss this further, you can book a free 15 minute sleep consult above.
See more information in: MOVING TODDLER TO A BIG BED TO GET READY FOR THE NEW BABY
Growinguptriplets.com. Retrieved from: http://growinguptriplets.com/2013/08/05/how-to-keep-baby-from-climbing-out-of-a-crib/#sthash.LFychzo2.dpbs
Frese, Jeffrey. (2013). Crib pants: Stopping babies from climbing out of cribs. Kickstarter.
Rader, Ashley. (n.d). 3 DIY hacks to prevent your child from climbing out of their crib. Giddy
Upcycled. Retrieved from: http://www.giddyupcycled.com/crib-hacks/