The day every parent dreads…watching on the monitor as their child skillfully (or not so skillfully) climbs out of the crib. Or not realizing anything happened until hearing the pitter patter of little running feet down the hallway, or the extra commotion of clothes being thrown out of the dresser rather than sleep taking place. Our soon-to-be three year old is thankfully cautious to the extreme, so I don’t suspect escaping her crib will ever be a thought in her mind, but her sister (or future siblings) could certainly test those waters down the road.
I hope you’re reading this before your child has ever attempted an escape, however it’s not too late for those who have already made the jump! Not only is climbing out of the crib unsafe, but it’s of course keeping your child from the very activity you put him in there for…SLEEP! Here are my top four tips to prevent your child from climbing out of the crib.
Turn the Crib Around
Many cribs are higher on the side that’s against the wall. If this is the case with your crib, turn the crib around so the higher side is facing out!
If you see your child attempting an escape, whether you’re in the room or watching from the monitor, give him a firm, “No!” If you are in the room (or make it to the room on time), physically put your child’s leg down to prevent him from climbing over. Try not to engage in conversation, as this could quickly become a game that only ends in frustration for all parties involved; simply keep your language to, “No,” or “No climb,” and if necessary, physically put your child back in the crib each time, preventing him from successfully making the climb.
Use a Sleep Sack
I am a sleep sack lady through and through, and one of the many reasons I love them is because they can help prevent crib climbing. If your child is already in a sleep sack and it has a zipper on the front, turn the sleep sack around so he can’t take it off and then climb. My favorite sleep sack brand is Woolino, as the toddler sleeping bags fit kids ages 2-4 (that’s what my Olivia currently wears); the fabric is not as stretchy as some of the other brands, which makes it more challenging to swing a leg over the side. Additionally, the zipper and buttons are not as easy for toddlers to remove – it zips down the side and under the feet, and the buttons are strong and on the shoulders.
Drop the Mattress
(This suggestion does not work for all cribs, so make sure you check yours!) In some cribs, you can actually lower the mattress all the way to the floor. This makes the reach/climb all the higher for your child and it’s very difficult for a little one to get over the bars. Note, however, that there should not be a gap between the mattress and crib walls when you drop it – if there is, this is not a safe option, as your child could try to crawl out between the mattress and bars.
I will be honest. I know there are some very determined kiddos and despite doing everything possible, nothing seems to work. I have seen parents transition their child to a big bed before the age of 3, and although it’s really not ideal, sometimes there’s no other option. If you do have to make the transition sooner than you’d hoped, make sure you have a plan, because if your child was escaping his crib, he will very likely be getting out of his new bed. So set up some bedtime expectations and make a plan for how you will reinforce them. And if you find yourself stuck or don’t know how to make a plan, don’t hesitate to reach out!