The #1 Thing to Do When Your Baby is Climbing Out of the Crib
Toddler climbing out of crib
Is your baby climbing out of the crib?
When our two year old daughter started doing this, we bought her a bed and it opened up a can of worms we were not ready for.
Many credible articles on Google say children can go from a crib to a bed anywhere between the ages of 18 months to 3 years old.
So when our daughter started climbing out of the crib, we just figured it was time to transition to a big girl bed.
But doing that for our two year old daughter caused a whole new set of worries….jumping dangerously on the bed, playing in the bedroom instead of sleeping, getting up and roaming through the house at night, getting up and coming into our room in the middle of the night…
Her very solid bed time routine went amiss once the big girl bed came, and it took a really long time to get her back on track with a solid night of sleep.
After meeting with a sleep specialist, we learned the importance of keeping your baby in a crib as long as possible. Most recommend staying in a crib until 3 years old.
So naturally, when our son (our second born) started climbing out of the crib, we wanted to stop the behavior fast and do it in a way where we were not transitioning to a bed just yet.
But how do you do that? Through lots of trial and error, we finally figured out what works best.
There are several suggestions on what to do to prevent your baby from climbing out of the crib, but one method in particular is the safest.
First, let’s discuss the options that do not work.
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5 Popular Suggestions That Do NOT Work
1. Turn the crib around
Our crib has three short exposed sides and one tall side that is against the wall.
Yes, turning the crib backwards makes the high side harder to climb. But, there are still two small sides accessible to climb…
Not to mention the room doesn’t look put together anymore.
2. Use a sleep sack
There are sleep sacks made specifically for toddlers.
However, a determined toddler wanting to climb can undo the zipper and get out of the sleep sack.
Some people suggest turning the sleep sack inside out and/or putting the sleep sack on backwards so the zipper is unreachable.
I have heard that can be uncomfortable for kids though, and I personally would be worried about how high the neck line is when the sleep sack is turned backwards.
Also, my kids sleep HOT. With the air conditioner on, fans on, and lightweight jammies, our kids still sweat in their sleep. Adding another layer of clothing isn’t optimal for our little ones.
3. Lower the crib mattress
Even at the lowest level, some toddlers can still make their way out of the crib. That was the case for us.
When this was happening with our daughter, we tried laying couch cushions around her crib as a safety precaution.
It was an exhausting practice, tip-toeing into her room after she’d fallen asleep to lay the cushions down…then tip-toeing back in early in the morning to remove them before she woke.
Maybe I was overthinking it, but I was worried if she ever saw the cushions beneath the crib that she would be more enticed to climb. So we did them secretly because we were trying method number 4…
4. Catch them in the act, and be non-reactive but firm.
Several articles on Google say to watch your child and when you catch them in the act, be non-reactive and calm. Firmly say, “No, this is not safe.” Then, put them back in their crib and leave.
If you do this enough times, they say your child will learn your expectations and stop climbing. This may be true, but…
This is why we had the couch cushions on the ground as mentioned above…We were practicing the “non-reactive but firm” advice for several days and were terrified our daughter was going to decide to randomly climb out at 2 AM and get seriously injured.
In fact, the first time our son decided to climb out of his crib was in the middle of the night, and he showed up at the side of my bed. Talk about a heart stopping moment!
I feel like being able to catch your little one in the act involves never taking your eyes off the baby monitor, which was unrealistic for us.
5. Use a crib tent.
After all the unsuccessful efforts to stop our daughter from climbing out of the crib, we were determined to find an easy and fast solution for our son.
However, there is controversy over these tents.
We personally love this crib tent because it assembles EASILY and provides PEACE OF MIND.
It did have a potent manufacturing smell that needed to air out, but we fortunately assembled it first thing in the morning so that by the time bed time came, the smell was nearly gone.
And surprisingly enough, our son happily went to bed in it! We explained to him, “It is important we stay safe in our beds. Everyone needs a good night’s sleep so that we stay healthy and well. This crib tent is here to keep you safe so that we all get great sleep.”
It was wild. It was like the net provided a sense of extra security for him because he never had any pushback with it.
Nearly one year later, we are all still loving the crib tent.
But, because of my new knowledge of the potential hazards some crib tents pose, I cannot comfortably recommend getting one. And, I will be removing ours.
Crib tents pose safety risks
There have been reports of crib tents being a safety risk.
In 2012, a crib tent made by Tots in Mind Inc. was recalled from the death of a 2 year old being entrapped. Tots in Mind Inc. has since gone out of business.
In June 2023, the Consumer Product Safety Commission warned consumers to stop using CCATTO Baby Tents for failure to meet safety sleep requirements for babies.
For the crib tents in question, the three main risks are:
- An entanglement hazard
- The possibility of a pole from the tent dislodging
- The potential of a child getting stuck between the net and the mattress
For our particular crib tent, I do not see any of these risks being possible if properly installed.
An entanglement hazard is not present with its design, as its assembly is the same concept of any outdoor tent being put together.
Each rod has a safety lock attachment to prevent dislodging from happening. There are bows that securely tie down the poles to the crib, and we check them daily for proper fastening.
The potential risk of a child getting stuck between the net and the mattress does not seem possible if the net is properly installed. Our mattress doesn’t have space to wriggle in the crib, nor does the net.
Even so, I do not want to take any chances and am getting rid of ours.
If you are considering purchasing a crib tent, I would research and thoroughly investigate its safety ratings first.
#1 Best Thing to Do When Your Baby is Climbing Out of the Crib
Put the crib mattress on the floor.
If I had a do-over for when my little ones started climbing out of their cribs, I would have gotten rid of the crib and just put the mattress on the floor.
Some cribs (unlike ours) allow you to do this without creating a gap between the crib and the mattress. The walls of the crib would then be tall enough to safely keep your baby within the bed.
Another safe alternative is having a playard (Pack ‘N Play) replace the crib because the walls can be harder to climb. I think I would still worry about my little monkey climbers in a playard, but the idea is worth mentioning.
Having the crib mattress on the floor is the safest option.
You don’t have to worry about injuries from falling or jumping.
To prevent middle of the night wanderings, secure the door with either a very tall baby gate, or a childproof door handle, or a lock. This is where we messed up with our firstborn.
I originally did not feel comfortable putting a lock from the outside in to our children’s rooms. It sounds so severe- locking your kids’ rooms.
But when our sleep specialist explained it as a means to keep everyone safe and secure, and as a means to allow everyone to get restful sleep, it made so much sense.
Securing the bedroom doors solved so many of our sleep struggles. I wished I would have done it from day one.
For more great sleep training methods, read 8 Best Tips on How to Keep a Toddler in Bed.
If you would like to make the mattress on the floor look more like a bed, there are many cute options to choose from.
3 Cute Floor Bed Options:
One thing I am realizing more and more the farther along I get into parenting, is that even when I think I am making the best decision, hindsight really is 20/20.
As parents, we try our hardest to do what is right for our children, and I am definitely learning as we go!
I hope these suggestions help you on your journey with getting your baby to stop climbing out of the crib, and I hope everyone in your household gets restful sleep!
If you have any tips or tricks to share, I’d love to hear! Share in the comments section below.