Some children are destined to test boundaries, while others never push the envelope. Take my son for example. He son was happy to remain in his crib until he was over three years old and never tried to climb out. However, I have worked with countless families whose little dare devils are ready to scale the crib and gain a taste of freedom.
Freedom at anything younger than three years of age can result in a child who was once a good sleeper becoming a challenging sleeper, so we want to try to keep the crib around as long as possible. Being in a big kid bed can make it difficult for your little one to stay in bed!
Here are my tried and true ways to keep your little one in their crib as long as you can, along with a couple of no-no’s to help prevent climbing:
Tip #1 – Use a sleep sack. Keep your little one in a sleep sack as long as you can. It is much harder to scale the side of a crib while in a potato sack with limited range of motion than it is without one. The sleep sack alone may be enough to keep them from attempting to climb out. Two good ones are Nested Bean’s Zen Sack which goes up to 24-months, and the Woolino Sleeping Bag which goes up to 4T.
Tip #2 – Turn the crib around! If one side of your crib is higher than the other, flip the crib around so the higher side is facing out. This, along with the sleep sack, is only going to make it more challenging for your little one to try to escape.
Tip #3 – Put the crib in the corner. Even though Patrick Swayze said in Dirty Dancing that nobody puts baby in the corner, I am telling you it’s ok! We want to eliminate as many exit points as possible. Turning the crib around accomplishes that, and so does putting the crib in the corner. This will leave just one real side for your little Houdini to attempt to escape from!
Tip #4 – Firm NO! Watch your little one on the monitor. If you see them start to attempt to climb out, give them a firm “NO!” over the monitor. Often, this is enough to keep them from trying to climb out again. We want to try to avoid entering the room, as it can then become a game of trying to get you to visit.
Here is what we don’t want to do:
No-go #1 – Crib Tent! The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends we not alter the crib in any way. Adding a crib tent is an alteration. Additionally, there are concerns about the crib tent falling on your little one while sleeping, or them getting tangled in it while trying to escape.
No-go #2 – Dropping the mattress to the ground! While it is ok to drop the mattress to the lowest possible setting, we do not want to drop the mattress all the way the way to the ground. Remember, the AAP does not recommend altering the crib in any way. Additionally, we don’t want our little one to get a leg or arm trapped between the mattress and the bottom of the crib.
If all of these tips fail and your little one still manages to get out of the crib, then for safety reasons it may be time to transition them. Make sure to make the room as safe and conducive to sleep as possible when you do transition. Anchor all furniture to the wall and remove any possible hazards.