Having your toddler climbing out of their crib way earlier than they’re supposed to be at a time when they aren’t yet ready to transition to a bed is much more common than you might think. Children attempt escaping their cribs at different ages, be that 12, 15, or 18 months, and in all cases, parents find it early since it happens before they’ve had their fair share of rest.
What we’re trying to say is: you’re not alone. Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your kiddo in their crib safe and sound until it’s time to move to a big kid bed. We’re about to share with you the most effective ways, so hang on as we show you how to outsmart them and earn your sleep back.
1. Start Lowering the Mattress
When babies first come home, we naturally keep the crib mattress up high (probably at its highest position) so that we’d be able to easily reach in and hold them, especially with the tantrums being so frequent.
But in the middle of the daily grind of being a parent, we often forget to lower the mattress as our children get older. So, if that’s the case, you can gradually start lowering the mattress to buy yourself time until your little one is not so little anymore and can move to a bed.
Pro Tip: Keep the top of the railing high to the extent that your toddler won’t be able to get their leg over it.
What if you’ve already tried lowering it to its maximum? Then the only alternative is to take the springs out of the lower part of the crib so that the mattress is basically ground-level. However, you need to ensure that the mattress won’t slide out under the crib’s bottom. Plus, keep anything you don’t want your child to reach out of sight, especially outlets.
2. Remove Items From the Crib
Because the little ones are beyond brilliant, remove anything that could give them a push or serve as a ladder. Believe it or not, they make use of anything to get that needed boost, so look out for stuffed animals, books, padded bedding, crib bumpers, and other items.
3. Flip the Crib to the Other Side
You know how most cribs have a back that’s significantly higher and taller than its front part? You can use that to your advantage by flipping the crib around so that the shorter front part is toward the wall, limiting your toddler’s mobility.
Since the high backside of the crib will now be the one facing outward, it’ll be too high for your little one to throw up their leg over, so they’ll eventually give up the idea. Easy, isn’t it? Let’s just hope your child hasn’t yet figured out how to escape through the sides.
P.S: We know that this isn’t the most flattering of all room setups, but we’ll have to go for safety over looks here to buy a few more months.
4. Use Sleep Sacks
Yes, we said sleep sacks, and no, your toddler isn’t too old for them! Luckily, many sleep sacks now come in bigger sizes, so get your hands on one and zip up your kiddo before bedtime to restrict their movement in the middle of the night.
Since their legs will be inside the sack and all tucked in, there’s no way they’ll be able to get themselves out just to climb over the crib’s railing.
On that note, if your little one has familiarized themselves with zippers and how they work, there’s a way around that too: acks with a zipper hide! Some parents also resort to putting their child’s sleep sack on backward, so that’s also an option.
Pro Tip: The key to making sleep sacks work is for them to be age-appropriate. Make sure to take your kid’s height and weight into consideration before making the purchase.
And if you feel guilty about using sleep sacks, always remember that they also help your little one stay warm and cozy when they flip around at night, so it’s a win-win situation! After all, they’re called wearable blankets for a reason.
5. Hack Their Pajamas
What if, for any reason, sleep sacks aren’t an option? Then here comes our favorite hack: sewing in fabric or cloth between the legs of your kiddo’s pajamas to prevent their legs from being able to reach the crib’s railing.
Essentially, by sewing in this piece of cloth, your child would still be able to move freely (including the running and the walking), but they won’t be able to separate their legs widely enough to the extent that they’d be able to swing one leg over the railing.
So if you feel that the sleep sacks are too restricting and you happen to be a great sewer, this is the way to go!
6. Establish a Sleep-Wake Clock
There’s something for everything nowadays, which is why there are also special toddler clocks for kids who tend to wake up in the middle of the night to come find you, ultimately disrupting that one hour of sleep you get.
Because you need to establish a sleep-wake clock or routine with your kiddo, you’ll need the clock. What it does is that it turns into a specific color when it’s OK for your little one to get out of their crib, giving them a visual cue to proceed and another color when it’s still sleeping time. The best part is that you set the colors yourself and the designated sleeping hours yourself.
A digital clock will also work if your toddler has already started learning numbers. All you need to do is teach them one number (say seven or six) and then cover the rest of the visible digits. Teach them that they can get up when they see that number, and otherwise, they can’t.
7. No Big Reactions
Defiance is a sport for toddlers, isn’t it? We all know it: the more you tell them not to do something, the more they do it. That’s precisely why you shouldn’t convey a big reaction when your toddler climbs out of the crib or even if you see them trying.
You may think that telling them or “no” or expressing your disappointment will stop them, but actually, you might subconsciously be encouraging repeat behavior.
Instead, it’s best to control your reaction, put them back in the crib, and later set boundaries and discuss the issue, but not on the spot. That’s unless you know your little one is among the very few who follow directions.
Avoiding Dangerous Outcomes
Steer Clear of Crib Tents
While this isn’t a way to prevent your toddler from climbing out of their crib, it’s a way you certainly want to avoid. You’ve probably come across what seems like a magic solution, crib tents, specially designed covers that hinder children from climbing out of their cribs. Voilà, right? No.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), crib tents have been revealed to be unsafe for their dangers. With children’s curious nature, it’s not uncommon for them to get tangled or trapped in these tents, and during emergencies, they’re super hard to detach to remove your child.
Toddler-Proofing the Room
Regardless of which of the techniques we discussed works for you, it would be best to be on the safe side if you always assumed that your bambino will still manage to climb out of the crib again. So, what do you do in anticipation of the next jailbreak? Toddler-proof the room! Here’s how:
- Make sure to hide or cover up any electrical sockets (Child Safety Plug Cover Sockets are ideal for this purpose)
- Eliminate any excessively long drapes or blind cords to avoid choking or strangulation hazards
- Check that all window treatments are child-safe and secure
- Anchor your furniture to the walls
- Remove any items that your child could mistakenly eat, touch, or even smell that could injure them or cause any harm
- Clear the area around your toddler’s crib and make sure there isn’t any furniture they could climb onto as they escape the crib
It’s also worth noting that some techniques may require more reinforcement and repetition than others, further emphasizing why you need to ensure the room is safe until your toddler decides to stop roaming around and finally get some sleep.
Safe and Happy Toddler, Safe and Happy Parents!
So, there you have it! These hacks should buy you enough time until it’s time for the big transition. But until your kiddo is ready, rest assured that the above techniques will keep them safe and sound in their crib. Give them a shot!