Updated: Apr 29, 2021
Actual text from my brother this past weekend... "So Claire can climb out of her crib. She showed up in our room butt naked during time time."
I vividly remember the day Roberto learned how to climb out of the crib. Mostly because it was the beginning of the end for me. He learned how to climb out and refused to go back in, we transitioned him to a big boy bed, and our awful, ever consuming sleep challenges began. This is a story for another day (I share a bit of it here if you want to commiserate) , but I quickly want to share some tips on how to handle the day your kiddo learns how to climb out of the crib.
If your kiddo learns how to climb out of the crib, consider these 5 things...
1 - How old is your kiddo?
The best time to transition your kiddo from a crib to a big kid bed is age 3+. By all means, if your 3 year old loves the crib, no need to change anything until he or she shows interest in a big kid bed.
Before age 3 your little one lacks the maturity to handle the freedom and actually stay in bed.
IMO, however, there is an even bigger reason to keep your kiddo in the crib as long as possible. Kiddos aged 3 and older are developmentally able to think a bit more into the future, anticipate, have conversations about expectations, and be incentivized. If you end up with a 1 or 2 year old who has the freedom to get out of bed and uses that freedom, you have little negotiating power. Of course, you can get pretty far with how you respond to your escape artist, however, if you have a strong willed kiddo, you may find yourself in a bit of limbo until your child is old enough to be incentivized.
IMO, its worth the effort to keep your kiddo in the crib as long as possible.
2 - Lower Crib Mattress
Make sure the crib mattress is in the lowest position. Duh. This one is kind of obvious. But just in case.
3️ - Sleep Sac!
The easiest, cheapest, lowest hanging fruit option for keeping your toddler in the crib is to put your toddler in a sleep sac for sleeping.
If your kiddo isn't already wearing a sleep sac to bed, give one a try. It will often prevent your kiddo from being able to swing his or her leg up over the crib and, fingers crossed, keep him or her in place.
You could also try the PJs that have a strap between the legs.
This isn't full proof, but it is a great first start and often works long enough to get your kiddo a little closer to age 3.
4️ - Ignore
The first time your kiddo climbs out of the crib, play it cool.
Kids love attention. If you laugh, tell everyone about it, make a big deal, he or she is sure to repeat the performance. If you don't pay it much attention, although he or she may still be able to physically escape (fingers crossed the sleep sac trick works), you can at least eliminate the risk that she is doing it for the attention or laughs.
5️ - Convert bed to a toddler bed
If its game over, kid isn't stay in the crib despite lowering the mattress, despite a sleep sac or PJs with a strap between the legs, despite playing it cool, you may be left with no option but to transition to a big kid bed.
Katie Ramirez, RN, BSN, CLC
Born Happy, Owner and Coach
Katie Ramirez is a Registered Nurse, Certified Lactation Counselor, and Coach for parents of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. She has spent more than a decade serving patients at major university hospitals such as Vanderbilt University and Penn State University Medical Centers. Katie now spends her time supporting and empowering parents of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers as founder and coach for Born Happy.
Katie is the proud mother of two beautiful children, Roberto (age 7), and Veronica (age 5). She has a passion for health, wellness, and happy children, and believes that, with the necessary knowledge and support, all parents can live happy.
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