Are you trying to stop your toddler from climbing out of the crib? I have good news for you! Read on!
The newborn fog had lifted, you made it through the baby phase, but then you entered…the toddler years. :O Although the stretch that lays before you can be an exciting time, it is not without its challenges.
Sleep challenges, that is.
And one of the most common ones is kiddos that won’t stay in their crib.
Even Sleep Consultants Have Sleep-Houdinis
I remember when my first toddler began to climb out of her crib.
Like most of the families that I help at this age, my husband and I panicked. We had no plan in how to respond.
Which lead us down a road of failed negotiations and sleeplessness.
Sleeplessness is an understatement.
In reality, it was like having a newborn again.
The good news is that there were very specific reasons why it happened and why it went on so long. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we weren’t helpless to changing this limit-testing behaviour.
The even better news is that I’m here to share what I’ve learned with you! So, consider these tips when your little one is showing signs of joining the circus.
Why Is My Toddler Climbing Out Of The Crib?
Many parents mistakenly believe that there is nothing that can be done, however that is not always the case. First, consider the true reason as to why your child is starting to venture out.
Frequently, it is rooted in the need to explore, test boundaries, and/or for a schedule tweak.
My child decided to sharpen her ninja skills after we moved the crib into a different location.
I did not realize that the southeast corner of her room was so evil, but apparently it was.
It was the catalyst to everything going downhill.
To Nap or Not To Nap
Just sometimes though, redecorating isn’t to blame. 😉 Instead, their routine is in need of an overhaul. Often at this age, it’s the nap.
It can be too long, too short, too close or, confusingly enough, too far away from bedtime
While I’m an advocate for keeping one nap in some form until the child is close to starting school, it doesn’t always work for every situation.
If you feel the nap may be inspiring your child’s new exercise routine every night, then it may need to be tweaked, capped or removed altogether.
Need more help with your toddler or preschooler’s routine?
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(Side note; I always recommend capping a nap for a while first before eliminating it altogether. And after that, I’m still a proponent of instilling “Quiet Time” in their rooms.
Big Kid Bed; An Answer For Crib Climbers?
Some parents may have been told that when a child can climb out, that it’s time to ditch the crib and move to a bed.
But contrary to popular belief, this isn’t a good benchmark on which to base that decision upon.
Just because they have the physical prowess to hoist themselves up and over the rails, doesn’t mean that toddlers are cognitively or emotionally ready for big-kid beds.
Especially under the age of three.
Many kids feel very exposed and insecure without the confines of the crib around them. They will leave their bed and come looking for yours.
Yes-even the ones that are climbing out.
What To Do If Your Toddler Is Climbing Out Of The Crib?
So let’s say you have a budding acrobat on your hands-what’s a parent to do?
Make It More Difficult; Focus first on making it more difficult for your child to climb out of their crib, while keeping them safe.
- If you haven’t already, lower the crib mattress to the lowest possible setting.
- Empty the crib of all bumpers and blankets.
- Also remove stuffed animals. Children are full of ingenuity and will pile these items up and use them like a ladder.
- Some cribs have one side higher than the other. Turn the crib so that the higher side facing out and the shorter side is along a wall.
- Invest in a large sleep sack. This helps by restricting your child from being able to lift their leg up and over the side of the crib.
- If your child is on the more adventurous side, you may have to stitch the sleep sack in a little tighter in the lower half
- If your child thinks they can outwit you and removes the sleep sack altogether, placing the sleep sack on backwards, can help thwart those efforts.
Safety Check: If they do happen to get out of their crib, we still want to make sure they are safe.
- Make sure to childproof the room. You won’t always get to them in time, or even know they are out, so safety is paramount.
- Cover all electrical outlets
- Tape cords to the wall
- Remove or secure and anchor heavy furniture to the wall.
- Think of the making the room like a giant crib.
Reinforce The Rules: We wouldn’t allow our children to run out into the street no matter how much they protested. We need to face our children climbing out of the crib with the same with the same amount of determination.
- When you know they are climbing out, open their bedroom door and give them a firm “no”.
- This works best if you have a video monitor, but you can also wait by their door and listen, if you don’t.
- If they have already climbed out of their crib, lead them gently (or pick them out without anger or frustration if they aren’t walking with you) and gently place them back into the crib, again saying “no”.
- Leave the room each time. Staying will only invite them to engage with you.
- If available, switch off with another caregiver. This will help maintain consistency, provide a united front, and give each of you a break.
- Maintain consistency. Toddlers need on average, three days of a consistent message, before beginning to change a behaviour.
Logical Consequences For Climbing; Stopping your child from climbing out of their crib is a learning process, consequences help.
- For children that are two years or older, I recommend following up with logical consequences (not punishments) in the daytime.
- The consequence must be directly related to the mistake.
- For example, if your child crawled out of their crib, taking away their favourite stuffed animal would be considered a punishment, not a consequence. This is because it has nothing to do with the event.
- However, if your child was using their stuffed animal as a step to be able to climb out, then it would make sense to remove it as a consequence.
- Or, another consequence could be that you decide to not go to the park the next day because they’re too tired from being up late during the night.
- Logical consequences are respectful in nature and help to teach, rather than shame or punish.
- This is the best way for a child to learn as it makes sense to the mistake or wrong choice that they have made.
It Takes Patience, But You CAN Stop Your Toddler From Climbing Out Of The Crib
When your child starts to climb out of their crib, don’t be like me and don’t panic!
Children like to explore and push boundaries. This is how they learn what is and isn’t permissible.
By having a plan in place and knowing what steps to take, they CAN learn to stay in their crib.
Take a look at their routine, their environment and make the necessary adjustments.
These methods will need to be repeated several times consistently, but they can absolutely learn to stop climbing out of their crib and stay safely in their crib.
Need more help figuring out a plan for your crib climber?
Book a consultation and we will go over sleep logs, routines, schedules and come up with an easy-to-follow plan to keep your little one safe and secure!