Is there anything better than a full night sleep? As a mom you finally get used sleeping through the night but then babies hit that toddler stage, and stuff gets ROUGH. So let’s talk about the best tips to prevent your toddler from climbing out of their crib today.
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Tips to Prevent Your Toddler from Climbing out of their crib
How I love how my head hits the pillow, my eyelids get heavy, and I float off to dreamland. Oh, but wait. In the middle of the night my eyes flash open and there I am staring face to face with my toddler.
That’s right, my toddler who is supposed to be sound asleep in their crib. Then it hits me. I am in the dreaded crib climbing territory. If you are like me and this scenario sounds very familiar and you are desperate for some tips on how to prevent your little climber from achieving a crib escape then you are in luck. I’ll be covering how to handle those crib climbers and what to do when this happens to you.
Why Do toddlers climb out of their crib?
Why? More importantly, why is this happening to me? If you are feeling sleep deprived and defeated, I have been there before. As a mom to four young children I have had my share of experiences.
Not all kids experience the same behaviors. Just when you have one phase figured out a new one will pop up. So why did your sweet happy baby go into full on crazed escape artist mode? There are actual ‘reasons’ toddlers hit this phase – and sometimes understanding those reasons helps us to better parent them through it.
Crib climbing can occur anywhere between 12-24 months. It is most common around 18 months and happens as a result of their developmental milestones. Hooray, your little guy took their first step. What a great milestone. Unfortunately, we don’t say the same about crib climbing.
Between 18-24 months, young toddlers will start to climb up and down furniture, walk up and down stairs, run, and become fiercely independent. The combination of your toddler’s newfound motor skills and independence leads to their desire to climb right out of their crib and into your nightmares.
At 18 months, you may notice your toddler begin to have tantrums. Their opinion will be well known and they will want to do everything themselves. At this age, doing everything themself is practically impossible, and that will lead to many meltdowns.
Their impulse control is poor to say the least, and they will think it is perfectly acceptable to swan dive off your kitchen table. I may speak from experience here. Common sense is not their friend.
Let me paint you a picture. Your little Houdini has just learned that they can reach their leg up and over their crib. They hoist their little body up and before you know it they have flown themselves straight out of the crib and onto the floor.
Whew, that was either thrilling or terrifying to them. Here is the key part of the picture. They did it on their own and now they have a brand new skill! If it was thrilling to them then you are in luck because now you’ve got a climber on your hands.
Tips to Prevent your Toddler from Climbing out of Your Crib – What to do when it starts?
Joking aside, having a child who climbs out of their crib can lead to a number of issues, safety issues and sleep being the major two that come to mind. I’ve seen it plenty of times and fortunately, (knock on wood) we’ve never had a serious injury. However, that is sheer luck. It is a long fall from their crib to the floor and an injury can occur at any time.
Keep in mind that head injuries can be very serious. If your child hits their head, stay calm. You need to remain calm so that they stay calm. Chances are you’ll need to calm them down as well. Make sure you soothe them instead of using it as a learning experience.
“See, this is why we don’t climb out of bed.” That isn’t going to help anyone here. Grab some ice and put ice on their head where they may have a bump or mark. Now, I’m not a medical professional, so at this point you’ll want to call your pediatrician or after-hours line to go through what happened.
Any loss of consciousness, vomiting, excessive crying, complaints of headache, or your child not acting themselves warrants a call right away.
(Please note that I am not a doctor, these are just my observations as a mom.)
Toddler Proof Your Home
You’ll also want to ensure you baby proof your child’s room. If they are able to get out of the crib, then they are able to be unsupervised in their own room, well the whole house actually. Cover any electrical outlets up with protectors, anchor your furniture, and secure blinds or long cords that may be a strangulation hazard. You’ll want to have baby gates up accordingly. A baby gate at the top of the stairs will help prevent your drowsy toddler from falling down them in the dark. Make sure you put up and lock any medicines or potential poisonous materials. Ideally, you’ll have a video monitor or baby monitor that will alert you to when they are climbing out of their room.
If you are a heavy sleeper, it may be a good idea to get a door alarm for the bedroom doors that will alert your phone that your child has left their room. This will help prevent your toddler from having free reign of the house for too long and making a mess in your living room.
If your child climbs out of their crib all night long chances are they aren’t getting much sleep time and neither are you. Sleep is crucial for brain development so they can continue to hit those milestones.
At 18-24 months, your toddler should be getting around 11 hours of sleep with naps that last from 2-3 hours. Without adequate sleep, they are more likely to have those delightful tantrums. Additionally, sleep helps your child release growth hormones for development, lowers their risk of obesity, increases their ability to learn, and lowers behavioral issues.
Don’t be surprised if at around 24 months old, they undergo a sleep regression. Remember when you brought your new baby home from the hospital and just when you had the sleep situation all figured out, they started to not sleep again? It was then that you learned about sleep regressions.
Well guess what, toddlers get them too and yes, they are a major bummer. The 2 year sleep regression can happen anywhere from 2 to 3 years old. You may notice early wakings, waking at night, refusing nap time, protesting bedtime, not staying in their bed if they have transitioned to a big kid bed, and crib climbing. Isn’t the toddler stage fun?
The good news is that this is all temporary and will pass. That should give you some peace of mind, but I’m not going to lie to you, it may be an unpleasant couple of weeks. I wish there was an easy solution to help solve all your sleep problems.
I will say, the best option is to continue with a consistent sleep routine and stick to your boundaries. Whether your child is crib climbing due to a sleep regression or not, your toddler’s sleep will be affected. It is necessary to solve your crib climbing problem so that you both can get back to a restful night.
My sweet Walker back when he was still in a crib. Check out this post on toddler sleep schedules.
What Can I Do – Tips to Prevent Your Toddler from Climbing Out of Their Crib
So what can you do? You’re exhausted, your toddler is exhausted and you are desperate for some solutions.
Set Expectations with your toddler
The first thing you want to do is set up expectations and boundaries with your toddler. Make it very clear to them that their crib is for sleeping.
Avoid A Big Reaction
So you caught your toddler in the act of climbing out of their crib for the first time. Don’t draw attention to it. Don’t exclaim “Oh look at you! NO! Don’t climb out!” They will just think this is funny and proceed to do it again and again.
Be cool, calm, and collected. Once they climb out, simply put them back in and provide positive reinforcement to them for being and staying in their crib.
Set A Bedtime Routine
This may seem like a simple solution but make sure you have a sleep routine established with your child. This will help signal their brain that it is time for sleep and not time for play. Every night you begin your bedtime routine your child will recognize the steps and begin to prepare for sleep. You can make the routine as long or short as you like. A good idea is to stick to the routine and try not to deviate from it.
Consider reading and setting a clock as part of the bedtime routine like in this shared toddler room.
You’ll also want to ensure you are promoting an environment that is conducive for sleep. The best way to achieve this is to ensure you have the room dark enough for sleep. Blackout curtains are the best way to get it dark enough for your toddler and baby to drift off to sleep.
Another good idea is to have white noise playing. You’ll want to find a white noise machine that does not time off. When the white noise time goes off it can actually wake your child up and out from their sleep.
Make sure the temperature in your toddler’s room is not too hot or too cold. Experts recommend a temperature between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleeping. If it is on the cooler side, you’ll want to dress them accordingly and plan for layers. If it is on the warmer side, make sure you dress them in light clothes that won’t cause them to become overheated.
Tips To Prevent Your Toddler From Climbing Out Of Their Crib – Sleep Sacks Save The Day
Invest in a quality sleep sack. This is a great option to help buy you time and curb that crib climbing. When your child is wearing a sleep sack they are unable to get that leg up to boost themselves over the crib. A toddler sleep sack is not something you can generally find easily in your local Target.
You may have to do some online shopping instead to get the best options. It should be a long wearable blanket that leaves enough wiggle room for them to stretch their legs out. You’ll also need to make sure that the sleep sack is not easily removed. The last thing you want to do is have your toddler learn how to remove their sleep sack all together.
Pack N Play Option
For younger toddlers, switching them to a pack n play may be an option. This would only work for young toddlers who aren’t tall enough to climb out and could buy you some time until they are ready to transition to a big bed. The mesh siding in a pack n play is harder to grip to climb out.
Okay To Wake Clock
For an older toddler, you can try an okay to wake clock. Toddler clocks are a great way to help your child visually see when it is okay for them to leave their bed. Every time you go in to get your child from their sleep the light comes on and alerts them that it is time to wake up.
After using it several times your child will make the connection that the green light means time to get up and play. This provides boundaries for your child and a little bit of trust on their part. At the same time, it also provides them with a sense of security that they know what to expect and can encourage them to stay in their crib until the light turns the correct color.
This is a great sleep training clock!
Lower The Mattress – this is the number one first tip To Prevent Your Toddler From Climbing Out Of Their Crib
This may sound like another no brainer but make sure you have lowered your toddler’s crib to the lowest setting. If it is already in the lowest position you can lower the crib mattress even further.
The bottom of the crib generally has a bottom with springs that holds the mattress in place. Remove that bottom and put the mattress on the actual floor. This will give you a few inches that may make it impossible for your toddler to reach the top of the crib.
Turn The Crib Around
If your child’s crib has a higher side and if all else fails, turn the crib around so that the lower side is to the wall and the higher side of the crib is facing outward. This will give you a few more inches and make it pretty difficult for your little one to reach the top of the railing to climb out.
Remove Items In Their Crib
Does your toddler sleep with their favorite book or stuffed animal? Remove the 12 stuffed animals and all of their treasures which may be helping them reach the crib sides to climb out. Go back to the basics of nothing in their crib but them. They may have a difficult time not sleeping with their favorite monkey, but the good thing is they won’t be climbing out of their crib anymore.
Tips To Prevent Your Toddler From Climbing Out Of Their Crib – Remove Temptation
Is your toddler climbing out of their bed to play with their toys in their room? Or are they trying to reach their favorite books that are in plain sight? Remove the temptation and any items that may be the cause of their wanting to climb out of their crib.
Toys can go into baskets and books can be stored on a bookshelf away from the crib. You’ll also want to make sure that their crib is not near any pieces of furniture that may assist in their escape. If the rocking chair is near the crib railing they may be able to use it as leverage to help them climb out. Keep your furniture far enough away that it won’t help with escape plans.
Crib Tents – A great short term crib climbing solution
You may see some products advertised where a tent or canopy is placed over the crib to help keep your child in their crib. For safety reasons, I do not recommend using these products. Anything placed over the crib could cause strangulation or could cause your child further injury by getting caught in them should they try to climb out of their crib.
Bed Readiness Tips To Prevent Your Toddler From Climbing Out Of Their Crib
So you’ve tried all the crib solutions, all the tricks, and nothing is working. Your toddler is still climbing out of their crib and you are ready for your sleep and sanity to return. You may have to consider if your child is ready to make the move to a new bed.
Signs of Toddler Readiness to Switch to a Big Bed
The average time a child switches from their crib to a regular bed is between 3-4 years old. That being said, I generally switch my kids to their big-kid beds between 18 months to 2.5 years old. I will say that you have to assess each child’s readiness individually and make your decision based on your child.
It may be harder to transition a younger toddler (less than 2 years old) due to impulse control issues. The longer you’re able to wait, the more you’re able to reason with them which will help keep them in their bed.
This adorable room is complete with an Ikea toddler bed.
When Not To Make The Transition
Keep in mind that you don’t want to make the transition to a big kid bed during periods of transitions. That means if your child is in the middle of potty training, just starting school, or becoming a big brother or sister in the next few weeks, then now is not the time to make the move.
You need to wait until they have a full sense of security and control in their life. This will lead to less pushback and a more successful transition.
You also have to keep in mind that a crib is designed to keep your child safe and to help them feel secure. Their entire life all they have known is that crib. Once the walls come down, that sense of security they feel may come down with it.
Instead of having a confined space, now they have their entire room and a huge bed. That may be scary and a bit overwhelming for a young child.
What a fun DIY toddler bed!
It may be useful to transition them first to a toddler bed. A toddler bed has a rail on the front part of the bed to help keep that security. The bed itself is similarly sized to their crib and is lower to the ground for safety.
This is a great feature that allows them to get in and out of the bed easily but while sleeping still provides that sense of security with the guard rails. Once they have mastered a toddler bed you’ll have a smooth transition to a twin bed or full.
Easing into The Transition
Involve your toddler in the big decision to transition to a big kid bed. Have them pick out their bedding, accessories, and any stuffed animals that they want to sleep with.
Make it a big deal that they get to have this amazing new bed. Set them up for success by talking about their new bed before making the transition. You want to get them excited and onboard for this switch.
Make sure you keep the same bedtime routine and establish those boundaries. They need to know that it is bedtime and that means it is time for sleep, not playtime.
What a fun toddler bed to help ease the transition.
An okay to wake clock is a great option here too. They can visually see when it is time to wake up to play. If they continue to get out of bed, you need to continue to put them back to bed. They may test those boundaries, but consistency is key.
If all else fails, I highly recommend reaching out to sleep consultants. They are trained to look at each child as an individual and apply solutions tailored to your child. Better sleep is worth every penny in my book!
My Favorite Products To Prevent your Toddler from Climbing out of Their Crib
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Shop Favorite products below
- Kyte Baby Sleep Sack 18-36 months size. My favorite sleep sacks by far!
- Baby Deedee Sleep Sack 18-36 months.
- The Woolino 4 Seasons Sleep Sack is definitely a splurge but amazing quality.
- The Hatch is a great sound machine and can be used as an okay to wake clock.
- The LittleHippo Mella Ready To Rise is a sleep trainer and sound machine for kids!
- The Snooz is a sound machine, nightlight, and sleep timer.
- Summer Infant Extra Tall Baby Gate is a great option for the top of the stairs.
- Summer Infant Extra Tall & Extra Wide Baby Gate
- Door Alarm & Sensor for those super curious climbers.
- Nanit Pro Smart Baby Monitor actually gives you a record of your child’s sleep! As a bonus you have access to sleep experts for a full year after purchase.
- Wyze is a great video monitor option for a fraction of the cost of a Nanit Pro.
- Eoere Medicine Lock Box
- SoftSea Twin House Loft Bed is a great option for those climbers who transition to a big kid bed. This is similar to a toddler and will help keep your little one feeling secure.
- Floor Bed & Daybed Trundle is a great option for toddlers who transition to big beds.
Other Posts You’ll Love
Toddler Sleep Schedule | Advice On Siblings Sharing A Room | Toddler Girl Room Wallpaper From SpoonFlower
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I hope this post gave you some great ideas on tips to prevent your toddler from climbing out of their crib. I know it can be difficult with little sleep and patience to put the steps into place. Just remember that this is a phase and will soon pass. You’ve got this! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section, and follow me on Instagram @arinsolange for more home, decor, and DIY. Good Luck!