Avoiding a Crib to Bed Transition Before You’re Ready

what should I do if my baby climbs out of the crib

Hearing the pitter-patter of tiny feet in the middle of the night can only tell you one thing.  What you dreaded is reality.  He’s climbed out of his crib.  Even though you’re never truly ready to transition your toddler to a bed, you can rest easy and take a deep breath mama, it may not be that time…not just yet.

I recommend waiting as long as you can to transition your toddler from crib to bed.  Waiting until he is closer to 3 years of age means he will better understand your sleep rules and you’ll be able to communicate the consequences of breaking these rules much easier.  This can help avoid the ‘jack in the box’ struggle of nightly visits and escapes.  He’ll also be old enough to be alone to safely move around in his room, after some child proofing has been done of course.  Now that being said, it’s not always that easy.  Sometimes you are forced to move them to a bed before you are ready to.  For instance if you need the crib for your next baby, or if your toddler starts climbing out of his crib and safety is now an issue.  A child can get injured climbing out of his crib and suddenly you may need to make that switch sooner than later.

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If your child starts jumping out of his crib there are a few steps you can take to possibly delay him moving to a bed before it’s time.

Nip It In The Bud

This may be a great time to invest in a video monitor.  Turn on the monitor or stand by the door and the second you see that leg kick over you firmly tell him not to do it.  This may mean less sleep for you because you have to keep a vigilant watch for a few nights, but if you stay on top of it your toddler will know you mean business and quickly get bored of the new adventure.

Don’t Give In To Temptation

It’s tempting for mom and dad just to sweep up the midnight visitor to their bed so everyone get’s some sleep.  But at that moment you are showing him that what he did is not a big deal and that he will be rewarded with your attention.  Despite how tired you are, you need to be consistent with silently returning him back to his crib.  Brief and boring.  He’ll get the hint and it won’t be so fun anymore.

Say Yes to Sleep Sacs

It’s tough to kick your leg over a crib when it’s enclosed in a sleep sac.  This could be the answer you’re looking for.  Not all toddlers will keep it on or enjoy wearing it, but it is definitely worth a shot.

Lower the Mattress

You’d be surprised how often this simple solution is missed.  Make sure the mattress is on the lowest setting closest to the floor and clear the crib of clutter.  Stuffed animals, blankets, and bumpers make the perfect stepping stool to freedom!

If you child already possesses strong sleep skills, giving the above points a fair and consistent shot could definitely buy you some more crib time until he is a bit older.  We have to keep in mind though there could be bigger sleep issues going on and improving your child’s overall sleep habits may also need to be focused on.


Alanna McGinn is a Certified Infant and Toddler Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site – a Global Pediatric and Family Sleep Team. She provides free child and family sleep support through her FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. She invites you to join her sleep community as she works towards Good Night Sleep Site’s mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips please visit Good Night Sleep Site.

Alanna McGinn
Alanna McGinn
Alanna McGinn is Founder and Certified Sleep Expert of Good Night Sleep Site, a global sleep consulting practice. She is host of the ‘This Girl Loves Sleep’ Podcast and author of ‘This Baby Loves Sleep’. Alanna has established the world-wide brand of Good Night Sleep Site as being a #1 sleep resource for families and her and her team of sleep consultants strive in helping families (baby to adults) and corporations overcome their sleep challenges and have well-rested smiles in the morning. You can find out more about Alanna McGinn and how to work with a Good Night Sleep Consultant at www.goodnightsleepsite.com and follow Alanna and all her sleep tips on Instagram - @GNSleepSite.

4 comments on “Avoiding a Crib to Bed Transition Before You’re Ready

  1. brandie on

    Hi. We are in the middle of dealing with this. I removed the slats at the bottom of the crib so his mattress is against the floor. He still breaks out!! So now I’ve sewn a piece of fabric between the legs of his footy pj’s (that I put on backwards so he doesn’t remove them). He can open his legs and walk but not enough to get that leg over the crib rail. 🙂

    • Alanna McGinn on

      Hello! Thank you so much for responding. We don’t recommend adjust the crib as you did for saftey purposes. Once you adjust the piece of furniture against the true craftsmanship of the manufacturer you remove the certified safety standards of the crib. A sleep sac can work great as the child can no longer kick their leg over but if it’s to the point where safety becomes an issue as he is consistently climbing over it may be time to make the switch. One of our consultants would be more than happy to help you – http://www.goodnightsleepsite.com.

  2. Chelsea on

    My 21 month old has always been an AWESOME sleeper and has just descovered climbing out of his crib. He also already wears a sleep sac and his bed is on the lowest level. I’m not ready for a toddler bed. Any suggestions?

    • Alanna McGinn on

      Hi Chelsea! The article provides you with some great ones. We want to make sure your toddler is safe and the best way to try and keep them safely in their crib a little while longer is to be firm and quick to stop him from climbing out. The more consistent and firm you are with this he should get the message. If he doesn’t unfortunately it may be time to make that switch. Stay on top of it and hopefully you can delay that transistion a little while longer.


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