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Help! My toddler is climbing out of his crib!  What do I do?

Has your toddler discovered that he can climb out of his crib?  Do you think this is a sign that he is ready for a toddler bed?  Are you concerned for his safety and thus are considering putting him in a toddler bed before the age of three?  Don’t!  There are a few things you can try before making that huge transition.

Climbing is fun!

Many toddlers around the age of 2 discover this fun cool thing to do and parents freak out worrying about their safety. They start discussing transitioning to a toddler bed but this can cause way more sleep problems in the future.  

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Normal Developmental Milestone

The truth is that this is a completely normal developmental milestone and toddlers will practice this skill for entertainment or attention. Given the crib height, it is unlikely your toddler will actually get hurt, so this is more of a nuisance than a safety hazard.  It can however, lead parents into mistakenly believing their child is ready for a toddler bed. Most 2 year-olds are not ready for the freedom a toddler bed provides:  They are not mature enough to understand the concept of staying in their room and you may find yourself with a tiny visitor several times per night.  Or, your toddler will decide that sleeping is no fun and will end up turning on their light and playing in their room unsupervised.  As you can see, both of these scenarios pose a safety hazard that can be more serious than falling a few feet to the floor.  Also, your toddler may decide he’d rather sleep with his parents and if not corrected, can turn into a habit that can be hard to break.  This is why I always tell parents to be patient and to try a few things which can help.

Tips and Tricks

Before anything else, here are a few things to try to prevent your little one from climbing:

-Put them in a sleep sack

-If they can still manage, put the sleep sack on backwards

-If the crib has a higher side, turn the crib around so that the high side is facing out

-Place your child back in his crib without any reaction or interaction, almost like a robot (this can work, but you must be very careful to be as mundane as possible or it can turn into an attention- grabbing antic as well).

This too shall pass

If all this fails, simply child proof the room and put a gate on the door for safety.  Your child will eventually tire of this skill (especially if there is no audience) and things will go back to normal.  If your child climbs out and falls asleep on the floor, it is ok to leave them there.  They will eventually figure out that it is much more comfortable to sleep in their crib and will not attempt any more circus acts.

As with anything sleep related, all it takes is patience and a consistent response.  If you give this too much attention, your toddler will continue trying to put on a show.  

Ask me for help

I am here if  you need help with your baby or toddler sleep.  Click on the “home” tab on my website and sign up for a 15 minute chat!

Magda Jansen
Magda Jansen
Magda Jansen is a certified Child Sleep Consultant through the Family Sleep Institute, and as a former elementary teacher and current mother, has a passion for the health and happiness of children of all ages. Magda ensures her family gets the sleep they need and loves to help other families acquire the skills and tools to achieve their own well-rested tribe. Magda understands that every family is different and works hard to ensure each client receives the personalized service they deserve within their own comfort zone. Magda lives in Houston, Texas with her 3 children, their sweet dog, and a husband who still loves to nap.
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