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.
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 No to Crib Tents
I have never liked crib tents. Thankfully in Spring 2012 CPSC and 5 major retailers issued a massive recall of crib tents. Don’t use them. They are not safe and are not a solution. End of story.
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 Facebook, Twitter, 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.