Do you have a Crib Climber?
I remember the night our daughter climbed out of her crib for the first time. She was just barely 2 years old and she showed up in our bed in the middle of the night that night. I about had a heart attack! Our girl is a pretty skilled climber so I wasn’t terribly worried about her injuring herself, but the chance is always there. Not knowing any better, we thought our only option was to switch to a toddler bed straight away. Aaaaddd….surprise! It didn’t go well. If this is a familiar situation to you, here are some tips before making that switch to a big kid bed!
My recommendation is to wait until as close to age 3 as possible to make the switch. Most children under this age are just not capable of handling the freedom.
1. Evaluate how skillfully they are climbing. Obviously if they are diving out of their
crib head first, you have to do something about it right away. But if they are not hurting themselves, then you can try calmly returning them to the crib and explaining that they are not allowed to get out. Do this 3 or 4 times and if they continue, then return them to their crib without saying anything. Many kids enjoy any attention at all even if it is negative, so when you don’t react, the game is no longer fun.
2. Does your crib have a short side and a tall side? Flip the crib around so that the short side is against a wall. The tall side is often tall enough that the child can’t climb out.
3. Take the bottom of the crib out so that the mattress is literally on the floor. Make sure this is a safe set up with your particular crib. There should be no space between the mattress and the bottom of the crib. This can make enough of a difference that your child can no longer climb out.
4. Use a sleep sack or “crib pants”. Get a large sleep sack and put it on backwards so your toddler can’t unzip it. You can make your own “crib pants” by sewing a small piece of fabric between the legs of your child’s pajamas. This should make it too difficult for your child to climb up and swing their legs over the crib!
When you do make the switch, I recommend going straight to a twin or full-sized bed. Then be very clear about the rules! An okay-to-wake alarm clock and reward systems are helpful. But the key is to enforce your rule of staying in bed. Good Luck!