Help! My Toddler is Climbing Out of His Crib! What do I do? Does your toddler climb out of his crib? Last week, I put my son to nap and five minutes later he had climbed out, snuck into the bathroom, and was happily emptying the shampoos. Yikes! I knew the time would come, but at least we made it to 23 months! I swooped him up and put him back in his bed. Wouldn’t you know it? 30 seconds later he was right back out. This time I was standing at the door, though, and put a quick end to the escape. This process repeated itself eight times during an hour punctuated by tears of frustration on my son’s part and me resigning myself to the loss of an afternoon.
After about an hour of this game, I had an idea. I caught my little guy on his way out of the room, scooped him up and back into bed, and shut the bedroom door. He hesitated before climbing out again and during this brief moment, I throw open the door with a big smile. “You stayed in your bed! Good job; it’s time to wake up!” I said with enthusiasm. We just needed a way to end the training session without teaching him that eventually climbing out would be successful. Perfect? Probably not, but it was all my frazzled brain could come up with at the time. I had a couple more hours till we were going to have to try this again. It was time to brainstorm for ideas and ask some fellow moms. The following ideas were the best ideas I have found so far!
Use a Sleep Sack
This is an amazing idea I found for moms of younger babies that are trying to climb out of cribs. My son is a couple weeks from two and just about too big for the largest sleep sacks, but if my second turns escape artist early, I’m going to give this a try!
Use a Monitor to Keep Eyes on the Crib
I have a video monitor that was wonderful when my son was infant. It has now been an amazing tool these past ten days as well! Once I started using it again, I could see every time my son started to lift his little leg up to swing it over the side of the rail. This allowed me to verbally correct him before he had experienced the thrill of the escape. He was a little unnerved at first by the fact that I always knew when he was starting to climb, but once I showed him how I was seeing him, he thought it was interesting. After several days of not making any successful escapes without being caught, he stopped climbing out! For those without a monitor, I remember my parents accomplishing the same thing by one of them laying down on the floor just outside the room with the door cracked watching for a little foot to sneak over the crib rail. For a couple siblings, I remember my dad spending a few nights sleeping outside the room door to prevent a midnight escape. Nothing takes the thrill out of a midnight escape like running (literally) into dad!
I have found modeling such a wonderful way to help train my son. First, it is helpful for explaining a desired behavior to a toddler whose verbal skills aren’t very developed yet. And second, modeling doesn’t usually spark as much of that classic “no” toddler response. For staying in bed, I didn’t have another child handy, so we used my son’s Winnie the Pooh and Tigger stuffed animals. Together we put Tigger in my son’s bed. “Stay in Tigger,” I instructed, and we went out and watched him together using the monitor. We had fun praising Tigger for staying in bed, and my son kept whispering seriously, “Stay in Tigger.” He had so much fun that his first words to Daddy when he got in were, “Stay in Tigger!”
For me this is by far the hardest part of teaching my son to stay in bed. I like working in starts and bursts of energy and then taking a break. However, it is so much faster to teach a toddler to stay in bed if they know they aren’t going to be able to stay running around free. Yet, kids vary. Staying super consistent cuts your training time down dramatically from what it would have been. However, some kids simply test their boundaries a whole lot harder than others. My son took several days of absolute consistency; a friend’s took weeks and some kids take only a single afternoon. Try not to compare yourself too much. Easier said than done, right?
Consider Switching to the Toddler Bed
Depending on how far your crib is from the floor and how coordinated of a climber you have, it may be time to switch to a toddler or regular bed to prevent falls. In my case, we have a Pack-n-Play instead of a crib because of space constraints, so it’s a pretty short distance to the floor.
Childproof the Room
Most likely you have already done this, but for me the possibility of my son getting out of bed at night and playing while I was asleep made me take a careful second look. We moved the dresser in front of the plug the monitor was plugged into and removed the package of wipes he loves to try and empty. For really accomplished escape artists, you can also put a hook and eye type lock on the outside of the door if they like to forage the pantry in the wee hours of the morning.
Ten days into this process, we are now on day six without an escape attempt. I’m fully expecting to have round two at some point. When that happens, I’ll be writing part two!
Mommy Medicine is a group of moms that love sharing tricks, tips and strategies with our fellow moms, so send us your mommy questions you would like to see as the subject of a blog. We would love to hear from you! Subscribe here to receive posts straight to your inbox!
Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (8/7/2018) Quinn Dombrowski (Flickr)