Sound familiar? You tuck your toddler into his crib, say "I love you," walk out and shut the door, and let out a giant, exhausted sigh because you just survived another day of toddlerhood. Don't lie...we all do it. Except as soon as you finally sit down to relax with a glass of wine, a tiny, person in pajamas, looking suspiciously like your toddler is suddenly standing next to you. Impossible - you just tucked him into his crib!
Yes, you have a crib climber. So you decide it must be time to transition to a toddler bed, right? STOP! Unless you want to keep that tiny, adorable toddler to keep appearing next to you every night after bedtime...keep that crib right where it is and make some other adjustments first.
Stick to the crib for as long as you can
Before the age of at least 3.5, toddlers really aren't developmentally able to understand WHY they need to stay in their bed for sleep or the invisible boundaries of a toddler bed. They still need those boundaries that a crib provides.
Think about it...If they're climbing out of the crib, they'll climb out of the bed. My recommendation is to keep your child in the crib for literally as long as you can. There's no shame in having your 4 or 5 year old still sleep in a crib. Guaranteed they're sleeping better there than any of their friends in an open bed!
Here are some tips to keeping that little monkey in the crib as long as you can:
Lower the crib mattress as low as it can go.
Readjust the crib. If you can safely remove the mattress springs and drop the mattress to the floor inside the crib without there being any gaps, go for it. Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics says to not modify the crib in any way. Technically this is modifying the crib, so please use your brain here and make the decision that's right for your family. Always check with your pediatrician when in doubt.
Use a sleep sack! Keeping your toddler in a sleep sack until at least 3.5 years old helps prevent them from getting a leg up and over the crib. Kytebaby makes really long sleep sacks for up to 36 months old, but unless your toddler is super long, I bet they would fit beyond 3 years. They also make Sleep Bag Walkers up to size 4T and these would work equally well to help prevent your toddler from getting a leg up and over the crib.
Remove all bumpers and stuffed animals. These are often used to boost the kiddo up to climb over.
Reposition the crib. Put the crib in the corner of the room so two sides of it are against a wall, turn the crib around so the high side (if there is one) is facing into the room and the low side is against the back wall. Now you have 3 sides taken care of. Have a tall dresser or something similar? Move that up against the crib to block off the 4th side. Nope, it's not pretty. But it does the trick and will save you so much lost sleep.
If you've tried it all, and your child is ready to transition to a big kid bed, this post gives you all the tools you need to make the transition as easy as possible.
If you need help determining a sleep training method, set up a free 15-minute consultation with me to discuss!