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Not all toddlers do it, but for some it is inevitable that they will at some point or another decide to attempt to make the great escape from their cribs. A deep sense of panic sets in when you see your toddler’s little legs climbing the bars of the crib and making their way to the top of the crib railing. It won’t be long now before those little legs and body make it all the way to the other side, up and out of the crib altogether!
In a perfect world, we do recommend that you keep your toddler in a crib for as long as you possibly can. 2.5 or even 3 years old is ideal but this also depends on your individual child and their temperament.
Here are some things that you can try before jumping into making the switch to a big kid bed. But remember to act quickly once you see the first signs of a child experimenting with climbing out. If you act quickly, you have a good chance of discouraging the climbing from happening, however, even a few extra days without making any changes might give them extra time to perfect their new found skill!
Make sure that the mattress is at the lowest setting. If it is not, lower it!
Have you ever tried to climb out of something with a blanket tucked around your feet? It is hard to walk like that let alone do anything else. The sleep sack will make it much harder for your child to manoeuvre their legs or stretch them high enough to get out of the crib. This alone can discourage the climbing attempts and hopefully they will forget about their intentions almost immediately!
I remember doing this back in the day with some of the children that I was caring for. It worked wonders with them but it most likely would not work all that well with my persistent little tot. You just simply hover outside of the door peeking in or watching the monitor. When they look like they are about to climb, you go in and firmly tell them not to climb and that it is dangerous.
This, of course, does not work for all children and all temperaments. Some children will just think that this is a hilarious game and will continue to do it over and over again. If this happens, abandon ship and move to the next option!
If all else fails, you can hang on for a little longer and your last go-to option would be to attempt the pack and play. It is not the ideal place to have your child sleeping on a regular basis but if it is between a big kid bed when they are cognitively not ready and the pack and play for a few months, I would choose the latter to buy some time. The mesh sides on the pack and play (paired with the use of the sleep sack) make it a little harder for your child to climb. The best option is a playpen that has taller sides. So if you do not already own one and you are going looking, try to find one that is a bit taller.
If you have tried everything and your persistent little one is still on the move, it is time to switch them into a bed.
Does all of this mean that you are doomed if you have to make the switch a little earlier? No! It just means that you may have a little more work on your hands at the beginning but it is nothing that you can’t handle!