What to Do When Your Baby Won’t Stay in Their Crib

By Marina Macleod

April 2, 2019

Marina is a Registered Nurse with over 14 yrs of experience, a Mama Coach in Calgary, AB and area and a Mama to 2! She offers prenatal education, newborn and post-partum support, lactation counseling, infant & child CPR/Choking workshops, as well as sleep education programs based on science, empathy & support.

So you’ve got an escape artist now do you? Once your little one has mastered the skill of pulling themselves up and certainly by the time they are walking, they could be attempting to get out of their crib. My sister tells a story of my niece and how she just decided she’d had enough of this “crib thing” and launched herself out at 18 months! They had tucked her in the crib, said goodnight and left the room. 10 minutes later they heard a thud, they went in to check on her and found her standing in the middle of the room!

The previous few days she had been reading books in her big sisters bed each night. She figured she was a big girl too and didn’t need her crib anymore, she was thrilled to fall asleep that night on a mattress on the floor beside her crib and never looked back. Now, even if your kiddo is not quite at this stage, read on for how to best prepare your child’s environment and yourself!

Safety

I encourage parents to try and leave their child in their crib as long as safely possible or until they are 3 yrs old. What do I mean by “… as safely possible”? We need to pay attention when our kids start to climb the rails, jump on the mattress, pull themselves to standing, or flail about. We want them to be safe in their sleep environment and ignoring these things hoping it is just a phase they are going through is not the best solution. They could injure themselves from the fall or possibly get a limb stuck in the rails, but once they are “free” from the crib there are even more risks. If you are sleeping you may not hear your little ninja and they could roam anywhere they please in the middle of the night!

Tips and Tricks

Lower the mattress.

I know this seems obvious, but I don’t just mean lower it to the lowest setting. Try to remove the bottom of the crib all together and let the mattress rest on the floor inside the crib. For safety you might have to put a platform under the mattress to ensure there are no spaces between the mattress and the bottom edge of the crib. This should make it extra hard for them to get their little toes over the top of the sides!

Sleep Sack.

I’m talking to you new Mamas! Not only is a properly fitted sleep sack a great and safer alternative to loose blankets in your child’s crib, it can help regulate their temperature during sleep with different togs. HOWEVER, the most important tip I can offer is to get your child used to sleep sacks as a wee baby and carry them on into toddler-hood. With a sleep sack on, it is very hard to swing a leg up over a railing to get out!

Turn the crib around.

If you have a crib that has a lower railing on one side and a taller one on the other (usually the side we put against the wall for aesthetics, and to save our backs!) you’re in luck. Simply turn the crib around so the higher side is facing out and the lower side is against a wall or even in a corner of the room. Again, this will make it harder for your lil’ jailbreaker to get out.

Time for a toddler bed?

If you’ve tried these tips and still no success, it may be time to move from a crib to a toddler bed. In this case you need to consider the safety of the room around them, and try to make the room their crib and safe sleep environment. Ideally, toys should be removed to avoid distraction from sleep, shelves or furniture need to be secured to the wall and if they can be climbed on they should be removed, outlets covered, avoid long curtains that can be climbed or pulled on, and try to only have one lovie in the bed with them. You can use a low bed frame or even put the mattress on the floor, use a pillow to anchor your child’s head to one end of the bed and you can use safety rails if they are still on the young side, under 2.

Toddler tip:

There is a unique Canadian product called The Toddler Monitor™ that you can hang on your child’s door handle, when it senses movement it will send an alert to your smart phone that your child is on the move! You can rest easy knowing that you will be alerted if your little one leaves his room. Peace of mind! You can check it out here and make sure to enter our giveaway below for a chance to win one! They also gave us a coupon code to share with our viewers- use MAMACOACH to get 15% off. 

Good luck. You got this Mama!

If you have any questions about the transition from a crib contact a Mama Coach near you. There are possible sleep regressions that might happen at this stage and we are happy to chat with you about it. The goal is to make your child’s sleep environment as safe as possible but also to teach your child healthy sleep habits they can use no matter where they sleep!

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