Got a climber?
My youngest is 19 months old, and he is the kid that will make my whole head turn grey by the time he’s 5 years old.
He is the ULTIMATE climber. He climbs his high chair, he climbs the cabinets, he climbs sofas and tables and fences and fireplaces and anything else he can possibly get his hands and feet on.
When he was 12.5 months old, we had his mattress set to the lowest setting in his crib, and he climbed out. Or climbed onto the top and then fell over the side of it (thank goodness for carpeting, and a kid who never seems to actually hurt himself).
I panicked, and went to the web to find a solution. So many sites said “if they are climbing out, they are probably ready for a toddler bed!”
I’m sorry, no 13 month old is “ready” for a toddler bed. Because no 13 month old should be left to their own devices, to roam a room that likely has even more fun things to climb, or trouble to get into.
And you can just tell a 13 month old to stay in their bed.
Many other sites suggested the use of a “crib tent”.
While I have a number of friends who have used these and swear by them… are you aware there have been a ton of dangerous accidents and they were recalled as a product a few years back? Not safe for your kids, not a great option. Sorry for those of you who use them and love them!
But there were 2 recommendations by some friends, that sounded ingenious – they were minor crib hacks that I could try without spending any money. If they worked – AMAZING! If not, I could keep looking.
Thankfully – THEY ACTUALLY WORK!!
And I’ve tried them on the sherpa of all kids… if they worked for my kid, I have to think they will work for yours.
Only one caveat here… these hacks may not work with all cribs so you have to check out what you’re working with. Thankfully, both worked like a charm for my little climber.
I didn’t do both at once, as each one will buy you some time on its own, so I recommend graduating into each of these steps, when the time is right.
Before I go any further – here is my disclaimer – I am not a professional crib safety specialist – these methods have been tested and proven to work on my own kids, but may not work in all cases. These are offered merely as ideas to consider – please use your own judgement and common sense to gauge whether these will work for your own child, and if there are any safety issues that may present themselves with your current set up. Use these recommendations at your own risk.
Hack #1 – Remove your crib’s mattress support completely, leaving the mattress directly on the floor (important details below)
I used this method when my son was 13 months old and began climbing out of the crib. It lowered the mattress close to 10 inches, effectively preventing my son from being able to reach the top wall of the crib. It bought us SIX MONTHS of safe crib use, preventing him from climbing out!!
The first thing to check before you go for this kind of set up, is that the sides of your crib come down low enough, to keep the mattress in place while resting on the floor. The mattress should not be able to slide out underneath the bottom of the crib – if it does, do not use this method.
Also, keep in mind that your child will be a few inches off the floor, and you should keep anything away from the crib walls that you would not want your child to be able to reach out and touch – including outlets.
Hack #1 – If you have a crib where one side of the crib wall comes up higher than the other – turn your crib around completely so that the high wall is in front (important details below)
About 3 weeks ago when my son turned 18 months, he was tall and strong enough to climb out, even with his mattress lying flat on the floor (at this point we had only implemented hack #1). My son was not napping, and taking an hour plus at night to go to sleep (only because we had to stand outside of his room for that hour and put him back into the crib every time he climbed out).
I was beside myself again, until I remembered one of the recommendations from 6 months ago.
Turn the crib around.
When I had read this one way back when my climbing issues first came up, I totally wrote it off.
Like #1 – that will look ugly
Like, #2 – he’s not stupid, he’ll just climb out the side thats against the wall.
I was SOOO wrong.
Ok, on point #1 – its not the best look for the room, but I’m choosing function and safety over looks.
And point #2, my son is apparently not (yet) a genius. He’s trying to climb towards the door, so he’s climbing out the front of his crib, which now has a super high crib wall. The shorter wall is up against his bedroom wall, so he can’t get his arms over the side to push up like he used to.
I’m thinking this one will buy us at least a few more months, and at least he is napping again.
Safe and happy baby, sane and happy mama.
Of course the one catch with this one, is that you have to have a crib with one side that is taller than the other. If you have a crib where all the walls are the same height, then sorry, won’t work for you.
Bonus Hack #3 – Hack their Pajamas!! Sew in a strip of fabric in between their PJs to prevent their legs from being able to swing up and over the side of the rail
There is a 3rd option that I found recently that looks interesting and promising – at least for the younger babies (although I have not tried this one). I found a seller on Etsy, The Naughty Monkey, who makes these PJs that had a piece of cloth sewn between the legs, that would allow them to walk, but wouldn’t allow them to separate their legs enough for them to swing the one leg up over the side of the rail. I’m not sure it would work for my older toddler, but if you have a very young one who is starting to climb too early – looks to me like a great idea!
If you are a sewer and DIYer (as I know many of you are), would be a simple fix to sew some fabric into their existing pajamas, and give it a shot.
So there you have it folks! These hacks have so far bought me 6 months of my son staying safe in his crib. I know a time is coming soon where we will have to transition him, but he is not ready yet – and these tricks have kept him safe and sleeping well in his crib. I hope they do the same for you!
Any other great ideas or hacks, or feedback on the ideas above… please share in the comments below!