Things That Go Bump in the Night: Is Your Toddler Climbing Out of Bed?
The only protection you have is to lower the mattress if you have not already done so. Put it at the lowest section and use this rearrangement as a time to reassess the stability of the crib by checking for loose hardware. Ensure that you don’t leave anything in the crib that can be used as a prop, and definitely move it away from windows or other pieces of furniture. Your crib should also be free of horizontal slats or decorative cut outs that can be used as foot holds. If your toddler gets out of the crib with the mattress at the lowest setting, then lower the rails and at least make their escape a safe one.
The other choice is to purchase any of the tent-like apparatuses that are designed to fit like a ceiling on the crib and prevent climbing. These may work for a while, but a determined child may be entangled or hurt more seriously when using one of these.
Obviously, parents do not want a toddler wandering around the house at all hours of the night. You can lock their doors if you feel safe doing so from the outside to ensure that they don’t leave the room. Instruct them to call for you on a baby monitor or if your room is close to theirs by using their mom voice. Be warned, toddlers should never be able to lock their doors from the inside! Use a high latching lock that doesn’t use a key so you will have quick access from the outside of the door.
For parents who feel that this isn’t right, you can use baby gates and other barricades to make sure that if they do get up they are safe. Chances are once they start climbing out of their crib, there is no turning back to it. You may be able to buy some time by letting your child sleep in a playpen or pack and play that offers higher walls than their crib. If you still feel like they need the ‘security’ of the crib and are not ready for the transition into the big kid bed, you may consider moving their crib into your bedroom for safety’s sake.
One trick that may work as a last resort is to put the crib mattress on the floor. Many cribs adjust down but still have 6-8 inches underneath them. If the mattress is thick enough, you can place the mattress on the floor and the height should be ample to prevent them from monkeying around, literally!
Climbing out of bed is definitely a rite of toddler passage. Look at it as an opportunity and maybe even a way to sneak in a few extra minutes of sleep. Instead of screaming and hollering for mom or dad to come get them, they can sneak out of bed, snuggle with you and maybe even go back to sleep for a while! The bottom line is that making their sleeping arrangement and their waking up situation as safe as possible should be your goal! While they can get hurt seriously climbing out of a crib, they can also be seriously injured in the home unattended! Use whatever resources you have available to make this transition a good and safe one.