Monday, January 4, 2016

Tips to Keep your Toddler in the Crib

I often get calls from parents in a panic as their toddler has discovered a new
freedom … jumping out of their cribs! 

Their first reaction is to immediately move the child to a toddler bed.  If there is a sleep issue already occurring the extra freedom of a toddler bed will likely make the sleep issue worse as now they can get out of bed and their room.

If you are not ready to make the move to a bed, here are some tips I share with my clients to prevent a child from jumping out of their cribs and hopefully delay the transition to a bed for a bit longer.

Dress appropriately

Dress the child in clothing that limits or prevents lifting the leg up the railing.  A long t-shirt can work.  A sleep sack, put on backwards so the zipper is in the back, is very helpful.  You can also make pajamas to limit or restrict the legs just enough so that the child can’t lift it up the railing - very effective!

Catch them in the act

If you have a video monitor, you can watch the child and as soon as you see the leg
go up, enter the room and say “No jump, NOT SAFE” in a forceful voice.  Sometimes just getting caught and told to stop, a few times is enough to end the attempts.  If consistent for a few nights, the toddler will get bored and hopefully stop.

Lower the crib mattress, even lower

Make sure the crib is at the lowest setting to the ground.  Depending on the style of your crib, you may be able to drop the mattress to the floor – if you decide it is safe and there is no gap between the mattress and the crib frame.

Remove all items

Be sure to remove all items such as stuffed animals and the bumpers.  Keep only a small, safe security blanket in the crib.  Depending on the style of your crib frame -turn the crib around, so the back rail (if higher) is facing front.  Some frames will work better if put in the corner of the room.  I have seen some very creative 'fixes' on the internet to prevent children from climbing.  If you do find one that you feel is safe, please consult with your child's doctor to confirm they agree it is a good option.

I recommend, if you can, to delay moving a child to a toddler bed until at least the age of 2 ½ year old.  This is the earliest that most children have the cognitive ability to understand “stay in your bed quietly all night”.  

I do agree that crib jumping is a safety issue but so is the freedom of a toddler bed.  Imagine all dangers in the room from the electrical outlets to furniture.  Some child find the freedom overwhelming and become very upset with this much freedom when alone.  I always recommend a gate at the child's door to keep the child in the room, as it is scary to think of a toddler that roam the house alone at night.

In closing, try to wait as long as possible before moving a child to a bed.  The ideal age is when the toddler is over 3 years old.  Look for next blog where I will discuss how to avoid common mistakes when it is time to move a child over 3 years of age to a bed.

Sweet Dreams!
Written By: Michelle S. Donaghy