Sunday, May 1, 2011

Crib Climber...What To Do?

My 20 month-old decided to make an already stressful week (we move in four days) even more eventful by climbing out of his crib this weekend. This occurrence has pushed this already on edge mama over the brink.

Why so anxiety-ridden about my boy taking the plunge, you ask? Here is the background: My son is such a good sleeper…he still takes two naps a day at 20 months old (each one averaging 1.5-2 hours, sometimes longer.) And to boot, he still goes down for bed at 7 p.m. and sleeps until 7 a.m. (Do you hate me yet? Don’t worry…my first child was not a sleeper, so I was due for one!) When my daughter started climbing out of her crib (at 22 months), that was the end of naps for us. The freedom of roaming her room was too much for her, and from there on out, naps were a struggle. By two-and-a-half years of age, my daughter stopped napping completely. This CANNOT happen again. I don’t think it will since my son loves to sleep, but I can’t risk it. Naptime is too precious!

However, I know that it is much safer to have a toddler walking around a baby-proofed room than it is climbing out of a crib and possibly falling. What to do, what to do? While researching online, here is some advice I found that was a good refresher for me and helpful on deciding what to do:

- If your child is old enough to understand “you must stay in your bed,” then explain this concept to your child. Every time he gets out of his bed, put him right back in it. This may make for some long nights at first, or some challenging naptimes, but your consistency will pay off.

- Try not to speak or interact with your child as you put them back in their bed. Sometimes children even appreciate negative attention, so minimum contact is essential.

- If you know your child is not ready for a big bed or toddler, then consider a crib tent. A crib tent is mesh and attaches to the crib rails with Velcro, to keep your little one safe and unable to climb out of the crib and fall.

- Again, if you feel your child is not ready to move out of the crib, then buy yourself some more time by lowering your crib to the lowest setting possible. Remove the bumper pad so your baby cannot use it to boost herself up over the rails.

My favorite piece of advice I found when researching tonight was from Jodi Mithchell, Pediatric Sleep Expert, found on the popular website, Baby Center. She said, “It's best not to react to climbing out of the crib with a sense of crisis. First, assess the situation and see if you and your child are truly ready for a change.”

Amen! I think I rushed too fast to put my daughter in a big girl bed when she climbed out the crib for the first time. I am going to access the situation this week and decide what we need to do to keep our boy both safe and sleeping.

So go with your gut, parents! You know your child best and you will know if it is time for him or her to move to a toddler bed or big girl/big boy bed.

Oh, and FYI: when we put our baby to bed for nap today, he tried a few times to climb out of his crib, and we went in and firmly put him back in the crib, and he finally went to sleep, sleeping for over two hours. Tonight at bedtime, we didn’t hear a peep out of him. He didn’t even try to climb out! I am sure the saga will continue this week, but for now, we are going to try to keep him (safely) in his crib.

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