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Elizabeth Pantley
Parenting Expert

Toddler Climbing Out of Crib?

Help! My toddler keeps climbing out of his crib. What should I do?

While your child, no doubt, is thrilled with his new skill, you’re most definitely not. Your first concern is your toddler’s safety. Kids almost always figure out how to climb out of the crib before they figure out how to do it safely. So if your toddler can climb out of the crib, “it’s time to pack away the crib and move your toddler to a bed,” says Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution.

Transitioning from crib to bed can be tricky, and there’s no “right” way to do it. Some kids will make the switch with no problem; they’ll happily hop into their new bed, lie down and go right to sleep. Others will get up and down what seems like a thousand times before settling down for the night, and take several weeks before they’re fully accustomed to sleeping in a “big boy” or “big girl” bed.

There are a variety of ways to make the change. “Some toddlers enjoy planning for the big event. They love being involved in choosing a new bed and linens and helping to set it up,” Pantley says. “You can even choose an official Big-Kid Bed Day and throw a party.”

Some kids really love their cribs, though, and don’t really want to make the switch. If that’s the case, “take the crib mattress out and place it on the floor, in exactly the same place as the crib.” Pantley says. “Place guard rails around the sides to create a similar feeling of enclosure as the crib provided and to prevent him from rolling off the mattress.” The familiar mattress, bedding and location can help ease the transition.

Expect less-than-smooth sailing. Some nights (and nap times) will go well; others won’t. Keep a sense of humor and keep trying — eventually, he’ll settle in.

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Photo: Mark Lund