I work with many parents whose young toddlers or babies begin to climb out of the crib. Scared that they’re going to hurt themselves, parents quickly move their child to a “big kid bed”. I wanted to write this blog post because many children are not physically or emotionally ready for a big bed until they are at least 2 ½ years old. So, instead of immediately moving them out of the crib, I wanted to write a post about what you can do before moving them, if they’re beginning to climb out.
Step 1: If your child is in a crib that has one side higher than the other (a sleigh crib, etc. it’s usually the side that you would push against the wall), turn the crib around so that the taller side is on the outside and the shorter side of the crib is now against the wall.
Step 2: lower the mattress of the crib all the way to the floor, the mattress will still be securely pinned against the sides of the crib, but it will now be even lower, on the floor. This helps you gain about 8 inches of depth, making it harder for your child to climb out.
Step 3: Buy a toddler sleep sack. They have them in various sizes and fabrics, and it makes it difficult for them to climb out because they can’t hoist their leg over the side like they could if they were in a crib in their pajamas.
I suggest trying these 3 things before parents go out and buy a new bed for their child, or before they convert the crib into a toddler bed. I have seen many instances where a child that was sleeping just fine in the crib, begins waking up frequently in the night when they're able to get out easily from their new bed. Toddlers like the security of the crib, they often sleep better when they feel cozy in the 4-sided crib. I suggest waiting until they are at the very least 2 ½ before making the switch, usually if parents wait until kids are 3 years-old they have a much easier time making the transition. If you are planning on sleep coaching your toddler and they're in a big bed, it may be more difficult than it would be if they were in a crib because many do not understand "big boy" or "big girl" bedtime rules. Remember that moving your child back into the crib is not a "regression", they may simply not be ready to make the move. Give it time, be patient, and when they're ready and old enough, make the move into the new bed.
The crib should look something like this: