What To Do When Your Baby Climbs Out of the Crib - Baby Chick
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What To Do When Your Baby Climbs Out of the Crib

A toddler climbing out of the crib is a scary time as you constantly worry about their safety, but it's helpful to know what you can do.

Updated May 21, 2024

by Stefanie Miller

Medically reviewed by Melissa Hardy

Pediatrician, Breastfeeding Medicine Specialist, IBCLC
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Safety is an essential part of your child’s life. As they become more mobile, you must take extra steps to ensure their safety and well-being. This is especially true when it comes to their crib. There will come a time when you will blink, and your tiny baby is a walking, talking toddler. The older they get, the more they want to explore the world around them. Naturally, that curiosity can lead to your toddler climbing out of their crib. With this new development, knowing what to do is helpful, like when to lower the crib and how to keep them safe.

When Do Babies Start Climbing Out of the Crib?

Babies can start climbing out of the crib once they learn to pull themselves up to standing. For most kids, that is when they are around 9-11 months old. However, this varies from child to child, and some will not develop this skill until they are about one. Some babies start trying to climb out of their crib when they are a little older, between 1 and 2 years old. Still others will never attempt to climb out. No matter if they have tried yet or not, you can take certain steps to prevent injury.1,2

Why Is My Toddler Climbing Out of the Crib?

The main reason your baby is suddenly climbing out of their crib is curiosity. Babies and toddlers are naturally curious and will take matters into their own hands to explore their world. Sometimes, this can mean escaping their crib.3

Between 12 and 18 months, children are learning how to move about independently. You no longer need to carry them around all the time, so it is an exciting time for them. They can run, walk, jump, and climb. With their curious nature, it is normal for them to test boundaries. All you can do is make sure they are safe.4,5

What To Do When Your Toddler Climbs Out of the Crib

Here are some things you can do to keep your toddler safe, whether they are climbing out of their crib.

Lower the Crib Mattress

Beautiful little girl standing up in a crib in a cozy light room in a sweater of fashionable shades. learns to stand at the support. cheerful little girl standing in the crib at home

Chances are the mattress position in their crib is too high. This makes it easier for them to climb out of the crib. If they stand, lower the mattress to its lowest setting. Lowering the crib may make it more difficult for them to get out of it. If they can still climb out even at its lowest setting, you can put the mattress on the ground or with some foam blocks underneath to ensure it doesn’t slip out from underneath the crib.7

Switch to a Toddler Bed

Top view of curious newborn baby lying in crib and looking at camera, panorama

Depending on your child’s age and height, they may be ready to transition to a toddler bed.6 The closer they are to age 3 when you switch to a toddler bed, the better. However, some kids are ready younger. The level of independence that they can handle determines whether a toddler bed is safe for your child. Things to consider include how easily they can get out of their room and, if they did, how safe it would be for them around the home. If they can open their door on their own, one option is to put up a baby gate just outside their door. However, the benefit of a toddler bed is it is closer to the floor, preventing possible falls and injuries your toddler could experience from climbing out of the crib.8,9

Use a Sleep Sack

Little girl wearing a sleep sack while she stands up in her white crib.

Sleep sacks and swaddles are used for safe sleep for infants. But did you know there are larger sizes of sleep sacks for toddlers? They are completely safe for your toddler to use while preventing them from being able to climb out of their crib. Sleep sacks for toddlers keep their arms out but cover their bodies and legs. The benefit of this is that they cannot use their legs and feet to climb out of the crib, and they have a built-in blanket to keep them warm. Some toddlers still like the feeling of the sleep sack hugging their body, and it also helps them sleep better.10

Toddler-Proof the Room

If you have not already, ensure your little one’s room is safe if they escape the crib at night. This includes covering electrical sockets, anchoring furniture to the walls, and keeping anything unsafe out of reach. Here are some more ways to childproof:1

How To Keep a Toddler in the Crib

You are likely wondering what steps you can take to keep your baby in the crib. Here are some helpful suggestions for you to try at home.

Move the Crib

Many cribs have shorter rails to make it easier to reach your child. You can reposition the crib, such as turning it 180 degrees. This can make it so your toddler can’t use that rail to climb out of their crib, and the taller rail is in the front.6

Remove Items

Make sure there are no items in the crib, such as pillows or toys, that your toddler can use as a way to give them a boost. Kids are clever and will use any means necessary to complete a task.11

Stay Calm

The hardest and most important thing is not to overreact. A big display of emotions may have the opposite effect you are looking for when keeping your toddler in the crib. They may keep doing it for the attention. When they climb out of their crib, calmly pick them up and put them back in the crib, saying something like, “We don’t climb out of cribs.” Use some of the techniques to prevent them from climbing out and continue setting firm and calm boundaries. Toddlers thrive on routine and boundaries!11

Use a Sleep Training Clock

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Even though your little one can’t tell time yet, there are special okay-to-wake clocks for toddlers that help them learn the right time to get up each day. Many use colors or just one number so they know when it’s the right time to wake up. Hopefully, this will prevent them from climbing out of the crib, giving you time to get to them each morning.11

We know that your baby climbing out of the crib is scary as you constantly worry about their safety. Knowing what steps to take to prevent it is essential. We hope you find these tips helpful, but remember, this is a phase in your child’s development that will pass.

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Stefanie is a stay-at-home mom turned freelance writer who enjoys writing about baby names. She studied Early Childhood Education for two years. Stefanie loves knitting, curling up with a good… Read more

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