5 Ways To Cope With A Crib-Jumping Toddler
by Nicole Johnson, Founder and Lead Consultant at
Ah, the crib…that cozy, snug space where your toddler spends hours sleeping peacefully each night, and napping soundly each day.
At least, that’s what the crib SHOULD be…but for many of us, the crib symbolizes all our frustrations and failures with our toddlers’ sleep. And this may be especially true for those of you who have a “crib jumper” at home. If you have a crib jumper, then you’re no doubt dealing with bedtime resistance, middle-of-the-night wake-up calls, and early-morning “explorations” of your entire house, all thanks to your toddler’s newfound ability to spring out of bed like a jack-in-the-box.
So what’s an exhausted parent to do? How can you deal with your toddler’s crib-jumping, and keep him safe, while still getting enough sleep yourself to…you know…function the next day?
5 Ways To Cope With A Crib-Jumping Toddler
First off, I want to make something clear – if your toddler is regularly performing his Houdini maneuvers and jumping out of his sleeping area, you’ll definitely want to address it and take action. Not only could your toddler be injured in the climbing process, if your child’s room isn’t completely toddler-proofed, any unsupervised time he spends wandering around his room (or around the house, for that matter) could be dangerous.
That said, let’s look at some ways that you can deal directly with the crib-jumping behavior itself.
1. Dress your toddler in a sleep sack at night. If your toddler is on the young side, and is definitely not ready to make the transition to a big-kid bed, try dressing her in a sleep sack at bedtime. This will leave her arms free, but will keep her legs enclosed, making it harder for her to get enough leverage to actually make it out of the crib. Keep in mind, though, that this technique isn’t usually a good idea for toddlers older than 2; at that point, it may be time to think about transitioning to a big kid bed.
2. Lower the crib mattress. I know – this one seems like a no-brainer. But I’ve worked with several families who solved their crib-jumping woes simply by lowering the crib mattress to its lowest setting, thereby making it impossible for their toddlers to make it over the top crib rail. Remember, as soon as your baby can pull to a standing position, you should lower the mattress to its lowest setting – but if your toddler has started escaping from the crib entirely, then it’s definitely time to lower that mattress!
3. Transition your toddler to a big-kid bed. The age to transition to a big-kid bed varies from family to family – some parents choose to make the transition as early as 18 months (especially if they have a notorious crib-jumper on their hands), while others wait until past age 3. However, I generally don’t recommend making the transition until your toddler is at least 2 years old (preferably closer to the average of 3-4 years old) as transitioning too early can make any existing sleep problems worse.
4. Treat your toddler’s room as one large sleeping area. If you have a chronic crib-jumper on your hands, it’s imperative that you immediately toddler-proof your child’s room, and take steps to ensure that your toddler can’t open his door and wander around the house unsupervised. However, if you do ultimately transition your toddler to a big-kid bed, and the jack-in-the-box behavior continues despite your best efforts, you may want to try treating your toddler’s entire room as one giant sleeping space. I’ve worked with a number of parents who’ve done this – instead of fighting the jack-in-the-box behavior, they simply let it happen, and let their toddlers wander around their (safety-proofed) rooms until they’re ready to conk out. Again, provided you have rigged the door so that your toddler cannot escape into the house, this can be a great way to diffuse the behavior. Your toddler will likely grow tired of hopping in and out of bed (especially if he’s not getting a reaction from you!). Additionally, if you know your toddler is safe in his room, you can relax and get some sleep yourself – and that alone is likely worth the work involved in toddler-proofing!
5. Address any underlying sleep challenges that may be part of the crib-jumping issues. I can’t end without making this point – I’m a sleep consultant, after all! For some parents, their toddlers’ crib-jumping is simply that – just an isolated crib-jumping problem. But for others, the crib-jumping signals an underlying sleep issue. For instance, if your toddler is routinely bouncing out of bed at bedtime, it may be that she’s simply not tired enough for sleep; toddlers who are still taking an afternoon nap, for example, usually benefit from a later bedtime. Or, if your toddler is waking in the wee hours of the morning and climbing out of the crib, that early-waking may actually be a sign of overtiredness, and it could be that you need to move bedtime up a bit earlier, or make a change to your toddler’s nap and feeding schedule.
Regardless of how you handle your toddler’s crib-jumping, know that you are not alone – I have worked with literally hundreds of families who have this exact problem! That’s one reason I created my free toddler e-Book, Toddler Sleep Secrets. It’s 100% free, and available for instant download – grab yours today, and get started on the road to better sleep for your whole family!
Thanks so much to Nicole from The Baby Sleep Site®. She has a wealth of information on all sorts of sleep issues. She has been kind enough to offer 2 free copies of her ebook
The Tired Parent’s 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep
Nicole Johnson is a married mother of two wonderful boys and owner of The Baby Sleep Site. When her eldest son was born, he had a lot of sleep problems – he would wake every one or two hours, all night long! She got busy and thoroughly researched literature and scientific reports until she became an expert in sleep methods, scheduling routines, baby developmental needs, and more. She overcame her son’s sleeping issues in a way that matched her own parenting style, and knew it was her mission to help other tired parents “find their child’s sleep”. If you have your own sleep issues, Nicole and her team at The Baby Sleep Site® can help!