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Keep Your Baby From Climbing Out of the Crib With These Proven Tips

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Inside: Wondering how to keep your baby from climbing out of the crib? Tackle this frustrating – and potentially dangerous – problem by trying these twelve ideas. We are sure you’ll find one in this list that will help with your unique baby ninja.

“She keeps climbing out of her crib! Every.single.night. It’s driving me CRAZY. We’ve tried everything we can think of, and we’re so exhausted, we just want to give up.”

My closest friend vented to me about her baby’s newfound monkey-like abilities to scramble over the crib bars in ten seconds flat. 

This was back in the day when crib tents were just becoming a thing. And also when crib tents became notorious for failing in horrifying ways (maybe don’t google it).

So no crib tents, thank you very much.

At the time, I had no advice to offer. My older two kiddos never attempted climbing out their cribs, and my third baby seemed to love being IN his crib more than being OUT of his crib.

But looking back, I am CERTAIN that if this has been my problem? I would have been frustrated as heck, scouring the internet for answers from seasoned moms.

That’s why I decided to do it for you: all the frustrated, exhausted parents of baby ninjas everywhere. 

(Or the parents who just discovered this pesky little problem last night and are frantically googling over their morning coffee: “how do I keep my baby from climbing out of their crib?!”)

I hope one of these solutions for stopping your baby from climbing out of their crib will give you some much-needed relief.

baby in crib, holding crib bars, thinking about climbing out of the crib

At What Age Do Babies Start Climbing Out of Their Cribs?

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Somewhere between 12 and 24 months, there is a good chance that your baby will start climbing out of the crib – or at least attempt it.

This is such a huge stage for both mental and physical growth and development, the perfect recipe for both amazing and frustrating new skills to emerge.

For some advanced kiddos, this behavior can begin as early as 10 or 11 months old, so it’s a good idea to make plans NOW for how to keep baby in their crib.

We as parents know that our baby is exhausted and needs to sleep (or else: cranky day tomorrow). But around this age, they start to have other ideas, like adventure!

Whether you just put your baby down and they decide it’s time to explore, instead of sleep, or if they don’t want to wait around for you to come get them, there is a good chance that you will experience your baby climbing out of the crib soon enough.

So what’s a parent to do?

baby standing up in crib with low bars, looking dangerously close to climbing out of the crib

Why You Want to Stop Your Baby From Climbing Out of the Crib

We all laugh at America’s Funniest Videos episodes of sneaky babies cleverly finding their way out of their cribs time after time much to their parent’s chagrin. 

(Thank you, baby video monitors for capturing these amazing moments for our entertainment. Yay, technology!)

But the only reason we find these stunts amusing is because we know that baby is doing just fine after their little escape artist act. After the fact, we know that there was no real danger.

Unfortunately, that is not the case when it is our own child climbing out of the crib, especially when that child is STILL A BABY. 

Let’s do a quick run down of what we’re trying to prevent:

  • hitting their heads on the way down,
  • falling at just the wrong angle and breaking a bone, 
  • or getting their hands and mouth on some small choking hazard.

While there is a good chance that your little Houdini will be o.k. more times than not once they learn how to climb out of the crib, it is STILL a good idea to be proactive.

Here are the best tips to help you get started right away!

You Might Also Like: Baby Suddenly Hates Diaper Changes? 9 Practical Things You Can Do

baby playing with cushion, having managed to climb out of his crib

9 Proven Ideas to Keep Baby From Climbing Out of the Crib 

You actually don’t need to buy a ton of contraptions to stop your baby from climbing out of the crib. 

As I’ve already mentioned, things like crib tents (sometimes called “crib nets”) are pretty unsafe.

So what alternatives are there? I have nine ideas for you that parents swear by!

(Note: My friend found #’s 1,2 ,3, 5 & 6 the most helpful, especially the clock.)

1. Lower the mattress to the lowest setting.

Make sure the mattress is relatively thin, and that the crib is on the lowest setting possible in the crib. 

This will obviously make it more difficult for your baby to climb out. Yay!

Traditional cribs come with multiple height settings that you can adjust pretty easily with a wrench and a few minutes after removing the crib mattress.

For some cribs you can even go a step further and place the mattress directly onto the floor. 

If you want to try this option, make sure there is NO space between the mattress and the crib slats or the bottom rung around the base of the crib. 

If there is any space at all, you will need to settle for the lowest mattress setting on the crib instead.

2. Turn the crib around.

Most (not all but most) cribs are higher on one side. 

Though it DOES make it tougher to reach in and tend to your baby with the high side facing you, it can also prevent a lot of crib-climb-outs. Worth it!

Once your crib is at the lowest mattress setting, further prevent your baby from climbing out of the crib by turning it around so that the highest rail faces out.

crib with mattress lowered all the way to keep baby from climbing out

3. Remove furniture from nearby the crib.

Babies are extremely clever with the methods they come up with to climb out of their cribs. 

They’re not okay with being held captive or being forced to rest once they start to wake up to all the amazing things there are to explore.

(I mean, would you be?)

Your baby can quickly learn to use any piece of furniture pushed up against the crib to help them climb right out, on to their next adventure!

So take your baby-proofing to the next level and remove the furniture that is nearby the crib.

If your nursery is a bit small, consider removing furniture altogether. A low dresser can double as a changing table. 

4. Make sure the crib is free from extra items.

I’m sure you know that having just about anything in your baby’s crib can be a suffocation risk before they are one-year-old. 

But there’s a high likelihood that if your baby is climbing out of the crib (or even attempting to) they are past that age. So you might have a pillow, blankets, stuffed animals, or more in bed with your little one. 

Try keeping those extra items in the bed from none to very little. Perhaps a small blanket and favorite toy only.

If you must offer a pillow, make it a flat one. 

Your baby can use just about anything in the crib as a tool to stand on and get them closer to their goal: freeeedommm!

5. Talk to your baby about staying in the crib.

O.k. Don’t roll your eyes just yet. 

This could be a valid option, depending on your baby’s age.

Your baby might not have a huge spoken vocabulary yet (or any at all) but that doesn’t mean they can’t understand you.

Most toddlers are capable of understanding and following basic two-step tasks. 

So you could actually sit down and have a chat with your baby to encourage them to stay in their crib.

Explain what can happen if they try to climb out of their crib and tell them you’ll come to get them when it’s time. This is a chat you will probably need to have again and again to enforce.

5. Try an OK To Wake Clock.

There are actually some really cool sleep-training clocks for babies and toddlers out there. 

I truly detest anything with “training” in the description because ya know, these are human beings we’re raising, not animals. 

But I digress.

Let’s step away from how the general public uses them for a second and consider another use: letting your baby or toddler know when you are going to come get them. 

The most effective ones are THIS Little Hippo Sleep Trainer and the Ok To Wake Clock (we used this one in the past and liked it). 

These can be set for any length of time that you want your child to nap from 5 minutes to 2 hours and turns a dull yellow with a sleeping face when it is time to be asleep.

When it is time to be awake (and then ok to come out of the crib) the clock lights up green with a cute little awake face on it.

It also works for nighttime sleep and has lots of other helpful features like white noise and various colored night lights. 

Just be sure to set yourself a timer, too, so that you will definitely be there when the light turns green. Lest they get any ideas that green means it’s cool to climb out if you don’t show up.

baby sitting in crib holding baby monitor listening to parent encouraging her to stay in her crib

6. Talk to your baby about staying in the crib.

O.k. Don’t roll your eyes just yet. 

This could be a valid option, depending on your baby’s age.

Your baby might not have a huge spoken vocabulary yet (or any at all) but that doesn’t mean they can’t understand you.

Most toddlers are capable of understanding and following basic two-step tasks. 

So you can actually sit down and encourage them to stay in their crib.

Explain what can happen if they try to climb out of their crib (stick with just generic “ouchies”) and tell them you’ll come to get them when it’s time.

This is a chat you will probably need to have multiple times, but it can be effective depending on your baby’s personality.

7. Remove any distractions.

If your baby’s room is also their playroom it might be time to rethink your toy storage. 

It can be really tough to stay in your crib when you are eyeing something really interesting through those bars.

Try removing any toys or distractions from your baby’s room and making it primarily a sleeping room to encourage staying in their crib.

If you must keep toys in their room (we understand baby stuff in small spaces over here), keep them in a storage ottoman, or closet, or somewhere else out of sight.

Related: How to Organize Baby Stuff in a Small Space (from a mom who did it)

8. Try a sleep sack.

A sleep sack can motivate your baby to stay in their crib. By removing the ability to lift their leg as high, the simple thing can help to keep your baby within the confines of their crib.

It also helps them feel more safe and secure, and they will eventually associate it with rest time. Routines for the win!

However, for some babies that are really amazing at climbing this can be a danger as they can’t catch themselves quite as well when they do climb out. 

You know your baby best and can decide if this is a great or not-so-great solution.

9. Drop a nap.

Are they consistently climbing out during a particular nap during the day? Not sleeping during that nap at.all?

They might be ready to drop that particular nap.

Now, if it’s their only nap of the day, yeah, probably not a good idea. But if you are on a two-nap routine, and they are NOT having that morning nap, you might need to push that nap back and group it into one long nap.

Not sold on this idea? Just try it!

See how they behave the rest of the day with just a nap. Maybe push their bedtime up an hour if they’re WAY cranky, but bedtime is still two hours away. 

All behavior is communication. They might truly be done with that nap: it’s your job to listen to them and adjust your schedule to accommodate more awake time or a longer middle of the day nap.

toddler bed as crib alternative for baby

If All of These Fail, And Baby Won’t Stop Climbing Out of the Crib, What Else Can You Do?

Even if you follow every single one of these tips some babies are natural-born escape artists. Those adorable little problem-solvers!

There are a few preventative measures you can take just in case your baby does find a way to climb out of their crib.

You can…

1. Place an extra crib mattress on the floor. 

If by chance, baby does find a way out one day, this will break their fall. 

It doesn’t have to be huge or expensive if you don’t have an extra in the house. A nice crib-sized memory foam mattress will do the trick even better than an expensive innerspring one. 

Even a memory foam crib topper will do the trick in a pinch if your budget or storage is limited.

Side Note: If you choose this option, consider putting a baby gate in the doorway and leaving the door slightly ajar. That way, your baby/toddler can open the door and call to you over the gate (and hopefully make them less interested in unwanted mischief-making).

2. Fully baby proof the room.

Make sure the room is fully baby-proofed so that your little one won’t be able to access anything dangerous if they do manage to escape from their crib.

Things like..

  • Use outlet plugs (even better: have furniture in front of them)
  • Remove anything with small pieces
  • Keep creams or lotions out of reach

You can also consider purchasing a video baby monitor, if you haven’t already.

Back in the day, we did survive without a video baby monitor, but…for situations like this one, it would be nice to have.

If you have a little ninja, you can hopefully use the video baby monitor to catch them in the act and encourage them to stay put while you run to their room. 

Related: The Top 5 Baby Proofing Ideas You Should Actually Take Seriously

3. Consider switching them to a toddler bed. 

Most children switch to a toddler bed sometime between 18 months and 3 years old

If they are constantly escaping their crib or seem to be generally unhappy and not getting good rest while confined consider if it may be time to transition your baby to the “big kid bed” like THIS one.

baby putting arms over crib bars with mom standing behind on the opposite side of the crib

Hang In There! The Crib Ninja Days Won’t Last Forever

Babies climbing out of cribs can be so stressful in the moment, especially if you struggle with anxiety, like I do. 

It’s right up there with potty training and weaning. 

I mean, dangit, cribs are supposed to give you a little peace of mind, you know? Baby sleeps in peace, you get some (o.k., a little) peaceful sleep, too. 

I know that every older parent says this, so it can get super annoying, but it’s true: this, too, shall pass…eventually. 

You will figure out something that works for your baby, and you’ll move on to worrying about potty training, or something equally aggravating.

Here’s to you figuring out how to handle your own little ninja, one escape at a time.

P.S. My friend said the O.k. to Wake Clock, lowering the mattress to the lowest setting, turning the crib around and several conversations made a world of difference!

Read Next: 10 Easy Ways to Toddler-Proof Your Christmas Decorations

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