When my son was 14 months old, he started to show signs of climbing. I got a little worried and checked how other moms handled the situation and realized most of them continued to let their toddlers sleep in the crib. I didn’t dare because the fall from the crib was long. After researching a few methods, I found the best solution that worked for me.
The best way is to let him sleep on the floor. Use a mattress or floor bed and place some baby fence to make his sleeping place. If you don’t want your toddler on the floor, lower the crib mattress level and put some floor paddings beside the bed to dampen the fall if your toddler climbs out.
The main concern of them climbing out of the crib is that the fall can injure them, so why not just eliminate the cause of concern and let them sleep on the floor? The benefits of sleeping on the floor are many, and I will share everything I’m doing. It has been working very well so far.
Evaluate if the crib is still suitable
Before we go into the methods of handling the little climbers, it’s better to evaluate if the crib is still suitable for your toddler.
- The first thing to check is the height of your toddler VS the depth of the crib. If your toddler’s chest is already above the crib’s railing, then the crib is no longer suitable because very soon, he can accidentally tumble out, not to mention easily climbing out of it.
- Does the crib have footing for him to climb? If yes, it’s probably no longer suitable for toddlers. If he missteps and falls as he tries as he uses those footing, it can be dangerous as it can injure his head or his jaw.
- If you notice your toddler frequently knocks himself around the crib, it is a sign that the crib is getting too small for him.
If any of those are true, consider replacing the crib with my suggestions below, starting with sleeping on the floor.
5 Benefits for toddlers to sleep on a floor bed
Sleeping on the floor bed is a great way to prevent falls altogether. You don’t have to worry about your toddler falling and injuring himself if he sleeps on the floor. There’s nothing for him to climb if you childproof the room, and I’ll cove
To prepare the sleeping area, get a mattress or two, some fence if you want, add all the other stuff you would put inside the crib, and you’re ready to go. It’s cheap and easy to set up! First, let’s cover the benefits of sleeping on the floor that is hard to get otherwise.
1. It’s easy to sleep with your toddler if he is on the floor
Most toddlers want their parents to accompany them when they sleep, and it isn’t easy to do so if they are sleeping in the crib. Sometimes you may be tempted to climb into the crib, but I strongly advise you not to do it. Cribs are not made to hold adult weight. I’ve written an entire article on it here, and please read it before you climb in.
You can custom make the bed to fit the size you want when you’re on the floor. This is what I made for my son, I combined two mattresses, and it’s big enough to fit my husband and me, plus our boy. We installed the fence because my husband didn’t want him to roll out of the crib and land on the hard floor.
Every night I will accompany him until he falls asleep, then I’ll leave the room. Some days when he is super cranky or when I’m exhausted, I’ll sleep beside him, something I could not do before when he slept in the crib.
2. It is safe because they cannot fall from a high place like a crib
Even if they climb the fence, the fall is a lot shorter than falling from a crib. This is the main reason why I opted out of the crib. Also, since the fence is shorter, it’s easier for them to land on their feet if they manage to escape. I plan to add some floor paddings beside the fence, so he doesn’t knock his head if he fails to land on his feet.
3. You save money from not buying a crib
You probably already have a crib if you’re reading this, but consider this for your second child or if you need to buy another crib. A crib can cost anywhere from $100 to $1,000, which is a lot of money you can save up if you let him sleep on the floor.
If you already have a crib and want to let your toddler sleep on the floor, consider selling the crib at eBay or Craigslist. The crib will not last long anyway, as you will soon need to transition to a toddler bed.
4. It’s easier to transition to a bed later.
My son is not old enough to transition to a bed yet, but I learned this from other parents. Transitioning from a crib to a bed can be extremely difficult. Still, toddlers who sleep on the floor tend to have an easier time transitioning to the bed, likely because they are already used to the wider area or used to sleeping on floor beds.
I’m not sure if I’ll buy him a toddler bed because I can’t see a reason why he can’t continue to sleep where he’s sleeping now. Maybe I’ll buy him a floor bed later.
5. It is taught in Montessori
We must give the child an environment that he can utilize by himself: a little washstand of his own, a bureau with drawers he can open, objects of common use that he can operate, a small bed in which he can sleep at night under an attractive blanket he can fold and spread by himself. We must give him an environment in which he can live and play; then we will see him work all day with his hands and wait impatiently to undress himself and lay himself down on his own bed.Maria Montessori
If you’re into Montessori, sleeping on the floor is an excellent way to practice it. When your toddler is free to roam around his room, he can practice what Maria Montessori spoke about. Toddlers sleeping in cribs do not have this freedom. Make sure you childproof your room, something I’ll cover later.
I highly recommend that you childproof your toddler’s room if you intend to let him sleep on the floor. He will eventually roam around the room, and you need to keep him safe. I’ve written a very detailed article on how to childproof your house, you can read it here.
5 ways to prevent your toddler from climbing out of the crib
If you still prefer to use a crib, let’s see how we can handle the situation when your toddler starts to climb out of it.
1. Lower the mattress level of the crib
The first thing you can do is lower the mattress level of the crib. Most cribs have this option, though I don’t suggest that you lower the mattress to the lowest level when your baby is still young.
The lower the mattress level, the harder it will be for you to pick up or put down your baby/toddler because you need to bend down more, and you may injure your back. This method can only delay the inevitable, though; eventually, the problem will come back.
Watch this video to get an idea of how to lower the mattress level, and it should apply to most cribs in the market.
2. Remove things that he can use as a booster
Take away the toys, pillows, and any other things he can use as a booster. A booster is support that he can step on to give him footing to climb out. Most cribs use straight bars as a countermeasure to climbing, but if your crib has boosters at the side of the crib, see if you can remove them.
Don’t forget any boosters on the headboard and footboard. Some cribs have many toys or features that can act as a booster.
Remove any nearby furniture from the crib. Some toddlers are attracted to furniture, like my son. He has conquered most of the chairs at home and is now advancing to climbing small tables. If you have furniture beside the crib, it can encourage them to climb on it and then climb down.
3. Create a safe landing area for your toddler
If your toddler successfully climbs out of his crib, he will mostly try to land on his feet. Failing that, he may land on his bum, but the chances of him knocking his head are still too high, in my opinion.
A mattress to catch his fall is probably the best but expensive. Playmats with sufficient padding are a cheap and good idea. I generally would not use cushions of any kind because if your baby lands on his feet, it can give way or make it difficult for him to stand and cause him to fall.
Some parents use plush rugs, which I think it’s a good idea too. Just make sure you don’t put any furniture beside to try to catch him with it. As mentioned above, it will only encourage them to climb up and down.
4. Move the crib or turn it around
Some cribs have 1 side lower than others to help you pick up and put down your toddler easier. If your crib is like that, then the taller end is likely facing the wall. Turn your crib around or move it so that the shorter side faces a wall and the taller side faces out. It is a temporary measure, but you’ll have some extra time before you need to remove the crib.
5. Switching to the bed
I checked with other moms who successfully moved over to a toddler bed between 18 and 24 months. These are some common things they advise.
- Find a low bed, as close to the floor as possible. (Similar to what I talked about above, sleeping on the floor via mattress or floor bed, only that they use a low bed instead)
- Start to use the new bed for nap times, and continue with the crib at night until they are fully comfortable with the bed.
- Use the same mattress if possible, and bring over his toys and blankets, the lesser things that are new the better. (I transitioned my son from crib to the floor without any issues using this method)
- They will roll out of the bed, that’s why you want a low bed, and put him back when he rolls out. (Sleeping on the floor reduces the risk of falling out of the bed and injuring himself)
- Stay positive and give it a month or two, transitioning from crib to bed can be challenging.
Should I start with sleeping on the floor? I won’t do that; babies prefer confined spaces. Without tight boundaries, the place can feel too wide and scary. It’s better to start with the crib and later transition to the floor or a toddler bed. Another point, newborns need a lot of attention at night. You don’t want to step on them accidentally, so please let them start with the crib.
Should I start with sleeping on the bed? Like starting on the floor, I don’t recommend it because of the wide area. Also, if your newborn falls from the crib, it’s going to be very dangerous. Just start with the crib and later transition to the bed.