July 02, 2015

Q: My 16-month-old has been climbing out of his crib during nap time. He has learned how to climb from his 3-year-old brother, who is climbing on play equipment, etc. Now my youngest is getting up at 4 am, climbing onto a nearby coffee table, and getting out. I don't want to pull the table away, as he may seriously injure himself with a fall. We are considering doing away with the crib all together. Any ideas?

A: Dealing with a climber is definitely challenging.  You want him to be safe, but there is just as much safety concern about a little one being up and about when everyone else is sleeping.  Also, he is too young to understand that he needs to stay within the boundaries of a bed.  To discourage his climbing, be sure that his mattress is at the lowest possible setting, remove all toys in the crib that he can use to help climb, and remove the coffee table.  Put a bunch of pillows or cushions around the crib in case he does fall.  In addition, try to catch him the moment he starts climbing and say, “No climbing!”  Many kids will give up rather quickly.   If you are going to consider letting him roam, lower or remove one side of the crib rather than switching him to a bed.  Please note that crib tents, which we used to recommend to keep little ones snug in their cribs, were recently discontinued because of safety concerns.

Answered by Dr. Jodi Mindell