Most babies begin to stand independently and even walk with support at around 12 months. These developmental milestones are exciting for you and the baby, but these newly learned skills enable a toddler to climb out of the crib (1).
A toddler climbing out of the crib is a scary scenario since it could cause adverse consequences. Hence preventing a toddler from falling is imperative to ensure your toddler stays safe until they are ready to switch to a toddler’s bed.
Read on to know why a toddler tries climbing out of the crib and what you can do to prevent your toddler from falling and injuring themselves.
Why Do Toddlers Climb Out Of A Crib?
According to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, on average, 10,000 crib-related injuries occur every year among children aged two years and younger. Out of these, more than 66 percent of injuries occur due to a fall from the crib (2). So, why do toddlers climb out of their crib?
A one-year-old is a curious being who wants to explore the world around them. This inquisitiveness increases as the baby grows, which is why most toddlers between 12 and 24 months attempt climbing out of the crib. However, some babies can try climbing out of the crib as early as 12 months. Hence, you should stay alert right from when your baby begins pulling themselves up to stand and cruise with the support of furniture.
Most babies can pull themselves up to stand between nine and 12 months (3). Rapid gross motor development leads to this achievement. The baby learns to place a leg on the crib’s railing and balance their body weight on the other leg. However, at this tender age, your toddler cannot lean forward and safely pass out of the crib, increasing the chances of a slip and a fall. Therefore, observing some safety precautions is imperative.
How To Prevent A Toddler From Falling From the Crib?
Toddler’s safety and well-being are of utmost importance. The following tips could keep your toddler safe in the crib.
1. Lower the mattress
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), ”children are most likely to fall out of the crib when the mattress is raised too high for their height, or not lowered properly as they grow (4).”
Hence, lower your baby’s mattress height, preferably before or around the same time, when they are most likely to hit the milestones that enable them to climb out of the crib. Experts recommend that the gap between the mattress platform and the top of the crib railing should be at least 26 inches (5).
Go an extra mile and remove all the soft animals, toys, and baby blankets from the crib as the baby/toddler may step on them and attempt climbing out of the crib. Furthermore, ensure you place no furniture around the crib. In most cases, babies fall off the crib while trying to reach the furniture or use it to climb out of the crib.
2. Adjust crib’s position
If your baby or toddler’s crib has a side slightly higher than the other, then place the elevated side towards the room and the lower side towards the wall. It can help babies and young toddlers stay safe in the crib. This trick won’t work for those who have cribs with even sides.
3. Try a sleeping sack
Sleeping sacks wrap around bodies snuggly and prevent movement, especially legs. Hence, it’s a good idea to try a sleeping sack or wearable blanket for your toddler to prevent them from hoisting over the crib’s railing and climbing out. You can buy an age-appropriate, good quality, and comfortable sleeping sack online or from a store. If your toddler knows the trick to unzip the sleep sack, look for options that come with features that offer side or back zip.
4. Use sleep-to-wake clock
A sleep-to-wake toddler clock is a common tool to sleep-train toddlers. You can utilize the same tool to keep your toddler from climbing off the crib. A sleep-to-wake clock gives visual cues that help toddlers understand when they should get up from the crib. You can set the clock to change colors so that younger toddlers may know when they should wake up, whereas you can teach older toddlers to see and recognize the numbers indicating the time to wake up.
This trick works for older toddlers who have a basic understanding of colors and numbers. Alternatively, you can use a video monitor to catch your toddler while they are trying to climb out of the crib.
5. Discipline the toddler
Disciplining a young toddler isn’t easy, but this shouldn’t deter you from setting the expectations right. A straight and stern “no” often goes a long way if you use it right the first time when you see your toddler climbing out of the crib. Along with saying no, talk to your toddler, especially when they are a little older, and try to tell them why you don’t want them to climb out of the crib.
If, even after reminders, the toddler tries sneaking out of their crib often, don’t lose patience. Try again later. Remember, yelling or scolding a toddler could make them stubborn and rebellious. Therefore, be calm yet consistent with your approach, causing the toddler to understand the instructions eventually.
Tips To Minimize Adverse Effects Of Falling
Despite your efforts to prevent a fall, there could be instances when you might be unable to prevent a fall entirely. Therefore, you can take other steps to minimize the adverse effects of falling. Here are some tips you should follow (5).
- Don’t use crib nets to stop a toddler from climbing out of the crib, as these nets can trap toddlers and pose a threat of choking due to strangulation. Also, place the crib away from the windows. If this isn’t possible, lock the window or put a window guard.
- Remove all the furniture, especially those with fine edges from the sides of the crib. Doing so can help avert severe injuries that may occur when the toddler falls from the crib.
- Keep a firm mattress on the floor such that it surrounds the crib from all sides. This tip is beneficial for toddlers who frequently climb out of the crib, especially during the night.
- Baby-proof the room
After a fall, a toddler may wander around the room unsupervised, raising the risk of injuries. Therefore, baby-proofing the room is a good idea to ensure your toddler’s safety. Here are some things to do.
- Put corner guards on the edges of any piece of furniture or item with sharp edges in the baby’s room.
- Lock drawers and cabinets so that the toddler may not take things out, especially small items that they may accidentally ingest.
- Hide all the electrical cords and install cord-free drapery to avert any falls and accidental strangulation.
What To Do If The Baby’s Head Is Hit?
Several toddlers fall from their crib and land unhurt. But in some cases, the toddler may accidentally hit their head. In such situations, don’t panic. Instead, pay attention to your baby/toddler’s first-aid through the following steps.
- Examine their head carefully and check if there’s any scratch or cut that might be bleeding.
- If you notice bleeding, press or apply pressure over the wound gently to reduce the bleeding. Clean the wound using cotton or clean water. Bandage the wound with a clean gauge if required.
- If there’s a bump on your toddler’s head, don’t fret. It could be due to swelling, which can subside if you apply ice, ice pack, or frozen food packet to soothe the affected area.
After giving the first aid, monitor the toddler for several hours. If the child seems happy and healthy, all should be good. However, if the toddler is crying inconsolably, looking dizzy, vomiting frequently, increased sleepiness, with sudden high-grade fever or acting stranger than usual, consult your doctor promptly. These signs might indicate a possible traumatic head injury, such as a concussion (6).
Signs Your Toddler Is Ready To Switch To A Bed
A toddler climbing out of the crib isn’t the sign that they are ready to switch from a cot to a bed. While there aren’t any apparent signs indicating that the toddler is ready to transition, experts say that when a toddler easily puts their leg up to the top of the crib rail, it’s better to move to a toddler bed to prevent falls. It may happen anytime between 18 months to three and a half years or maybe a little earlier.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the most common injury due to cribs?
According to studies, the most common injury caused by falling from cribs or playpens is a soft tissue injury in the head and neck regions (7).
2. Can falling off a bed cause brain damage in babies?
According to studies, the chances of intracranial injuries or skull injuries caused by falling off a bed or other infant products are comparatively less than ICI caused by falling from one’s arms, windows, or the attic (8).
A toddler climbing out of a crib is a common phenomenon. Their innate curiosity to know the world around them is the most common reason they keep trying to get out of their crib. When a toddler climbs the crib and tries to get out, it puts them at risk of accidental injuries. However, staying alert and planning your toddler’s safety can help prevent such accidents. Avoiding crib nets, baby-proofing the room, keeping the crib free from pillows and soft toys, and lowering mattresses’ height are simple ways to keep your toddler safe and have a peaceful sleep.
Infographic: Preventing Crib Hazards
Being aware of the critical facts and information about crib safety could help lower the risk of injuries in infants and toddlers. Here is an infographic that illustrates vital points that may aid in preventing crib hazards and enabling safe sleep in toddlers.
- Between nine to 12 months, babies start pulling themselves up, increasing the risk of falling from a crib.
- For your toddler’s safety, lower the mattress to increase the length of the crib.
- Instruct your toddler not to climb on the crib and remove any toys in it for safety purposes.
- Baby proof the room, use a firm mattress, and check if they accidentally hit their head during a fall.
2. Injuries Associated With Cribs, Playpens, and Bassinets Among Young Children in the US, 1990–2008; AAP Publications
3. Milestone Checklist; CDC
4. Make Baby’s Room Safe: Parent Checklist; AAP
5. Choosing a Crib; American Academy of Pediatrics
6. Head Injuries and Children: When to Take Your Child to the Doctor; Sutter Health
7. Elaine S yeh et al.; Injuries associated with cribs, playpens, and bassinets among young children in the US, 1990-2008; National Library Of Medicine (2011)
8. P Burrows et al.; Head injury from falls in children younger than 6 years of age; PubMed Central; (2015)