Our second child is very different from our first. Our second child is almost 22 months old. Approx. 3 months ago, she mastered climbing out of the crib. She is climber for sure. After several night of attempting to keep her in the crib, we felt for her safety, the best thing to was to make the switch to a toddler bed.
The toddler bed worked great until about a week ago. Our daughter was a bit ill and was off her routine. Over the last couple of days (she is now healthy), we can't even get her into her bed. Hours of screaming to the point of throwing up. So we feel like this is not productive. But we don't want to reward her by allowing her to stay up until she passes out.
She is not old enough to negotiate or even explain why she needs to sleep. But we are exhausted to the point where my husband is sick over this.
Any advice, would be great!!
From: Jenn, Horntown, PA
Hi Jenn --
Been there, done that.
One night when my son was 18 months, I happened to get out of bed in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. There was my little guy, standing at the top of the stairs in his blue striped pj's, holding his blankie and sucking his thumb. We didn't even have the gate up at night because we thought he was safe in his crib! Hah!
Like you, we were frantic. Unlike you, I had the distinct advantage of being able to call experts around the country for their solutions. Here's what they said:
1. Waaay too young to switch to the bed. In fact -- and this was a big surprise -- child sleep experts say the best age to switch out of the crib isn't until a child is at least 3. Prior to that, children lack both the impulse control to stop themselves from getting in and out of bed 30 times over, and the cognitive skills to understand why they need to stay there.
2. Set the rails of the crib so they are as low as possible.
3. Cover the floor around the with everything you can find that is soft and cushiony -- pillows, blankets, quilts. (Each night, we gathered up couch cushions, throw pillows, down jackets -- whatever we could find.)
4. Now teach your daughter to safely climb out of the crib.
That's what we said. Didn't he just climb out?
Well, no. Our pediatrician was pretty sure he had not and, in fact, when we tried to teach him to climb, he had not a clue how to do it. Most likely, we deduced, our son had become a "crib diver" -- that is, he had plunged himself out of the crib. That's what all those pillows are for -- cushioning the fall. Or the dive. Just in case.
Of course, you also want to tell your daughter that when she is in the crib, she has to stay there. If she wants out, she needs to call for you, "Mama, out! Daddy, out!"
Contrary to what we thought -- and no doubt to what many of you are thinking right now -- teaching him to climb out of the crib did not translate to permission to do it. That doesn't compute at this age. At the very worst, teaching him to climb ensured that if he was going to do it, he would do it safely. Which seemed like a far better solution than risking a broken neck or transitioning him to a bed which, as you are discovering, is the path to nights from hell.
P.S. Once we did this, he never got out of the crib again during the night, as far as we could tell. He also stayed in the crib for at least another year.
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