How to Keep Toddler in Crib (and Keep Your Sanity)

Is your toddler constantly climbing out of his crib? Here are our best tips for "how to keep toddler in crib" to save your sanity and keep your kiddo safe!

Is your toddler constantly climbing out of his crib? When my son first climbed out of his bed (at 8 months old!) and tumbled to the floor, I starting searching the internet for “how to keep toddler in crib” to save my sanity and help keep my kiddo safe!

As a parent, I do not look forward to transitioning to a toddler bed. I don’t want him getting out of his bed a million times or climbing the walls. He’s a tricky one, that boy.

Currently, my son is 2.5-years old, and guess what? He is still in his crib. Success!

Keep reading for to learn the secrets I’ve discovered for how to keep your toddler in his crib… for the sake of your sanity and his safety!

(Note: This post contains affiliate links. See affiliate disclaimer at the bottom of the page.)

How to Keep Toddler in Crib: Make it Impossible to Climb

How to Keep Toddler in Crib (and Keep Your Sanity): Make it Impossible to Climb

The best advice I found for how to keep your toddler in a crib was to make it difficult/impossible for him to climb out of the crib.

This can be as easy as moving the crib mattress to the lowest possible position. However, as I learned with my 8 month old, that doesn’t always do the trick.

As I said, when my son was 8 months old, barely pulling himself to a stand, he tumbled his way right out of his crib and onto the floor. In the 2 minutes it took me to get from my bedroom to his, SMACK! He had hit the floor and started screaming. I was horrified! The worst part was he was already on the lowest setting for his crib mattress! So, I took to the internet for answers that didn’t involve duct taping him in (I kid, I kid).

One of the answers I found for “how to keep toddler in crib” actually ended up being the solution I needed! I took out the mattress support and laid the mattress on the floor inside the crib.

That trick easily bought me another 6-8 inches!

Other recommendations for keeping your toddler in his crib included turning the crib around so the highest side is facing outward.

Many of the new cribs have higher backs, and while this is usually decorative, it can also be useful. The sheer height of the crib wall is usually too high and too intimidating for toddlers to climb.

How to Keep Toddler in Crib: Establish a Bedtime Routine

How to Keep Toddler in Crib (and Keep Your Sanity): Establish a Bedtime Routine

But what if your little one is already climbing out of his crib? What can you do to prevent (or reverse) the behavior? How can you keep a climbing toddler in his crib?

The bedtime routine is the answer to most nighttime parenting problems.

Honestly, it is really that simple.

When you do the same thing every.single.night at bedtime, it conditions your child to be in the mindset of relaxation and sleep. If your child is in the right mindset and prepared for sleep, he is much less likely to try getting out of bed.

I notice a huge difference in nights where I try to rush my son through his bedtime routine.

We are all guilty of it, you’re tired or had a long day. You just want to set them in and walk away. However, from experience, every time I do that, I fight him waaay longer than if I take the few extra minutes to go through his routine.

Our routine looks a little like this:

  • Bath and lotion
  • Jammies
  • Teeth brushing and song
  • Snuggles, pacifier/favorite blanket, and reading books together
  • Tucking in
  • Crib soother on, and mom and dad leave the room

Since my little guy is too old to avoid the temptation of playing with the crib soother, we place it on the floor outside of his crib. This way it’s within viewing range but outside of his reach.

Side Note: If you are looking for a great crib soother, I recently reviewed several here – my favorite being the Baby Einstein Sea Dreams Soother.

How to Keep Toddler in Crib: Use the Crib Wisely

How to Keep Toddler in Crib (and Keep Your Sanity): Use the Crib Wisely

One of the biggest temptations as a parent is to use the crib as a containment device when things get crazy. I’m guilty of this on a few occasions.

This is one of the biggest no-nos when it comes to teaching toddler to stay in his crib.

We want our children to equate their cribs with calm, relax and sleep. Putting them in the crib while they throw a tantrum has the opposite effect.

If you can, find another containment mechanism (like a playpen or high chair) when you need a safe place to calm your child. It will go a long way in keeping your toddler in his crib at night!

How to Keep Toddler in Crib: Allow “In-Crib Entertainment”

How to Keep Toddler in Crib (and Keep Your Sanity): Allow In-Crib Entertainment

My son is the type of kid who can sit in his bed wide-awake for a really long time before he falls asleep. He will do everything to keep himself awake, including measuring his ability to scale the crib walls.

To prevent this, I’ve started letting him have a book to look at by the light of his night light. This “in-crib entertainment” allows him to quiet his mind while staying safely in his crib.

Note: This wouldn’t have worked when he was still in the “everything is a chew toy and goes in my mouth stage.” Be sure the “in-crib entertainment” you allow is age-appropriate and safe for your child.

He has a few cardboard books that he likes to look at, and before I know it, he is settled in, listening to his crib soother music, and nodding off to sleep.

Other Helpful Tips

Use a Baby Monitor

How to Keep Toddler in Crib (and Keep Your Sanity): Use a Baby Monitor

Don’t underestimate the power of a good video baby monitor – both as a preventive and a deterrent.

I feel good knowing I can see if he’s trying it and my monitor is this one from Motorola. I like this one because it has a microphone (so I can talk to him over the monitor) and remote control of the camera from across the house. If he is moving around his bed, I can watch him and stop any mischief before it begins.

Also, because I’ve done this since he was little, he now knows I am always watching, and I always catch him. Knowing that I’m watching has done a lot for deterring him as well!

Make the Room Safe

How to Keep Toddler in Crib (and Keep Your Sanity): Make the Room Safe

Sometimes your best intentions and all the tricks don’t work, and your toddler just won’t stay in his crib.

If this is the case for your little one, there are a couple important child safety issues to address, ASAP.

#1 Secure the Furniture

Think like your toddler. What sounds cooler than climbing to the top of the dresser or closet to get to the toys, books, etc.?

There are so many accidents every year involving toddlers and fallen furniture. If you haven’t already, secure the furniture to the wall. There are simple devices like these to make easy work of it.

#2 Baby Proof/Toddler Proof

Again, think like your toddler. Secure all breakables and plug the wall outlets with safety devices like these.

And word to the wise: lock up the baby powders and lotion. I learned from experience how much damage a 2 year old and a bottle of baby powder can do. In less than 5 minutes no less!

Last but not least, you don’t want your little one getting out of their safe room and roaming the house while you sleep. You can use safety locks like these to assist.

Baby gates aren’t typically recommended in bedroom. After all, they just scaled the side of their crib, right?

Consider Transitioning to a Toddler Bed

How to Keep Toddler in Crib (and Keep Your Sanity): Consider Transitioning to a Toddler Bed

If you’ve tried all the tricks and your little man isn’t having any of it, it might be time to bite the bullet and transition to the toddler bed. If only for your sanity and their safety.

Transitioning to a toddler bed is one of those parenting grey areas.

I know some parents who did it at 1 year – my son was nowhere near ready at that age. I know parents who have kids coming up on 4 in their cribs.

It’s really all about the maturity level of the child and how prepared we are as parents to handle the challenges inherent to toddler bed transitions.

Be sure to check out our article, When to Transition to Toddler Bed: The Perfect Time to Do It (and How to Do It).

Now You Know My Secrets for How to Keep Toddler in Crib

If your toddler is climbing out of his crib every night and you’re ready to lose your sanity, never fear! We’ve all been there.  And fortunately, there are ways to prevent it and manage the situation before it gets out of hand.

Have you successfully kept your toddler in a crib? Share your best tips and tricks for how to keep your toddler in a crib – leave us a comment below!

Is your toddler constantly climbing out of his crib? Here are our best tips for how to keep your toddler in a crib to save your sanity and keep your kiddo safe! Is your toddler constantly climbing out of his crib? Here are our best tips for how to keep your toddler in a crib to save your sanity and keep your kiddo safe!

About Eric and Tiffany Matthews

We're Eric and Tiffany, the parents behind Cynical Parent. We're just normal parents who are navigating parenthood with both eyes wide open (probably because there's a kid yelling nearby). And of course, we're pretty cynical. Don't believe everything you read or hear, whether it's on the internet, or from a close family or friend (or even from us!). Every child is different, and what works for one may not work for another. Sometimes you just need to try and see for yourself. :)

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