Keeping Baby in That Crib!

Spread the love


As a family sleep consultant, one of the most common issues I see is a child who has been transitioned to a big-kid bed too early, and is now having a lot of trouble getting to sleep and/or staying asleep. Creepy middle-of-the-night visits begin to occur at the parents’ bedside, or bedtime itself becomes a huge struggle with a lot of ups and downs, ins and outs, tears, and general stalling.

crib cartoon

Not surprisingly, making this transition too hastily is often the culprit. A few of the most common reasons that parents transition too early include:

They need the crib for a new baby.

This can be a matter of practicality and I get it. But maybe there is an alternative. Perhaps borrow a crib from a friend or family member, or buy an inexpensive crib for one of your children to use – keeping in mind that what you spend on a crib has nothing to do with its overall safety.

The ease of a transition can often increase quite dramatically even by waiting just a few extra months. Introducing a new baby to your firstborn is dicey enough; better to keep them in their usual surroundings for as long as possible.

Baby has started climbing out of the crib.

An old favorite. But wait, this doesn’t have to signal the end of the crib! Indeed, it probably shouldn’t since most babies have the physical ability to make this climb way before they are developmentally ready to be sleeping in a bed.

Here are some options: A lot of cribs nowadays have a back that is higher than the front—turn that sucker around! All of a sudden what was once Kilimanjaro has now become Everest. Also, use a sleep sack. I’m a big fan of sleep sacks anyway, for their warmth and as part of a sleep routine. But they are also a wonderful deterrent for hightailing it out of the crib.

Have a child who likes to escape from sleep sacks too? No problem! Put that baby on backwards, and zip it up the back. (*This is a good place to note that crib tents, which in the past were used to prevent escapes, are not safe and should not be used; neither should altering the construction of the crib in any way.)

The child seems to “want” a bed.

Maybe your child has asked about a big-girl or big-boy bed. Or the child lingers a bit in an older brother’s or sister’s bed. Whatever the reason, I ask parents to consider this reason the most carefully, keeping in mind that at these young ages, many “wants” are projections the parents make onto the child. At the end of the day, the transition should happen because the parents AND the child are really, truly ready.

So when is that time, exactly?

Ideally, a child is in a crib until as close to age 3 as possible; some children who are smaller in size can stay in them even longer. The good news is that even if you have transitioned your child out of a crib prematurely doesn’t mean you can’t go back. Children can very often be successfully transitioned back to a crib once it becomes apparent that they were not yet ready, particularly if the transition was a recent one (less than six months).

Remember, a crib imposes physical limits, which are important for safety purposes, particularly for younger children who cannot yet cognitively grasp what it means to stay in a bed. A crib also offers psychological limits, something that, though it might not always seem that way, children are actively looking for. They will test and they will push, but that doesn’t mean they are ready for one of the biggest changes of their young lives too soon.

And besides, they are only babies and in cribs for so long. It can’t hurt to treasure that time for just a little bit longer, right?

Like what you read? Sign up for our free newsletter so you can be informed of the latest FREE webinars & teleclasses, parenting articles, & weekly raffles.

Kristina Amerikaner is the (mostly) rested mom of two and a certified pediatric sleep consultant with Good Night Sleep Site New Jersey. You can also connect with her on Facebook or over on that newfangled contraption known as Twitter. When not thinking about sleep (yours and hers), she loves reading, baking, and tackling The New York Times crossword puzzle. She lives with her family in Northern New Jersey, her native state.

* Healthy Living is section of our website co-hosted by Mott’s. Mott’s has compensated Mommybites to be a partner in this awesome Healthy Living section on our website. This partnership does not influence the content, topics or posts made on this blog. We always give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on all topics, products, and services.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers may have conflicts of interest, and their opinions are their own.

Spread the love
Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.