Judy’s Personal Experience
My daughter Jannah jumped out of her cot when she was 2 years old, it came as quite a surprise, all of a sudden my child who was so happy to settle at bedtime and sleep 12 hours a night had decided to jump out of her cot as soon as we left her room! How we dealt with this was key to overcoming this phase. We went back to her and as she was hysterical we calmly comforted her and told her it was bedtime, we placed her back in her cot and left her room, she then went to sleep. She did this for another few nights but we had by then placed cushions around her cot to make it safe and each time we just calmly placed her back in her cot. After a few unsuccessful attempts she eventually realised that we were not changing bedtime rules and stopped her phase of cot jumping and went back to happily going to sleep at bedtime and sleeping 12 hours through the night.
Does Your Toddler (or Baby!) Climb Out of the Crib / Cot? Cot / Crib Jumper?
The first time your toddler escapes from their crib or cot will probably come as quite a shock to you. You’ll be fast asleep in bed when you hear a little voice or feel a small person creep into bed with you! Most toddlers become cot / crib jumpers at some stage – it’s a natural progression for them to want to escape the cot and explore the world around them – but it’s a phase that you do need to do something about. Not only can cot / crib jumping result in disrupted nights for you and your family but it is dangerous to have a small person roaming the house at night, and there’s also the risk that they will fall from the cot while they’re climbing out.
What You Can Do To Stop Your Child Being A Cot / Crib Jumper
First, before your toddler becomes a crib jumper, make sure you baby-proof your home. Install stair gates top and bottom; Children do not warn you that they will “tonight” start cot jumping so be prepared.
Invest in a Sleep Sack
If they do start jumping out of the cot, the first thing you can try is a sleep sack. These zipped bags enclose your child’s feet and legs, allowing them to move around but making it impossible for them to climb. This is an ideal solution for younger toddlers – some babies as young as 9 months learn to jump out – but it is probably not so practical for older children like mine was and who have probably already mastered zips and will just climb out of the sleep sack before they climb out of the cot!
Lower the Crib Mattress
The simplest thing to do is see if you can lower the level of the mattress. Most cots and cribs have a few settings and you may have placed the mattress as high as it would go so you didn’t have to bend so much to pick up your baby. Now, however, having a high mattress makes it really easy for your active toddler to climb to the top of the cot and jump over the edge! Lower the mattress as far as you can. With any luck this will make it impossible for your toddler to jump out.
Maybe time for a Toddler Bed
If you’ve lowered the mattress but your toddler is still a cot jumper you should consider whether it’s actually time to move them into a bed. By the age of three children are already outgrowing the space of the crib, and are ready to sleep in either a toddler bed or a single bed with a bed guard. While moving them to a proper bed won’t stop them getting out at night, it will eliminate the risk that they’ll fall while climbing from the cot.
Finally, consider whether crib jumping is part of a bigger problem. If your toddler is generally a good sleeper it’s likely to be just a phase, but if they have always had bad sleep habits this could be all part of it and you may need to look again at the whole bedtime routine.
I meet a lot of families who moved their child into a toddler bed too early and now have a child who wakes through the night and leaves their room to come searching for mum or dad and eventually at some point through the night ends up in mum and dads bed. The age I recommend to move a child to a toddler bed is 3 years old. A child the age of 2 does not understand consequences or rewards, many parents find that trying to keep them to stay in their bed becomes a loosing battle!