Where should he sleep?
June 16, 2012 6:07 PM   Subscribe

I just found out that when your child reaches 35 inches, they're supposed to transition out of a crib -- and that's my son's height. I think he could probably climb/fall out of his crib at this point. But what if he's not ready for a toddler bed?

If we switch him to a toddler bed, which he'd be able to get out of, we're worried that he'll just want to play with his toys all night, or do something like pull the nightlight out of the outlet and stick a toy in there. (Who knows what he'd get up to...) His room, which is pretty big, isn't exactly childproofed because we're always in there with him during the day, and because he's been in a crib at night. And can you ever completely childproof something, anyway?

We're looking at options online and we don't know what to do -- a toddler bed with those half-rail things? A toddler car bed? A twin bed with bed rails? A mattress on the floor? Another factor is that my son is still at the stage where he doesn't have one direction he lies in -- he goes all over the place during the night. He doesn't yet "get" pillows or blankets, either; we provide them, but he doesn't use them. All we can think of to keep him in/near his bed is something like this, but there has to be a better option, right?

(By the way, we live about three hours from the nearest IKEA, so none of their stuff would be an option.)
posted by trillian to Home & Garden (30 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Online......tot tent. Best baby gear we ever bought.
posted by pearlybob at 6:17 PM on June 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Is he a climber? If not, I say stick with the crib. I know people who have used a crib well past when you'd expect it just because it worked. The kid knew the crib was for sleeping and didn't try to get out. If he's climbing, then you can either get one of those crib tent things or a toddler bed. You can get small be rails to help keep him in if he rolls around a lot.

Our crib converted into a low toddler bed and it works for us. One of us has to sit or lay with him until he's asleep, but he stays put until about 3 or 4am when he walks across the house with his blanket and gets into bed with us. He's 20 months and before we started using the toddler bed, he coslept, so just a few hours in our bed is a vast improvement for us.
posted by chiababe at 6:21 PM on June 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

You don't mention how old he is, which I think makes more of a difference than size. We moved my son into a low toddler bed (ordered online for less than $100) at around 2.5, he was definitely over 35". He occasionally falls out, we find him asleep on the floor. He occasionally gets up and walks around his room and into the hallway. We lead him back in there.

If your son is just turning 2 or younger I wouldn't bother just for height but if he's older you can switch him and begin teaching him how to behave in his room. Some kids don't even know they are able to get up on their own and will call you from their beds for months, it totally depends. If you are worried about falling just put his crib mattress directly on the ground. I know quite a few people that started that way, especially with younger kids. If you decide on a twin, those rails are larger and sturdier so even though the bed is much higher I think falls are less likely.
posted by bhkart at 6:21 PM on June 16, 2012

Bed* rails
posted by chiababe at 6:22 PM on June 16, 2012

Get him out of the crib before you hear the dreaded THUMP.

The solution is, I'm afraid, a mattress on the floor. And, yes, you can childproof a room. It's not even difficult.

Be prepared for a week of pain and then it'll be fine.

We had two kids who never even noticed that we swtiched them to a mattress, and a third who seems to require no sleep whatsoever. He'll wake up at 5am and go to sleep at midnight. But even he likes the mattress on the floor.

(and 35" is really big to transition out of a crib IMO -- how old is Kid A?)
posted by unSane at 6:22 PM on June 16, 2012

(our kids were out of the crib and into the mattress on the floor just after 2 years)
posted by unSane at 6:24 PM on June 16, 2012

Response by poster: A few answers:

-Oops, didn't mention that my son just turned 2. He's in the 86th percentile for height.
-He is a climber -- he tries to climb out of his pack & play when he's in there & I'm taking a shower or whatever.
-We have a crib tent but just found out it's been recalled for safety reasons... We loved it!
posted by trillian at 6:24 PM on June 16, 2012

Our pediatrician said to wait until our wee one was over three to transition to the toddler bed, that staying in a bed was not a fair expectation until then. The crib tent (we call it baby lockdown) worked great for my sister's kids.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 6:24 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

While it certainly goes against the official advice, my children stayed in their cribs at the lowest mattress setting until they began climbing out. That was the signal to transition. Pillows or couch cushions by the crib may help alleviate any anxiety on your part.
Until your child gets to that point, take this time to get the plugs covered, blind cords shortened, and whatever other child proofing done that has been put off because of constant supervision.
My first son went into a twin bed with the rail that went under the free side of the mattress. The other side was against the wall. For the second boy we attempted to convert the crib (it was a convertible) to a toddler bed due to lack of a second twin bed at that point. He fell out of bed multiple times a night. He was so accustomed to sleeping against the ouside rail that the rail had to go back on and I just left it down. Once I got him a twin he never fell out again. No temp rail needed.
No matter how or when you make this transition it will be hard with many many trips back to bed to get your child to sleep. The tallest baby gate you can find to put across his door or the hallway to keep him semi-confined will also be a sanity saver.
posted by Talia Devane at 6:36 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm not a huge fan of 'baby lockdown' (or, to be honest, a huge opponent). It's essentially the same thing as locking your kid in his/her room, if they know they could otherwise climb out.

Your real goal is to have kids be okay about going to sleep, on their own, in their own beds. Obviously it's a judgement call about when they're ready for that. But it's okay to have a few nights when they turn up downstairs again clutching a teddy. When they finally decide to stay in bed on their own, you've won.

A big part of it is getting rid of the mid-day nap. If they're tired, they'll sleep where they drop.
posted by unSane at 6:39 PM on June 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Place the same mattress from the crib on the floor. No big change with blankets and pillows, just do the same thing you've been doing. And, yeah, you have to do a new round of childproofing sometime. That time is now. At the very least you need to handle the electrical outlets and strangulation risks, etc. I also used this opportunity to get some bins so that toys could be put out of sight at bedtime. I've got two very active, rambunctious, limit-testing kids and surprisingly neither of them was very interested in getting out of bed when they transitioned out of the crib.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:44 PM on June 16, 2012

We transitioned ours at 24.5 months when he began climbing out. We used a mattress on the floor, figured we could always buy a bed later if we wanted to (haven't yet). He's still all "every which way" and it's fine ... every now and then he falls off the 8" to the floor; every now and then he scoots his butt off the edge and has his top half on the bed and bottom half on the floor. We just do what we did in the crib: dress him in warm PJs for cold weather. Sometimes he uses the blankets, but more often he throws them off. He likes his pillow but doesn't sleep on it often. That's all okay.

It took about a week to convince him the bed was for sleeping (and it suuuuuuuuper sucked). He DOES stay up playing with toys and reading board books, still, but that's okay with us. We childproofed as best we were able and we close him in there. Usually he drops off fairly quickly, but now and then he doesn't go to sleep, so he just sleeps later in the morning. That's okay.

Stick plug proofers in all the outlets and get a stick-on battery-powered LED nightlight for the wall if you must have a nightlight.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:49 PM on June 16, 2012

Crib tents are great, see if you can find another which hasn't been recalled? We never used them, but we also never had serious climbers. I hear they're lifesavers (literally) in that situation so please feel no guilt about using one.

Also, when our kids were newly in regular beds (or mattresses on the floor) we put a child gate on their room. This allowed me to sleep instead of being up all night wondering if they were cruising the knife drawer / opening the front door...

And for my 2 oldest kids, 2 would have been way too young for them to be in a bed, so please don't feel pressured into taking your kidlet out of the crib just because of the height thing.

Good luck!
posted by thatone at 6:52 PM on June 16, 2012

We stuck a mattress on the floor when our kid was 18 months old and it worked great. We had to, because she kept bashing and bloodying her face in escape attempts. She understood the new system pretty quick (ie. that soft thing with the blanket is for sleeping on). Playing in her room when she was supposed to sleeping was no more a problem than her playing in her crib. We locked the door from the outside to keep her from wandering.

That said, if the crib is working for y'all, I see no reason why you shouldn't keep it.
posted by gnutron at 7:08 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do a Google image search for "Montessori bed" to see some set-ups that people who did not bother with cribs from the get-go used.

I do not feel the tents are a good solution to anything. Lots have been recalled, and too many toddlers die in accidents that could've been so easily prevented by the parent being in earshot... I would not trust a small tot to the wiles of the junk manufactured by modern baby-product manufacturers; there is no substitute for close parental supervision. Childproof as best you can, and use a monitor if you're not able to hear what's going on otherwise.

"Placing a crib tent or mesh canopy over the crib is not a viable solution to keep children from climbing out because they may become entrapped and strangled by the netting" says Pediatrics.

A thick mattress pad is thick enough for a small child's mattress, and a king size one means lots of room for him to sprawl, and it also means a nice napping surface for parents, if that's of any appeal.
posted by kmennie at 7:10 PM on June 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

We moved to a new house the weekend our son turned two. We set him up in a regular twin bed at that point just because we couldn't be bothered to set up the crib again. We added a safety rail (one of those ones that slide in between the mattress and the box spring) and he was all set. Never had an issue.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:27 PM on June 16, 2012

When my daughter turned 1, I put her in a twin sized captain's bed (platform bed with drawers underneath.) I was concerned that she may roll off of the bed since she moved around a lot when she slept. I rolled up a quilt and put it on the edge of the bed. She didn't roll off of the bed. I watched her one night and realized when she touched the quilt, she would just stop or rolled the other way. Soon, I took the quilt away because I felt she may be used to where the edge of the bed was. She never fell out of bed.

There are rails that you can buy that tucks under the mattress that will be a good barrier if it makes you more comfortable. I fell out of the bed a lot when I was a kid and one night, my father told me that I was too big to be picked up and put back in bed and for some reason, that made me stop falling out of bed. Luckily for me, I didn't have to tell my daughter that!
posted by Yellow at 8:04 PM on June 16, 2012

We DID hear the dreaded "thump" in the middle of the night. The girl was about two at the time, and had no history of climbing. It scared us more it scared her, but the crib came down the next day. Yeah, child proofing is a pain, and you never can guess what the kid's gonna get into next, but better safe than sorry.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:19 PM on June 16, 2012

I really wouldn't sweat the whole "kid can get out of bed, will play all night" thing. We transitioned to a toddler bed when my oldest was 18 months old because we had an incoming baby who would need the crib, and space was a concern so getting a twin bed wasn't the right move just yet.

Yes, the kid did get out of bed and play a few times. But it didn't end up being a chronic issue and it passed just fine.

A mattress on the floor or just a plain old twin sized bed will work fine, you can play it by ear and go mattress, then bed frame for the mattress, or whatever works.

For what it's worth my daughter had already been climbing in and out of her crib at will and was nowhere near 35". Kid was like a spider monkey.
posted by padraigin at 8:40 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

A foam mattress topper works great for our 2 year old. We have another 2 year old (ahem...adopted the first) and he's not climbing out of his crib yet. He's pretty happy in there.

We REALLY worried about what the heck #1 was going to do once he realized he could just get up and...walk around.

But it turns out he's pretty good in there. If he's mad he'll try to mess with the blinds, but that's easy to account for. Sometimes he'll lay on his back and kick the door or the wall, but it really doesn't last long now that the first few nights of that are well behind us.

We're glad we didn't get bunkbeds or something. The mattress pad is our temporary solution for now, but it's really nice to sleep on when we need to do that, and we have zero worries about our kid falling out of bed.
posted by circular at 9:14 PM on June 16, 2012

Toddler anachronism was 14-18 months when we converted her cot to a toddler bed. We had a rail on it for a few months but that was gone when she was 2. She transitioned to her own room at about 2 and a half, 2 and three quarters maybe.

We never had a 'get up and play' problem, or a 'poking things in sockets' problem. My guess is because when she goes down to nap it's because she's tired, and when she goes down to sleep for the night it's because she's tired and we usually stick around reading in her room. We've never done the regimented naps, or locking the door on her. That changes things I think. We had a few rolls out of bed, but since it's only a foot or so off the floor it wasn't a huge problem.

So I think it depends on the kid and on the routines. Our routines supported a non-restrictive bed - it certainly doesn't work for everyone.
posted by geek anachronism at 9:40 PM on June 16, 2012

Funny this question should come up now, I was just at the pediatrician for my son's 18-month checkup and she mentioned that he could stay in the crib until he started trying to climb out. She didn't mention the height thing (mine is almost there). So maybe there are different schools of thought.

If no escapes are attempted, I'd be inclined to think there might be other dangers to a kid with more freedom that would outweigh the falling danger. Though, according to SuperSquirrel the first attempt might be a "successful" attempt so... I don't know. This thread sure is making me think about it though!
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:07 PM on June 16, 2012

Start childproofing the room first of all, because the sooner the better, no matter what you decide to do with the bed. My eldest stayed in a crib until he was 3, because he never tried to climb out. My second transitioned out at 2, because he started to climb. We got them regular twin beds, and used one of those rails that slots between mattress and base. What kind of bed you want is entirely up to you. Personally we decided to go straight to a twin because the crib wasn't a convertible, and why buy a toddler bed, it has such a limited lifespan? But there is no wrong answer on this, it's what suits your family.

As for the getting out of bed and playing? Well this is a transition you have to make some time, so there is no avoiding this. How easy it is depends on your kid and your bedtime routine, and the setup of the room. Our kids never really play in their room, because its too small, so I think it was easier since they thought of it as a sleeping room only. If your kid gets up and comes out of the room, just put him back to bed. Don't make a big fuss or it will become a game. Be gentle and quiet and no fuss, and he will learn pretty quickly. Personally I do not like the idea locking them in their room (I think its cruel, I am scared they won't be able to escape if there is a fire or something, and I have heard CPS consider it a reportable issue).
posted by Joh at 11:23 PM on June 16, 2012

We tried a toddler bed at 2 with our daughter just to discover she'd just as soon sleep on the floor by the door. We discovered quite by accident (during a beach week) that she loves day beds, so we hunted around until we found one that was solid on three sides (as opposed to curved metal bars with openings just the right width for a small head to fit through and get stuck). At her insistence, we turned it around so that the open part faced the wall, so it was essentially a twin-sized crib. She never tried to climb out and only requested we turn it around at 3.5 yrs. Now she has a bed rail and sleeps just fine.
posted by tigerjade at 2:49 AM on June 17, 2012

One of my sons scared us climbing out of the crib at less than 18 months. He turned out to be tall, athletic, and fearless. We got rid of the crib at that point. I would do the same if I were you, childproof the room as best as you can (many of us grew up safe before childproofing) and get him some kind of bed he can get in and out of.
posted by mermayd at 3:03 AM on June 17, 2012

One night after we put our 18 mo daughter down in her crib and were watching TV we heard a THUMP, but thought nothing of it. Then we heard little feet, and when we got to the stairs our daughter was sitting there grinning at us. So we put her back in the crib and before we got to the stairs heard the THUMP again. She'd climbed out. So we put her back in and instantly she started climbing again, flipped herself over and stuck the landing like Nadia Comanici. So I lowered the mattress/ raised the railing, and in 10 minutes she figured that out.

We were freaked because: 1) we had an Olympic-caliber athlete on our hands; and 2) did not think she would stay in a big girl bed. But we did what we had to do, took the railings off and put the mattress as low to the ground as possible. After a couple, "Get back in bed!"s she stayed, and now at 8 years old can be relied on to stay in bed.

So I recommend you just put the mattress on the floor or as close to it as you can and hope for the best. They're pretty resilient little beasts, and the problem is getting them to stay put more than any physical danger.
posted by nathanrudy at 6:02 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I see no reason not to transition him now. We had to take the side off my daughter's crib at 17 months because she was starting to climb. It was a good start (although obviously not an option on all cribs) because the mattress was still only 4" off the ground- we never bothered with a rail, and she fell out only once in the first week- probably because she wasn't aware she was in the bed, having passed out on a car ride. I would have simply put the mattress on the ground if I didn't have the option of removing the side, mostly because we weren't quite ready to spring for a whole new bed.

You will have to childproof the room, of course. We started using the monitor again for some peace of mind during naptimes and overnight. Sometimes she may take a while to go down for a nap and end up playing, but it hasn't been a hassle and she's usually asleep within 10 minutes. I spent a good hour in there after I initially removed the crib side/thought I'd childproofed, and I did end up noticing an extra little danger or two. I wouldn't leave a night-light plugged in myself. We leave outlets covered and had a chargeable battery LED night-light for her for a while.

When we upgraded to a twin bed to prepare for the arrival of a new baby, we just looked for something nice and low. I think the bed we ended up choosing (IKEA, sorry!) was only a couple of inches higher than her crib mattress. It's been no problem.
posted by sunshinesky at 7:54 AM on June 17, 2012

I'll agree with the rest here:
1. Childproof
2. Lose the night light or replace with a battery powered one or a very dim, very low-wattage bulb in an light socket.
3. Don't worry about him being up all night playing. He won't. Even if he's playing, when the lights are out, he will conk out and likely sleep later. A consistent bedtime ritual will help with this, too.
4.There is no number 4, unless you want to put in a baby monitor.

My kids had no problems with changing to a toddler bed. My daughter didn't really care one way or another. My son, we thought would have a problem since he was and is frustrated by transition, but by couching it as a change to the "big boy bed", he was just fine.
posted by plinth at 4:20 PM on June 17, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone!
posted by trillian at 6:50 AM on June 18, 2012

Response by poster: Well, we procrastinated for a while ... and the zipper on the crib tent finally broke last night. We took it off and also took off the (mesh) bumpers so he couldn't use them to climb out. He slept well last night ... he's currently standing up and kicking the wall through the crib slats, so we'll see how it goes!

Toddler-bed time is probably coming soon.
posted by trillian at 4:47 PM on July 17, 2012

« Older Suddenly Widowed   |   Is it possible to commission an artist? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.