Let me start this post with the cold, hard truth and make one thing abundantly clear…
I am in the midst of a crib jumping debacle with my toddler, but I have not yet had the will power or togetherness to actually put this plan into action. We’re undertaking a gigantic life shift as a family (subscribe to my YouTube channel to know more) and overcoming this hurdle just isn’t in the cards at this very moment. Rest assured (at least I fucking hope so, I’m exhausted), it will be soon and when that time comes, I’ll be ready with this bag of tricks in tow!
Let me flashback to the moment our lives as we knew it changed forever. A coupe weeks ago, the harsh reality was thrust upon me that my baby could no longer be contained within the confines of a crib. To anyone who has not experienced the crib jumping phase, it probably sounds like I’m saying I’d prefer a world where, for the sake of my own sleep and sanity, I’d prefer to have my child kept behind (crib) bars for as long as possible. You’re right, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Don’t judge me. Moms who have been through this and somehow made it to the other side feel my pain.
Crib jumping can happen at different times for different kids.
My daughter’s first successful escape attempt happened just before she hit 23 months. She’s had a few sleep/nap regressions in her time but as of late, she’s been getting zipped into her sleep sack with a smile and gone down with ease. Then one day, that all changed out of the blue! She started hysterically crying as I brought her towards the crib. I was having to wrestle her into her sleep sack. She’d stand screaming as though her life depended on it as I closed the door. It was totally random and I couldn’t tell what had changed from one day to the next to instill this ghastly fear of her sleep routine, so I chalked it up to a typical regression. One afternoon, after this sleep time hysteria had gone on for a couple of days, she stopped crying within a minute of me leaving the room and I assumed, as we had in the past many times, the hurdle had merely been overcome. Woohoo! Well, I was wrong. In the time it took me to quietly creep the 25 feet from her bedroom door to the dining table to grab the iPad and open up the monitor app, something shocking happened… she was gone!!!
You can imagine my horror when that app opened up to show no child in the crib.
I had literally JUST put her in there! I closed the app and reopened it, thinking it must be having some weird glitch. Sure enough, still no child. Flashing images of my incapacitated baby sprawled on the floor popped into my mom brain as heat rose in my chest. I RAN to her room and burst open the door to find my tear-stained toddler standing there with a cheeky grin and a great sense of accomplishment written all over her face. She’d done it. She ninja-ed that little sleep sack-clad body up and over those crib bars like it was no big deal. She was free. And my control over her sleep schedule was completely eliminated. Shit.
As I said, that’s kind of where my crib jumping toddler story begins and ends. I’ve spent weeks getting her off to sleep in her room by laying on the floor, only to have her waddle into our room and climb in the bed in the middle of the night. We’re exhausted, she’s exhausted and something’s gotta give, but I know what it’s going to take to establish a new sleep routine and we’ve got A LOT on our plates at the moment, so sometimes in life and parenting, you’ve gotta make a call on what works for your family in your own time. In the meantime, I’m literally stockpiling tools I will need to help us through this transition and I wanted to share in case you’re in a similar boat.
Rule #1, as advised by my sleep consultant and friend Alanna McGinn, is DO NOT remove the bottom slats of the crib and lay the mattress directly on the floor. Reworking the construction of the crib negatives its safety certification. Full disclosure, before I got this advice I tried it and it didn’t work anyway. LOL
Toddler Clock – The sound machine we’ve used since Bowie was a baby has a “Time To Rise” feature that helps in training your toddler to differentiate between sleep time and play time when they’re old enough to understand you. It coordinates with an app on your phone making it super easy to use and control from outside the room.
Baby Gate – This is a great option to first try for keeping your toddler contained in their room. It worked wonders with my niece. My ninja warrior baby hopped that thing in seconds flat so greater lengths were necessary.
Child Door Knob Lock – This is an extreme measure, but if your toddler’s anything like mine, a necessary one, unless I want her roaming the halls and climbing into bed with us for the rest of forever. I love a cuddle as much as the next mama, but the past couple of weeks have proven this habit is not conducive to good sleep for any of us.
Convertible Crib/Toddler Bed – To save on money in the long run, make sure you get a convertible crib that can transition with your child through multiple stages. I also strongly recommend getting one like the option I include in the shoppable link below, because one side is higher than the other. When they first start attempting to curb jump, you can flip the crib around so the short side is facing the wall and this may buy you more time before transitioning to a toddler bed. Our crib is even on both sides so it limited our options and transition timing. Won’t make that mistake the next time around but as with all things in motherhood, ya live and ya learn!
Memory Foam Rug Pad – We’ve had a memory foam rug pad under our daughter’s rug since she was first learning to roll over to save her from banging her head on the hard floor. This also gives you a little more peace of mind when the crib jumping stage hits. It won’t guarantee they won’t get hurt but it makes for a softer landing.
Monitor with Unobstructed View – You should always have a monitor with an unobstructed view but most especially when they’re not guarantee to remain in the crib at all time! I can’t sing the praises of our baby monitor enough. I tried a lot of different brands and I personally think this one is the best on the market today!
A Whole Lot of Willpower – This one money can’t buy, but it’s the most important on the list because waiting out your child’s cries is one of the hardest things to do. If you’re choosing to sleep train or in this case, re-sleep train with this new crib-less element, it’s part of the journey towards long lasting sleep benefits for the whole fam. I have to constantly remind myself, she is safe, she is okay, she will be better for this in the long run. That’s what I believe and my choice as her mama. You’ve gotta do what’s right for you and your own fam, so always listen to your gut and if this is the road you’re choosing to go down, stay strong and good luck to us all!!!
Shenae Grimes-Beech is an actor and YouTuber with a highly engaged community of like-minded women who are here to stand up for what they believe in and lean into discomfort, especially when it means doing the right thing.