Keeping our toddler safe – from the world and from herself – is a daily accomplishment. Every month Adelaide gets more curious and more courageous. A couple of months ago we noticed that she was trying to kick her leg up over the crib when we put her down for a nap or for the night. Although she wasn’t close to getting her leg over the rail, we knew that the clock was ticking until she could set herself free.
During Christmas this past year, we put Adelaide down for the night in a Pack ‘n Play at my in-laws and stood outside the door until she calmed down. After a few minutes, we didn’t hear anything and thought she was asleep. The joke was on us. As Anna and I were getting ready to walk away, we were caught off guard by Adelaide’s cry which seemed close to the door and low to the ground.
We opened the door, and there she stood. And all three of us were in shock. Adelaide because she had just broken out of jail and us because we didn’t expect to see the night ninja.
Jude was not a climber when he was a toddler, so we never had to deal with him climbing out of the crib (is this a second child thing?). We were able to keep Jude in the crib until he was over three.
Do we transition to a toddler bed?
Once we got home from my in-laws, we talked – for two seconds – about transitioning Adelaide to a toddler bed. If we can’t trust her in a room by herself for even a minute without supervision, how could we trust her to stay in her toddler bed all night and not get up at some point in the middle of the night or early in the morning and destroy the room or worse, hurt herself.
The only way to baby proof the room would be to remove all the furniture (desk, dresser, bookshelves), and the lamp and only have the toddler bed in the room. #NotHappening
This put us in a really tough spot. We asked around and searched the interwebs and didn’t come up with much.
Can we lower the crib any further?
I knew that the crib was down as far as it could be, but this option still crossed our minds. We’ve used our same crib with both kids, and we’d already moved it to the lowest possible setting.
I double-checked in hopes that an extra slot had been magically added to the crib since my son had used it, but no luck.
Should we get a crib tent?
We also came across crib tents, which are basically mesh canopies that fit over the top of the crib.
We looked into them and found out that they’re not really that safe. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “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. In addition, children who climb out of cribs risk strangulation from catching their clothing around the neck on hardware projecting from cribs such as knobs and posts.”
We made a hard pass on this one.
Should we get a sleep bag for toddlers?
Next up: the wearable Sleep Bag for Toddlers, which is exactly what it sounds like.
Anna and I liked this idea until we thought about Adelaide trying to walk around in her crib. Our fear was that she would get her feet tripped up inside of the sack and potentially lose her footing and hit her head on the wall or railing of the crib.
Also, with a price tag of $79.99, it would really start to add up if you bought two or more, not to mention that you’d need the next size up a few months down the road. Moving on.
Should we get a sleep bag with feet for toddlers?
Then we checked out a sleep bag with feet, Slumbersac Sleeping Bag with Feet and Removable Long Sleeves.
This option seemed more appealing for a few reasons:
- They come in six sizes (6 months to 5 years).
- They come in two weights (winter and summer).
- They have removable long sleeves to accommodate for changes in weather.
- They allow your child to move around while preventing them from raising their leg enough to climb out of the crib.
Prices range between $44.99 and $54.99, depending on the size of your purchase. Again, this can add up if you need to buy a couple of sleepers in each size.
The Solution We Chose
Drumroll, please. While the Slumbersac Sleeping Bag with Feet and Removable Long Sleeves wasn’t a bad option, we weren’t at ease. Maybe it was calculating the costs of all the 24 month sleep bags we would need to buy and then looking forward to the future, too.
Well, Adelaide didn’t give us much time to sit and think. We put the kids to bed at home a few nights after we came home from Christmas, and an hour or so later Jude ran down the stairs crying. We thought he had thrown up and and rushed around to start cleaning up. Then, we heard Adelaide yelling from the top of the stairs – with joy. It turns out that Jude was scared and disoriented because he had woken up to the shadow of his sister crawling out of her crib.
It was now official: the baby ninja could escape from her crib, even at home.
Here comes the gamechanger: the next night, we had some friends over for New Year’s Eve. We were relaying all of these stories and options to them, and our friend said, “Wait! I saw something online a few years ago.” She said that she’d seen sleepers with fabric sewn in at the knees so that the toddler can walk but not lift their legs high enough to climb out of the crib. BINGO.
Do it yourself
A light bulb had gone off.
Sleepers? Check. My mom who can sew? Check.
We called my mom (“Nana” to Jude and Adelaide) the next day and asked if she could put together something like what our friend had described on NYE, and she was more than happy to help.
My mom was also nice enough to walk me through the steps she took to make the sleepers for us.
Create a Pattern
Because a human’s legs v-out from their waist down to their feet, the cloth used needs to be cut at an angle. My mom measured the sleeper above the knee and below the knee. With these measurements, she saw that the cloth needed to be 4 inches wide at the top and 5 inches wide at the bottom. However, you’ll need to cut wider than that to account for your sewing seams.
Cut two pieces
My mom took the measurements and then made a paper template. She used the template to cut a piece of flannel fabric that she already had on hand.
My mom folded the fabric in half so that the design was on the inside. Next, she traced the template and then cut the design out. Because the cloth was folded in on itself, she had two pieces when she was done cutting.
Sew the two pieces together to create your cloth panel
Keeping the flannel cloth design flipped inside out, she sewed the pieces together, leaving about a two-inch opening on the left-side (this will be closed together when sewn to the sleeper). This allowed her to turn the fabric around to where the design was showing and leave the seem on the inside.
Note: She used a regular straight stitch to sew these two pieces together. Also, she backstitched the end of each seam so the stitch would hold.
Sew cloth panel to the sleeper
Once the cloth panel piece is created, you are now ready to sew the cloth panel to your sleeper.
- Without making any cuts or adjustments to your sleeper, simply unzip the sleeper fully. Next, place the left leg of the sleeper flat against the sewing machine.
- Next, take the cloth panel and place the corresponding left side along the seam of the sleeper.
- Once you have the cloth panel lined up to where you want it, sew along the seam to attach the cloth panel.
- At this point, you can make sure the 2-inch opening that you left in the panel is tucked in and sewn up when attached to the sleeper.
When you have the left-side done, repeat the same steps on the right-side.
Note: She used a small zigzag stitch to attach the cloth panel to the sleeper. Again, she backstitched the end of each seam so the stitch would hold.
In the end, you have just made yourself an inexpensive sleeper that allows your toddler to still walk around but not lift their leg high enough to climb out of the crib.
Buy the anti-climbing sleeper online
If you don’t have access to a sewer or a sewing machine – or you just don’t want to deal with it – fear not, there is another solution.
I came across Little Grounders which sells the same solution I just wrote about. They sell the anti-climbing sleepers in 12 months, 18 months, 24 months, and 2T sizes in these colors: melon, pink, blue, and yellow. They are currently $35.99 each.
When it comes to our kids and safety, it isn’t something that we can put off or even put a price tag on. I hope you find this solution to be as effective and comforting as Anna and I have found it to be.
Help spread the word
We’ve been using the sleepers that my mom made for a few weeks now, and they’ve been total gamechangers. We watch Adelaide through the video monitor as she tries to lift her leg. She’s not happy about it, but she’s safe, stays in her crib, and doesn’t terrify her brother in the middle of the night. Everyone is happy. It’s a win-win.
Do you know of someone who has a toddler climber? Or maybe someone whose toddler is starting to show signs of climbing out of their crib? If so, please share this with them so that they can get ahead of this issue and prevent any unnecessary injury to their kids.