Last updated on April 3rd, 2024

Author Avatar

Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

Learn More

Would you like me to answer your baby sleep problem in my next video? If so, scroll down and submit your question in the comment section below. I will pick several questions a month to answer and post them here on the blog.

Hi. I’m Kim West, the Sleep Lady. In today’s video, I’m going to answer Tracy’s question about her toddler climbing out of the crib:
“My 2-year-old son was recently weaned off with taking a bottle of milk before bedtime and after night awakenings. He seems to be okay with this, but he still wakes up 2 or 3 times during the night and calls for me. I’ve tried waiting it out and occasionally he’s gone back to sleep on his own, but usually he gets more awake and continues to call for me.
If I don’t come in, he is climbing out of the crib and comes to get me. If I do go to him, he wants to leave the room as if it’s morning and when I refuse, keeping it dark and putting him back in his crib he screams and becomes hysterical. I end up holding and rocking him until he’s calm usually about 30 minutes and then I put him down still awake. He then falls asleep but will wake up again, often too early at around 5:00 a.m. What can I do about this?”

Check For a New Sleep Crutch

Baby Sleep
Tracy, you gave me a lot of important information. Number one, good job on weaning him off the bottle both at bedtime and during the night! I just want to make sure that during the weaning process you didn’t inadvertently create any new sleep crutch. I don’t know what that would be, only you would know…it may be patting, singing, or swishing when you are trying to help him wean off of the bottle.   Now you’re sort of leaving him in a lurch. He doesn’t know how to go to sleep because you took away the bottle, and now you’re no longer whatever the potential sleep crutch is, and he just doesn’t know what to do. That’s important.

Climbing Out of The Crib is Not Safe

The other thing is I noticed he’s climbing out of the crib. In a word: Yikes! That means that either you’re probably going to transition him to a toddler bed, although you may not feel that he is ready.  To keep him in the crib, make sure the crib mattress is all the way down on the lowest setting so that it’s harder for him to climb out.   Make sure that there’s nothing in the crib that he can use to climb to get out (think pillows, stuffed animals, etc.). The other thing is you could use a sleep sack, you may have to tighten it around his body so that he can’t lift his leg up if that’s the way he’s getting out of the crib. Those are a couple suggestions to keep him in the crib.

How Awake Is He?

And then the final, very important point is: Is he completely awake at bedtime? This is critical. There are some things you said that make me think he may not be awake enough. During the process of sleep coaching in the beginning, did you see a struggle at bedtime, or are you a parent that said ‘bedtime is a piece of cake, it’s this middle of the night wakening so he’s missing me‘? That’s usually a sign.   If you have a child that wakes up multiple times during the night and bedtime is in 5 minutes, then the warning bells go off for me and I think he needs to be more awake. Try an earlier bedtime, and putting him in bed completely awake. If you need to revisit The Shuffle to help him get off of a potentially new sleep crutch you created, it’s okay, just proceed forward. That should really help your situation. I hope that helps you to figure out the climbing.
Video filmed by In Focus Studios

If you have struggled with your toddler calling for you from his or her bedroom, feel free to share your experiences and support on The Sleep Lady’s Facebook Page. Supporting each other makes parenting so much easier!


Author: Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

My name is Kim West, and I’m the mother of two beautiful girls, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 21 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. My sleep journey began when I started experimenting with gently shaping my daughter’s sleep by not following the conventional wisdom at the time. After having success (and then more success with my second daughter!), I began helping family and friends and my step-by-step method spread like wildfire, exactly like an excellent night of sleep for a tired parent should!