Last updated on August 2nd, 2021

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

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This week, I’m going to answer a mom’s sleep question about how to sleep train her climbing toddler:

Would you like to have me answer your toddler 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!

“We have a 22 month old climber who recently started climbing out of her crib. I have removed all but a few stuffed animals that she sleeps with but she can still go right up and over. THUD. “Luckily, she’s not really hurting herself. I’ve put pillows around, I’ve put her back in her crib, but the more I come in, the more active she becomes. And with my son, I simply had to just tell him not to climb out or he’d hurt himself.  I wish that still worked. He tried for a few days and that was it.
“We didn’t transition him until he was two and three quarters, and he did fine. From your book, I know she’s not ready to transition to a toddler bed, and my husband is really pushing for it in fear that she will hurt herself. But I’m the primary caregiver so I’m the one to put her down again, and again, and again and I still need to get up to get my son to school. So I’d prefer a solution that keeps her put until she’s ready.My exhaustion is wearing on everyone. I don’t feel well. My patience is long gone. And with crib tents recalled, what is there left to do?”

Use a Sleep Sack

I know, sleepy mommy. I’m bummed about crib tents being recalled, too, because there are just good times and situations for them. That being said, you’re right. 22 months old is really too young to be in a bed. You could try again and safety proof the room, then put up a gate if you insist, but I would, before you go that way, try putting a sleep sack on her and sewing it a little bit tighter in the back so that she can’t lift her leg up. Some of the sleep sacks are quite big and toddlers can lift their leg up, so make sure she’s not able to do that.
I also would, for safety, sit next to her crib, as that’s one of the best ways to stop her. If you feel like sitting right next to her is too stimulating, then scoot away a little bit. If you want start sleep training before you have a sleep sack and she puts her feet up, I would just push her toes down and say “No climbing. Night, night.  Shh.” I would stay there and close my eyes so that you can really stop her before she does climb out of the crib.

Be Flexible

Now, I’m not saying she won’t wake up in the middle of the night and pop out of the crib. She absolutely can. That’s why I think you may  want try a sleep sack. I would try that and see how it works before abandoning ship and just transitioning her to a toddler bed. Just know that if you do transition her to a toddler bed, then you’ll probably have to gate the door and safety proof the room. With her in a toddler bed, it will take a little bit longer to sleep train her than normal, okay? It’s not impossible, just harder and a little longer. I hope that helps.

Video filmed by In Focus Studios


Ask your questions on the The Sleep Lady’s Facebook Page where Certified Gentle Sleep Coaches are available for further help. Celebrate your successes, too, by sharing your stories with others!  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!