If I've learned anything from being a parent, it's that no two kids are alike. However, there is one common theme in my household...climbing. My kids are climbers. My brain can't even compute what it means when another parents says, "My kids just don't climb." Hmm. I wonder what that must be like.
Truth is, whether you have climbers like I do or not, there is a good chance you will get to experience the fun stage of climbing out of the crib. Just because your child is able to climb out of their crib though, does not mean that they are ready for a "big kid" bed. Many children are physically capable of climbing before they are developmentally ready for an open bed. One of the biggest challenges is that you never know when your child will embark on this new adventure, so it's best to be prepared ahead of time.
I encourage parents to keep their child in a crib as long as possible.The ideal age to move your child from his crib to a bed is when he starts asking to sleep in a bed, often around the age of 3. If your child is younger than 2.5 years old when he starts climbing out of his crib, I strongly recommend trying one or more of the following "tricks" to keep him in his crib.
Turn the crib around
If the back of his crib has a high side, you can turn the crib around so the high side is on the outside. Doing this may prevent your child from being able to climb out.
You can watch your child through a video monitor or by standing at the door (out of sight). When he starts to lift his leg to climb, firmly say "NO". If done consistently every time he lifts his leg to climb, you should see attempts to climb out stop within a few nights.
This is my favorite method for keeping your child in his crib. Whether you used a sleep sack when he was younger, or have never used one at all, it is still something you can introduce at this age. The sleep sack will prevent him from lifting his leg high enough to climb out of the crib. To prevent him from unzipping it and getting out, simply put the sleep sack on backward. He may protest for a night or two, but I find that most kids get used to the sleep sack pretty quickly.
Tip: Consider buying one size down from the sizing noted on the package. In my personal experience, the size that corresponded to my child's actual measurements provided a head/neck opening so large he was able to slip his whole body through it.
If you've given these tricks a good go 'round and your child is still climbing out of the crib, it may be necessary to transition to a toddler bed for safety reasons. Before doing so, put a plan in place for how you are going to respond if your child gets out of bed or room. And if you're not sure what to do, find a pediatric sleep consultant that can help you.