C recently figured out how to escape from his crib. While we’re very proud of him and encourage him to explore and discover new things, this one is tough. He’s never been a great sleeper (as in, he sleeps fine once he does fall asleep, but usually plays for a good hour, often longer, before he decides to shut down), so being able to escape sure complicates bedtime. He first got out a couple weeks ago, but knocked himself on the chin enough that it scared him for a while. Of course, practice makes perfect, so on Sunday he tried again, and had none of the earlier problems that he had experienced. I lowered the mattress, first to the lowest setting on the crib, then when that didn’t contain him, I just lowered it all the way to the floor. Yep, that didn’t work either. The rail is about at eye-level, and the boy can still get his leg up that high to pull himself out (good for him for being that flexible – in about 15 years, he won’t be able to lift his leg up past his waist…).
The most unfortunate part about it all is that he’s so stinking cute. If we’re sitting out in the hall, he’ll come out of his room and sit quietly next to us, or pat us on the back and say hi. He’ll sneak down the stairs as quietly as possible before jumping out to surprise us. The first time he got out on Sunday, he came downstairs and just walked over and said “Hi, mommy, hi, daddy,” with a big smile on his face, clearly impressed with what he had done and wanting us to share in his excitement with him. When I put him back in the crib, he said “Night, night,” closed his eyes, and hugged his monkey, thinking he could trick me, then as soon as I left his room, he was back up again. (I know, many parents of older kids are just smiling knowingly, but we’re first-timers here.) We repeated this for quite some time, then eventually it got so late that I just let him stay up. Bedtime wasn’t too bad Sunday night because he was so tired, but nap times so far this week have gone much the same way. The hard part is, he’ll finally get so frustrated that he’ll end up crying himself to sleep, which is hard to listen to, because he sounds so sad that we’re not letting him enjoy his newfound skills.
Our strategy so far has just been to keep putting him back in bed, not saying anything or making eye contact after the initial good-nights. He’s mostly unfazed by it all, and acts like nothing is out of the ordinary when he comes down, and it goes on for well over an hour. Then he starts to cry, at which point he’ll usually stay in.
We know it’s time for a bed, so that’s on the list, but I’m hoping that we can at least start working toward getting him to recognize what naps and bedtime are for, so that when we do get a bed, he’s already somewhat transitioned. He clearly still needs naps, but he would go all day if we let him. I’m glad he’s so curious and loves to explore, but, AAHHH! We (particularly S) count on him taking a nap in the afternoons, so we can either get something done, or do nothing.
So the question of the day is for any parents. I’m sure most kids go through something like this, if not escaping from cribs, at least in the transition to a bed. Any secrets? Or is it just persistence, and near-breakdowns for mommy and daddy for a while?