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Is our toddler done with her crib?
Q: Our 15-month-old climbs out of her crib and playpen at night while we’re asleep. What can we do to encourage her to stay in her crib? Is she too young for a toddler bed? We tried to put her in one, but she woke up a few hours later and cried: HELP! Chelsea has a 7-year-old sister.
A: Your daughter’s behavior is puzzling. Since she cried when you put her in a toddler bed, it doesn’t seem as though she is climbing out to protest being confined to a crib. What does she do when she climbs out? Try to get in bed with you? Play with her toys? Wake up her sister and try to get her to play? Does she seem frightened? Or is she merely eager to move around on her own? Observe what she does and how she acts a few times, and I think you’ll have a better idea of how to handle it.

In the meantime, I think I would assume that she wants to be a “big girl.” Acting on that assumption, you could try to strike a bargain with her. Tell her that when she learns to stay in her bed all night so that you don’t have to worry that she will get hurt, you’ll get her a big bed like her sister’s. By the way, why would she ever be in her playpen at night? Maybe you need to rethink the whole family’s sleep patterns.

Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education