• Tue, Feb 4 - 4:00 pm ET

The Chilling Thought Of My Toddler Escaping From His Crib At Night Is Giving Me Momsomnia

crib

I don’t know if momsomnia is a real word or not, but it is now. And it is the condition my toddler is causing in me, characterized by jolting awake at the slightest sound, worrying obsessively, and tossing and turning for hours—all at the thought of my son escaping from his crib and roaming throughout the house.

My son just turned two, and thankfully, he’s small for his age. He’s climbing on anything and everything, including our entertainment center, but he hasn’t figured out to how to jump out of his crib just yet. A friend of ours has a two and a half year old that has been making the “great escape” for well over six months now.

And what if he does escape? Well, I assume he’d start crying, and we’d hear him. Or, maybe he’d chill out in his room and fall asleep on the floor. But what if he was a total crazy person like this three year old on Reddit?

Often, he won’t even wake me or my husband up when he wakes up at 5am! he’ll just open his door, go downstairs (climbing over the gate if he has to), turn on the TV, get himself breakfast, and genererally do whatever the hell he wants. it’s scary! and i won’t even know because i’m asleep! i have a monitor on in his room, but he doesn’t make enough noise to wake me up! can you guys help me?! please?! i’m exhausted from his early wake up time (alongside of his baby sister’s nighttime routine) and i know that this isn’t a safe routine.

Oh my God, no. NO, NO, NO. The thought of my toddler climbing out of his bed and roaming about the house to do whatever he pleases makes my blood run cold. I’ve read way too many articles about the billion and one household dangers that must be kept away from kids—hanging cords, steak knives, heavy bookcases. A toddler that climbs out of bed and roams free would never allow me a peaceful night of sleep again.

Right now, we have a baby gate on my son’s door, and he’s still in his crib. Since he hasn’t learned how to climb out, his “cage” seems like the safest bet. I know many parents of two year olds are in the process of transitioning into a toddler bed, but I don’t think so. Keeping my kid in a cage for as long as possible is the only way I’m going to sleep at night.

(photo: Getty Images)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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  • aCongaLine

    When we moved my 2.5 year old to a toddler bed at 2, we secured the door handle with a chair from the office in the next room… Because new house, and stairs. Stairs that are 2 feet from her door. I’m irrationally terrified of her falling and snapping her neck in the dark. It didn’t really matter, in the end, because we put 1/2 her toys in her room…. she plays and plays and plays, and doesn’t bother to leave the room, because there’s so much to play with. Occasionally, like this morning, I’ll go in there to wake her, and she’ll be asleep on the floor with a toy pressed against her face, but all in all, she usually stays in bed.

    We transitioned her early because new baby needed the crib, and I was irrationally afraid of her climbing out of the crib and snapping her neck. So far, her neck is intact :)

    It’s tough though- especially if the “sleep routine” is precarious. Best of luck!

    • Bethany Ramos

      Yay, one good story! Did you secure the dresser too? I’m kind of freaked out about that as well, but my husband just bought furniture anchors for it. At first he thought I was just being crazy, but I convinced him. :-)

    • aCongaLine

      everything is anchored. We got this bed on sale:

      http://www.potterybarnkids.com/products/catalina-toddler-bed/

      and it holds myself, my toddler, and my husband at the same time (for stories :)

    • Kay_Sue

      This is so not crazy. Time for a Kay, the Bad Mom, Story.

      We did not secure the new dressers we got our sons. They were sturdy enough, and I was like, Meh, why shred the walls in the rental?

      Long story short, my (then) five year old legitimately opened all the drawers at the same time and tipped it over. I am so very, very lucky that neither of the boys were under it or near enough to be hurt, and now everything in our house that stands still long is firmly anchored to the wall. If you were to meet my husband, this might explain his random twitches.

    • Bethany Ramos

      My husband was skeptical, and the very weekend I was gone, my toddler did the same with a small side table!!

    • Kay_Sue

      It will scare the bejeebies out of you and send you scuttling after those anchor thingies in a heartbeat, for sure.

    • Natasha B

      I’m twitching for you. BOYS. MESSING WITH AND CLIMBING ALL THE STUFF.
      Hubs anchored all the stuff when we found out #2 was a boy. It makes rearranging a pain, but oh the peace of mind.

    • Kay_Sue

      Yeah. We finally made it a rule that they can’t climb anything taller than they are, and that bookshelves are entirely off limits, and now I don’t stress it as much. My sister was bad about it, too, so we stole that rule from my mom, actually. ;)

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Chair blocking door=fire hazard, broken neck/stairs equally bad.

    • aCongaLine

      I know. After a few days, we put a bell on her door. It jingles when she opens it. Much safer.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Whew! We had to do that with our little sleepwalker.

  • LadyClodia

    Our 2 year old went through a phase a couple of months ago where he was climbing out of his crib, and we were super worried. We have a gate across the top of the stairs, so he wouldn’t be able to get down, I don’t think, but there’s enough for him to get into upstairs too. Plus, I don’t really know how he managed it because he was still wearing his sleep sack, which is really hard for him to walk in usually. He has stopped climbing out for the most part, so we’re keeping him in the crib. He also moves around a lot in his crib when he sleeps, so I’m not comfortable with the idea of him in a toddler or regular bed yet. We will have to convert the crib to a toddler bed in a few months when we start to potty train him, but for now I’m glad that he’s still in his crib.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I read somewhere that a crib until 3 could be reasonable… So that’s my gospel!

    • Toaster

      My older son is 3 and the only reason he’s not still in a crib is because we needed it for his brother. I actually know quite a few 3-year olds (on the younger side of 3) who are still in a crib. Surprisingly, after the first few transition weeks he actually stays put in bed and won’t even get out if he needs something, he just sits there and calls for us until one of us goes in.

    • LadyClodia

      Yeah, my older son’s great pediatrician (I miss her since we’ve moved,) had told us to keep him in his crib for as long as possible, which for him ended up being a bit past 2 1/2. I’m anticipating about the same timeline for our 2 year old now. Our older son is not quiet, so I always heard him when he would get up at night, but our younger son is quiet and sneaky, and I worry about what he could get into.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Our dorm room added security system (besides locking the door) was hanging a pile of bells from the knob. We used that same system as adults when my daughter went through a sleepwalking phase.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Oh, hell yeah. What a good idea!

    • http://www.gamedevwidow.weebly.com/ Theresa Edwards

      seconded. This is why my kid has windchimes on her door handle.

    • Lilly

      I think no matter when you transition there is an annoying phase where it dawns on them that they can leave the bed at will. When my son was about 20 months we took one side off his crib to make it a toddler bed (it was designed for this) — needed to start the transition for #2, which ended up not happening but didn’t bother to go back now. He stayed there when he woke up for 2-3 months no problem. Then all of a sudden he just started leaving at will, bedtime became a hassle, we used to just leave him to fall asleep on his own after stories, now we would find him wandering the house. It took basically another round of some sleep training to get him into the idea that you stay in bed even when you wake up, and if you want something that you can call to mommy or daddy to get it (works since we still have the monitor). the result is sometimes a hilarious toddler sitting on the edge of his bed asking for “water please” while still half asleep but it works.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      oh my God we loved the sleep sacks. And now I’m picturing a toddler potato-sack race hopping down a hallway and laughing my ass off.

  • Alexandra

    This used to happen with our fish – we put a screen over the top of the tank – for kids, no idea!!

    • ChopChick

      Best. Comment. Ever.

    • Kay_Sue

      I second this.

  • Lee

    My almost 2 1/2 year old just started hopping out of the crib during naps and in the mornings when I am already at work and him and daddy sleep in. He usually just looks at books. My husband say the boy has woken up twice in the past week throwing things at him. I am actually more scared those mornings since my husband sleep like a log (so much so that when a huge branch from a 100 year old tree came down on our roof next to our room he slept right through it). As a bonus my son just figured out how to climb the baby gate. I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I am fucked and am so not ready to give up the crib.

  • Kay_Sue

    Okay, momsomnia is entirely real, or at least was for me for the first year or so.

    My (now) three year old never climbed out of his crib (he’s been in his big boy bed for about a year now), but he does sometimes get out of bed and not wake me…Once, I walked into the living room, and he was on the couch.

    Me: “Hey, bud. Why didn’t you wake me when you got up?”
    Him: “I didn’t get up. I laid on the couch and ate Reese’s.”

    And that’s the story of how our pantry door wound up with a latch.

    • Robotic Arms Dealer

      It’s only second deadly to momfluenza

    • elle

      My son did that too! Except it was potato chips not Reese ‘s. Honestly this site makes me feel so much better about my mothering skills. I felt like Thackeray mom ever when that happened but now I realize I’m not the only one and I’m probably not quite ad terrible as I think.

    • Kay_Sue

      That’s precisely the reason I love Mommyish too. We are not alone!

    • Robotic Arms Dealer

      Eve said I can join Mommyish as long as I’m not too offensive

    • Kay_Sue

      You seem to be doing well so far. Just stick with robotic arms.

    • Robotic Arms Dealer

      ;-D

  • Robotic Arms Dealer
    • Bethany Ramos

      LOL!

    • Robotic Arms Dealer

      Don’t forget the feeding troth and watering bottle

  • Jessica

    I think that your solid sleep scheduling with your son should give you a limited peace of mind. If he was a night owl who wakes and wants to play, etc. I would be more worried. Your son usually puts himself back down without a whole lot of fuss, right? Then again, he’s a toddler. And a boy. Never mind. Go sleep on his floor.

  • Sam Inoue

    We have a balcony and live in a 13th floor apartment, so yeah I had a little of this when my daughter first started walking. I was sure she was gonna plummet to her death. Needless to say she lived, we just secured it high up :)

  • Toaster

    My brother started roaming when he was about three. We lived in an apartment at the time. He would pull a chair up to the front door, unlock it and open it, wander around the hall for a bit, come back, re-lock the door, and then put the chair back. Nobody had any idea he was doing this until he broke until the landlady’s unlocked apartment one morning and she called the police because she thought she was being robbed.

    I was skeptical about this story until our older son demonstrated his newfound ability to unlock and open the outside doors when he was 2. Fortunately our house is tiny and my husband is such a light sleeper that if our son decided to roam in the middle of the night my husband would wake up. We also have the exterior doors alarmed and used to have baby proof things on the handles but our son has figured out how to open those now too..

    • Bethany Ramos

      OMG no!!!

    • Kay_Sue

      My middle sister was bad about this. We lived in a house, in the middle of a field, in the country. There were animals everywhere, from dogs running in semi-feral packs to even the occasional bobcat to snakes of a variety of kinds. She would do almost the same thing, except with the sliding glass door. No one has any idea how long she did it, but she was finally caught because she woke up one morning missing her beloved blanket. My parents looked everywhere, and finally asked her if she knew where it was.

      “In the yard. Between our house and (neighbor’s) house”. My dad went out to check, and sure enough, there it was.

      She also demonstrated that she was able to open most locks. She could pick any interior lock, and when my grandfather installed one of those chainlocks to try to keep her in, she said, “I can open that.” He said, incredulously, “How?” so she pulled up a chair, climbed on it, opened the lock, moved the chair, and went outside.

      Her years as a toddler/small child were a nightmare. No idea how she survived them!

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    Too bad cribs don’t have lids.

    I kid, I kid…

    • Natasha B

      I think you can put those tent like things on the top….

    • Kay_Sue

      Can you find those anymore? We had one for our older son, but there weren’t any available for our younger. It was one reason we wound up moving him out of his crib earlier.

    • Natasha B

      I haven’t see one for a few years, sadly. That’s why we had to move our son out so early (18 mos), because he could scale that thing. He went from being an awesome sleeper to a nightmare for a year.
      Our littlest is still confined in her crib at 20months, hers is really low, so I’m planning on keeping her in there until she’s, like, 5. I’ve already informed hubby we will be buying a new crib for baby in June.
      I’m not against crating. The dog’s crate is huuuuge, and with blankets they should be fine….

  • AlexMMR

    Put Christmas bells on the door so it makes a racket that will wake you up if the door is opened.

    • AP

      I did this at a job to keep people from sneaking up on my staff, I can vouch. Get the big jingle bells, not the cute little ones, and put them on a long string where they’ll dangle and move around easily when the door is opened. The little bells go “tink tink” and you can’t hear them, and tightly secured bells also just go “clink” instead of making a racket.

    • tSubh Dearg

      All the suggestions of putting bells on the door makes me suspicious of the hanging birds with large bell on the end that was hung on my door and then later another was hung on my sister’s door.
      I’m starting to think they weren’t just there to be cute but to alert my mum to my movements. So sneaky!

  • Natasha B

    It was the worst day of my life when our son (at 18mos) figured out how to escape his crib. I still shudder at the memory of those nights.
    It’s better now, that he’s 4.
    One word:lock his door.

  • MaebykittyRN

    I had a baby cousin who died while falling out of his crib in the middle of the night. I am now THE MOST paranoid. Do they make “lids” for cribs? I will buy one in a heartbeat.

  • Aussiemum

    Mr 7 loved climbing out of his cot! And out the door of his room and straight in to the older kids room, and start bashing them with random stuffed teddies. So we put a lock on his door, with the key hole on the inside, but basically useless as we soon found out.
    After we put the lock on his door, he still managed to escape and couldn’t figure out how he was getting past the lock. I heard him wake up from his nap one afternoon and quickly raced outside to watch how he was escaping. He was getting his zip up hoodies and putting the flat end of the zipper, into the keyhole and turning the lock. I was like wtf? I would never have thought of doing something like that. So in the end the door stayed unlocked and I was outsmarted by a toddler.

    • Bethany Ramos

      LOL – he is a GENIUS!!

  • CoreneGodoy

    Now The Baby can do it anything .The Baby is learn to anything from Mom and Father.
    http://aminomuscleblog.com/

  • Katja Yount

    Apparently in order to get some sleep my mother would lock my bedroom door at night because I was the master of escaping my crib and roaming the upstairs of our modern design home in Germany. And this house wasn’t exactly built for baby gates, if my parents even had them. Basically she would stay up nights worried that I was going to leave my room and take a tumble down our granite slatted stair case or slip through the stairs and onto the marble tiled landing below. Then she locked the bedroom door and got some shut eye for a change. I was next door to their room so they could hear me if I was crying about something. And we moved to a carpeted 1 story house in the States before I was old enough to have refined walking skills so the habit of locking the nursery door ended then and there.

    • Lala

      What if there was a fire and you had difficulty locating the lock? That’s why I won’t ever lock my kids door

    • Katja Yount

      It was the kind of lock that if you turned the doorknob it would unlock the mechanism. My parents just installed it so that the lock would be engaged from the outside and their plan was to take it off once I was old enough to sleep through the night without insisting on walking around in the dark. But we ended up moving before then and they opted for a single story because of my patterns.

  • telepanda

    Our son climbed out of his crib exactly twice. The first time he came in our room in the middle of the night and woke us up. The second time was the following evening, after I lowered the mattress to a previously undiscovered fourth setting, when he looked me in the eye and vaulted out again. We took the side off the crib then and there. No broken necks in our house, thanks.

    At that time he couldn’t operate a doorknob so we just closed his door. It was a few weeks of hell: he was FURIOUS because we’d ruined his crib. For the next two weeks when I tried to leave at bedtime he would hurl himself at the door screaming and wrap his fingers around the door so I couldn’t close it. It got to where I had to shove him into the room so he’d be staggering and off balance long enough to get the door shut. Then he would go to his bed and sob heartbrokenly. After a couple of weeks of this Christmas rolled around and we traveled to see relatives and broke all the routines, and then it was fine when we got back.

    No trouble at all transitioning to a twin bed, though. We did the transition at the same time as we moved house. In the new place we have a doorknob cover so he can’t get out at night, though he doesn’t really try. We’ll about to tackle night potty training, though, and then we’ll have to let him loose. I like all the bell ideas.

  • Kat

    Storytime! I shared a bedroom with my baby brother and got in so much trouble for turning on the light each night. I’d wake the baby! Wasn’t the nightlight enough? My parents wouldn’t believe my insistence that I was innocent – baby brother was turning on the light. I don’t fully blame them. To get to the light switch he had to climb over the foot of the crib (which was one of those arching monstrosities meant for show homes), onto the changing table, lean out to the switch, and then repeat to get back into the crib. All this from a tubby little guy who’d shown no other propensities to climb. I wasn’t absolved until the time he decided getting back into the crib was too much work and began crying while still sitting on the changing table. And that’s the origins of my mother’s first grey hairs…

    • Bethany Ramos

      OMG! I love the blame the sibling game :)

  • Andeli63

    Anyone else reverse the doorknob of their bedroom so you can use the lock?

    • tangerine

      Yep. My boy didn’t escape his crib until he was 3.5, next day we turned that doorknob around. There is no way I could sleep if there was any chance he could be wandering the house alone at night.

  • Denise

    Here is our solution! http://wp.me/p4rp15-2