** Editor's Note: On My 16, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning, indicating that infants and toddlers are at risk of serious injury or death due to strangulation and entrapment hazards presented by crib tents.
Some toddlers are just so anxious to get out of their crib that they are scaling the sides as early as 15 months. My first baby learned to escape her crib Mission Impossible-style at 17 months. She gave me no warning and just showed up at the side of my bed one morning at 6 a.m. Needless to say, she scared the crap out of me when I woke up with her just standing there staring at me.
After five unsuccessful nights of trying to keep her in her crib, we invested in a crib tent and never looked back. We used our crib tent from the time she was 17 months until we moved her to a "big girl" bed at two and a half years old. Knowing we would have other children, we packed away the crib tent until we needed it again. Lo and behold, my third child was also an escape artist at 18 months. That was one year ago, and we still happily have the crib tent installed on my son's crib today.
Why a crib tent
A crib tent can be useful in two ways: 1) For an early crib-escaping toddler and/or 2) for use with a baby to keep pets (most commonly cats) from jumping in a baby's crib. Either way, the crib tent works wonders. It is basically a safety product no matter which use you get it for. It will keep a cat from getting to a newborn and keep your toddler from a potential fall when escaping his or her crib. If you've ever seen a toddler escape a crib, you know it can be a very scary thing for the person watching. One slip and the child could go crashing to the floor. I've heard plenty of horror stories of tiny little toddlers with broken bones and dislocated shoulders and elbows from a crib fall.
How it works
The Crib Tent by Tots in Mind is a mesh tent that you install on a baby's crib. It completely encloses your child -- fitting all the way under the crib mattress -- providing a mesh wall to keep your child from getting his or her arms or legs stuck in the crib slats.
The top of the Crib Tent features a large, domed and zippered opening that allows a parent to zip his or her child into his or her crib but still allows the child to stand with plenty of headroom. My favorite feature -- besides keeping my child in his crib -- is that the zipper is only on the outside, which keeps toddlers from unzipping it themselves.
If you have a family cat and a newborn or an early crib-escaping toddler, I highly recommend investing in a crib tent. They aren't cheap, but they are worth their weight in gold when you need them.