Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sleeping Under The Big Top

My nineteen-month-old son Brendan jumped out of his crib a few nights ago. Actually, it sounds like it was more of a head-first fall onto the hardwood floor than a jump. Not a graceful maneuver. This unfortunate turn of events means it is probably time to get the crib tent out.

Brendan isn't the first crib jumper in the family. In November of 2005, our then eighteen-month-old daughter Ellie started climbing out of her crib. Soon after she made her first triumphant exit, she was climbing out of her bed somewhere between twelve and twenty times a night. Eventually, she and I would just crash on the couch together out of exhaustion. And I was four-months pregnant at the time. This is not a pleasant chapter in my parenting history. I remember feeling totally defeated by my daughter. How do you convince an agile, but not ready for a big-girl bed toddler to stay put?

A friend suggested the crib tent. Out of desperation, I paid nearly two million dollars to have one overnighted. My husband and I eventually got it set up and Ellie seemed to love the adventure of the whole thing. At least, that is how I remember it. I have memories of her jumping around happily in her "big girl tent." My husband remembers her quivering with fear, clawing at the mesh and begging him to free her. And as a result, he isn't so thrilled about getting the tent out again.

So, back to my current dilemma. Brendan hasn't made another escape attempt (the pain of the first try no doubt fresh in his mind). But I am very anxious that a second try is inevitable so I rush to his room every time I hear him stir for fear that he is about to hoist himself out again.

The sleep situation at our house had been just lovely too, with both of my little ones regularly sleeping through the night, allowing for my mental clarity during the day. I don't want to go back to my days of sleeping on a couch with a toddler at 4:00 a.m. But I also readily admit that the crib tent does feel like a parental failure in many ways. Instead of really working through this new development, I am just going to cage him so I can get some sleep. Certainly more capable parents handle this situation without resorting to restraints, but I also don't want head injuries to be my last thought before drifting off to sleep each night.
So what do you think about crib tents? Emotionally-scarring baby jail? Or necessary safety measure for little escape artists? Any other ideas on how to keep a babe in his bed?

Cross-posted at Chicago Moms Blog.

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