Do You Really Need a Crib Tent?

More importantly: is it safe?

Portrait of female toddler hiding behind comfort blanket in crib : Stock Photo CompEmbedShareADD TO BOARD Portrait of female toddler hiding behind comfort blanket in crib
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A crib tent is a cover that attaches to a crib to prevent a toddler from climbing out of the crib. In some cases, it also prevents pets from climbing into the crib. Time and again the American Academy of Pediatrics has warned us that crib tents can be dangerous, particularly during emergency situations, because it can be extremely time-consuming to detach the top part of the tent and remove the child.

As a parent or caregiver, it's important to stay current with product recalls. It seems like there's a new recall every day; crib tents are no exception. In fact, there are certain models of crib tents that have been deemed unsafe for use with toddlers. However, when used properly, parents might find crib tents to be extremely helpful, especially when it comes to a preventing a toddler who is prone to climbing from getting out of the crib.

A crib tent is by no means a necessary purchase, but if you have ​a curious toddler, it might be a smart investment. Before you make a purchase, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Visibility. You should be able to see your child clearly through whatever material the tent is made from.
  • Breathability. The material should allow for good air circulation so your child is not at risk for overheating, suffocation or SIDs.
  • Space. Your child should be able to comfortably stand and even jump up and down when the tent is secured. If the tent makes your child feel trapped and constricted, it could cause emotional discomfort and prevent a good night's sleep.
  • Ease of use. Look for a crib tent that is easy to attach and detach, but won't come loose if your child fusses with it. It should also fit your particular crib model and be machine washable.
  • Safety. Choose a crib tent that is flame retardant.

As previously mentioned, a crib tent isn't a necessity. If you're thinking about getting a crib tent, assess your toddler's developmental point first.

Your child might seem like they should still be in a crib, but they could be ready to move on. Consider these crib tent alternatives:

  • Reposition crib items. Before you give up on your current crib or buy a crib tent, see if you can make the crib less "climb-friendly" by removing items including crib bumpers or padding and lowering the mattress. Problem solved!
  • A convertible crib. It seems like more and more parents are turning to cost-effective convertible cribs designed to transition with a child. By converting your crib into a bed, you may be able to remove the thrill of climbing. Your toddler will feel less confined, and if they do want to get out of bed they can do it safely instead of dangerously climbing over the side of a crib.
  • A toddler bed. A crib is not likely to be able to hold a child who is more than 36 inches tall, so transitioning to a toddler bed might be your best option for a taller child.

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