Once the idea of climbing occurs to a little one, you may have a challenge on your hands. Suddenly, no spot may be able to hold him as he easily scales the sides of baby gates and Pack ‘n Plays. To keep your child safe, discourage climbing escapades after putting your child in the Pack ‘n Play.
Once your little escape artist discovers she can vault herself over the side of the playard, you may need to get creative to encourage her to stay inside it. You could try placing her most favorite toys inside the Pack ‘n Play with her to entice her not to escape. You could also capture her interest with a new toy she hasn’t seen before.
Keep a careful eye on your little one as he’s in the Pack ‘n Play. If you see him making ready to climb over the side, give him a clear directive not to climb. For example, you might say, “No climbing out. Stay inside and play until Mommy gets you out.” After disciplining, redirect him away from climbing. You might try distracting him with an interesting toy inside the playard. The technique of redirecting can be an effective way to discipline toddlers, states Sandra J. Bailey, Ph.D. and family and human development specialist with the Montana State University Extension. Be prepared to repeat the redirection numerous times to teach your toddler not to climb.
Another option for keeping a toddler from climbing out of the playard involves negative reinforcement of the undesired behavior. Position a timeout chair near the Pack ‘n Play to use if your toddler climbs out, recommends the authors of “What to Expect the Toddler Years." If your toddler escapes, place her in the timeout chair for a one- to two-minute timeout as a consequence for the undesired behavior. At the end of the timeout, place her back in the Pack n’ Play and tell her she needs to stay until you get her out. Repeat the timeout as many times as necessary to help your child learn not to climb.
Although it may seem attractive to purchase and install a tent over the Pack ‘n Play to prevent your child from climbing out, using these tents has a significant risk, according to the Consumer Protection Safety Commission. Many manufacturers have participated in voluntary recalls due to entanglements and entrapments of children as they attempted to climb out of the playard with the tent in place. Children can also break parts of the tent as they try to climb out. Even with improved designs, the CPSC does not recommend that parents use tents to keep children in a playard. If you cannot keep your child in the Pack ‘n Play, it may be time to stop using it.