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Crib Tent Safety: Should You Use A Crib Tent?

Are crib tents safe to use when your little one is a crib-climber? Here’s everything you need to know about crib tent safety.

toddler boy standing up in crib

I don’t know about you, but I remember I felt super overwhelmed by all of the product advertisements when my daughter was younger.

Let’s be honest: parents are tired! It’s hard to resist a product promising to help our kiddos (and us) get more rest.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that there’s no shortage of baby and toddler-related products out there that promise better sleep for your little one.

The trouble is, not every product aimed at better baby sleep actually works. Even worse, not every product marketed for our children is safe.

One example is crib tents.

If your toddler is climbing out of their crib, crib tents seem super appealing.

Crib tents advertise that they’re a way to keep babies from escaping their cribs when they should be sleeping. But are they safe?

Unfortunately, crib tents come with some controversy regarding safety standards. When it comes to crib tent safety, the risks may outweigh the benefits.

What is a Crib Tent?

A crib tent is a tent-like accessory for a baby’s crib that encloses the top and makes the sides taller. Many of them market themselves as a way to keep your baby from climbing out of the crib.

I totally understand the appeal of crib tents. Newly acquired climbing skills can be a major disruption to your little one’s sleep!

The thing is, not all crib tents are created equal when it comes to design, functionality, and production materials.

But other crib tents are made of mesh-like material that is fastened to the sides of a crib and have a bottom that goes under the crib mattress. Crib tents like this claim to keep kids from climbing out of their cribs.

You attach most crib tents firmly to the crib—they don’t simply stand over it like the SlumberPod. That might sound appealing to a parent who is exhausted by a child who is climbing out of their crib every night, but it can actually pose a safety risk.

crib with a small canopy on top

Is It Safe to Use a Crib Tent?

Over the past couple of decades, there are many documented cases of injuries and even deaths related to their use.

Ten years ago, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) launched a crib tent recall of all crib tents and play yards manufactured by a company called Tots in Mind, Inc.

CPSC cited 27 known tent failures, which included at least one crib tent death and many other injuries.

While that recall was company-specific (and Tots in Mind, Inc. is now no longer in business), it was significant enough to give parents everywhere pause about the safety of crib tents as a whole.

What Does the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Say About Crib Tent Safety?

The AAP has not specifically addressed crib tent safety. However, it’s pretty easy to see based on some of their other baby accessory guidance that the AAP would not endorse the use of crib tents.

For example, the AAP warns parents to avoid using crib accessories like bumpers because they can cause suffocation and entanglement risks. 

Crib tents are made from similar fabric, and you attach them to the crib in a similar way to bumpers. That means you could apply the AAP’s concerns about bumper safety to crib tent safety as well.

You might be wondering: are crib tents safe for toddlers?

While toddlers are definitely more strong and maneuver themselves better than infants, that doesn’t dismiss concerns about entanglement and suffocation altogether.

If you’re concerned about your toddler climbing out of their crib, it might be time to transition to a toddler bed.

toddler boy standing up in crib

The Bottom Line on Crib Tent Safety

You may have heard from someone that a crib tent worked wonders in their household. Word of mouth and personal recommendations can be useful, but ultimately your baby’s safety is your responsibility.

For me, the potential for harm, injury, and/or death posed by crib tents that are not bottomless (unlike the bottomless SlumberPod) is too great to ignore.

As with all products you use for your baby, it’s important to do your research before using them. It’s also important to frequently inspect the products you’re using with your baby, looking for signs of wear or damage.

To look up potential safety complaints against various baby products (including crib tents), you can use the CPSC website to search for unsafe products.

toddler climbing out of the crib

How Do I Keep My Toddler from Climbing Out of Their Crib?

So if crib tents aren’t safe, what’s a good crib tent alternative to keep your little one from climbing out of their crib?

The good news is there are things you can change about your little one’s room and how they dress for bed that may help.

The first thing to do is to make sure that the crib mattress is on its lowest setting. You’ll also want to make sure there’s no furniture near their crib that they can use to help them climb out.

Some cribs are taller on the back side than the front, so you can also try turning the crib around backwards. The shorter side will be against the wall, making it harder to climb out.

If your toddler is able to get out of their crib by putting a leg over the side, you could also try using a toddler sleep sack to make it harder for them to lift their leg up and over. You can even find pajamas with a sewn-in fabric panel that stops toddlers from climbing.

While I recommend trying to wait as close to three years old as possible to transition to a toddler bed, sometimes it has to happen sooner. Don’t stress!

toddler sleep training mockup guide

Solve Your Toddler’s Sleep Problems

If you’re dealing with bedtime battles, let me help. The Toddler Sleep Training guide is a downloadable PDF that covers all the biggest sleep disruptions and transitions for your toddler.

Whether you need help transitioning to a toddler bed, dropping the pacifier habit, or just have questions about the best sleep schedule for your toddler, I’ve got you covered. Check it out here.

Amy Motroni