Babies are experts when it comes to getting themselves in all kinds of trouble. Whether it’s escaping from their crib or getting their legs stuck in between the bars, they always find a way to make our lives more “exciting”.
Most babies do get their legs or arms stuck in between the crib slats. It’s a very common thing that happens and usually doesn’t result in any serious harm. But it can be a bit scary for parents when it happens!
Mine did that for a couple of weeks and then grew out of it. After a few times of getting her legs stuck in the crib, she just stopped doing it. It seems that natural consequences are the fastest teacher. Babies eventually learn the boundaries of their crib. So hopefully, it’s just a short phase for your baby as well!
However, until your baby learns the “boundaries” of their crib, there are some things you can do to help prevent your baby from getting their legs stuck in the crib.
Use a sleep sack
The best thing you can do to keep your baby’s legs from getting stuck in their crib is to use a sleep sack to contain their feet. Sleep sacks are wearable blankets that zip up around the baby’s body and keep them snug and warm. This way, even if they kick their legs out in the night, they won’t be able to get them through the bars of the crib.
A sleep sack is also a great sleep cue for your baby. Once you put them in the sleep sack they know it’s time to go to sleep because they associate it with bedtime. An added bonus is that it makes climbing out of the crib more difficult.
We loved using the quilted Halo sleep sack during that period of time. It worked well at preventing this because it’s made of fairly thick material, and they fit up to 36 lbs. In the summertime, you can switch to a lighter muslin sleep sack to prevent overheating.
Related: Are Sleep Sacks Safe For Babies?
Make sure your crib is up to standards and has no recalls
It’s very important to make sure that your crib is up to current safety standards. The spacing between the slats should be no more than 2-3/8 inches (6 centimeters). You can measure this by using a thin ruler or a piece of paper. If the space is any larger, your baby’s head could fit through and get stuck.
You should also check to make sure that the slats are firmly attached to the crib and not loose. If they are, your baby could potentially pull them out and use them to climb out of the crib.
You can also check for recalls regarding your specific crib model on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website. This will tell you if there have been any reports of the crib you’re using being unsafe.
Place your baby “feet to foot” of the crib
I found that putting my baby down with her feet touching the foot of the crib really helped. For some reason, it seemed like if her feet were touching the foot of the crib she was less likely to kick them out and get them stuck.
I’m not sure why this is, but it worked for us! Maybe it has something to do with the fact that babies like to feel the presence of a boundary and will move around looking for one. So if they already feel one at their feet, they are more likely to stay in place.
Use a pack n play as a temporary crib replacement
If your baby is still getting their legs stuck in their crib, you may want to consider using a pack n play instead. A pack n play is basically a mini crib that can be used for travel or as a temporary sleeping space.
The nice thing about a pack n play is that they typically have higher mesh sides which make it more difficult for your baby to climb out or get their legs stuck.
This of course is a last resort and is only a temporary solution. But it may be worth it to get through this phase without any more incidents if you are too worried about your baby getting injured!
Crib bumpers are a no go
You may have heard that using crib bumpers can help prevent your baby from getting their legs stuck in the crib. However, it is not worth taking the risk!
Crib bumpers are actually a safety hazard and are not recommended by the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics). They can cause your baby to suffocate or get tangled up in the fabric and choke. So it’s best to avoid them altogether.
Additionally, if your baby is really determined, they could pull at them and end up getting their legs stuck anyways. So it’s just not worth the risk.
What about mesh bumpers, are they safe?
Mesh bumpers only “sound” safe. They are advertised as a breathable and safer alternative to regular crib bumpers. However, they are not actually any safer and still pose a strangulation risk.
The main concern with mesh bumpers isn’t breathing, but rather your baby pulling at it and getting tangled in it. This risk is actually more dangerous than simply getting a leg stuck in between the crib slats.
Babies generally don’t die from getting their legs stuck in the crib, it’s just annoying and can be a painful moment for your baby but they generally get right back to sleep after you help them out of it. On the other hand, babies can die from strangling on bumpers.
Ultimately, it is up to you as a parent whether to follow safe sleep recommendations or not. But it’s best to just avoid all bumpers, mesh or otherwise.
Steer away from crib positioners!
Crib positioners are devices that are meant to keep your baby in a certain position while they sleep. They are usually wedge-shaped and made of foam or some other soft material.
You may think that using a crib positioner will help prevent your baby from getting their legs stuck in the crib, but this is not the case. In fact, crib positioners are actually a suffocation hazard and are not recommended by the AAP.
This is because they can block your baby’s nose and mouth, causing them to suffocate. Additionally, babies can roll over onto their stomachs and get wedged into the positioner, which can also lead to suffocation.
What to do if your baby’s leg gets really stuck?
If your baby’s legs get really stuck in the crib, don’t panic. There are a few things that you can do to help them out.
For starters, try wiggling their legs back and forth. This may help them to slip out. If that doesn’t work, you can try lifting them out of the crib. Be very careful not to pinch their legs between the crib slats.
Alternatively, you can try pushing one rail in and pulling the other rail out to make room for your baby’s legs to get unstuck without harming your baby.
If all of that fails, you can call for help. Hopefully, someone will be able to come and help get your baby out without any injuries. But chances are, you won’t need to go that route.
What can happen if your baby’s legs get stuck in the crib?
According to a study about injuries related to cribs in the United States, only 6% of the injuries involving cribs resulted from being caught or wedged in the crib. And the vast majority of injuries were not life-threatening.
If your baby gets their leg or arm stuck in the crib, they will likely be completely fine once you help them out. A bruise or some scrapes can occur if their skin gets pinched between the slats of the crib, but that is usually the worst that will happen.
Can your baby possibly break their leg in the crib?
This is possibly the worst nightmare scenario for a parent. But, thankfully, it is highly unlikely that your baby will break their leg if it gets stuck in the crib.
The risk of a baby breaking their leg while in the crib is about 1 in 10,000. So, as long as you are following safe sleep practices, your baby is much more likely to be just fine.
I hope these tips help you in preventing your baby from getting their legs stuck in their crib! If you have any other tips, please share them in the comments below. We would love to hear from your personal experience!