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Crib Climbers

Anna Rosenberg of Chicago was settling down for the evening when she got an unexpected visitor: her daughter Alexis, 20 months, whom she'd just tucked into her crib. "She stepped on her stuffed animals to climb out," says Rosenberg.

When Alexis managed to scale her crib even without the toys, her mom admitted defeat and got a toddler bed.

It can be scary when kids climb to new heights. By the time they're around 18 months old, most children have developed the physical skills that make climbing possible  -- but not the ability to judge the danger, says Rohit Shenoi, M.D., an emergency-room physician at Texas Children's Hospital, in Houston. If your child can control his upper body, jump on both feet, and bend over to pick up something, he can probably also escape the crib. (Not all kids try, though. Your child has to want to go exploring  -- and have a bit of a fearless streak, too.)

If your toddler's a climber, give up the crib, says Dr. Shenoi. (You can skip the toddler-bed stage, but start with a mattress on the floor for safety.) If he isn't climbing, he should still be moved when he's 35 inches tall (most kids won't get there until 2).