Crib Tent Safety and Alternatives

Cropped Image of Baby Hand In Crib At Home

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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. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has warned that crib tents can be dangerous, particularly during emergency situations, because it can be time-consuming to detach the top part of the tent and remove the child.

Crib tent models from Tots in Mind, Inc. were recalled in 2010 and 2012 following tent failures including one catastrophic brain injury, and one fatality. The dangers of these models were entrapment and strangulation, which could happen if the dome inverted inside the crib or play yard or became partially detached. These crib tents were widely sold at major retailers.

Alternatives to Crib Tents

A crib tent isn't a necessity. If you're thinking about getting a crib tent, assess your toddler's developmental level 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 climbable by removing items including crib bumpers or padding and lowering the mattress. Crib bumper pads are also strongly discouraged by the AAP as they also have the risk of suffocation, strangulation, and other serious injuries.

Choose a Convertible Crib

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.

Use a Toddler Bed

A crib is not likely to be able to hold a child who is more than 36 inches tall. Transitioning to a toddler bed might be your best option for a taller child.

If You Buy a Crib Tent

If you understand the dangers of crib tents but still are considering a purchase, keep these things in mind:

  • Visibility: You should be able to see your child clearly through the tent. However, be aware that children were endangered when they were able to tear the mesh of the recalled crib tents.
  • Breathability: The tent should allow for good air circulation so your child is not at risk of 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. Be aware that many toddlers are accomplished escape artists, and if they can detach the crib tent it will create a very dangerous situation.
  • Safety: Choose a crib tent that is flame retardant. The mesh must be highly resistant to tearing by children and pets.
2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Yeh ES, Rochette LM, Mckenzie LB, Smith GA. Injuries associated with cribs, playpens, and bassinets among young children in the US, 1990-2008. Pediatrics. 2011;127(3):479-86. doi:10.1542/peds.2010-1537

  2. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Five retailers agree to stop sale and recall tots in mind crib tents due to strangulation and entrapment hazard.

By Maureen Ryan
Maureen Ryan is a freelance writer, editor, and teaching consultant specializing in health, parenting, and education.