When a kid is in the crib phase, they accept their fate for good amount of time; my son was generally happy to be in his crib, but we saw a look in his eyes that said, in the plain english that he was not yet able to speak, “dudes, you realize that I’m out of this motherf***ker the second my leg is long enough to swing up here, right? Once I get out of here, I own the place. I will help myself to food. I will turn on the television and order OnDemand porn. I will log onto this apartment complex’s website and take you off the lease. I will set the couch on fire, and I will crap in a drawer, somewhere, and you won’t find it until it’s too late. BTW, thanks for giving me milk every day. It’s great for my growing bones.”

I don’t know where my son learned to curse, but I’m assuming it came from me. Also, I couldn’t punish him for it since he said it with his eyes, not his mouth.

What can a parent do to keep their kid in bed once the crib front comes off? There are as many opinions as parents, and it seems like every father’s got a solution that’s worked for them and not someone else. After the jump, 8BitDad lets you know what other fathers (and a couple of mothers) have done.

Every parent is excited for the day that they get to use the claw-side of the hammer to pry the front off their kid’s crib and turn it into a “big boy/girl bed.” The next morning, those parents immediately regret the decision and try to find a cage big enough for people to not regard using it as child abuse.

Adults know that sleepy-time is important time. Your bed is the place you recharge and rest up for the next s**tstorm of a day. Kids don’t know that – and that’s why not only will they refuse to sleep, but then will take out their grogginess on you the next day.

Pro Tip: Some parents use the crib as a “time-out” area – which does nothing but make bedtime seem like punishment-time. There’s long-standing advice for adults to not use their bed for anything other than sleep (and sexy-time), because your brain will begin to associate bed with whatever else it is that you’re laying there doing – reading, checking e-mail, playing video games, etc. The same goes for your kid – the only thing you should lay your kid in the crib for is sleep. If you use the crib as a way to wrangle your kid during shower time or as a punishment for getting into something s/he shouldn’t have, then they’ll create a negative association with the crib, and will make bedtimes worse than necessary.

It’s important that when you move your kid from crib to big boy/girl bed that you understand it’s going to be tough. As we try to remind you constantly, you signed up to be a father, so it’s now time to put the time and effort into it. I’m a real fan of the repetition/routine method of parenting – that is, instead of yelling louder or spanking harder (or at all), I just repeat things until I’m blue in the face. If he gets off his naughty-chair, I put him back on. If he doesn’t pick up his toys before bed, I walk him back out to the living room and ask him again. If he touches something he shouldn’t, I give him a firm “do NOT touch that,” and turn him around. As many times as it takes, I do it. So it seemed only natural that my first choice would be to decide to walk his ass back to bed as many times as it took.

This is a great theory on paper. Or whatever it is you kids are using these days instead of paper.

Some fathers seem to agree with this method. On Reddit’s dad-centric “subreddit” called Daddit, I asked other fathers what course of action they suggest. I capitalized users’ names so they’d stand out. User Idrill was told by his parents that he was a nightmare when he was little, but hasn’t put up any barriers. There were a few incidents, shaving cream all over the bathroom, stuff like that, but nothing bad,” Idrill said. “I figured as long as the chemicals, sharp things, all the truly dangerous stuff was out of her reach, things would work themselves out.”

Bertearp had a scary situation – his 2 year old would wander into the nursery where his younger sibling was sleeping and throw things into the crib, or worse – climb into the crib with him. He was the mischief-loving kind of kid that would climb up drawer-knobs to get to the top of the counter, and dump out whatever he could find. Because of this, Bertearp decided that locking the door was the right solution for him, asking “How is it really different from putting them in a crib that they can’t get out of?” He also added that “it definitely bothered us, but ultimately, it was just not safe to have him wandering around without close supervision.”

Drumatix said he knows a family that had to put a “lid on their kid’s bed.” One of my bosses at work also suggested this method – recommending the tents that parents can attach to the top of the crib. These are pretty widely available, and seem to help people get a little more sleep. That is, until the kid stands up in the crib, and starts screaming. Once he knows that screaming gets you into the nursery, you’re still a slave to their schedule – and leaving a kid screaming in his crib while you snuggle deeper into your pillow seems to be a very loose interpretation of the “cry-it-out” principle. Plus, let’s zoom ahead to the worst-case scenario: god forbid there’s a fire in the nursery. Now you’ve got this hot, melting net of doom, collapsing down on your terrified child. I couldn’t find an ingredient list on the net I checked out, but the manual’s got so many red warnings that I wonder if there’s actually a safe way to use it.

Heliosxx, Sewneo and OhioDude all said they’ve had good luck with doorknob covers. My wife and I bought one, affixed it to the knob, and then had second-thoughts. It didn’t even last until bedtime. Rdhatt used one on his knob, but said that his 2 year old “tore the knob cover right off the door. He walked into the master bedroom holding the pieces.”

Most people at least mentioned a baby gate. Elcyion Coire, Watsittuya, Braeica and Codepoet all talked about gating-off areas to herd kids toward, inevitably, the parents’ bedrooms.

Codepoet summarized it perfectly in my opinion, saying that “you shouldn’t try to control this as a problem. You should try to control this as a growth stage and accommodate your child as much as is sane while teaching him how big kids handle a morning routine.” Bingo. This is the biggest take-away for me, and I suspect most fathers: it isn’t a problem. This is just another rung of the ladder, so to speak, and it’s something that you and your kid will learn together. You’ve got to put aside your immediate desire to whine about loss of sleep and realize, as I mentioned above, that you specifically signed up for this duty. If you cut corners now with a night-time and morning routine, you can’t be angry later when you, the parent, is not in control.

Good luck – you’re gonna to need it. [Han Solo sigh]

Products mentioned in this article:

Summit Easy Walk-Thru Baby Gate
Tots In Mind Crib Tent II
Safety 1st ProGrade Lever Handle Lock
American Innovative Onaroo Teach Me Time! Clock

The products above are not the only or necessarily the “best” ones out there – but are the ones I’ve personally considered. Hopefully I can review a couple in the future if and when I use them.