Have you ever heard a mama say “my baby was sleeping so well until now…….”. On many occasions I have heard friends and families share stories on how great of a sleeper their child was for so many months but then something would change. Well that’s exactly what happened to us. We thought we were in the clear as far as having our son sleeping through the night. We made it through the hard part and became comfortable enjoying some nights of well rested sleep. Until one evening, after we had settled him in his crib, we looked into the monitor and saw his big, wide eyes peering at us over his crib rail.
He had learned to pull himself up and was so proud in doing so. As excited as we were, that he had reached this developmental milestone, we were faced with a huge problem. He was able to bravely pull himself up but could not figure out how to get down again. This led to him either A) crying out and falling over or B) falling asleep while standing up and then jolting awake as he laid down. I wish I had known then what I know now on how to manage sleep when our babes can pull themselves up in their crib.
Developmental milestones can interfere with sleep. How we, as parents, respond to these developmental milestones also impacts sleep.
How Do Developmental Milestones Impact Sleep?
Babies and young children are constantly learning and developing new skills. If you think about all of the things they are trying to learn by their first birthday (rolling, crawling, sitting up, standing, walking, first words) no wonder their sleep gets disrupted.
Little ones also have sleep cycles unique to them when compared to adults. When you or I dream we are able to control and limit our movements. But babies do not. If a baby is dreaming of practicing a new skill then he will essentially go through the motions and perform it as he sleeps. Therefore, if he is dreaming of pulling himself up in the crib he will actually do so and wake to find himself standing. Not only is this scary for a little one but also somewhat confusing. They will instinctively be looking for reassurance and comfort.
How Do We Manage Developmental Milestones and Sleep?
- Here is the big secret. Embrace it Mama! Embrace that your little one is growing and learning all these new tricks.
- And practice. During the day, practice standing your babe up at the coffee table/couch/activity table and having him sit down from the standing position over and over and over again. The more practice babe gets during the day the less he will feel the need to do so at night. Soon babe won’t need your help in mastering this challenging task.
- Lay him back down once at each check in interval. Go in and silently, but persistently lay him down.
- If your babe tends to fall asleep while in the standing position quietly go into their room and lay them down. It is best if you lay him down rather than letting him fall over as he could startle himself awake or get hurt.
- Stay consistent and don’t do anything that could create a new sleep prop (don’t pick him up, rock etc). Be aware of how you are responding so that you don’t give your little one mixed signals.
How long will you have to do this?
Remember this is only temporary. It can take anywhere from a few days to two weeks to allow your babe to transition through this sleep regression. Usually once babe conquers the new milestone they can get
right back on track with their sleep habits. The more consistent you stay with how you handle the night waking the easier and quicker babe will be back in their sleep routine.
You got this Mama! Next thing you know your little one will be trying to escape his crib! More on that here.
If you ever find you are struggling with sleep, reach out to your local Mama Coach and schedule your free 15 minute phone call to answer any questions you may have. It might just be the best thing you’ve ever done!