You’ve found your way here because like many other parents, your child tends to sleep in awkward positions and has started standing in the crib. Or, you’ve heard that it can be an issue and you’re looking to learn how to deal with it ahead of time. Or… like many people, random blogs interest you and that’s what’s keeping you here? Whatever your reason, I’m going to do my best to ensure you walk away from this post feeling like it has added serious value to your life.
So, your baby has learned to stand up!
Firstly, congratulations on this amazing milestone! It’s truly such an exciting time to be a parent, and this is a huge step into the world of development that’s coming your way very soon. On that point, many babies run into a bit of an issue when they first learn to stand up; they can stand up, but they haven’t learned to get back down! During the day, this doesn’t present much of an issue. Your little one can spend all day practicing going from a standing position to seated, all while you’re next to them helping them through it.
But once nighttime hits, it becomes a different ball game. I know the Catch-22 this puts parents in, believe me. On the one hand, you can’t just leave your baby in a situation where they might fall down and hurt themselves, but on the other, if you keep going in and laying them down, they don’t learn how to do it themselves. What’s more, they’ll quickly learn that standing up and making a fuss is a pretty effective way to get mom or dad back into their room and paying attention to them.
There’s a fine line that we need to walk in order to help baby figure out how to solve this little situation they find themselves in without creating a bad habit that could sabotage their sleep. First, if the crib isn’t already on its lowest setting, be sure to do that before the next sleep. Little ones are extremely top-heavy and depending on a variety of variables, can unexpectedly end up going over the top rail. Safety first!
If your baby hasn’t started this behavior yet, let me warn you, it’s frustrating.
More so than the average middle of the night wake-up, because the solution seems totally obvious. You’ll likely find yourself saying “Just lie down, already!” more than a few times before this gets resolved. As with all things in parenting, patience is essential here. Keep in mind that your baby may not know how to go from a standing position to a sitting one on their own, and they may not realize yet that sleep comes a whole lot easier when you lie down. Remind yourself of this when they wake you up for the fifth or sixth time in three hours because they’ve woken up and gotten back on their feet again, fussing because they can’t get back to sleep.
The quickest way through the first part of the equation is to develop that standing-to-sitting skill, so during the day, have your practice going from standing to sitting any chance you get. When baby pulls themselves up to a standing position, try putting their favorite toy or stuffie on the ground close by, gently encouraging them to go from a standing position back down to ground level in order to get their reward.
Once they’ve got that skill mastered, however, that second hurdle may still be an issue. Being as little as they are, they may not realize that great sleep means they need to be in a comfortable position. It seems like it should be instinctive, I know, but a lot of things seem that way when you’ve been doing them all your life. When you’ve only been around for nine or ten months, it might not seem so intuitive, so again, patience is the key. The goal is not to create a situation where baby starts depending on you to do the work for them, so avoid repeatedly laying them down when they stand up in the crib. Do it up to 3 times at first to show them what’s expected, but once that’s established, switch to a more suggestive approach that doesn’t involve contact. Lower yourself to mattress level, sitting on the floor is great, and use a key phrase, like, “Lay your head down,” or “Come lie down, baby,” and before too long, they should start to connect the dots and realize that lying down is the best way to get to sleep.
Remember, even though it might appear that your little one is fighting sleep at times, that’s almost never the case. They want to sleep, but if you haven’t noticed already with most milestones, they often love to repeat the process, many, many, many times before moving on. Until they have mastered this new milestone, you will need to help them figure it out without doing the work for them, and they’ll take care of the rest as soon as they develop a little confidence and ability.
And just one last little thing before I leave you…
Hats off to all of the single parents doing the amazing work they do, but if you’re raising a baby with a partner, formulate a plan where you’re on the same page. Presenting a divided front is going to confuse baby even further in a situation where they already have so much to figure out. Both parents will need to respond in the same way for your expectations to be clear, and you’ll see results a whole lot quicker if you’re working from the same playbook.
As always, be calm, patient, and consistent. The hard work you put in now will pay off a thousand times over when your little one is sleeping soundly through the night and happily going down for naps during the day again.
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