You go to look on the monitor and your baby is just sitting or standing in the crib...but they're not sleeping!
Big developmental milestones, like the ability to independently sit and pull to stand can easily derail sleep for a period of time. But, how we respond to them practicing this new skill in their crib can determine how long this new little game will last
Often when babies stand or sit in the crib, they seem to forget how to actually get "unstuck" and lay back down. It's why not only practicing getting into the sitting or standing position during the day is important but getting OUT of either of these positions into a laying down position is equally as important.
SO WHY DO THEY FEEL THE NEED TO PRACTICE THIS SKILL DURING SLEEP?
When adults dream we are able to control and limit our movements, but babies do not have that mastered yet. So if a baby is dreaming of practicing a new skill then he will subconsciously make himself go through the motions and practice it during sleep. This can be very confusing and jarring for a baby since they obviously aren't feeling in control and can be very confused when they find themselves sitting or standing!
SO HOW SHOULD I HELP?
IF YOUR CHILD IS SITTING/STANDING BUT IS QUIET/HAPPY/BABBLING:
Give them time before feeling the need to intervene! Try waiting at least 15-20 minutes before going in.
After that, quickly intervene by helping them lay back down, but no need to even say your sleepy phrase or stay to soothe/comfort. When laying him down, lean him forward to a laying down position. This reminds them that this is something they can do on their own and will become more natural as this skill becomes mastered.
IF YOUR CHILD IS SITTING/STANDING BUT CRYING:
Set the timer and use your sleep training/soothing method.
When it's time to go in for a check-in, instead of laying them backwards to go back down, practice actually the motion of leaning them forward.
If he pops back up still leave the room and wait to lay him back down until the next checkin if he's still crying by that time. Then that second time lay him down again. If he continues to pop back up while crying after that second attempt, just offer your sleepy phrase and rub/pat during your checkin but you can stop trying to lay him back down. You don't want to get stuck into playing a game!
IF YOUR CHILD FALLS ASLEEP WHILE SITTING/STANDING:
If he's in the corner sitting and can only really fall forward, leave him be. If he's in the middle of the crib sitting, wait to move him after 5 minutes or so of him falling asleep and remember the motion of leaning him forward to lay down.
If he's standing quietly go in and lay him down. It is best if you lay him down rather than letting him fall over as he could startle himself awake or get hurt.
DURING THE DAY:
Practice as much as you can during the day this motion of going from sitting to rolling forward to a laying position. Having him reach for something in front of him will help motivate him to reach out and slowly he will feel more comfortable and confident doing this on his own.
For standing practice a lot of grabbing from behind at the hips, making them bend downwards and helping them "plop" down!
HOW LONG SHOULD THIS LAST?
This too shall pass! It really is just a temporary stage, similar to when your baby learns to roll from back to tummy in their sleep. Typically it will take just a few days to work itself out but for some it can be on and off for around two weeks. Once they feel they have it "mastered" it's no longer needed to practice it as much during sleep sessions.
Remember, consistency is key! Stay consistent as much as you can in handling the night wakings and nap disruptions and your babe will be back to their normal sleep habits more quickly.
If you need help getting sleep back on track following a sleep regression, check out our packages and guides.