Help! My baby learned to stand and is no longer sleeping through the night!

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  • September 01, 2010
sleeping through the night

In this week’s blog I decided to discuss how developmental milestones such as learning to stand up can wreak havoc with a good sleeper’s routine!

Here are two questions I received:

My son is 8 months old and at 6 months, he started to sleep through the night – after I tried your techniques. But by 7 months, when he started teething, he wanted to constantly be picked up at night, which I did. Since then, he has been waking up 5-8 times a night and won’t stay asleep. I started to bring him into bed with me at about 2-3am because I am just so overtired and drained. Naps are also a battle. Now that he’s sitting up and pulling himself up to a standing position, I can’t even leave him to cry a little for fear that he will hurt himself. I feel like I’m falling apart. My husband sleeps in the living room now and has never been much support at night. I feel alone and miserable.

First off, I have read your book, and thank you, thank you, thank you! We accomplished full nights sleep using the Sleep Lady Shuffle. Our now 8 month old has been sleeping great (11-12 hours/night)!! Naps were also great (1 1/2 – 2 hrs each), after nap training! Then he learned how to pull himself up to stand in the crib. He will just stand there and talk then start crying. I go in and lay him back down. Sometimes it only takes once and he will finally fall asleep. But sometimes I have to go in every 15 minutes for an hour, and then he finally gives in and falls asleep. This has been going on for almost 3 weeks. And our naps range from only 1 hour to 2 hours per nap. So we have 3 naps a day instead of 2. What am I doing wrong? What needs to be happening so he can get longer uninterrupted naps? Thanks, Ashley

Cognitive, emotional or motor developmental milestones often affect sleep. In fact, Dr. T. Berry Brazelton in his book Touchpoints: Your Child’s Emotional and Behavioral Development, Birth to 3 reminds us that we may see regression or a period of disorganization not just in sleep, but in social, emotional, and feeding patterns as well.

I find that the most pronounced, although temporary, sleep problems occur as a child is learning to walk. You may also see problems right before your child sits up, crawls, stands, and is potty trained. I address many of these leaps in the relevant age chapters of The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight, but the key is remembering that these new skills excite children and change their world, sometimes quite literally. For instance, when you child stands up in her crib for the first time, she may discover everything looks different from up there!

When your baby learns to stand up in their crib, I would try not to intervene or if you do put them down once, but only once. If you decide to sit next to the crib, pat the mattress and encourage your baby to lie down. If you sit versus stand, he will be more likely to sit down to be on your level.

Babies do tend to learn how to get up before they can get back down, so let her practice during the day. Let her stand up and try to get down holding on to the couch or your finger. Games like ring-around-the-rosy are also good for developing up-and-down motions. But do the practicing games out of the crib, during awake time, not at naps or bedtime.

Until you child learns how to get down from a standing position you will need to help him, so practice a lot during the day!!! In the meantime, when he wakes at night try to delay laying him down until you think he has reached that moment where if you lay him down you think he will stay down. Its an intuitive process and I know you may misjudge that moment sometimes…its ok. Once she learns stop doing it for him which becomes the new sleep crutch, as Ashley can attest to! So Ashley, its important that you stop laying him down if he knows how to do it himself…regardless of whether you do timed checks or the Shuffle to address his wakings.

Tip for “Alone and Miserable”- follow the guidelines I mentioned above and make sure you read the section on page 21 in Good Night, Sleep Tight or my article on consistency in this blog. I would recommend you re-start The Shuffle and be consistent about how you address all night wakings. Your sleep situation is not unusual and shows you how easy it is to ingrain a new negative sleep habit! Babies are so smart! The good news is that it might not take him so long to “remember” his old sleep skills since it was only a month ago that he was sleeping through the night!

Routine Busters are so common that I dedicated a whole chapter to this issue in my book The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight.

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