When I was still completing my sleep consultant certification, I had a client with a 13 month old who would fall asleep standing up! She would sleep standing up for a few hours then lay down for the night. I was completely bewildered to say the least. I had NEVER heard about this happening! Not only was mama worried, but I was freaking out! Little did I know that this is actually a much more common problem.
Why does this happen?
When babies begin learning new skills such as standing and crawling, it can disrupt sleep because they are so enthralled with their new skills. They stay up practicing and practicing. It can also keep them awake unintentionally. Their brains are growing and developing so quickly through the first years of their lives. When it is bedtime, their bodies may be tired, but their brains are still going full speed. Think of it like this. Remember when you were in high school or college, and you had a huge exam coming up? You studied and studied and studied. Then when it came time to sleep what happened? You couldn't sleep, right? Your brain needed a little while to slow down even though your body was worn out. Our babies are going through the same thing.
This might sound familiar too. Your baby has just learned to sit up unassisted. You put baby down for the night like normal then you turn on the monitor and find your little one sitting up. Now your baby hasn't learned how to lay back down yet, so baby is stuck sitting. This can be incredibly frustrating, but what do you do? You leave your baby there. The rule of thumb is "If they got there, they can get back."
The same goes for standing up. It's possible your child just got stuck. In this case, just wait it out. Maybe your child just likes the view of the room from standing. Whatever the reason, it is totally normal.
For extra information on growth spurts and developmental leaps your child is going through, I suggest downloading The Wonder Weeks app. This app is incredible at describing exactly what your child is experiencing in details that make sense to even a sleep deprived mama!
What should I do?
If your child is standing or sitting up in the crib and you just know baby won't go to sleep, go in ONE TIME and lay your child down. Do NOT let your child make a game out of it! This can quickly become a game of "how many times can I get mom to come in." Putting your child down once will show how to get down without letting it become a game. Be aware that there may be some more tears when you leave the room though. If this happens, just continue with your sleep training technique.
If standing is your issue, try putting your child in a sleep sack to sleep. This sometimes will deter them from standing and trying to cruise around the crib. There are many great sleep sacks out there. We always used Carter's brand, and we loved them!
Your child might very well go to sleep standing or sitting. I had no idea, but this is a lot more common than we think. When your child is ready, he or she will lay down. When my little girl was learning to sit up on her own, she fell asleep sitting one night. She eventually just slumped over then rolled over after about an hour. Just keep an eye on your child through your baby monitor and relax. This is all a learning process for everyone.
When should I be concerned?
If this continues to happen for more than 3-5 days, I suggest talking to your pediatrician about it simply to make sure there is nothing else going on. Sometimes when an ear infection is developing, your child might try to stay upright. Laying down flat causes more pain for ear infections, so standing up might give your child some relief.
Always trust your gut though. If you feel like something is off or not normal with your child, absolutely discuss it with your pediatrician. When they say "mama knows best", they're absolutely right. No one knows your baby like you do, mama.
If this continues to be an issue and you need extra help, I can help you get your child back on the right track of sleeping through the night! Contact me at email@example.com or on Facebook or Instagram!