Nothing makes a mama prouder than when her baby learns a new skill. Your baby sitting up and pulling to stand are big developmental milestones! But what should parents do when milestones interrupt their baby’s sleep? Should you intervene when your baby stands in the crib and won’t sleep?
Some babies fall asleep sitting up! If you’re worried because your baby won’t lay down in the crib or they might fall down and hit their head, you’re in the right place.
This article explains what to do when your baby stands (or sits up) in the crib and just won’t sleep.
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Babies learn new developmental skills in phases. Most babies don’t learn to roll front to back, and back to front, in a day. Instead, it happens in stages. First, your baby learns to sit up (or stand.) But the second part of that development, being able to get back down, comes several days later.
It can be tiring and frustrating when your little one gets stuck (or just refuses to lie back down) in the middle of the night. But, I promise you, it doesn’t last long. Sleep trained babies get through this phase quicker, since they know how to fall back asleep on their own.
Most parents worry about their baby losing sleep. Or getting caught in a never-ending game of jack-in-the-box. How you intervene depends on whether or not your baby is upset. Let me explain.
“My baby is standing or playing in the crib, instead of sleeping.”
If your baby sits or stands up in the crib, and is happy hanging out, the best thing to do is give them space.
If your baby can’t get back down on their own, this gives them the opportunity to practice.
If your little one can get down on their own (but is just refusing to) this prevents them from getting dependent on your help.
How long you leave your little one is up to you. As long as they’re not crying, I recommend giving them 15-20 minutes to work it out on their own.
After that time, go in and quietly sit on the floor next to the crib. Pat the mattress to help your little one understand that they should lie down. When you sit on the floor, you’re down low which makes baby want to come down to your level. If you stand next to the crib, baby wants to be up at your level.
You should only reposition your baby after giving them a decent amount of time to do it on their own, like 20 minutes.
Yes, everyone will end up losing sleep for a few nights. But giving your little one the chance to maneuver around the crib helps them grow comfortable in their sleep space and not depend on you long-term. It’s the quickest way to get your baby sleeping well again.
This video will explain what to do when your baby is standing in their crib and won’t sleep
“My baby falls asleep sitting up”
At some point, most babies will fall asleep sitting up. My daughter did this at 7 months. I felt sad seeing her on the video monitor snoozing propped up against the crib. So I went in and laid her down. Guess what happened? She woke up, and sat up again! And the jack-in-the-box game began.
It can be upsetting to think about your baby sitting up while sleeping in the crib, but this phase lasts only a few days. Babies quickly learn that it’s more comfortable to sleep lying down and will get themselves back down. This happens quicker, though, if your baby is given the space and opportunity to practice. So, again, it’s best to leave your little one to figure out how to get themself back down.
Most parents will try sneaking in and gently repositioning their baby if they fall asleep sitting up (or even standing!) Just be prepared for them to wake immediately. ?
“My baby stands (or sits up) and is crying in the crib!”
If your baby is sitting up or standing in the crib, and is crying, it’s ok to give more support.
I always encourage parents to wait a few minutes to see if their little one will resettle on their own. I promise, it WILL happen one day. (And it’ll shock the pants off you!)
You can wait only 3-5 minutes before going to your baby if they’re upset.
Rather than picking your baby up right away, sit on the floor next to the crib and encourage them to lie down. Patting the mattress can help. Another few minutes of fussing, with a parent nearby, can help your little one get back down on their own.
If you know your baby can lie down independently, you can wait it out a bit longer, like 5-10 minutes.
After this time, if your baby is still upset, gently lay them down. Keeping your hands on them for a few minutes can prevent them from popping right back up, as can sitting on the floor next to the crib.
Make sure to give your little one lots of floor time during the day to practice getting up and down on their own. Don’t always help them if they get “stuck” in a position. Give your baby time to work it out on their own (as long as they’re safe.)
“I’m worried about my baby falling in the crib and hitting their head.”
Many parents worry that their baby might get hurt if they fall down in the crib and hit their head. I completely understand (and I’ve been there) but I would avoid rushing in to help your little one get back down. Always give your baby time to work it out on their own. Only intervene quickly if your baby has gotten hurt before.
It’s rare for babies to get injured in a crib that has only a mattress with a fitted sheet. Watching your baby on the video monitor can reassure you that they’re safe. You can also check out Vertical Crib Liners. They’re a safe way to soften up your baby’s crib. Traditional crib bumpers and mesh liners aren’t safe.
Your baby sitting up, or standing, in the crib and refusing to sleep is a common “rite of passage” in parenthood. It can feel like an eternity when you’re up at 3 am with a baby that refuses to lie down, but I promise that this lasts only a few days.
The more “hands off” you can be, the quicker this phase will pass. Let your baby practice their new skill during the day too, so they can master it sooner. Some parents have their babies practice in the crib during the day when they’re awake. Sleep trained babies tend to struggle less, since they know how to fall back asleep on their own. If your baby is five months, or older, you can begin sleep training to get the whole family sleeping through the night.