Has Baby heard you telling them it’s important to stand up for themself and taken you literally? It’s exciting when your little one learns to pull themself up into a standing position, but once they have that newfound power, they will have to decide how they're going to use it. For many babies, just after bedtime, or when they’re supposed to be taking naps, can seem like the perfect time to practice – and who can blame them? The top bar of the crib is generally the perfect height for babies to grab onto to pull themselves up.
Standing in protest
For babies who are already restless sleepers, or are on strike against naptime and bedtime, pulling themselves up into a standing position can feel like a great way to take a stand. For others, the appeal of standing up in the crib during naptime or after bedtime has more to do with how fun this new skill is – and it’s not their faults how much harder sitting back down is than standing up in the first place.
This means that there are a few different reasons a baby standing holding onto the rail of the crib might cry out for their parent or another caregiver. First, they are standing for the same reason they're crying out – because they doesn’t want to lie down and sleep, they want to get up and play. On the other hand, they might have pulled themself up for fun, or for practice, or to see if they could, and might be crying out for you because they need help lying back down again.
Standing as sleep regression
For many babies, working on and passing important developmental milestones can have an effect on sleep, and pulling up is an important physical milestone, which means that some sleep regression or resistance is fairly common during this time, even if it looks a little more dramatic when they are resisting while standing on their own two feet.
Dealing with a stubborn stander
When it truly is time for Baby to sleep, but they just keep standing, there are a few different strategies you can take, based on why Baby is standing and what their temperament is. The first option is the simplest – just to let Baby stand. If they seem pretty happy to be standing up, and they have plenty of time to fall asleep on their own time, you can just give them the chance to see if they will get bored, lie back down, and fall asleep on their own.
It’s possible that they'll fall, but it’s unlikely that they'll hurt themself. It can be tempting to put up bumpers to cushion the crib bars, but babies who are already feeling restless can use bumpers as steps to start climbing right out of their cribs, so adding bumpers can actually add an extra layer of risk, instead of a safety net.
If Baby is upset, or is stubborn enough that they are unlikely to give up and turn in on their own, try going in and lying them down for sleep again – and again, and again, and again. For the first few nights (or naps) you may feel like you spend more time lying Baby down again than you do sleeping, but after a few nights, Baby will probably have started to move on from their stand-and-deliver ways. If they hasn’t known how to sit back down again on their own, they will start to work that out, and if they were just in it for the thrill of trying a new skill, pulling into standing up will start to get old before too long.
A little bump from losing their balance when they are pulled up into a standing position isn’t much danger to your little one, but if they figure out how to climb out of their crib, that’s when things can start to get dangerous. If they are standing up in their crib, make sure the mattress is set as low as it will go, so that the railing is as high as possible. If they do figure out how to climb out, they might be ready to let the crib go in favor of a mattress on the floor.