Has your baby heard you telling her it’s important to stand up for herself and taken you literally? It’s exciting when your little one learns to pull herself up into a standing position, but once she has that newfound power, she will have to decide how she’s 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.
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 her parent or another caregiver. First, she is standing for the same reason she’s crying out - because she doesn’t want to lie down and sleep, she wants to get up and play. On the other hand, she might have pulled herself up for fun, or for practice, or to see if she could, and might be crying out for you because she needs help lying back down again.
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 she is resisting while standing on her own two feet.
When it truly is time for your baby to sleep, but she just keeps standing, there are a few different strategies you can take, based on why your baby is standing and what her temperament is. The first option is the simplest - just to let your baby stand. If she seems pretty happy to be standing up, and she has plenty of time to fall asleep on her own time, you can just give her the chance to see if she will get bored, lie back down, and fall asleep on her own.
It’s possible that she’ll fall, but it’s unlikely that she’ll hurt herself. 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 your baby is upset, or is stubborn enough that she is unlikely to give up and turn in on her own, try going in and lying her 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 your baby down again than you do sleeping, but after a few nights, your baby will probably have started to move on from her stand-and-deliver ways. If she hasn’t known how to sit back down again on her own, she will start to work that out, and if she was 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 her balance when she is pulled up into a standing position isn’t much danger to your little one, but if she figures out how to climb out of her crib, that’s when things can start to get dangerous. If she is standing up in her crib, make sure the mattress is set as low as it will go, so that the railing is as high as possible. If she does figure out how to climb out, she might be ready to let the crib go in favor of a mattress on the floor.