About a month ago my baby started pulling to standing, which is wonderful and exciting. However, about two weeks ago she started standing in her crib immediately after I put her down for sleep. She holds onto the side of the crib and screams and cries. I’m not comfortable letting her cry like this for more than 20 minutes (which feels like an agonizingly long time), and so after giving her this time to work it out on her own I typically return to her, try to soothe her, and then put her back in the crib for a second try at the nap or bedtime. Unfortunately this rarely works, and as a result she’s now skipping naps and getting progressively fussy and over-tired throughout the day. Prior to this standing-in-the-crib problem, she had developed solid, predictable sleep habits and it didn’t take more than 10 minutes for her to fall asleep. I’m making a point to give my baby lots of time to stand up and move freely during the day, and I’m sure this will resolve with time, but is there anything I can do to help her now?
I forwarded Katie’s note to sleep specialist Eileen Henry, who replied…
Good news. Your child has developed healthy sleep habits and will get back to them as soon as she integrates this new skill into her repertoire. You are doing the exact right thing. You go in and acknowledge what you see, “You are standing. It is time to lie down and sleep.” Help her out and then leave the room and wait.
I encourage parents to give what I call one cycle of crying, which is exactly 21 minutes. In that time if you hear what I call cycling, in that the cry goes up and down and has some breaks in it, this is the sound of the brain soothing itself, and this is struggle. Struggle is O,K, and part of all development. If during this time the cry winds down, do not go in. If you do, it can start the cycle all over again.
If the cry winds up and sits at a high level, this is suffering, and you can go in and repeat what you see and that it is time for nap. The most important thing for the parent is to bring an attitude of confidence to the crib. You know she can sleep, and you can remind her that she will sleep again. Assure her that she can sit down and return to sleep.
My daughter did this same thing. I thought I had sleep conquered. I was downright arrogant about it. I had just started developing my sleep program, and it was the best thing that could have happened to me.
It was very humbling. My favorite part of parenting is how humbling it is. But I freaked. I thought, no, this can’t be happening.
It took her five days. And to this day what I believe turned it around, and what turns it around for the many parents who call me with the same issue, is our attitude. When a parent looks at their child with confidence and belief that the child is capable of handling their own development and the struggle that comes with it…it is very powerful.
I promise she will get through this. She has a solid foundation to return to thanks to your efforts in this area of sleep. Simply remind her with confidence that she can.
Eileen Henry, RIETM Associate
Compassionate Sleep SolutionsTM
(Photo by Sam Pullara on Flickr.)