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Hi, I’m Dana Obleman. Welcome to this week’s video chat. Today I wanted to talk a little bit about developmental milestones and how they affect sleep. I get a lot of calls, a lot of emails from people whose child has learned to sit up in the crib, learned to stand up in the crib, started walking. All of those big experiences in your child’s life will most likely cause some sleep regression.
I think it has a lot to do with the fact that your child is mastering a new skill, even learning to talk. I’ve had a lot of clients tell me that that whole learning to talk phase, too, really seemed to upset their sleep a little bit. I think it’s the body’s way of…It’s almost an overwhelming urge to keep trying the new skill and keep trying the new skill.
I can remember just being so frustrated with my daughter when she was a baby, because she kept rolling to her stomach but she hated being on her stomach. The minute she got there, she’d start to cry and somebody would go, have to go in and help her out. I kept thinking, “Why rolling to your stomach when you hate it there so much?” But it’s just the body’s way of mastering a skill. It’s almost an irresistible urge for a child to keep doing it.
I think where that causes problems around sleep is that they’re tired. You’ve got a fatigued little guy who goes to bed at seven p.m., but he can’t seem to resist the urge to keep sitting up. Then, he’s stuck, then he cries for help and you’ve got to go in.
I get that that’s a frustrating thing for a parent, but until it blows over, you don’t have much choice. If your child is stuck in sitting on their tummy, in a standing position, you really have no choice but to go in, lay them back down and leave.
A word of caution, though, is not to be too interactive when you go in there. If you go in and he gets some play time or even some scolding for standing up, and you make a bit of a deal about it, well now it could be an attention getting thing instead of just an urge to master the skill. Now your little one’s figured out “hmm, every time I stand up, I get a visit.” Up they go, and up they go, and it becomes a bit of a game.
You want to be careful that when you do go in, you’re really low key, don’t say much. If you’re really getting a lot of it you wont even be able to make eye contact. You’ll just have to go in, lay her down, and leave. Then you’re helping but you’re not giving too much attention for this.
Then in a week or two it usually blows over and your baby who was sleeping great goes back to that. But it’ll happen again [laughter] OK? That’s the thing, is that developmental milestones occur periodically and you’ll find that you have a week or two of regression.
Now, my only caution to you is that when you do get regressions that you don’t change too much about the way you’ve been handling it. If all of a sudden your little one is up in the night because they’re learning to crawl, and you start rocking her in the middle of the night, now you’re running the risk of undoing any hard work you’ve done to create great sleep habits.
Just go in, really low key, offer a bit of assistance, and leave. Don’t start doing things that are totally out of the norm again or you’ll have a child who loses all their own skills and becomes reliant on you again.
Keep that in mind as you go through it. I know it’s a bit of a frustrating time, but you could celebrate it in the sense that your child is developing the way that they should be. They’re learning new skills. They’re driven to master them.
Those are all really good, positive things. If it means sleep’s off track for a couple of days, so be it. That’s just the way things happen.
Not to worry about it. Handle it exactly like I’ve laid out, and you’ll have your great sleeping baby back in no time.
Thanks for watching, and sleep well!
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