Baby standing up in the cot

If you’re reading this, you’ve likely got a baby standing up in the cot at bedtime.

Or you’ve heard it can be an issue and want to learn how to deal with it ahead of time. Either way, I’m here to help!

So your baby has learned to stand! Congratulations on this wonderful milestone!

It’s such an exciting time to be a parent, and this is such a huge step in your baby’s development. 

Having said that, many babies run into a bit of an issue when they first learn to stand; they don’t know how to sit or lie down. 

During the day, this doesn’t present much of an issue. Your little one can spend all day practicing going from a standing position to seated, all while you’re next to them helping them through it.

But once bedtime comes around, this becomes a whole new issue. 

I know the Catch-22 this puts parents in, believe me. On the one hand, you can’t just leave your baby in a situation where they might fall and hurt themselves, but on the other, if you keep going in and laying them down, they don’t learn how to do it themselves.

How do I handle baby standing up in the cot?

So there’s a fine line that we need to walk in order to help baby figure out how to solve this little situation they find themselves in. But without creating new habits and expectations.

If your baby hasn’t started this behavior yet, let me warn you, it’s frustrating. More so than the average middle of the night wake-up, because the solution is so totally obvious. You’ll likely find yourself saying “Just lie down, already!” more than a few times before this gets resolved. 

As with all things in parenting, patience is essential here. Keep in mind that your baby may not know how to go from a standing position to a sitting one on their own yet. and they may not realise yet that sleep comes a whole lot easier when you lie down. Remind yourself of this when they wake you up for the fifth or sixth time in three hours because they’ve woken up and gotten back on their feet again, fussing because they can’t get back to sleep.

Daytime practice

The quickest way through the first part of the equation is to develop that standing-to-sitting skill. So during the day, practice going from standing to sitting any chance you get. When baby pulls themselves up to a standing position, try putting a favourite toy or teddy on the ground nearby. This will gently encourage them to go from a standing position back down to ground level to get their reward.

Once they’ve got that skill mastered, however, that second hurdle may still be an issue. They may not realise that sleep is a whole lot easier to achieve when they lie down. 

We don’t want to create a situation where baby starts relying on you to do the work for her. So avoid repeatedly laying her down when she stands up in the cot. Do it a few times at first to show her what’s expected, but once that’s established, switch to an approach that doesn’t involve contact. Pat the mattress and use a key phrase, like, “Lay your head down.” And before too long, they should start to connect the dots and realise that lying down is the best way to get to sleep.

Remember, even though it might appear that your little one is fighting sleep sometimes, that’s almost never the case. They want to sleep, but they just lack the skills necessary to get there on their own. So help them figure it out without doing the work for them. And they’ll take care of the rest as soon as they develop a little confidence and ability.

A final tip….

And one last little tip before I leave you! Hats off to all of the single parents out there and the amazing work they do. But if you’re raising baby with a partner, come up with a plan you can agree on. One parent responding with one set of expectations with another responding totally differently will confuse baby even further. Both of you will need to respond in the same way in order for your expectation to be clear, and you’ll see results a whole lot quicker if you’re working from the same playbook.

As always, be calm, be patient, and be consistent. The hard work will pay off when your little one is sleeping and napping well again. If you’d like some step by step advice for better sleep, click here to join my online Slumber School Programme. Or click here to find out more about working with me 1 to 1.

Baby standing up in the cot