And other Developmental Milestones that Can Affect Sleep

Rolling, crawling, standing, walking, talking – they are all very exciting “firsts” in your baby’s life. It’s wild the number of skills your little one will learn in such a short amount of time. While these are thrilling times, parents often worry that sleep will be impacted, and nothing can potentially affect sleep like learning to roll can! 

Some babies learn to roll from back to tummy first and some the other way around. A lot will figure out how to roll on their play mat during the day, but when it comes to rolling in their crib, they can’t always make the connection at first that they know how to roll, and they get stuck. 

What if They Roll and Get Stuck?!

Never fear. You got this! If your baby rolls onto their tummy and they are stuck and upset, rush in immediately for an Insta-Rescue! Go up to the crib, roll your baby back onto their back, and then rush back out of the room again. It’s like you were never there. You can continue to take this approach each time your child gets stuck. It usually only takes a few days before they get the hang of it. 

During this time, it’s a good idea to remove the sleep sack temporarily, as you don’t want it getting in the way or making it more difficult for your child to roll onto their back. Then once they have mastered this rolling skill, you can start using the sleep sack again. 

Practice Makes Perfect 

During the day PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE rolling as much as possible. The sooner they master this skill during the day on the mat, the sooner they will figure it out at night in their crib. 

Once they learn to roll, some babies become tummy sleepers. My son used to roll right onto his tummy, then tuck his knees up under him with his little butt in the air, and that was his comfy position. It was so stinking cute! 

Talk to Your Doctor 

If having your baby sleep on their tummy makes you nervous, please reach out to your family doctor or pediatrician. Most will say that if baby is choosing to roll it’s ok, but to still always place your baby into the crib on their back. 

What About Other Milestones?

Although rolling is the big milestone that can affect sleep, sometimes learning to crawl, sit, stand, or walk can also temporarily disrupt sleep. These are big, exciting gross motor skills that babies often want to practice in their crib and even practice in their sleep! There is a lot of repetition and processing involved, usually with the most practicing in the crib happening right before the child masters the skill. 

How to Handle Disrupted Sleep 

Keep in mind this is temporary, so trying to remain consistent in how you respond to your child is the best approach to take from a behavioral sleep stand point. If you are usually in the room when your child falls asleep, stay in the room. If you usually use checks, then use checks to make sure your little one is ok. If you typically stay out of the room, then try to stay out if they are doing ok.  

If your child seems stuck in the standing position or even stuck sitting, you can use the Insta-Rescue technique that was described above to lay them down. Try to avoid picking up, cuddling, bringing back a feed, etc. if you wouldn’t typically do those things. It can cause confusion and send sleep backsliding. 

During the day PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE just like with rolling. Have your child practice standing and getting back down. Let them practice walking. The more they practice, the sooner they will master this new skill, and the sooner the practicing at night will stop. 

One Last Tip

Avoiding disrupted sleep while going through developmental milestones can be better achieved if your child knows how to sleep independently, meaning they are capable of falling asleep without being held, rocked, bounced, fed, or pacified. If they are already an independent sleeper, once they have mastered the new skill they’ve been working so hard on, they can go back to sleeping easily and peacefully once again. 

Need help with getting back on track after a developmental milestone or need help with sleep in general? Schedule a FREE Discovery Call so we can chat.   

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