I have a weekly online sleep clinic Sunday nights on Facebook from 8:00-9:00pm EST. Often there are themes; different families ask me the same question. Recently this was one of them:
Q: “I think my baby is having night terrors! He used to sleep so well, but now he is waking up 5 times each night, standing in the crib and he can’t lay down… what do I do?”
A: Night terrors don’t typically start until closer to two years old, however, when a baby is working on new skills, it is very common to see disruptions to his sleep. Babies want to practice when they are shut off from the world; no distractions. This is often during naptime or the night. Rolling and standing are two of the most disruptive skills, and can really tempt parents to go in and help roll them back or lay them down. I don’t suggest doing that though. If you lay him down, he is going to keep standing and crying until you lay him down again. Once you see him stand, stand him at everything! Stand him in the crib and encourage him to sit down by placing a toy on the mattress, stand him at your couch and encourage him to sit on the ground. He will do it!
So how should you respond to the night wakings? Do whatever you were doing before this wonderful new skill caused chaos during sleep time. Give him the space to work through it, practice and then go back to sleep. If you have previously sleep trained, you can go back to basics and do what you did before. If you have been helping your baby to sleep, then find a way to put him into bed awake and then respond to him without putting him to sleep (feeding, rocking, walking etc). It will take some practice, but he can do it.
My last tip is to offer an earlier bedtime temporarily. Help him catch up on the sleep that he is losing while he sorts this out.
He can do this!