Does Learning to Walk Affect Sleep?
Babies learn and grow so much during their first few years of life. Your baby goes from being a tiny, squishy newborn to being a full-blown toddler so fast! There are so many developmental milestones in the first year or so and they can have a huge impact on your child’s sleep. Whether it is learning to roll, learning to crawl, sit independently, learning to walk or talk, all of these huge milestones can affect sleep. If your baby has great sleep habits, is sleeping through the night and then all of a sudden has multiple night wakings or other sleep problems, this could mean your child is on the verge of going through a developmental milestone or learning a new skill. But don’t worry! There are ways you can work through this and get back to that lovely uninterrupted sleep that you’re used to! Children typically start walking between ages 12-18 months.
Does Learning to Walk Affect Sleep?
Have you ever woken up during the middle of the night to peek at your baby sleeping in their crib to find them sound asleep sitting up? I have!! I panicked, thinking “what on earth is my baby doing??” It turns out, when babies are learning a new developmental skill, whether it be rolling from back to tummy, crawling, sitting, standing or walking, they have a hard time turning off the desire to practice the skill, even when they’re sleeping. Things like separation anxiety, potty training and talking can also throw a wrench into what was a super sleeper. These milestones can absolutely make an impact on sleep patterns!
During this time of learning, sleep can be heavily impacted. Usually this developmental skill impacts nighttime sleep but you could see your child start to refuse naps. Sleep regressions often go hand in hand with developmental milestones because there is so much going on in the brain and body of your baby. So, how do you get past these crazy nights with your baby waking up several times a night or having trouble falling asleep? Let me give you a few hints!
How to Manage Developmental Milestones and Sleep
1. Practice, practice, practice!!
The number one piece of advice I can give you is to practice whatever developmental milestones your baby is going through during their awake time. Whether it is rolling, crawling or walking practice with them during the day so that they can work on mastering their new skill. The more you practice with them during the day, the less impact it will have on their night.
2. Solid Sleep Foundation
If you haven’t already, look into sleep training. There’s no hard and fast rule that says toddlers or older babies can’t sleep train. Sure it’s easier when they’re younger, but if your child doesn’t already have a solid foundation of good sleep habits, try setting some up to help you get through these developmental milestones so that future ones don’t have as big of an impact on their sleep.
3. Give Them A Few
If your baby starts waking up in the middle of the night while learning their new skill, give them a few minutes before rushing into their room. Typically, they will cry out to try and get your attention and let you know they are awake. Give them a few to calm down on their own and more often than not they’ll lay back down and go back to sleep.
4. Ride The Wave
Luckily for you and your baby, learning these new skills and going through these physical milestones doesn’t last forever. Sometimes all you can do is ride the wave until they get the hang of it and get through it. Remember to practice as much as you can with them and remember, this too shall pass and your great sleeper will be back before you know it!