Ah, the magical world of toddlerhood, where the unexpected becomes the norm. Toddlerhood is something that we, as parents, just aren’t prepared for. No one tells us our tiny baby will become a shouting, disagreeable, boundary-pushing tiny human. Toddlers are hilarious and do lots of weird things. One common, albeit amusing, phenomenon that parents may encounter is seeing their toddlers falling asleep standing up. But why does it happen, and is it okay?
Why Do Toddlers Fall Asleep Standing Up?
Toddlers have a ton of energy and sometimes resist the idea of naptime or bedtime as part of the usual boundary-pushing. When overtired, they may act hyper-excitable and emotional. Fighting sleep becomes a battle of wills, but eventually, their little body can only take so much, and they fall asleep standing up.
- Transitioning Sleep Stages and New Skills:
As toddlers transition from two naps to one or adjust to a new sleep schedule, their bodies might struggle to find the perfect position for sleep. Standing naps can be a quirky result of this phase. This also happens when your little one gets excited about walking. Walking means independence, which is good, so their body will almost compulsively stand and move until the skill is mastered.
- Stubborn Independence:
Toddlers are notorious for asserting their independence. Falling asleep standing up might be their way of resisting the traditional sleep setting and maintaining control over their bedtime routine. Toddlers think they want all of the power. We know they can’t handle it, but we do our best to let them have choices when it’s appropriate. Standing and sleeping are fine. I promise it won’t last forever.
Is It Okay for Toddlers to Sleep Standing Up?
Rest assured, the occasional standing nap is typically harmless. Toddlers are masters of finding unconventional sleep positions. This won’t be the only time you see them in a weird sleeping position. Standing naps are generally nothing to worry about as long as they get the recommended amount of sleep overall.
However, if this becomes a frequent occurrence or you notice any signs of sleep disturbances or discomfort, it’s advisable to consult your pediatrician to rule out any underlying issues.
How Can Parents Help?
Prioritize Consistent Bedtime Routine:
Establishing a consistent bedtime routine can signal your toddler that it’s time to wind down. A calming way involving stories, gentle music, or a warm bath can work wonders. Provide a bedtime routine chart that your toddler can check off each night. This promotes independence.
Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment:
Ensure the sleep space is conducive to rest. Comfortable bedding, dim lighting, and a soothing white noise machine can create a tranquil atmosphere for your toddler. I encourage you to allow them to use a favorite lovey or blanket; it’s also appropriate to use a pillow at this age.
Adjust Nap and Bedtime Schedules:
Pay attention to your toddler’s time awake. After 18 months, your toddler should be on one nap daily. Adjust nap and bedtime schedules as needed and avoid napping after 3 pm. Overtiredness often contributes to standing naps, which feels backward, I know. Ensuring your toddler gets enough rest is crucial.
Encourage Physical Activity:
Engage your toddler in physical activities during the day to expend energy. Outside play is linked directly to a good night’s rest. Spending time outside in the winter can be problematic, but even 15 minutes a day is helpful. Outdoor play and exposure to sunlight are excellent for getting better sleep at night. It will help both you and your child.
Some kids will naturally choose a favorite blanket or stuffed animal as their special lovey. Excellent, they are perfect for bedtime and cuddly time. If your child has not naturally started showing a preference for a blanket or lovey, it’s worth it to encourage them. Take them to the store and let them pick something new. Take the blanket or lovey with them in the car, and offer it when you sit together to read a story. Keep it casual but consistent.
While the sight of a standing napper might look funny and mildly concerning, understanding its reasons and taking proactive steps to support healthy sleep habits can make the toddler sleep journey smoother for both parents and little ones. Sometimes, as a parent, we feel like we’ve done everything that can be done, and we’re still struggling with sleep. Book a free call with me for your sleep assessment, and let’s work together to get you all the rest you need so your little one can go to bed calmly and sleep peacefully all night long.💤👶✨