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Baby Milestones: How Different Stages of Development Affect Your Child’s Sleep

how baby  development milestones affects sleep

Seeing your child cross off baby milestones is one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of being a parent. Whether you're watching them lift their head for the first time or tentatively walk across the hall, it's incredible just how fast they learn how to navigate the big new world around them!

But among all this excitement you may fall off your newborn sleep schedule or baby nap schedule, with nighttime wakeups and evening fussiness becoming more of a problem.

Don't worry - we're here to go over how different baby developmental milestones can affect your baby's sleep. If you’re just curious about the most common newborn milestones, here they are:

  • Rolling Over
  • Starting to crawl
  • Sitting Up
  • Standing Up
  • Sleep during leaps

Stay tuned for tips on how to get baby to nap longer or how to get baby to sleep through the night if these developmental milestones are giving you grief! First, let’s talk about the challenges of baby sleep milestones.

How baby milestones affect sleep

Unfortunately, many parents find that their baby's development has an impact on their sleep, and that certain milestones can lead to their baby fighting sleep or waking more frequently through the night. This can often be because many babies want to spend more time practicing this skill when they should be sleeping!

Your baby is going through small changes every single day, and when all of these new changes combine to make a new skill they're called developmental milestones. As you can imagine, these baby developmental milestones take some processing - for both you and your baby.

how zen one can help baby  development milestones

Not all of these baby developmental milestones will have the same impact on your baby's habits, but they're all likely to have some effect on their sleep. Don't worry though - for every sleep problem, there's a simple solution you can try!

It's worth bearing in mind that the ages we give here for each milestone are just a rough guide, and that it's perfectly normal for your little one to learn these new skills a little earlier or later than this.

To prevent interruptions to your sleep schedule, you can spend more time during the day working on these skills with your baby, whether that means a little more tummy time or a quick toddling lap around the room while you hold their hands. 

Using sleep aids like blackout curtains, a pacifier, and our gently weighted Zen Sack can also help soothe an excited baby to sleep. We’ll talk about this more later, but let’s get into some of the baby developmental milestones you should prepare for.

The Most Common Baby Developmental Milestones

Now, let’s take a deep dive into the five most common baby milestones for development - rolling over, starting to crawl, sitting up, standing up, and talking.

Rolling Over

When do babies start rolling over? Babies will typically be able to roll over independently from front to back and vice versa by the time they're 3 or 4 months old, though it's not unusual for them to achieve this at around 2 months.

They're able to do this when muscles in their neck, chest, arms and shoulders are developed enough, and may sometimes do it accidentally in their sleep before they do it in the daytime!

Reaching this baby milestone can disrupt sleep in a couple of different ways. Firstly, your baby might fight sleep if they want to practice this skill in the night. Secondly, they might wake themselves up in the night by rolling over in their sleep, then become confused and upset.

baby  development milestones: Rolling Over

To solve this, you can make sure to have tummy time every day so that they get the practice they need and feel satisfied enough to sleep in their crib. You learn more about how to help baby roll over in our blog. 

Just remember that once you see the signs of rolling over, it’s time to stop using a swaddle. While the swaddle transition can be daunting, we make it less stressful through our carefully weighted sleep sacks. These are the next best infant sleep aid

The benefits of our sleep sack are all thanks to the gentle cuddle pads that mimic your comforting touch, which helps offset baby separation anxiety

Learn more about the importance of how to dress baby for sleep and what makes Nested Bean the best baby sleepwear in our blog. For now, let’s move onto the next of the five baby milestones.

Starting to Crawl

Crawling is one of the most exciting - and nerve-wracking - baby development milestones for many parents, as it's the first time your baby is truly mobile! 

Babies will start to be able to crawl at around 6 months having spent some time shuffling on their tummy and developing their arm and shoulder muscles. They'll be properly moving at 9 or 10 months, and crawling with confidence by their first birthday.

Similar to rolling, crawling can disrupt sleep if your baby wants to practice it at night - though unlike rolling, this can sometimes lead to nighttime breakouts if you have a Houdini baby on your hands! 

To handle this, you should make sure your baby has plenty of time to play during the day, and that there are no objects inside or near the crib that could aid your little one's escape. You should also make sure to babyproof doors, cupboards, and windows.

Sitting Up

Your baby will typically start getting into a sitting position on their own at around the same time as they start to crawl - beginning at 6 months, and confidently sitting between 7 and 9 months.

Your baby will likely start with a 'tripod' sit a little earlier at 4 or 5 months before they gain the balance and strength required to sit up without the aid of their arms.

As you can imagine, your baby being able to sit up can prove tricky at bedtime. When you could previously just lay them down on their back in a sleeping position and know they'd stay that way, they can now sit right back up again if they feel inclined! 

This is where understanding your baby's sleep cues can come in handy - try putting them to bed when they're showing signs like blinking, yawning, or stretching, as they'll be more likely to drift off to sleep in their crib.

Standing Up

Watching your baby stand unaided for the first time can be bittersweet - how did they go from lying in your arms to standing on their own two feet in what feels like a few short months? 

Most babies will be able to stand with some supervision and support from 7 or 8 months, with a goal of standing independently around their first birthday. 

You can expect some trial and error here, with plenty of toppling and tumbling as they learn how to balance and shift their weight!

The problems standing up can cause when it comes to sleep are similar to that of sitting, but amplified - not only can your little one get out of their sleeping position now, but they may even be able to walk right out of their room if you aren't careful! 

Fortunately, this is usually only a short phase - your baby will learn quickly that they can't sleep standing up! There's only so much you can do here, and many experts actually recommend giving your baby space to work it out on their own.


Talking is a little different from the other baby development milestones, as it has more to do with mental development than physical development.

However, as any parent will tell you, starting to talk is a huge milestone that can have some unexpected effects on every aspect of your child's life, including sleep.

Your baby will start babbling and mimicking speech as early as the newborn phase, and might have their first proper words at around 9 months before being able to make simple verbal requests and three to four-word sentences by their second birthday.

Many families find that once their baby starts talking - or even just starts to babble more frequently - they love to chat to themselves when they should be sleeping! 

If this is the case, you can try talking to your baby more often throughout the day, and playing with them using toys that promote mental stimulation.

Tips to help your child sleep during different baby developmental milestones

Your baby is always growing and changing, and as your child's development changes their habits and behaviors, you'll need to make some adjustments along the way.

Once your baby is able to roll over independently, for instance, you may find that they prefer tummy sleeping. While you should always place your baby on their back to sleep, they may roll over in the night for comfort - just like an adult!

Whether your baby is newly tummy sleeping or sitting up in bed when they should be snoozing, certain milestones can prove tricky when it comes to sleep. Here are just a few quick tips you can try if your little one's new skills are keeping them (and you) up at night:

Stay consistent

When your baby is going through changes and struggling to snooze, it can be tempting to want to completely overhaul the newborn bedtime routine in response - but this can actually do more harm than good.

More than anything, your baby needs stability and consistency during times of change so that they can continue to have positive baby sleep associations and understand when it's time to rest through cues like their bedtime rituals.

Sleep sack

If your baby is rolling, you won't be able to use your weighted swaddle anymore for safety reasons - however, this doesn't mean that weighted baby sleepwear can't still be a great tool in your soothing sleep arsenal! From the best sleep sack for winter to the best transitional sleep sack, Nested Bean has you covered.

Our Zen Sack classic is safe once your baby starts rolling and features a gently weighted pad to mimic your calming touch and help promote self-soothing.

Plus, for tummy sleepers, you can even put the Zen Sack on backward so that the pad rests on your baby's back for extra comfort! We also have the best baby pajamas for when you stop using a sleep sack.

Try a pacifier

For lots of babies, there's nothing quite like a pacifier to keep them calm through the night. Satisfying your baby's natural instinct to suck, a pacifier can keep your little one occupied if they're feeling antsy and wanting to play when you want them to snooze.

Keep a clear crib

Though you may want to soothe your little one at night with familiar objects like a favorite toy or blanket, this is only considered safe after their first birthday.

Prior to then, it's best that you keep the crib clear of loose bedding and other items to avoid posing a suffocation risk, especially if your baby is a tummy sleeper or rolling over frequently at night.

Create a soothing space

If you're struggling with a baby who treats bedtime like playtime after reaching a new milestone, changing the atmosphere of their sleep space can make a big impact.

By introducing things like blackout curtains to block out light and a baby-safe white noise machine to drown out loud sounds in and out of your home, you can make your baby feel calmer and less overstimulated at bedtime.

Daytime practice

The best way to stop baby developmental milestones from interfering with their sleep is by giving them enough of an opportunity during the day to practice their new abilities.

If they're starting to roll, aim for a little more tummy time - if they're taking their first steps, hold their hands and try walking a few laps around the living room with them.

Not only is this a great bonding opportunity, but it also differentiates playtime from sleep time, and encourages your little one to associate their sleep space with sleep rather than exercise.

Watch for sleep cues

Putting your baby to bed wide awake will likely lead to them practicing milestone skills in their crib, while putting them to bed after they've fallen asleep can be detrimental to teaching them how to self-soothe.

The best time to put baby to bed is when they're drowsy, and you can work this out by keeping an eye on their sleep cues.

For example, if your baby starts blinking more frequently, stretching out their arms, or making certain facial expressions when they're tired, this could be a sign that it's a good time to put them to bed. Hopefully, they're then sleepy enough to fall asleep without too much fuss!

Bringing our conversation on baby milestones to a close

All baby milestones bring both excitement and nerves in equal measure, and if you're both losing out on sleep you're bound to be more stressed! 

The most important thing to remember is that sleep disruption from milestones is typically temporary, lasting only a few days or weeks at most, and that there's plenty you can do to help your baby rest in the meantime. To summarise what we've covered together in this blog:

  • Major baby development milestones like rolling over, sitting, and standing can impact your baby's sleep
  • Reaching these baby milestones a little earlier or later than the guidelines say is perfectly normal - every baby goes at their own pace
  • Practicing new skills during the day can prevent your baby from fighting sleep at night
  • The Zen Sack worn backward is perfect for soothing tummy sleepers who might experience nighttime wakeups
  • Disrupted sleep is temporary, and your baby will be sleeping soundly again soon - you've got this!

Hopefully, you feel confident in the role of baby development milestones and what they mean for your child’s sleep habits. Learn more about the newborn sleep cycle, signs of sleep regression, when to start sleep training, how to put a baby to sleep fast, when do toddlers stop napping, how to help teething baby sleep, baby cries meaning, and more in our blog.

Or, invest in a better night’s sleep for you and your child at Nested Bean today. We can help you traverse all the various baby milestones with confidence through our sleepwear. If you’re still expecting or in the first few weeks of life, you can still use some of the different types of swaddles we have for you in our catalog. 

From the best transition swaddle to the best swaddle for preemie, the best swaddle for summer, winter sleep sacks, zipper swaddles, transitional swaddles, and more - we’ve got all your sleepwear needs covered, and we’re excited for you to see how much they improve your sleep!

Athena S.

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