7 - 8 Months

Why your baby is crawling in their sleep (and what to do if it’s waking them up)

Toddler crawling with the Cotton Doll in their mouth

Have you ever glanced at your baby monitor’s screen and watched your baby appear to crawl…while they were sleeping? Or seen them flip over from front to back, back to front, over and over again?

This is totally normal. Motor development skills are often processed during the phase of sleep called REM (when our eyes dart back and forth rapidly, and we dream more deeply). Your sleeping baby is actually processing the crawling and rolling skills they’ve been learning and practicing during their waking hours.

It can be cute to watch your baby sit up in the middle of a nap, but it’s a little less adorable when they actually wake up. A 2015 study by the Society for Research in Child Development found that the onset of crawling can be particularly disruptive to a baby’s sleep, as this significant motor milestones requires a lot of practice and a lot of processing.

Try the following if the onset of crawling is disrupting your baby’s sleep⁣:

  • Help them practice the skill while they’re awake, especially how to get back to a comfortable position for sleep. For instance, if they can roll one way but not the other, give them opportunities and encouragement to roll back.
  • If your baby can sit up, but can’t lie down (or vice versa), practice it with them in a game of “sit down/sit up.” This probably doesn’t sound like the world’s most exciting game, but it can actually be loads of fun, and save you and your baby some nighttime sadness.
  • If you do go help your baby in the night or during a nap, see if you can guide them with words and gentle gestures rather than correcting their posture for them.
  • Give it time. Patience is hard, but sometimes our babies just need a little space to practice. Then one day it seems like a switch was flipped, and suddenly they can crawl, sit up, walk, rollover, or do any of the many other skills they’re constantly working on ❤️


Sleep as a Mirror of Developmental Transitions in Infancy: the Case of Crawling (Society for Research in Child Development)


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Posted in: 7 - 8 Months, Crawling, Gross Motor, Milestones, Rolling, Child Development

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