Sickness is just unavoidable when you have a little one. Between daycare, touching everything, putting everything in their mouths, being exposed to siblings, and just the natural course of viruses among children, it’s inevitable at some point. Even the most amazing sleeper will have a set back or two after or during sickness. So, my point is, it’s all part of the joys of parenting and you are not alone – so best to be prepared!
It's important that while we care for our children, we still make sleep a priority as it’s vital to helping our children recover.
If you’ve determined that your child is sick and you are experiencing the effects with night wakings and an overall pushback during sleep, here are some tips on how to manage:
1. Support, soothe and comfort. But be mindful! If your child is sick, they need your comfort. Be there for them as you would be. Care for them with medicine, soothing and consoling. I only urge you to be mindful of what is putting your child to sleep. If you’ve previously worked hard to have them sleeping independently, you will want to ensure that you still maintain that so not to have to start again once they are well. If you are doing some rocking or feeding, try to do so and then get them back down awake. All my babies were sleep trained, and even when sick, could hardly fall asleep on me anymore. They were used to their own space. So, if this is you, you can follow their lead. I just say, be mindful.
2. Maintain your routine. While the nights can be rough with a sick child, as best as possible, stick to your regular routine. This will be familiar and the expectation for sleep will prove valuable when getting your child to bed. We want to encourage sleep as much as possible, as it’s key to recovery. So, keep it going, even with some extra comforts and soothing.
3. Move to your child’s room, instead of moving them to you. I know it may seem easier for the short term to just bring your little one into bed with you and you both can just get to sleep. BUT, this can just create some unwanted habits when your child is well. Meaning, she may want to continue the bed sharing at night, and begin to call for you or come for a visit in the middle of the night. It’s also important to note, that a sleep trained baby may not welcome sleep as easy as you think coming into your bed. They aren’t used to this sleep environment and may stay awake or have a very restless sleep if that. Often, they will request to signal to go back in their bed/crib to get back to sleep.
4. If your child is now well, but sleep has regressed, start fresh with a sleep plan. Like I said, sickness can’t be avoided and helping our children feel comfortable and supporting their health, is a priority. So, if after, sleep has gone backwards, it’s time to implement a sleep plan and get it sorted out. If you’ve already done a plan and sleep trained in the past, a condensed version (a week or so) could be enough to get your child back on track. Just be consistent and stick with it. If you haven’t done sleep training before, then now might be a good time to set forth on a great sleep path.
Has sleep regressed post-sickness? I'm here to help! Learn more about my Goal Set Mini Session - Perfect for support around sleep set backs.
If you find yourself struggling with your little ones sleep and you not only want it solved (I can definitely do that for you), but you want to adopt a clear schedule that works and you want to understand how to make better decisions around sleep once your child is sleeping well, we must chat! Book a free 15-minute sleep assessment call to share where you are at with sleep and see how I can help you achieve the above.