It’s normal for a sick child to have some nighttime wake-ups, but how you handle these disruptions will make a big difference to how quickly your child settles back into their regular routine.
Here are some top tips for handling baby sleep during sickness:
Avoid interfering your child’s sleep skills. Of course you want to comfort your baby when she’s sick; you should absolutely go in and have a short cuddle, give her a drink of water, wipe her nose, or whatever else you need to do to offer some comfort. What you don’t want to do is interfere with her sleep skills by returning to any old sleep props that you’ve worked hard to leave behind.
The only obvious exception to this rule is if your doctor or paediatrician has recommended going back to nighttime feeds. If your baby has had a high fever for several days, she might need some extra fluids through the night.
Ensure that any adjustments to your usual routine are only temporary. Three nights is my general rule of thumb. If anything happens for more than that, there is a risk that your baby may begin to expect this and will start waking up for feeds even once their sickness is gone.
If you don’t usually sleep with your baby, now isn’t the time to start. I understand where that desire comes from. You want to comfort your sick child. I had a son who had chronic ear infections for at least a year of his life. If you’re really concerned about your child through the night, it is much better for you to go to him than to bring him to you.
Throw down an air mattress. Spend a night or two in your child’s room if you want to keep an eye on him. Keeping in mind my rule of three, try not to do this for any longer than three nights or you might end up sleeping there for the next six months.
If everything falls apart, don’t worry. Sometimes it happens. Know that as soon as your baby is well again, you can just get right back on track with your normal routine or sleep training plan, such as my Sleep Sense Program.
Just start again. You know that she can do this. It’s just a matter of reminding her how to use her own sleep skills once again.
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