How to Handle Sleep & Sickness

You’ve likely found yourself in this situation…your child has finally made progress with sleep and seems to be getting into a predictable pattern and then wham they get sick.

Getting through the cold and flu season with kids can seem like a long, hard battle. We all know that having a sick child is one of the worst feelings there is, but lack of sleep on top of sickness tops the list!

So, what is a Mama to do when your good sleeper suddenly can’t sleep or your plans to sleep teach happen to be disrupted by illness?

You follow the tips below and remind yourself that this too, shall pass.

1)     Give your baby some extra TLC. Think about how we feel when we are sick. We want to be taken care of, even as adults! Children need us when they don't feel well and being there to provide them comfort and love should be the #1 priority. This means responding to those tears, even if holding your baby a lot is the only thing that calms her down.

2)     Let your baby sleep more if that's what they need. You might notice your child takes longer naps when sick or wants to sleep all day. Let them! That is your child's way of trying to fight off the illness and rest is key in doing so. You just want to make sure they are still getting fluids and feedings in as normal to stay hydrated and nourished. The exception here would be if your child is sleeping very late into the afternoon and nap starts to blend into bedtime, you may want to wake your child so night sleep isn't completely thrown off. 

3)     Comfort and Love doesn't necessarily mean a complete change in sleep habits. While you don't want to sleep "train" when your child is sick, you also don't want to suddenly introduce new habits such as co-sleeping or nursing to sleep for every wake-up. There are many ways you can provide comfort that still promote safe sleep practices and independent sleep. Instead of sleeping with your child, consider staying in their room a little longer than normal, maybe until they fall asleep. OR snuggle until your child is asleep and then transfer to their crib/bed. Instead of nursing to sleep, consider rocking or skin-to-skin comfort.

4)     Offer Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Make sure to check with your pediatrician before doing this but either of these options can provide relief and comfort for your child, helping them to fall asleep and stay asleep.

5) Run a humidifier in your child's room at night. Even in the winter months this can really help provide moisture in the air at night. Especially with colds and respiratory issues, humidifiers can work wonders!

6) Ask for help! When we brought our newborn home in January, our Toddler (who is in daycare) was sick for a month straight. Trying to keep the two separated would have been impossible if we didn’t have help from friends and family. This might also mean you have someone watch the baby so you can take a nap or take turns with your partner so you can get some extra sleep. Making sure to take care of yourself is important too!

Many of these tips can also apply when your child is teething. Remember this is a season and you will get through it! Try not to worry too much about sickness completely de-railing any progress too. While it might set your child back temporarily, as soon as they get to feeling better, you can jump right back in to where you left off and your child’s normal routine.