Well, the inevitable happened. My son, Owen is sick for the first time. He made it 9 months without catching a thing, which is pretty exciting. What is not exciting is having my heart break into tiny pieces seeing him suffer. I have been incredibly lucky in the fact that he is still sleeping through the night (seriously, not sure how I managed this!) However, being sick has really affected his daytime sleep.
His first nap yesterday was 19 minutes…say what?? Yes, 19 minutes. His first nap today was 25 minutes. I was hoping for the opposite – longer than normal naps! All I can do is comfort him and make him feel as safe and secure as possible during his sickness. Because like everything, this too shall pass.
Sickness can often take a really great sleeper and well, ruin it. It doesn’t have to be this way. Below are some simple guidelines for dealing with a sick kiddo and their sleep.
How to Maintain a Good Sleep Schedule When Your Baby is Sick
Today I want to give you some tips for handling sickness so that you don’t derail all your progress. There are a few things that you do need to keep in mind.
- The first is your baby is probably going to wake in the night. Anyone who is ill does not sleep as well as they normally do. We tend to have two, five, even more nighttime wake-ups.It’s realistic to expect that your sick child is going to have some night wake-ups. How you handle those wake-ups will make a big difference.
- One of the big mistakes people make is that they start to intervene in their child’s sleep skills. Meaning they go in, they try to rock or they start to feed again. They try to lull baby to sleep in their arms or go back to all their old sleep props.I understand why people do that because you want to comfort your baby when he is sick. I’m not saying don’t comfort him. You can absolutely go in. Have a short cuddle, wipe his nose, give him a drink of water, whatever you need to do to offer some comfort, but you don’t want to interfere with his sleep skills.
You are going to try your absolute best not to do any of the following – but let’s be honest, sometimes a sick baby just needs some snuggles in the rocker!
- You’re not going to rock him back to sleep.
- You’re not going to feed him to sleep.
- You’re not going to do any of the things that you’ve worked so hard to get rid of.
The only time you would ever go back to a nighttime feed, obviously, is if your doctor or pediatrician suggests it.
If he had a high fever for several days, he might need some extra fluids through the night.
You want to make sure that those only happen for a few nights. Three is kind of my rule of thumb. If anything happens for more than three nights, then there is the danger that the baby is going to now expect this and start waking up looking for feeds even once the sickness is gone.
Mistakes to Avoid While Sleep Training with a Sick Child
A big mistake people make is that they bring their baby into bed with them. Again, I understand it – but this is a tough one to break once they start feeling better again. It is best to leave them in their room and comfort them there.
I understand where that desire comes from. You want to comfort your sick child. 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 his room to keep an eye on him. Again, remembering my rule of threes, try not to do it for any longer than three nights or you might find yourself six months later still sleeping beside his bed.
- If everything falls apart, cut yourself a bit of slack. Sometimes it happens. Know that as soon as your baby is well again, just get right back on track with the Program.
Just start again. You know that he can do this. It’s just a matter of proving to him that he needs to use his own skills once again.
If, after all, is said and done, and you are still struggling – give me a call, it’s what I am here for!