when your baby is sick

When your baby is sick, nights can be interrupted.

If you have worked hard to allow your child the ability to fall asleep independently to ensure they are a good sleeper through the night, and for day naps, the last thing you want to do is derail these skills over the period they get sick.

When your baby is sick, the first thing to accept is that there are likely going to be some wakings overnight.

Anyone who is ill does not sleep as well as they normally do. We tend to have two, five, even more night-time wake-ups.

How you handle wake-ups will make a big difference.

Starting to intervene in your child’s sleep skills is what you want to avoid. Continue to allow your baby to fall asleep on their own, just like they normally would.

I understand why people think about going back to rocking, feeding to sleep etc. You want to comfort your baby when they are sick. I’m not saying don’t comfort them. Absolutely go in and comfort them. Try to keep it to a short cuddle, wipe their nose, offer a drink of water, whatever you need to do to offer some comfort, but do your best not to interfere with the sleep skills i.e. the way your child falls asleep. Stay strong, it’ll be worth it for both of you in the long run.

If you baby has a high fever for several days, they may need some extra fluids through the night. You want to make sure that those only happen for a few nights (unless your doctor advises otherwise). Three is kind of my rule of thumb. If anything happens for more than 2-3 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.

Another thing to avoid? Bringing baby into your bed. Again, I understand it. I too want to be close to my children when they are sick. I understand where that desire comes from. Again, you want to comfort your sick child and then allow them to fall asleep again how they normally would. If you’re really concerned about your child through the night, a good option is to go to them. Throw down an air mattress. Spend a night or two in the room to keep an eye on them. Again, remembering my rule, try not to do it for any longer than 2-3 nights if possible, or you might find yourself six months later still sleeping beside their 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 allowing them to fall asleep independently.

For more information on my gentle sleep packages, please visit my sleep packages page.