Illness and Sleep - Dos and Don'ts
Updated: Mar 10
If you’re like me, you’re probably ready for the cold/flu season to be over with! We have been fighting bug after bug in our house, and they just seem to keep circling around. I think I can vouch for my whole family that we’re exhausted! Just in case any of you are feeling the same way, I wanted to write up some things that might help you through these illnesses and let you know that you are not alone! Babies/Toddlers just don’t sleep the same when they’re sick. Even ones that are on a great schedule and falling asleep on their own. Most of the time, we as adults don’t either so we can’t really expect much different from them.
You probably have noticed that your child does all of these or a few of them:
-More Frequent Night Wake-ups
-Wakes Early in the Morning
It’s very normal for your baby/toddler’s schedule to go all crazy when they are sick. The best way to handle it is just to let them sleep when they need the sleep, and comfort them when they need the comfort.
DON’T be strict about their schedule. This is the one time that all those sleep schedule “rules” can go out the window. If they need the sleep, let them sleep.
If your baby already falls asleep on their own, I DO encourage you to continue to lay them down awake still for their naps and night time sleep. You may be surprised that they may not protest. If they need some extra cuddles before laying them down, then go ahead.
If you are still feeding in the night, DON’T increase their feedings (unless your doctor has said otherwise) just because they are waking more frequently. Most likely it’s not because they are hungry, it’s probably because they have a runny nose, or a cough, or an upset tummy, etc. If you do increase their feedings at night, you could end up with the problem of them feeding less during the day and it can be a hard cycle to break and get them back to feeding more in the day.
If you are in the middle of sleep training them and your baby becomes sick, DON’T continue the sleep training even if it is a gentle approach. At this point they need comfort and you can resume it once they are feeling better.
Use your judgement and as soon as you see your “Serene Sleeper” getting back to health, DO get right back to their schedule and routine to avoid a bigger problem down the road and having to redo all your hard work.
Illness is just one of the many “bumps in the road” that our babies/toddlers face. Teething, Regressions, Time Change, Vacations are some others that I will be going over in the near future.
If you'd like to learn more about how you can help your little one sleep better during illness, or any other bump in the road, come join my private Facebook group "Baby & Toddler Sleep Support for Tired Moms". You will also receive support from me and other moms going through many of the same things as you!