You have worked so hard to get your little one sleeping well. And then they get sick!
Today I want to give you some tips for handling sickness so that you don’t derail all your progress. There’s a few things that you do need to keep in mind.
The first is your baby is going to wake in the night. Anyone who is ill does not sleep as well as they normally do. So do not panic, even the best sleepers do not sleep well when they are sick.
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 she’s sick. I’m not saying don’t comfort her. You can absolutely go in.
Have a short cuddle, wipe her nose, give her a drink of water, whatever you need to do to offer some comfort, but you don’t want to interfere with her sleep skills.
You’re not going to rock her back to sleep. You’re not going to feed her 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 she’s had a high fever for several days, she 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.
Another big mistake people make is that they bring their baby into bed with them.
I understand where that desire comes from. Again, 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.
Just start again. You know that she can do this. It’s just a matter of proving to her that she needs to use her own skills once again.