Today I want to give you some tips for handling sickness so that you don’t derail all your progress after teaching your baby how to put themselves to sleep on their own. First things first, there are a few things that you do need to keep in mind.
The first thing to note is that your baby is going to wake in the night. Anyone who is not feeling well generally do not sleep as well as they normally do. We tend to have more frequent wakings, as many as two, five, or even more nighttime wake-ups.
It is very important to be realistic to the fact that your sick child is likely going to have some night wake-ups. How you handle those wake-ups will make a big difference in how your child maintains their independent sleep skills.
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 and take care of your child.
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. Instill an internal mantra that you’re not going to rock her back to sleep, you’re not going to feed her to sleep. Tell yourself that 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 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 feeds only happen for a few nights. My best recommendation is to try to cap it around three nights. If anything happens for more than three nights, then there is the risk that the baby is going to now expect the feeds to continue and start waking up looking for feeds even once the sickness is gone.
Another big mistake parents make is that they bring their baby into bed with them. Again, I understand it. When you’ve been used to sleeping through the night with a baby, it’s hard to go back to waking up at night to tend to your baby, and it feels easier to bring them to bed so you can get back to sleep more quickly.
With the desire to sleep better and comfort your sick child, it seems like the best call to make. However, if you’re really concerned about your child during 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, keep in mind my rule of three: 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 giving me a call for some support and guidance.
While it can feel a bit defeating or even daunting, you would just start implementing your old expectations that they can put themselves to sleep on their own 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. But in the meantime, I’ll be here sending you wishes of healthy babies and the nasty germs to steer clear of your home… nevermind that our precious littles seem to be magnets for the stuff!
I am a Pediatric Sleep Consultant who works with families to help them resolve their littles' sleep issues. As a mom of two littles herself, Katie has walked in the shoes of her clients and is passionate about helping them re-discover peaceful sleeps in their own homes.