I’ve had a lot of families email me lately saying their child was sick, which disrupted their sleep, and now they are having trouble getting back on track. Unfortunately with the start of a new school year comes sickness and often the school aged children will pass it on to their younger siblings. Frequent hand washing, a healthy diet and plenty of sleep will help boost their immune system, but what do you do about your child’s sleep if they get sick?
If you child get’s sick, tend to their needs. If this means more fluids and medicine at night to keep them comfortable, then that’s ok. But keep in mind what new habits you might be forming. You want to bend the rules, not break them. If your child is used to sleeping in their own crib in their own room, resist the urge to bring them into bed with you. Before you know it, your child will be healthy again and you’ll have a squirmy little octopus in your bed! Give them plenty of cuddles during the day, and try to make them as comfortable as possible while they are sick, but try not to overdue it. Also, recognize that you might have a disrupted night or two.
So what do you do when they are healthy again? Get back on track as soon as possible. Whatever allowances you’ve made while they were sick, stop them right away. The longer you wait before you get back to your usual routine and rules, the more difficult it will be to break those new habits. If you child has lost some sleep while sick, implement an earlier bedtime for a few days to help them catch up. If you sleep trained your child before, you may need to do it again for one night to re-establish their healthy sleep habits. I remember when one of my twins was sick and I began feeding him once a night, when he had been sleeping through previously. I knew he needed the extra comfort and fluids so I was happy to do it. But when a week later he was healthy again, the night wakings didn’t stop. I kept saying to myself, I’m sure he’ll sleep through again any night now since he’s feeling better, but that night never came. I realized I would have to sleep train him again because he was in the habit of waking and had the expectation that I would go in and feed him. It lasted only one night for about 20 minutes, and he quickly went back to sleeping straight through. Had I waited longer, it may have taken longer to get him back on track.
If you child gets sick and it disrupts their sleep, don’t panic! Give them what they need to get better, then get right back to your usual routine. The more consistent you are once they are healthy, the sooner they will be wonderful sleepers again!
If you need help getting your child’s sleep on track, visit my sleep solutions page or call 647-970-2402 to find out what package is right for your family.
Have a new baby coming? Check out how to create the ideal bedroom for sleep.