I often get asked, “What do I do when my baby gets sick”? When your little one is sick, sometimes the routine goes right out the window and you have to do whatever works to make sure your child stays hydrated, gets sleep, and gets better. Being sick can mean your child might wake at night and have short or nonexistent naps. On the other hand, sometimes when children are sick they actually sleep more. You should let your child nap as much as she wants to when she is sick.
If you have not started sleep coaching yet, I would suggest that you do not start in the middle of an illness. Wait until your child is feeling 100% again and then jump into your plan.
If you are in the middle of sleep coaching and your child comes down with a high fever, vomiting, or is otherwise miserable, stop what you are doing, sleep-training wise, and focus on helping your child feel better. This may mean you end up taking a few steps back. Just be sure to get right back to your sleep training plan and normal routine as soon as your baby is feeling better. If your child just comes down with a little cold and seems to be feeling okay, you can continue on with your sleep training as normal.
If your child is already “sleep trained” and he or she becomes sick, there may be a regression and your child may need some help getting back on track. It’s important to respond quickly to a child who genuinely doesn’t feel well. Ideally you would not regress all the way back to the beginning of the process or create any new habits, if possible. For example, if your child just has a cold, they may need a little more soothing and comforting at bedtime or when they wake at night but should not necessarily need to come sleep in your bed. Instead of letting your child come into your bed, comfort him in his own room, even if you have to sleep in there on an air mattress for a night or two.
Talk to your pediatrician about ways that you can help your child be more comfortable during sleep while they are sick. Some common recommendations are to utilize a humidifier, prop the mattress (ask your doctor for tips), use saline nose drops and a nose plunger and/or administer pain medications such as Tylenol or Motrin.
If your child does regress after an illness and you need help getting back on track, contact me for help: http://tulsapediatricsleepconsulting.com/contact/.