How To Manage Sleep When Your Baby Is Sick

By Carrie Bruno

January 23, 2019

Carrie is the founder of The Mama Coach. She is a RN, IBCLC lactation consultant, sleep consultant and mama of two little guys. She leads the nationwide team of Mama Coaches and is committed to making motherhood easier.

Some babies are lucky enough to avoid getting sick in the first few months after birth, especially if baby is breastfeeding, as maternal antibodies are passed to the baby through moms breast milk. Inevitably though, at some point, your baby will be exposed a virus or bacteria that will make them sick, and unfortunately it will be the first of many illnesses!

It really is the worst when your baby gets sick!  Not only do you spend time worrying if they are okay and wondering when you should be seeking medical attention, but also being sick can really affect babies sleep.  Just like when adults are feeling poorly, their symptoms wake them more frequently. A decent night’s sleep for the whole family can start to feel like a distant memory.

What then is the best way to manage those night time wake ups effectively without feeling like you are going back to square one and throwing away all your hard work of trying to get baby sleeping well. Here are my top three tips for how to manage sleep when your baby is sick:

1. If you think they need you, go to them!

The first and most important thing to remember when your baby is sick is if they wake up from sleep it is likely because they need you. They may have a stuffy nose, be too hot, too cold, thirsty, in pain, or finding it more difficult than normal to breath.  Go to them! Pick them up, cuddle them, and comfort them. Try to alleviate any symptoms they might have, for example, feed them to keep baby hydrated, give saline drops to liquefy mucus and administer medicine as directed by your doctor.

At the time, it might feel like the frequent wakeups will never end and that they will just keep waking up like this forever…but remember…it will pass. Your child needs extra love and comfort and it is important to be there for them so you can monitor how they are doing and when to seek medical attention.

2. Camp out in their room.

If your baby is sick to the point that you feel like you want to stay close by and they are sleeping in a different room to you, camp out in their room! Yes this might seem a bit extreme but in the long run it is easier to keep to routine with them in their own bed and you on the floor rather than shifting their entire sleeping space.

3. Put baby back into their crib awake.

If your baby is older than 3 months and you had previously been working on avoiding sleep props such as feeding, rocking or bouncing to sleep, after seeing to your baby’s needs, try to put baby back in their crib awake.  This can really help to keep baby on track with sleep. Give them extra feeds, cuddles and love but try to let them close their eyes independently in their crib. If putting baby in their crib awake is a struggle for you and is a concern, then don’t hesitate to contact The Mama Coach in your area to discuss sleep props and how we can help you. 

Anything else?

Many parents find the moisture of a humidifier in baby’s bedroom can help loosen up mucus, relieve cough, cold and flu symptoms, nasal congestion, sinus irritation and nose bleeds. See Mama Coach Maddie’s article for the scoop on humidifiers.

And remember….baby’s illness will pass.  If you had a beautiful sleeper before you will be able to guide them back into their “healthy” routine.  If your baby was struggling with sleep before getting sick, when they are better, please feel free to contact me contact me or any of the other Mama Coaches across Canada for a free 15 minute telephone call to discuss how we can help you reach your goals. Visit our site to find out more.

 

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