Question: How do I get baby to sleep through the night after illness?
My baby daughter is 18 months old and can’t sleep through the night. We have had a very tough few months with a night time asthma cough. We have finally sorted the cough but she continues to wake two or three every night. We have got into the habit of giving her a bottle or a soother to get back to sleep.
She also gets up very early since the time change in October -5.30 am, When she wakes at night either myself or my husband take her from her cot and put her into bed in her room and stay with her for remainder of night for the rest of the night wakening’s. It’s a mess!
Should I move her into the bed in her room? How do I stop the night wakening’s and get her to sleep through the night? She is usually exhausted an hour after getting up.
Any help to get darling daughter to sleep through the night would be so appreciated.
Response: Getting baby to sleep through the night
A few negative sleep habits have crept in here, which nearly always happens when you have a sick child. Firstly, she is too young to understand that she needs to stay in the bed and sleep through the night. I fear if you were to move her into her own bed now the evenings would turn into a nightmare getting her to sleep and that you would need to stay with her. Then you would be in with her again when she wakes during the night.
You’ll need to re-establish a baby sleep routine so I’d suggest that you choose a baby settling technique that suits you and stick to it. She is a little young to understand rewards, etc. You could use the settling method I have suggested in the ‘Put Baby to Sleep’ post. When you leave the room tell her you will be back to her in a minute but go back in after a few seconds initially. You will need to use the same settling technique every time she wakes during the night. If you do have difficulty settling her in the evening, use the same technique and be sure not to give her any more bottles. If you give her a soother get her to search for it herself by taking her hand to search for it and getting her to put it in her own mouth. You will also need to stop taking her into your bed at 5.30am. It is very common for children to wake at this time as this is when she naturally goes into a very light sleep, see my article on baby sleep cycles. It takes time and a lot of perseverance to change the negative sleep associations that have been establish when your baby was ill. You should continue to resettle her in the morning in her cot until approximately 7am. Initially she will not go back to sleep for you, so when you decide it is time for her to get up change your approach to her, go to her all happy, pick her up, open the curtains and then bring her to the living area. In time she will learn from your response whether or not it is morning time or time to go back to sleep. When she learns that she will not be getting into the bed with you in the morning she will start to relax in her cot and go back to sleep. This will take time though and you may have lots of long nights and early mornings to deal with before the issue is resolved but it is well worth putting the in time and effort to get her to sleep through the night. By being very consistent with her when she is going to bed and every time she awakes she will learn how to settle herself back to sleep again.