Even a mild illness can turn your world upside down if it interferes with your child’s sleep patterns. If your once decent sleeper starts resisting sleep or you find your baby waking repeatedly during the night, you’ve got a challenge on a multitude of levels. Not only do you have a little one suffering with the symptoms of illness, but you’re probably suffering yourself, thanks to late-night vigils and constant comfort measures.
Regression is Common
No one sleeps well during illness, and your baby is no different. Any positive sleep routine you might have had for your baby will likely fly right out the window the minute sniffles and coughs set in. Your baby might regress and become clingy while he doesn’t feel well. Naturally, you probably want to soothe and comfort your child when he’s ill, so it’s common to cuddle a sick baby more than usual. Increased cuddling could contribute to regression, too.
During the illness, you can help your baby sleep better by easing symptoms. Offer your baby fluids often, fluids will help prevent dehydration and loosen congestion. Try saline nose drops if your baby struggles with congestion. Running a cool-mist humidifier in the bedroom might minimize congestion, too. You might also try placing a towel or blanket under one end of the cot mattress to elevate your baby’s head slightly to ease congestion.
Relearning Better Habits
Once you’re over the worst of the illness, it’s time to encourage your little one to return to his former sleep routine. Be warned – he might not be happy about relearning his old sleep habits. In fact, he might complain vigorously. Return to your old settling routine to get your little one ready for sleep. Once you proceed through the standard routine, tuck your child into bed. If he resists or cries, tell him it’s time for sleep and promise that you’ll be right back to check on him. You might need to return repeatedly in the first night or two, but eventually, he’ll relearn how to sleep well.
Your loving consistency will help your child remember his good habits and return to them. Once he does, everyone will feel happier.