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What to do when your baby gets sick…so you don’t start back at Square One!

Cold season is right around the corner, which means there will be people hacking at the grocery store and all sorts of germs will be brought home from preschool.

Having a sick baby is no fun, especially if you’ve worked sooo hard on getting her on a great sleep schedule…and then it seems like you’re back at square one.

So today I want to give you some tips for handling sickness so that you don’t derail all that amazing progress!

Wondering what to do when baby’s sick…and won’t sleep? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Your baby is going to wake in the night when she has a cold. I can pretty much guarantee it. Anyone who’s ill doesn’t sleep as well as they normally do. Babies will have 2-5 (sometimes even more!) nighttime wake-ups when they’re sick.

It’s how you handle those wake-ups that’ll make all the difference.

One of the big mistakes I see parents make when their baby gets sick is starting to intervene in their child’s sleep skills – going in and rocking or starting to feed again. They try to lull baby to sleep in their arms or go back to all their old sleep props.

I understand why parents do it – because they want to comfort their baby when she’s sick! I’m not saying don’t comfort her. You can absolutely go in! Have a short cuddle, wipe her nose, give her a drink of water, whatever you need to do to offer some comfort…but you don’t want to interfere with her sleep skills. You don’t want to rock her back to sleep or feed her to sleep. You don’t want  to do any of the things that you’ve worked so hard to get rid of!

The only time you would ever go back to a nighttime feed (assuming you’ve already gotten the green light to wean from night feeds previously) is if your pediatrician suggests it. Especially if she’s had a high fever for several days, she might need some extra fluids through the night.

Hopefully those extra feeds will only happen for a few nights. (Again, I defer to your pediatrician, but in most cases, after three days your little one will be over the hump.) Three is a good rule of thumb. If anything happens for more than three nights, then there’s a good chance that your baby is going to now expect this and start waking up looking for feeds even once the sickness is gone.

2. Another big mistake parents make bringing their baby into bed with them. I know lots of parents who’ve had a child with a chronic ear infection or nearly constant respiratory issues.

I understand where that desire comes from – you want to be there if she wakes in the middle of the night and needs you!

In this scenario, you want to comfort your sick child, but it’s much better for you to go to her than to bring her to you.

My advice would be to throw down an air mattress on her bedroom floor. Spend a night or two in her room to keep an eye on her. Again, remembering the rule of threes, try not to do it for any longer than three nights or you might find yourself six months later still sleeping beside her bed. (True story: one mom of three year old twins had been on an air mattress for five months after the kids had gotten – and recovered from – bronchitis. After the week of sickness, they had gotten used to her having a sleepover in their room every night and she was held captive and couldn’t leave!)

Remember it’s much easier for you to leave her room than her to leave YOUR room!

3. In the end, if everything falls apart, cut yourself a bit of slack. Sometimes it happens. Know that as soon as your baby is well again, just get right back on track with the routine and sleep schedule.

Just start again.

You know that she can do this.

It’s just a matter of proving to her that she needs to use her own skills once again!

 

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Photo credit: Deposit Photos | slog000

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