Sleep Training and Illness

February 15, 2023

what to do about sleep training if your baby becomes sick

What to do when baby becomes sick while sleep training

“101.7… again.” I looked back and forth from my daughter to the thermometer. Wasn’t someone sick just a week ago?!

When my kids were small it seemed that there was a never-ending parade of colds, flu, and any number of other illnesses children seem to get no matter what you do to protect them. The good news is that just because your little one is sick it doesn’t mean they can’t now sleep on their own. 

In my 13 years as a mother to two, we have weathered the flu, pneumonia, COVID, NINE surgeries, and too many strep cases to count. Through all of that and the hospital stays my girls remained awesome sleepers. 

Your child might not experience quite as many illnesses as my family did. But I do want to talk about what to do when the inevitable happens. When your child picks up something from daycare, the babysitter, or out of thin air. When they are snotty, stuffed up, and cranky because they just don’t feel good. 

Read out to find out the most common questions I get asked about children, sleep, and sleep training during illness. And if you have any questions that are not answered by this post, reach out to me for help

Can I Sleep Train My Baby or Toddler While They Are Sick?

It is best to wait until your child is completely healthy to begin sleep training. This process can already be tricky on its own. Adding in challenges that come with a sick child is not necessary. 

Before you start sleep training after an illness make sure your child is fully recovered. The best way to do this is to check in with your pediatrician and get their OK. 

Should I Stop Sleep Training if My Baby or Toddler Gets Sick?

If you started sleep training a day or two before your child got sick it is probably best to stop for now. 

On the other hand, if you are in the middle of sleep training and it’s going well you might not want to pause the process. Ultimately, there is no perfect time to sleep train and you are already making progress. 

So if the illness is mild and you get your pediatrician’s approval you can proceed with sleep training. Follow your instincts to do what is best for your family. 

What Can I Do to Make Sure My Child Stays Sleep-Trained While Sick?

Let’s make sure the hard work you put in to get your child to sleep through the night isn’t wasted. Follow a few simple tips:

  • ⭐If your child was sleep trained before they got sick then they still have the skills needed to fall asleep on their own. Don’t rush in to save them. Watch and intervene only when truly necessary 
  • 🍼Don’t reintroduce sleep props (pacifiers, bottles, rocking, etc) if at all possible
  • 🛏️Do not, under any circumstances, bring your child to your bed to sleep with you. If you want to be closer to your child during the night, bring a pillow and blanket  or a blow up mattress into their room. Remember that it is recommended for babies under 6 months to sleep in their parents’ room, but also ok to sleep in their own room with the pediatrician’s approval.

How can I keep my baby comfortable while they are sick?

You should always follow your pediatrician’s advice while caring for your baby. In terms of general comfort here are a few things you can do: 

  • 🌊Run a cool-mist humidifier to moisten the air and make it easier for baby to breathe
  • 👁️‍🗨️Keep a close eye on your baby so you can be as attentive as needed
  • 💊Provide any medication per your pediatrician
  • 💤Allow your child to sleep as much as they need. Sleep really is the best medicine
  • 🍶Give extra liquids 

Can I let My Child Sleep With Me for Comfort While Sick?

Allowing your baby or toddler to co-sleep with you while they are sick is one of the biggest mistakes I have seen parents make during an illness. It can seem so natural: keeping your child close to you where you can attend to their needs quickly while they are sick. 

But bringing a child into your bed is a habit that is very hard to break. You may think it’s just for a day or two. But your brilliant baby or toddler quickly figures out that sleeping with you is much better than sleeping on their own. Getting them to transition back to sleeping in their own crib or bed can then become a separate battle. 

So try to avoid bringing your child to your bed at all costs. However, should it happen, check out this blog, to help you get your child back to their own bed as quickly as possible. 

My Child Got Sick and Isn’t Sleep Trained Anymore. What Should I Do?

It can be so frustrating. You worked so hard to sleep train your baby or toddler and then they got sick. Maybe you had to rock them to sleep or give them an extra bottle in the middle of the night while they were sick. And now it’s back to square one.

The good news is that the independent sleeping skills your child had aren’t lost. They are just a little hidden. With some perseverance and kindness, you can reintroduce your baby or toddler to sleeping on their own using the same techniques you used when you sleep-trained in the first place. Be patient and your child will sleep on their own again shortly.

Feeling overwhelmed by sickness?

Having a sick baby can be hard. Having a sick baby that loses their ability to sleep through the night is even harder. Make sure you give your child lots of patience and yourself some grace as you try to get back into the groove. 

Whether you need help navigating sleep training in the first place or just need to get back on track I am here for you. Reach out for your free consultation and let’s get everyone back to sleep.

Hi, I’m Jenn. Mom, Sleep Boss, and Finder of Lost Loveys.  I have more than 10 years of experience in guiding families from sleep deprived to sleep-revived. I help exhausted families around the globe find the right sleep solutions for their children through one-on-one coaching. Read more about me and my philosophy.

Are you ready to get off the Crazy Train and have the whole family sleeping better? Follow the link below to schedule your complimentary consultation with Jennifer today!

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