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Supporting Sleep When Your Baby Is Ill

Navigating Sleep Challenges: Expert Advice for Illness and Teething
Guiding Your Baby Through Sleep Challenges: A Holistic Approach to Illness and Teething

Managing sleep and sleep training during your baby’s illness or teething phase can be daunting, given the fear of sleep regression and the need to respond differently when your little one requires a bit more tender loving care (TLC). In this blog post, I’ll share my recommendations to help navigate these challenges while prioritising your baby’s sleep and well-being.

1. Prioritise Health Before Starting Sleep Training:
The ultimate goal is to ensure your baby is in good health before introducing significant changes to their sleep and routine. Distinguishing between typical sleep issues and symptoms of an underlying illness can be challenging, but prioritizing good sleep quality is vital for optimal health and fighting infections. While I generally don’t recommend delaying sleep adjustments during teething or growth leaps, it’s advisable during bacterial or viral infections. If your little one falls ill during the sleep adjustment process, modifications can be made without compromising progress in self-settling.

2. Symptom Management at Bedtime:
Help your baby or toddler feel well by managing their symptoms at bedtime to ensure a smooth start to the night. Administer pain relief if necessary, use saline solution for nasal congestion, and consider teething gels for discomfort. This proactive approach ensures your baby goes to bed asymptomatic, facilitating a smoother bedtime routine.

3. Stick to the Routine:
Maintain a consistent bedtime routine even during illness. Follow your usual rituals, providing reassurance and normalcy. Stay with your baby if needed, offering reassurance. The goal is to establish a sense of normalcy despite temporary disruptions.

4. Encourage Sleep in Their Bed:
Quality sleep aids recovery, making their bed the best place for your sick baby. Resist the urge to revert to co-sleeping or feeding to sleep during these times. Your child may be more unsettled and wake more in the night, but sticking to their bedtime routine and offering support as needed will reinforce positive sleep habits. You may need to revert back to Stage One Settling or delay moving to Stage Two recommendations in the E-BOOK, and that’s okay while they are ill.

5. Responding to Nighttime Wake-Ups:
Expect more frequent wake-ups during illness. Your child may need an extra feed, additional reassurance, or a pain relief top-up, and that’s okay. Stick to the overnight feeding recommendations in the Guide, offering pain relief and reassurance as needed. Reassurance and extra support, as per Stage One Assisted Settling, will mean that as they feel better, they will sleep longer without developing new sleep associations.

6. Stay Present During Rough Nights:
Consider camping out in your baby’s bedroom for particularly challenging nights, like those with a croupy cough or asthma attack. While it may disrupt self-settling, maintaining your bedtime routine and supporting your baby to sleep in their cot will also foster a sense of security and comfort with their sleep environment, crucial for long-term sleep habits. While bringing them to your bed may be tempting, be cautious about creating a new co-sleeping dependence that you’ll need to address later. Opting to stay in your baby’s room allows you to provide proximity without establishing a potentially difficult habit.

Remember, you are the best judge of your baby’s needs. Adjustments may be necessary during illness, but by prioritizing health, sticking to routines, and providing comfort, you can navigate sleep challenges and support your baby’s overall well-being. If in doubt, always seek medical advice to ensure your baby’s health is the top priority. Always consult with a healthcare professional if you have concerns about your child’s health.

Navigating Sleep Challenges: Expert Advice for Illness and Teething
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