How do you help your baby sleep when they’re unwell with the dreaded winter illnesses like cold and flu? It can be a tough time for bub and mum especially when sleep habits are disrupted whilst your baby is unwell.
Let’s be honest. Winter sucks!
Whether it’s your baby’s first cold or their 100th, it’s hard to see our babies uncomfortable (especially with winter illnesses such as blocked noses that they can’t blow themselves to clear).
Did you know that children get between 2-12 colds each year as their little immune systems develops and strengthens?
As humans, we are obligate nose breathers, this means that we are designed to breath through our nose. This is important for so many processes to occur including optimal air filtration, warming of the air prior to entering the lungs. The drawback, this makes breathing so much harder when our babies are congested.
Cue Snotty Noses to the rescue! With their TGA approved nasal aspirator “AKA snot sucker” we can help our babies to safely clear their noses and allow them to breathe, feed and optimally sleep just a little easier.
It is common for sleep to become a little more difficult/ broken than usual, so if you’re worried about how illness will impact your baby’s sleep, I want to reassure you not everything needs to be forgotten when illness strikes.
There are ways to maintain healthy sleep habits whilst still being a little more flexible.
You know your baby best and understand how they handle sickness so responding to their symptoms and treating their discomfort should be the first priority before sticking to a strict sleep routine.
Once you are managing the symptoms you can turn your focus to supporting their recovery to rest, repair and rebuild through sleep.
In this blog we’ll cover off 3 ways to help manage sleep when sickness takes hold in your home.
Maintain regular bedtime and nap routines where possible
This means trying to keep to your baby’s regular sleep cues and routines for familiarity and consistency.
Day naps may be slightly longer and research shows that the best way for our immune system to improve or recover is to get adequate rest.
Where possible allow your baby to sleep off their winter germs for a quicker recovery time and ensure that you keep track of their hydration/ calorie intake and overall sleep length.
Expert Insight: Too much day sleep can equal night time parties. Generally speaking, cap extra sleep time at 15-30 minutes to each nap if needed. This mostly relates to coughs and colds, temperatures and the more extreme illnesses, we wouldn’t cap. If you need extra nap guidance, these can be downloaded here.
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Go to your baby rather than them coming to you
If you’ve already established healthy sleep habits, but know that your little one would benefit from extra support when unwell (or you want to keep a closer eye on them too), rather than bringing them into bed with you, consider bringing a mattress into their room to sleep on the floor.
This allows your baby to stay in their safe sleep space, but also allows you to monitor their symptoms and provide extra reassurance as needed. As they get better It’s also much easier to back off and reduce with returning to your own room rather than transitioning your baby back to their own room/bed.
Offer extra support
You know your baby best. If you feel they’ll benefit from a little extra hands-on assistance during this time then offer it. You won’t create a new bad habit. (If you’ve been following me for a while you would know that I don’t believe in “bad or wrong”).
We can always wean out any extra support once we are comfortable that they’re over the worst of their sickness.
This goes for night feeds too. Even if your little one has previously been night weaned, if their hydration is low with any sickness (especially gastro) then we will need to replenish fluids more regularly where we can.
Transitioning back to normal sleep and bedtime patterns
Once your baby is given the all clear from their doctor it’s as simple as going back to basics.
It’s a bit like a bicycle. We may be a little wobbly initially but we can get back on track quickly with the right approach and support.
Be confident with your settling and re-settling approach and re-establishing a predictable nap pattern, wind down routines and seizing opportunities to reinstate your baby’s independent self-settling skills.
Next time you find yourself with a baby who’s caught the cold that’s ‘going around’, you can feel comfortable and confident in tending to your baby throughout the sickness as well as give yourself permission to throw rules out the window.
After a short time of flexibility, I know you can get back on track with the golden rule of consistency.
Need extra support to implement or get back on track with healthy sleep habits, get in touch to discuss how we can work one-on-one together. You can reach out to me anytime here.
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