We've all been there. Sleepless nights for us and baby and it's so rough! We go into survival mode because any type of sleep is better than no sleep! I GET YOU!
Before turning two, many babies will get sick more than times in one year! That's a lot of lost sleep for everyone involved. While we can't do too much to prevent our babies from getting sick, we can offer them what they need during their period of sickness and we can offer them help in getting back on track with their sleep once they are back to normal.
Ways Sickness Can Interrupt Sleep
Needs more daytime sleep
Frequent night wakings
More diaper changes
Needing to be rocked to sleep
Now, of course when your little one is sick you do what you have to in order to get them to get rest. Rest is vital to healing, so you give them all the cuddles, love, hugs, and rocking they need. Whatever they need.
While all of that is important, keep in mind that you may begin to create new habits that you didn't intend to and that you might have to break them from. A new sleep association. A sleep association is anything your child relates to sleeping. While there are positive associations like what goes on in their bedtime routine (song, book, prayer, sleep sack, etc.), some can be taxing and require you to be their constant way of falling asleep.
Being fed to sleep
Being rocked to sleep
Now....your baby is healthy and back to themselves. Thank you Jesus!! How do we get them back to sleeping like they used to before? As always, speak with your pediatrician before dropping anything feeding related.
You want to start with thinking what type of sleeper they were before they got sick. If you have an independent sleeper, great! If you don't, now could be a good time to sleep train them
If you had to offer them more feedings during the night, replace those feedings during the day to give them the calories they're used to and so they won't need them during the night. You may have to wean them from the extra feedings and that's ok! Cut back nursing in the middle of the night by two minutes and if they're bottle fed, lower the ounces by .5-1oz each night.
If they were sleep trained before getting sick, go with their schedule as normal. You may have to work with them a little but refer back to whichever sleep training method you originally used.
If you've rocked them to sleep to the point that they can't fall asleep easily without you rocking them, you can decrease the length of time you spend rocking them.
As always, proceed with the bedtime routine as normal and lay your baby down either fully awake, or drowsy but awake (whichever way they were sleep trained).
If your toddler is old enough to understand, and they've learned new habits...start letting them know that regular bedtime is going to happen. You can say something like "ok, Adam...it was so nice helping you go to sleep when you were sick and I'm so happy you're feeling better. Feeling better means you're going to sleep by yourself now." It can take a few nights for them to be ok with it, but be consistent.
Always let them know ahead of time of the change that's coming.
We can't expect our babies or toddlers to do something they haven't done before, so try setting your expectations at your child's level and work from there.
If you need help getting your child back on track, please feel free to contact me. You can book your free consultation https://calendly.com/littleonessleep