Tis’ the season for runny noses, coughing, and fever. Oh my! Sickness with a baby or toddler is pretty much unavoidable and leaves you wondering how to navigate sickness and maintain good sleep habits for your little one.

The first thing to understand is that sickness will cause fragmented sleep (for everyone) and you just have to get through it. But, I’m here to help you navigate through the sniffles and coughs and still stay on the right track so everyone can be as rested as possible. Because the one thing we need most when sickness strikes is, well, SLEEP! Just in case there are some disruptions to your nights during sickness I’ve put together tips to help you.

So, once you accept that sickness can and most likely will disrupt sleep it will make dealing with it easier! Naps may become shorter (or longer) and night waking can creep up. But don’t worry! If naps become shorter, just bump bedtime up (by 30 minutes to an hour) and be mindful of daytime hours of sleep required to help your little one combat overtiredness. Which may mean more frequent but shorter naps than usual. And that’s ok.

Whether you’ve worked really hard to have a good sleeper or you just got lucky, there are certain rules and expectations for sleep that you follow. If you change those rules every time your little one gets sick you’ll find it difficult to maintain healthy sleep habits.  That means- don’t return to old habits like feeding in the night (unless the pediatrician recommends it), bringing to your bed, or holding them all throughout the night.  Instead when they wake in the night increase your comfort with a little extra hug, a little rocking and more kisses;  don’t forget to check their temperature, give more medicine (if needed) and then back to bed to drift off to sleep.

If you’re worried and feel like you need to be close to them all night, bring an air mattress into their room and sleep on the floor for a few nights. Although it’s not ideal it’s easier to disrupt your sleep environment than it is theirs.  And if you do backslide into old habits try not to do so for longer than three days. I find anything longer than that and new sleep associations can form.  If that’s not the case then once their feeling well jump right back into your normal routine.

Every mom has a few tricks up her sleeve to help combat those stuffy noses and offer comfort however we can. So when sickness comes, bring out all the tools to help give some relief!

  • A cool mist humidifier with a few drops of oil does wonders for congestion. If you’re looking for a good essential oil blend there are plenty to choose from here. Our favorite is Young Living’s R.C. (eucalyptus).  We also use a roller ball with a blend of thieves, RC and lemon to help us during cold season even when we aren’t sick.

  • Saline and suction, Saline and suction. I hear this phrase in my sleep during cold season! When the traditional suction bulb doesn’t do the trick, the nose frida is our go to for getting those stubborn boogies out.

  • Use a safe disinfectant (like thieves) to help from spreading all those yucky germs! Clean all your surfaces with a safe solution that’s healthy for both you and baby.

  • Staying hydrated is also important when the littles are sick! We try to stick with more water during the day but of course check with your pediatrician if night time feeds need to be added back in for a short time.

This has been a tough season for sickness so far! Lots of runny noses and long nights. Here’s to making it through and getting some sleep.

If your little one isn’t already a good sleeper or has gotten way off track since being sick (but is better now) Let’s talk!

Sweet Dreams,

Your Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant

Owner, Bedtime Bliss Sleep Consulting