As a Baby Sleep Consultant, one of the most aggravating situations I see parents running into is the sudden onset of a minor illness when they’re finally seeing some progress with sleep training (or finally sleeping well after sleep training!)
After months of sleep issues, they finally decide to take the initiative and get serious about getting their baby sleeping well and through the night, baby starts getting the hang of it, the whole family is starting to see longer periods of consolidated sleep, and everyone’s getting ready to break out the champagne…
And then BOOM! Baby gets a cold, or an ear infection, or a bout of diarrhea, or one of the other seven thousand illnesses that babies are prone to, and the whole thing goes off the rails.
Given how often babies get sick, it’s hardly a surprise. I’m always telling my clients to plan on starting the program when they have a couple of weeks that they can really devote to the training, but you can’t schedule around an illness. So, when it happens, it can really take the wind out of everyone’s sails.
So today, I have a few suggestions for you in case baby gets sick.
Hopefully, this coaching will help you push through this trying situation and get you motivated to get baby’s sleep back on track. (You can also use these suggestions to keep things on track if
First off, resist the temptation to bring baby into your bed.
If you’re really concerned and want to be in the same room as them through the night, I suggest you bring an inflatable mattress or a camping pad into their room and sleep on the floor. Keeping them in their own room with familiar sleeping conditions will be much less disruptive than moving them into your room, and you don’t run the risk of them getting used to sleeping in your bed.
Second, do NOT give in to the temptation to start offering any sleep props that you might have recently taken away.
I know it’s tough because obviously, you want to offer them any kind of comfort you can while they’re feeling miserable, but you really don’t want to reintroduce those things they were dependent on prior to starting sleep training. It can be really confusing and is often even more difficult to break the association the second time around.
Now, let me just point out that I’m not saying that you can’t offer more nighttime comfort to your baby while they’re sick. On the contrary, I completely recommend it. You should absolutely feel free to go in and check on them more often, take care of any needs they might have, and even give them a little cuddle or a rocking session in order to comfort them.
Just be vigilant and be sure to put them back into bed before they fall back to sleep. Otherwise, you run the risk of them developing those associations where falling asleep requires a rocking session or a cuddle, and then you’re back to square one just with a potentially different sleep prop.
When baby is well again
You may notice a slight regression when the illness has passed, but not to worry. Your baby has learned some great skills to sleep well at this point and will probably only need a slight reminder of how things go before they’ll be back into their routine and you’ll be seeing those same amazing results. Just get back to the program, reintroduce their bedtime routine if it got off track, and baby will be sleeping through the night again in no time!
Cheers to healthy, happy sleep!