Sickness and Your Little One’s Sleep

Feeling under the weather can affect our little one’s sleep, just like it can for us. We get so many questions about bugs, colds and viruses and sleep, so here are some of our most helpful tips:

Prevention is better than cure

We can try to support everyone in the families immune system with good health practice – vitamin D supplements (even babies unless they’re having more than 500ml of infant formula a day*), eating well, sleeping well and getting some fresh air. Many of us will be concerned about Covid, so being sensible and remembering ‘hands, face, space’ is actually a great mantra at this time of year when sickness bugs and viruses are rife.



When we are feeling unwell we need to rest. It can be tempting to get little ones back to nursery, childcare or school right away but we also need to give their little bodies time to bounce back. An extra days rest after their fever/cough or other symptoms have subsided can help them with their recovery. It is also hard when we have made plans to socialise, but if they are feeling under the weather then they may not need the extra stimulation.

Of course, if your child or family have tested positive for Covid then you will need to follow current isolation guidelines even if showing no symptoms.

Sleep might hit the skids during and after illness

It is pretty obvious, but if your little one has a blocked nose, cough, fever (or any other potential symptoms), sleep will likely be disturbed. Lean into this and support them as much as they need.

Sleep needs can change

Your little one may need extra sleep OR you might find they generally sleep a lot less when unwell. You know your little one best, if they need some extra sleep to recover then go with it.

They may need extra feeds/drinks

If you have a sore throat you will tend to drink more and wake up feeling thirsty. Also, if you little one has a blocked nose they will likely breath through their mouth more so there’s every chance they will have a dry mouth when they wake. If they have a fever and have been sweating, this will also mean they are more thirsty than usual. Don’t worry about going backwards with sleep, extra night feeds are likely temporary.

Appetite changes

It is very common for little ones to go off their food when they are unwell. Try not to worry and continue to offer extra milk feeds (or their usual drink if they are no longer taking feeds). Be mindful of wet and dirty nappy output – if you are at all concerned then contact your doctor or relevant out of hours support where you are. Once they are eating as usual its a great sign they are past the worst of it! Offer favourite foods at this time and try to give nutrient dense foods.


It’s likely your little one may just want more contact with you and support and reassurance. It can feel exhausting but its a short time in their lives. Go with the flow and get as much help and support as you can for yourself too.


Of course follow the instructions of your doctor for any medicines prescribed for your little one. Painkillers, such as liquid paracetamol, can be helpful but we don’t want to overuse them so only use them when you need them. Use on the advice of your doctor or pharmacist and always follow the instructions provided.

Baby massage

Some gentle baby massage sequences on the face and chest can work wonders to loosen congestion.

Don’t worry about sleep

It can be really frustrating when you have been making great progress with sleep to be brought down by illness. Try not to worry – you can get back on track once your little one is well again.

If you are at all concerned about your child then always seek advice from your doctor, pharmacist or seek emergency medical support.

Want more support with your child’s sleep?

If you would like to learn more about sleep and have guidance on how you can approach achieving a predictable routine and well-rested night’s sleep then check out our online courses.

These are designed to teach you all about how your child sleeps and to provide practical suggestions for settling techniques and routines to work towards.

If you would prefer to speak with one of our consultants for a personalised plan you can find out more about our 1:1 packages here.

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