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 can be very challenging to juggle work and other commitments when your little one is unwell, balancing giving them the time they need at home to recover with our other responsibilities. It can also be hard when illness impacts on other plans you may have as a family, but if they are feeling under the weather then rescheduling to a time when they are feeling back to themselves will help everyone enjoy your family plans together.
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.
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.
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.
Available from newborn to 4 years old, our courses are designed to help you learn how you can support your child to sleep better.
We share all the information you need to help you really understand your little one’s sleep and how to help them achieve more predictable naps and restful nights – all from your own computer, phone or tablet whenever it suits you.
Early Days & Foundations of Sleep: 0-5 Months
This course will teach you how you can work towards great sleep habits, without ‘sleep training.’ It provides gentle solutions for settling and works towards the end goal of a settled night’s sleep, whilst understanding and responding to your baby’s needs.
Sleep Success: 6-9 Months
This course covers a range of topics including the science of sleep, sleep associations, creating a great sleep environment, a suggested daily routine and a choice of settling methods including how to make gradual changes. The course will lead you through step by step how to create your own sleep plan to support your baby to sleep in their own sleep space.
Sleep Success: 10-18 Months
This course covers a range of topics including the science of sleep, sleep associations, creating a great sleep environment, a suggested daily routine, the transition from two naps to one and a choice of settling methods including how to make gradual changes. The course will lead you through step by step how to create your own sleep plan to support your baby to sleep in their own sleep space.
Sleep Success: 1.5 – 4 years
This course which covers a range of topics including the science of sleep, sleep associations, creating a great sleep environment, potential sleep disturbances in this age group, a suggested daily routine, the transition from cot to bed, dropping the daytime nap, early waking and a choice of settling methods including how to make gradual changes. The course will lead you through step by step how to create your own sleep plan.