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Working on Baby Sleep When Your Baby or Toddler Has a Virus or Cold

Winter is tough on parents - there's a neverending stream of illnesses, and childcare settings are often a breeding ground for bugs.

This can, of course, make sleep go awry for even the best of sleepers.

But when your child is sleeping badly anyway, and then your child gets ill, it can make things even worse, and might make you want to try anything to get a good night's sleep.

Here’s some tips to help.

Baby sleeping with a flannel on their forehead while parent holds a thermometer

1. Hold Back

If you're thinking of starting to work on a new plan or routine for sleep - don't! While a child is sick they might need more naps during the day, and they may wake more frequently during the night due to congestion, or even because they need additional feeds because they aren't able to get enough during the day.

2. Go With It

If your child is night weaned and they begin to wake for feeds during this period, please do go with it. You can always wean again, it might take a couple of nights when they are better, but it won't mess things up completely.

3. Be Flexible

Be flexible with your routine and wake windows - your child may need more frequent or longer naps. It's the body's way of fighting off viruses and bacteria, so it's important to let the body rest and not stress about your routine.

4. Managing Colds

If your child has a cold, nights can be particularly hard. Try to put the bed or cot on a slight incline as this can help with congestion. Use saline drops to loosen any mucus in the nose - saline drops along with those fancy snot sucker devices can be helpful. Then a humidifier with a baby-safe vapour oil or a plugin device like the Calpol plugin is super helpful to help children breathe better.

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5. Temperature

Always keep an eye on your child's temperature and whether it's coming down or not when using paracetamol or ibuprofen. Monitor your child's urine output for signs of dehydration.

6. Stay Calm

There is so much mixed information about sleep, when babies get ill it really can trigger a state of anxiety in parents. Particularly those who crave routine, illness can really throw a spanner in the works.

But you know if you got your child into a routine or independent sleeping habits, you will be able to do it again.

You got this!

Post written by Janine Orford a qualified Sleep Consultant based in London offering remote consultations world-wide and in-person consultations in the South-East London area (Hither Green, Lee, Blackheath, Lewisham and Greenwich).

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