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How to help your baby sleep when they’re sick

There’s nothing worse as a parent than seeing your baby get sick. For many of us, illness is something that seems almost constant during the first couple years of our child’s life. In fact, it’s estimated children may get sick 8 to 10 times a year before they turn two. 

Illness is a common reason that sleep can get thrown off. Oftentimes, children who were previously sleeping through the night can be thrown off by an illness. They may become reliant on being helped to sleep well beyond when the illness has passed. 

What do I do if my child gets sick while we’re sleep training? 

Illness can really throw a wrench into the sleep training process. The odds are pretty much stacked so that if you’re working on independent sleep with an infant, they’re going to get sick at some point during the process.

If your baby gets sick after the first night or two of sleep training, it’s okay to stop and wait until the illness passes to start again. It’s never a good idea to try to teach your baby a new skill when they’re not feeling well. 

If you’ve been at it for more than a couple of days, then they likely have a firm grasp of how to fall asleep independently. In this case, try to hold off on supporting them to sleep at bedtime. The sleep training method might not be enough support. Try to add just a bit more hands-on support while still allowing them to fall asleep on their own. 

If they wake up during the night, go to them right away. When they’re sick, they likely need something to help them be comfortable. Things such as giving them medication, clearing their mucus, or offering a feeding may be what they need to sleep better.

Your child’s symptoms should be improved enough within a couple of days for them to need less intervention at night. 

How do I get my child’s sleep back on track after they’ve recovered?

This will depend on how independent their sleep was before getting sick and how long the new habits have been in place. You may need to re-train them to an extent if they’ve become reliant on you helping them to sleep throughout the night. 

Whatever method you choose to use, the most important component is being consistent in how you approach naps and bedtime as well as how you respond to night wakings. 

If you never had to sleep train your baby before they got sick, then you may need to implement a more formal sleep training method now. Learn more about the different types of sleep training methods here. 

In general, if your little one is fever-free and getting better, you can get back into their normal sleep routine. After all, what they need most when they’re sick is rest.

Helpful products for when your child is sick

The Nose frida is the MVP for unclogging your baby’s congested nose.

The Canopy Humidifer is super easy to fill and clean (no tiny crevices), and doesn’t get your child’s room all gross and moist. 

If you have a baby who hates taking medicine, this medicine paci is super helpful. 


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