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Written by Lavinia
Certified Paediatric Sleep Consultant
28 October 2020

After sleep training, what do I do if baby gets sick?

The scenario here is wherparents have been strugglingng their baby to sleep well through the night, and have finally decided to get serious about sleep training. Baby is now sleeping through the night, and the whole family is ready to celebrate....

And then, a spanner in the works. Baby falls sick with the flu or stomach bug.

Given how frequently infants fall ill, this is hardly shocking. Especially if the baby attends daycare, or has older siblings who bring back viruses from school, baby is bound to get sick pretty frequently. Illness is impossible to plan for. As a result, it can be a major downer for everyone involved when it occurs.

So, in case that occurs, I have some advice for you today, to help get you through this challenging time while keeping your baby's newfound sleep skills intact.

  1. Bringing baby to your bed should be the last resort. Bring a mattress or camping pad and sleep on the floor if you're really worried and want to be in the same room with them all night. Rather than uprooting them and putting them on your bed, keeping them in their own room where they are used to sleeping will be lot less disruptive.
  2. Avoid bringing back the old sleep props. I KNOW how tempting it is to help your baby to sleep by bringing back the old rocking, swinging, or pacifier. But you really do not want to bring these old associations back if you can help it as they cause a baby a lot of confusion. You will likely need to "retrain" your baby again on how to sleep independently without these props when this spell is over.

To be clear, I am not at all saying that your should not offer more comfort or cuddles to your baby when they are sick. I in fact recommend doing so. You are completely to check on them more frequently, see to their needs, or cuddle with them if you think it will help them relax. Just keep an eye on them and get them back into bed before they fall asleep again. Otherwise they may associate falling asleep with being rocked or cuddled, and you'll be back where you started.

Now if despite your best intentions, sleep training/independent sleep has flown out the window while your baby has been ill, and all the old props are back. Don't let this be a permanent set back. Your child has definitely learned some fantastic sleep skills by now, and all they need is a reminder of the routine before they're back to sleeping well again. It shouldn't be too hard to get back on track. And before long, you'll be experiencing the same awesome result of having your baby sleeping independently through the night again.

Article written by Lavinia
Certified Paediatric Sleep Consultant
Based in Singapore
Trained in the Sleep Sense Program

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