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5 Strategies to Assist Your Sick Child in Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

There is nothing worse than seeing your baby or toddler get sick and struggle with the symptoms. And it gets worse when they can’t sleep at night and finally everyone’s sleep is all over the place. With all the bugs going around especially if your kid is going to school or daycare, it is a matter of time that your kid will fall sick. As a result, parents find themselves having to take care of sick kids more often. The symptoms of an illness can create problems in your child getting a good night’s sleep and they are unable to get the rest they need to recover.

With a sick child at home, routines and schedules go out of the window. So, you may have spent a lot of time and effort on a sleep plan but it all comes to nought with a sick child at home. A sick baby or toddler needs sleep and a good night’s rest all the more. Doing what you can to make your child more comfortable by easing the symptoms of their illness before and during sleep will ensure that everyone gets proper rest while battling illness. We have a few tips for helping sick kids sleep which will really help in enhancing sleep during illness.

  1. Evaluate the Level of Sickness
  2. All sickness is not the same. A common cold isn’t really going to impact your normal sleep routine but a flu or surgery definitely will. Sometimes, you might have to offer paediatric sleep support or administer medication through the night or you might have to hold them upright so that they can breathe easier or for comfort.

    Ear infections affect sleep as there is pressure on the ears when they lie down. Very often you will have your kid suddenly waking up screaming in pain at night in which case you would have to consult a doctor.

    Congestion and cough symptoms usually worsen at night because when you are lying down, mucus drains into the upper airway and because they are not moving, they are unable to move phlegm. You have to help your child clear their air passages for relief. Traditional bulb syringes along with saline solution work wonders in clearing passageways so that they can breathe better while sleeping. You could also elevate your child’s head to help with drainage while they sleep. For infants, elevate them to a 30 degree incline or they might roll over. Exposure to moist air and steam also helps to thin the mucus and make it easier to clear. You can do this by running a hot shower or a vaporizer in your child’s bedroom.

    A small dose of honey helps with a cough as it coats their throat but you should limit honey intake to 2 tablespoons daily. Avoid honey for children below 1 year of age and avoid cough or cold medicine for children under 2 years of age.

  3. Begin With the Minimum Intervention
  4. Very often, a sick child who already has all the skills to sleep independently may be able to sleep through the night without assistance. So, don’t intervene immediately by rocking them to sleep. If they do need assistance, begin with patting them without holding them. Of course, if required you may have to rock them but you can get back to their regular routine as soon as they are feeling better.

  5. Keep good sleeping habits
  6. A child who is sick may wake up during the night frequently, but it is important to maintain a healthy sleep routine and maintain boundaries as far as possible. It is best to stick to their normal routine and not give in to the temptation of bringing them into your bed to help with night waking. Sticking to normal routines as much as possible will ensure the best sleep for your kid.

    Start bedtime at their usual hour and follow the normal bedtime routine. Stop all screen time at least an hour before bed and try to keep the noise and activity to a minimum. If symptoms are not allowing your child to fall asleep or causing them to frequently wake up, provide relief from those symptoms and try to calm and relax your child.

  7. Try Not to Wake Them for Medication
  8. It is very important that your child should get sufficient sleep when they are sick but they also need to get their medication on time so that they get better soon. Try to give them their dose of medication without actually waking them up. You could try just putting the syringe or dropper to their lips and try to trigger their sucking reflex. If required, you could sit them upright without waking them fully. Keep the lights dim and don’t talk or interact with your kid too much as that would wake them up.

  9. Allow for Some Extra Sleep
  10. This would be determined by the severity of their illness. It might be tempting to allow your kid to take long naps or sleep in late, you might still end up with a kid fighting bedtime or waking up much earlier than they should. It is best to let them sleep about half hour more than usual  in the morning or during nap time and ensure an early bedtime, as that is the time when they get the most restorative sleep.

A kid who is already sleep-trained will bounce back into their regular sleep routine quite fast after an illness, even if all sleep rules had been flouted during the illness. Also, if you have a kid who is usually a great sleeper, you know something is not right if they suddenly wake up crying or screaming. But if you have a baby or toddler who still needs to be fed or rocked to sleep, their sleep routine is likely to suffer a significant regression after an illness and you may have to pull an all-nighter with them.

Once your child has recovered sufficiently, go back to their original sleep habits without delay. Try to avoid resistance from your child or you will be back to ground zero. Children who are already trained to sleep independently can more often than not continue to do so through sleep with some symptoms and pain management. These sick child sleep tips will help you to get through the worst of it and you should be back to your regular routine in no time. If you are looking for more tips to help your baby or toddler to get a good night’s sleep when they are sick, you could log into the EuroKids website to get the latest updates.

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