Having a sick baby is the worst. Whatever sleep routine you may have established is suddenly useless, and there's an intense feeling of helplessness you can't help but experience when your baby is suffering and there isn't much you can do about it. Like a lot of parents in a similar situation, you might be searching the internet for any and all advice you can find on how to help your baby sleep when they're sick. Thankfully, your search is over.
Sleep is arguably the most important aspect of all human development, which is why it's vital babies meet the required amount of sleep time for their age and developmental stage. Sadly, as cited by Baby Sleep Site, a sick baby's (or toddler's) sleep patterns may temporarily change. Whether they're sleeping more or less through an illness (both of which is normal) parents may get frustrated when they feel as though they can longer help their baby stick to a solid sleep schedule.
So what's a parent to do? The Baby Sleep Site says if your baby is really sick, forget about sleep training routines and schedules altogether and until they're all better. In fact, the site says parents may want to indulge their babies by providing anything that comforts them (rocking, holding, and snuggling, for example) until the illness lets up.
In a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), parents might be too quick to use over-the-counter medicines in an attempt to bring down their baby's fever. Instead, parents should first consider other alternatives, like humidifiers and making sure baby is getting enough fluids. Likewise, Parents advises parents to seek the advice of a trusted pediatrician if they feel any doubt whatsoever, and especially if symptoms aren't improving or the baby's fever is particularly high.
Additionally, sick babies may require a different form of sleepwear to keep them comfortable while their bodies and immune systems go to work. For example, if your baby is having a difficult time breathing you might want to hold them in an upright position in order to help them go to sleep. In other words, don't focus too much on how you're getting your baby to sleep when they're sick, or how that particular method might disrupt your sleep training program. Your pediatrician might also suggest elevating the crib mattress, and thankfully there's a safe way to raise the mattress that abides by the AAP safe sleep guidelines.
Some parents swear by the use of steam from a hot shower to loosen phlegm in order to help their sick baby sleep, while others might give a small dose of fever reducer (with a doctor's explicit permission and/or recommendation). With all that said, when a baby is sick and refuses sleep — for whatever reason — parents should trust their instincts. Rest assured, the illness will pass eventually and sleep training can resume.