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Helping Young Kids Sleep When They Are Sick

Submitted by on October 14, 2013 – 8:24 amNo Comment

Sick Girl - Helping Young Kids Sleep When They are Sick

How to deal with Children’s Sleep When They are Sick

by Visa Shanmugam

Back to school is a great time for everyone. The kids are happy to be back with their friends and parents everywhere are sighing with relief that routines are back in place and their children are kept busy. However, there is one aspect of back to school that is never fun – germs, sniffles and falling sick.  This is an inevitable cycle that happens every year when you put a large number of kids all in the same room.  Falling sick and sharing germs is just a part of growing up.

Older children are able to express their discomfort, however when their younger siblings fall sick, you end up with an extremely fussy and needy baby.  Kids will eventually get better again, but one casualty of falling sick, is how a child’s sleep is affected.  The first thing to happen when a child falls sick is they become a lot more attached to the parent and seek one on one attention.  There is nothing quite like mum and dad to make you feel better when you are feeling stuffed up, feverish and throwing up. This can lead to your child requesting that you sleep in their room “just for one night” or they want to crawl into bed with you. You might be tempted because you want to keep an eye on them and save yourselves some extra trips back and forth in the middle of the night.  But children are born boundary pushers and limit testers.  I have worked with many clients where one night has turned into many nights, weeks and months and now they are back to square one and they don’t know how to get their child back into their beds again.

So what are some things that you can do to be attentive, but still ensure that everybody gets a good night’s sleep?

1.  Sleep and plenty of rest is the best thing you can give your child to recover quickly from their illness.  Our body’s immune system goes to work when we are in deep sleep.  So giving them the opportunity for a good night’s sleep will ensure that their body goes into repair and recovery mode.  Maintaining early bedtimes is always important.

2.    If your child is really sick and you want to be close to them throughout the night, then I would recommend putting an air mattress or a sleeping bag on the floor of your child’s room for a night or two until they are better again.  This is better than bringing them into your own bed as it is less disruptive for your child.  Maintaining their sleep environment is key and it is far easier to remove yourself from their room than removing them from your bed.

3.    If your child has dropped all feeds in the middle of the night and now they are sleeping 10-12 hours through the night, you want to be careful about starting these feeds again.  If your physician is worried about dehydration, then you need to follow the doctor’s orders to keep your child safe and healthy.  Give them sips of water if you can.

4.    If you do fall into some bad habits and you have slipped into some old ways, there is no need to panic.  You might need to start from square one, but go back to the methods that you used when you initially taught them to sleep well and speed up the process a little bit.  Go back to the nap and bedtime schedule that you have been following.  You know that they are perfectly capable of doing it again, since they have already mastered the skill once.

5.    Bending rules every time they fall sick sends confusing signals to children, especially little ones.  In fact when you stick to the same rules children feel more secure, are comforted and reassured by the consistency and routine.

Here’s to flu season and tackling it like a pro!

Visa ShanmugamVisa Shanmugam helps parents develop customized sleep solutions for babies, toddlers and young children that addresses each family’s specific challenges.  Using techniques and strategies from The Sleep Sense™ Program developed by world-renowned sleep expert Dana Obleman, her plans are simple, easy to follow, yet flexible.  Visa is available for private consultations, group seminars and speaking engagements. Website:  Facebook page:



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