Even, a great sleeper’s sleep can go off track when they are teething, going through a sickness or a sleep regression. I have spoken to many families who start the conversation with "It all started when she got sick," or "He was a great sleeper and then he started teething." Yes, it can happen, there can be rough patches. I can help you avoid / limit the struggles:
Here's the deal: Sleep helps the body heal. Your child will likely need more sleep when they are sick. If they seem tired, let them sleep. If you are used to a schedule and are worried that this extra sleep might interfere with the upcoming sleep, please know, their body may just need the extra sleep to heal.
However, finding balance in sleep is important. If you let them sleep too late in the day, they might not be ready at bedtime. Try to stick to your normal schedule as best as you can but add a little extra sleep when needed. This may show up as a little nap in the morning when they haven't been on a multiple nap schedule for a whole. Or the extra sleep may show up around bedtime – they may want to go to sleep earlier than your schedule.
I remember life pre-kids (vaguely – it fades in the distance as the years go by 🤣)… I do though, remember the luxury of being able to sleep off and on all day when sick. Our kids bodies are no different. Let them have that extra bit of sleep. It will pay off!
When it comes to nighttime sleep, go with your gut. If you feel like you need to attend to your child, then go. Tend to them to treat the symptoms (always check with your pediatrician first with how to approach the illness). Go ahead and make sure they are comfortable. But if they are used to independent sleep, try to keep it that way and don’t go backwards. Then hop back into
your normal schedule and way of responding as soon as they feel better.
Over the years I have become more and more confident that a child who is well rested will not be as bothered by teething as may have heard or may think.
When children have healthy sleeping habits and an age-appropriate sleep schedule, they can usually sleep through any of the discomfort of teething. I am not saying that teething is not uncomfortable. I don't personally remember 😉. During their non-sleep time do what you would normally do to help them (again, check with your pediatrician). Frozen washcloths, safe things to chew on, etc.
If they happen wake in the night and this is not common for your child, perhaps you may consider tending to them. Keep in mind their ability to fall back to sleep on their own, believe in it. Tend to them, then give them the opportunity to fall back to sleep. Because nighttime sleep is the most restorative sleep. They need it.
Even the best of sleepers can hit regressions. This is normal! Did you know that regressions are a sign of your child reaching a milestone in life? They are learning and it is impacting their sleep – cue the “Ah Ha!” moment. Regressions are not fun, but you can help your child to get through them more quickly. Here’s how:
First, know that your child is learning something. This is a great thing! Yes, frustrating, but great. Your knowledge of this can give you the strength to just keep going. This will pass.
Second, try your best not to make concessions or go backwards. They may lose some sleep in the process, but this too is normal. We can make up for that lost sleep with an earlier bedtime.
Third, be patient, it may not pass as fast as you’d like but if you stick to the plan, make up for lost sleep and even practice that new skill in awake hours – it will pass!
Trust Your Gut
I mean it – trust your gut! If you feel like they need you, then go to them. If you continue to struggle with sleep past sickness, teething or during a regression, reach out. Smart Night Sleep is here to help.
Wishing you rest,
Founder and Certified Sleep Consultant
Smart Night Sleep