Picture this, after months of sleep issues, you decide to start sleep training. Things are actually going really well too! Your baby is adjusting to their new schedule and the whole family is enjoying longer periods of consolidated sleep. Woo hoo! Everyone’s ready to break out the champagne and start celebrating.
That is until life throws a curve ball into your sleep training game. Baby gets a cold, or an ear infection, or a bout of diarrhea, or one of the other seven thousand illnesses that babies are prone to, and the whole thing goes off the rails.
While this scenario is not ideal, considering how often babies get sick, it’s quite common. But if this happens to you I don’t want you to panic because there are steps you can take to keep your sleep training journey moving in the right direction.
When your little one is not feeling well, the idea of bringing them into your bed can be so tempting. But I’m going to advise you to keep them in their own bedroom. Maintaining those familiar sleeping conditions will prove to be much less disruptive than moving them into your room. If you’re really concerned and want to keep an ear out for them, a good solution is to bring an inflatable mattress or something of the like into their room. You can sleep on the floor beside them. This way, you don’t run the risk of them getting used to sleeping in your bed.
Avoid Reintroducing Sleep Props
Second, I urge you to resist the temptation to start offering any sleep props that you might have recently taken away. I know it’s tough, because obviously you want to offer them any kind of comfort you can while they’re feeling miserable, but you really don’t want to reintroduce those things they were dependent on prior to starting sleep training. It can be really confusing and is often even more difficult to break the association the second time around.
Do Offer Extra Comfort
Now, let me just point out that I’m not saying that you can’t offer more night time comfort to your baby while they’re sick. On the contrary, I completely recommend it. You should absolutely feel free to go in and check on them more often, take care of any needs they might have, and even give them a little cuddle or a rocking session in order to comfort them.
Just be vigilant and be sure to put them back into bed before they fall back to sleep. Otherwise you run the risk of them developing those associations where falling asleep requires a rocking session or a cuddle, and then you’re back to square one.
You may notice a slight regression when the illness has passed, but not to worry. Your baby has learned some great sleep skills at this point and will probably only need a slight reminder of how things go before they’ll be back into their routine and sleeping soundly through the night again. Just get back to the program, reintroduce the old bedtime routine, and you’ll be seeing those same wonderful results in no time.