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Surviving Illness & Teething after Sleep Training

I know it's very hard when your child is feeling unwell.

They pull at our heart strings and we will do anything to alleviate their pain or discomfort.

Children will have lots of illnesses and reasons to allow us to excuse their sleepless nights or disturbed sleep.

When your child is sick, sleep can be disturbed but it is how you respond to it that has a lasting effect. A poorly child may need medication, a bathroom trip, some water but doesn’t need to go into their parents’ bed, watch TV or need extra feeding. Alleviate the pain or discomfort and offer loving reassurance, but sick to the usual routine as much as possible, don’t over compensate.

A few things to think about……..

Ask yourself, who are you doing this for? Is what you're doing taking the illness away.

For example, bringing them into your bed. Are you bringing them in because you don’t want to be getting up in the middle of the night or do you really believe that bringing them into your bed takes the illness away? They will more than likely still be unwell in your bed, but you may need to go back a few stages in sleep training when the illness passes. Yes, bringing them into your bed will give them more comfort, but could they have been given the same comfort in their own sleep space? Sticking to the plan is often easier than retraining after the illness passes.

Are you making matters worse by fussing around them? Like us, children often just want to be left alone to deal with what is going on with them. Give them comfort and reassurance, but try not to over compensate.

Does your child have a dummy? This is something to think about when they are feeling better. Often the dummy hinders sleep when a child has a cold or a blocked nose. It’s a vicious cycle. The child needs comfort, so wants the dummy. Their nose is blocked so they spit the dummy out to breath, they wake because they need their dummy, and the cycle begins again. Taking the dummy out of the cycle gives your child an opportunity to have a better night's sleep. Do not do this in the middle of an illness. Wait until your child is feeling better if you decide to ditch the dummy.

Teething causes a build up of pressure in your little gums. Little ones like to relieve that pressure by chewing on hard cold objects.

Sucking (dummies or bottles) has the opposite effect as it draws blood to the gums, making the pain worse.

This is seen when babies are hungry and are desperate for a feed but can only suck for a little while before they stop because the discomfort gets too much.

Which is why it is often advised to offer pain relief before feeding when teething is at its worst.

Instead of the bottle/dummy comforting your little one while they are teething, it’s actually having the opposite effect and causes them more discomfort in the night.

I often find handing little ones their preferred teething toy to chew on when they wake to relieve the pressure works better than offering a dummy or a feed. If a feed is needed (younger babies), I advise you to offer it after a few mins of toy chewing.

I would also give little ones pain relief every 4 hrs, or whatever the packet says, regardless if they are asleep or not, especially when teething is at its peak.

I don’t believe waiting till the pain wakes them to offer pain relief, then trying feeding is the best way, because by the time the pain relief kicks in they are fully awake and it’s harder to resettle.

Having said all that, if you feel your child needs extra comfort and all the ‘rules’ go out the window, you need to get back on track as soon as possible, even if your child protests a little more than usual or even harder than how they reacted to first being sleep trained. You may need to go back a step or two two a few nights. Stick to what you know works.

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