What If My Child Gets Sick While Sleep Training?

One of the most important components of sleep training is knowing how to discern the difference between your child’s tears of temporary struggle (such as learning a new skill), versus tears of potential suffering.

When it comes to tears of suffering, we should always respond immediately to those. But how do we differentiate between the two when our child is sick? Is our child crying because they are frustrated with adapting to a new routine, or are they in pain? This is a very valid concern for us parents, as it may make the process of sleep training harder as well as hazardous.

If your child does happen to be sick with a cold or fever, but you are far enough along in the process of sleep training (meaning your child has already demonstrated that they have the basic skills necessary to independently connect from one sleep cycle to the next without you), you may choose to give them 5 to 7 minutes to see, via video monitor, if they can re-connect to the next sleep cycle on their own, or if your intervention is required (should something minor like a runny nose, arouse them all the way awake).

However, if your child is in the beginning processes of developing the basic skills of self-soothing, and/or you notice any of the following, put the process of learning on the back burner and respond immediately if your child is experiencing…

· A high grade fever (102.4) within 24 hrs
· Two or more bouts of watery diarrhea or vomiting within 24 hours
· A new or unfamiliar vaccine or medication (OTC or prescribed)
· Hacking, uncontrollable coughing
· An ear infection or UTI
· Any other health conditions that your pediatrician advises your round-the-clock vigilance over

Remember that interruption to your routine responses with sleep training will cause a temporary setback., but don’t worry. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Attend to your child and help them through their illness, but once your child is well again (for a full 48 hours), get right back on track with your routines and consistent parenting responses. Sleep, after all, is the foundation of wellness and recovery. So listen to your gut! You know your child better than anyone else.

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Jenni June Certified Child and Family Sleep Consultant, CLC and  practitioner member of the National Sleep Foundation and the Breathe Institute in Los Angeles