As a parent it is heart breaking to see your child unwell, every winter I experience it first hand as my now, 3 year old suffers from Croup! She has had it every year since she was born. It breaks my heart to hear her cough through the night, sometimes lasting hours on end. A few days ago, I decided to time how long she had been coughing…one episode lasted 37 seconds. This experience was traumatic for me and my daughter. I am sure other parents have gone through the same thing, which is why I decided to blog about it. Read more
Baby Won’t Sleep Cause of Sickness?
As parents, we want to see our children healthy and happy. There is nothing that grieves you more than when your child is in pain and you can not do much to help. My daughter Chloe suffers from Asthma and has done since she was born, she has a constant cough and in the winter a continuous cough, which carries on throughout the night. The nights I have had to tend to her and give her medication, she takes it and always goes back to her cot with rarely any fuss. But it is upsetting to see her this way.
When your baby is ill, they are often fussy, uncomfortable, and have difficulty sleeping. The regular nighttime routine will be flipped upside down and previous soothing techniques will not work. For example, your baby who has started sleeping through the night may suddenly start waking up several times or a baby who loves the car may scream all the way home.
Colds, diarrhoea, and fever are just a couple of illnesses that can be caused by harmless viruses and tend to go away on their own. Babies are born with some of their mother’s immunity to illness, further enhanced by breastfeeding; they are not immune to ever-changing viruses. If you are unsure or worried about your baby’s health do not hesitate to check with your physician.
When a child is sick, sleep is a key ingredient for their recovery. When you have visited your physician/doctor when ill, after prescribing medication they always advise you to get plenty of rest and sleep, this same principle applies to children.
Here are some useful tips to help you deal and prepare with your infant during illness
To understand when your baby is sick, you have to understand what they are like when well and that is what a parent knows best. Nobody understands their child more than the parent or primary child’s career. To understand if your child is ill or if they are recovering, monitor daily their temperature, behavior, temperament, intake of food and liquids, interactions with others, and sleep patterns. These indicators are the best tell-tell signs.
Depending upon the age of your infant, there are only a few over-the-counter medicines allowed, consult your physician and /or pharmacist to ensure you are prepared and fully stocked. Some parents prefer the “Ole Wife’s Tale” style of medicine which is the use of only natural products such as a teaspoon of honey. Do your research and consult a medical professional first, as these could be harmful if an incorrect dosage is administered or the child is not the correct age to be consuming the ingredients.
There are various locations where the temperature of a child can be taken and internet research can give lots of different answers all citing to be the correct “average” temperature of your baby. As a general rule, a temperature of over 37.5 (99.5F) is a fever. The word “fever” can scare and petrify the hearts of any parent. It means “an elevation of body temperature above the normal and is a sign of illness,” such as viral, bacterial, or other types of infection. A fever is not an illness on its own.
There are now various thermometers available on the market and can be very baffling.
- Digital Thermometers – Digital thermometers are quick to use, accurate, and can be used under the armpit, mouth, or rectum.
- Ear (or tympanic) Thermometers – They are put in the child’s ear and can be very annoying and unpleasant for the child.
- Digital Pacifier/Dummy – This is less irritating than an ear or rectal thermometer, it is fast, convenient, and non-invasive. It can also be pleasant if the child is used to a dummy.
- Strip-type Thermometers – Strip-type thermometers, which you hold on your child’s forehead, are not an accurate way of taking their temperature. They show the temperature of the skin, not the body.
- Infrared Thermometer – No contact thermometers. The laser is pointed at the child’s forehead and provides an accurate reading on a digital screen. It is quick, accurate, and can be used on a fidgeting child.
- Mercury-in-glass Thermometers – Mercury-in-glass thermometers haven’t been used for some years. They can break, releasing small shards of glass and highly poisonous mercury.
4. Room Temperature
The ideal room temperature is 16-20ºC. 18ºC (65ºF) is perfect. An infant sleeping in a room that is too hot has an increased risk of Cot Death and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). It can be very difficult to estimate the room temperature, so using a room thermometer in the rooms where the baby sleeps and plays is best. To help cool a room, open a window and close the curtains or use a fan, but do not place it directly onto your baby.
Use sleepwear for babies and not t-shirts or other daytime clothing, as baby sleepwear should be fire-retardant. They should never be sweating or hot to the touch, especially in the hands. If you use blankets, loose or soft bedding, tuck it snugly along the sides of the mattress. But not any higher than chest level and a baby’s face should never be covered during sleep. Be sure that you do not tuck blankets so tightly that the baby cannot move. The most appropriate coverage is a “Baby Sleep Bag,” are wearable blanket with armholes and neck openings. They help the baby stay at the right temperature through the night without the problem of traditional blankets and sheets being kicked off or getting tangled up. There are various sizes according to your child’s age, weight, and length. Available in various designs and Tog ratings (describes the level of warmth in a product) and can be worn throughout the year.
5. Food and Drink
A child may not have much of an appetite when sick, so increase their fluid intake to prevent dehydration and constipation. Avoid undiluted sugary drinks such as juice and carbonated drinks, as these can worsen digestive illnesses. Keeping your baby hydrated is very important as dehydration can cause complications and may result in hospitalisation. Monitor for a decrease in urine production, lack of tears, dryness in the mouth and sunken eyes as these are indicators of dehydration.
Once your child has started to recover returning to the bedtime sleep routine, is a benefit for the whole family. Continue to monitor your child, give them medication as and when needed and watch their temperature. Every child needs consistency, rules, and expectations to live by, so they know what is expected of them on a daily basis. They will grow up learning responsibility and understand consequences, therefore less likely to push boundaries.
I am passionate about helping families get the sleep they need to be happy and healthy. I am now a proud mum of two girls exactly a year apart in age.
– Judy Clark