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5 Things You Should Never Do if Your Sick Baby Won’t Sleep

All babies get sick, it’s just parred for the course. And while your baby’s pediatrician can help with treating your little one’s illness, they can’t treat the exhaustion that comes when your sick baby won’t sleep.


What you ought to know is that you have just embarked on the third phase of parenthood (phase one – carrying the baby, and phase two – giving birth) which is keeping your baby and you healthy, happy, and safe.


 As a first-time parent, you probably prepared yourself early enough to ensure the necessary baby stuff is available at home and at the hospital. That’s good.


What you have not prepared for is the joy and laughter you will experience as a new parent. Also, you probably never prepared for the sadness, the crying, the screaming, and the feeling of helplessness, especially when holding your sick baby.


 When your sick baby won’t sleep, it’s time for you to comfort them. You can sing a lullaby, read them their favorite book, listen to soothing music together, or even rock in the chair.


If you briefly study your baby’s sleep patterns and needs, you will be able to get your baby to sleep comfortably through the night. Remember, babies can’t speak and tell you their problems.


Hence, it is important to keep a constant watch on their habits to understand their needs. When something does not feel right, it is wise to contact your infant’s pediatrician.


This will help to alleviate any fears in regard to anything serious.


Likewise, if your child suffers from any known diagnosed illness, or disability, or has had a condition from birth such as cerebral palsy, it is especially important you speak to a medical professional to get their help and guidance on what to do when your sick baby won’t sleep.


 So, how do you handle a sick baby when he or she won’t sleep? Well, for starters, here’s what NOT to do. sick baby won't sleep

Things You Should Never Do When Your Sick Baby Won’t Sleep

1. Never Ignore a Rising Temperature

Babies have low immune strength. This means they are susceptible to infections which are reflected by the body’s rise in temperature. If left unchecked, the condition will escalate.


As a mother (or a father), what you need to know is that the average normal body temperature for infants varies between 97°F and 100.4°F. If the baby has a temperature ranging between 98.6°F to 99.5°F, it is said that the baby has a low-grade fever.


This may be brought about by warm weather, thick blanket cover, room temperature, or overdressing.


A temperature above 100.4°F, however, is considered a fever. In such a case, cranking up the AC to lower the room temperature will not create a conducive environment if your sick baby won’t sleep.


Seek the help of your infant’s pediatrician immediately if you detect the fever.  

baby playing

2. Don’t Force An Ill Child to Tire Themselves

Some parents make the mistake of tiring their little ones when their sick baby won’t sleep thinking it will help them sleep better. While this can be true for a healthy baby, it is actually doing more harm than good for a sick baby.


Let’s dive into this a little more.


Playing allows your child to advance their physical development and even use their creativity which helps with their dexterity, emotional strength, cognitive skills, and imagination. It is also an important part of healthy brain development.


Through play, children are able to interact with the world around them.


In addition, playing enables children to develop different skills such as balance, which can be attained by skipping rope; strength, which can be gained from climbing monkey bars; and coordination, which can be gained from different sports.


When your child is sick, moreover, if your sick baby won’t sleep, they will either be moody, not playful, or even lack the energy to engage in different activities.


As a parent, forcing your child to burn more calories just to tire them out is not the best solution, especially if you are doing so to a sick baby that won’t sleep.


What is more, your child may have health issues you may not be aware of, such as cerebral palsy, which might already be a cause of fatigue in your little angel.


So, it is critical for new parents to spot the warning signs of cerebral palsy and other serious childhood illnesses before taking the “tire them out” approach, in order to not make things worse.


Just like you, children need a lot of rest when they are sick. You don’t have to tire them forcefully to get them to sleep. Take the correct measures and everything should be okay. medicine, sick baby, thermometer

3. Never Increase Your Child’s Dosage 

So, you took the right precaution when you found out that your child was sick. After a visit to your infant’s pediatrician, you are back at home. The doctor has given you a prescription medicine for your child.


Clear instructions have been provided to ensure that the medicine boosts your child’s immune system, giving it the chance to fight the pathogens within. 


At home, the discomfort resulting from an increase in body temperature is making your infant cry. You don’t know what to do because he or she has been crying for the last few hours.


You have tried everything – from singing lullabies to taking a small walk around the backyard, but nothing seems to work. As a last result, you opt to increase the dosage of your baby’s medicine because you already know it has that special ingredient that induces sleep.


It is important to be aware that taking such an action could result in an accidental overdose. This will only escalate the situation. Be patient. Follow the dosage as provided by your doctor. Your child should be well in a couple of days. 


You may also like to have a restful night’s sleep yourself.  

sick baby won't sleep4. Not Comfort Your Child as You Should

As an adult, when you are not well, someone is there to look after you – whether it’s a well-trained nurse at the hospital or a family member at home.


Since you are under the weather, someone will attend to all your needs – give you food, provide peace of mind for you to rest, and even keep you amused, so as to accelerate the rate of getting better.


When your infant or child is sick, they need the same care and treatment from you. If they are in pain, they need you to assure them that the pain will go away, and if they are frightened, they need you to alleviate their worries.


As you already know, your infant has yet to learn how to speak and so the only way they can communicate about their pain is by crying.


When your sick baby won’t sleep, it’s time for you to comfort them. You can sing a lullaby, read them their favorite book, listen to soothing music together, or even rock in the chair.sick baby won't sleep, sleeping baby

5. Don’t Enforce a Sleeping Schedule On Your Newborn 

How can you tell if your sick baby won’t sleep because they’re uncomfortable or if they won’t sleep because they’re overly excited? Let’s digress.


When you gave birth at the hospital, you were surrounded by nurses and family members. The nurses were ready to help, which gave you time to sleep and rest.


After breastfeeding your baby, they would take him or her to the nursery so that you could catch some shut-eye yourself. You did not have to cook or worry about laundry. 


Once at home, everything is different. Most commonly it’s us women and our partner/spouse (but mostly us women as dad goes back to work and we are left to figure it out).


During the earliest weeks of your baby’s life, our breasts become feeding machines with superwoman nesting hormones coursing through their veins. The chores that were completed for us when at the hospital are now the responsibility of the parents.


This means laundry, dishes, meal preparation, and the biggest responsibility of all – the baby. 


As first-time parents, your baby will take you through an adventure especially when it comes to sleeping patterns. You may find your baby fighting sleep or you may discover your sick baby sleeping all day.


I know you might be tempted to enforce a sleeping schedule right away thinking it will solve your problems. Don’t. You should allow a little flexibility in your child’s life.


Enforcing a sleeping schedule will frustrate you and the baby. However, if you do plan to enforce a sleeping schedule, do it in baby steps. In the earliest days back home, it’s best to let the baby lead the way when it comes to sleep. 


Think of it as a way to organically learn your baby’s sleep/wake cycle. That way, you can tell when your sick baby won’t sleep because they’re really sick, or if they are just being overstimulated and can’t fall asleep (even though they are healthy).


Think of sleep as a cheat sheet for your baby’s wellness.

sick baby won't sleep

In Closing

Whether you’re caring for your baby’s illness now or just making sure you’re fully prepared when your sick baby won’t sleep, it’s always best to talk to your baby’s pediatrician about special care when they are not well.

Carissa Shuman

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