Help! Sickness Ruined Our Sleep Routine

by Laura Klein

Eli's story is like so many other out there, as told to us by sleep consultant and nurse Jen from Sleep.Thrive.Grow Consulting

At 5 months old, Eli had a nasty head cold for 5 days. He struggled to breathe and feed well, which meant sleep went out the window.  Mum Julie took him out of the cot in his room, and began co-sleeping just to get some rest. 

The problem was Eli was not responding well to going back into his cot once he was feeling better.

Julie felt trapped in this situation as it wasn't something she wanted to continue. Neither of them were sleeping well, and the cycle needed to be corrected. Eli was relying on Mum's constant rocking in order to fall asleep. Julie had lost count of how many times he woke during the night and Eli was needing either a dummy, feed, patting or more rocking to get back to sleep. 

As he'd always settled well in his own cot, and had previously slept through the night, Julie was at her wit's end. 

She contacted Jen and the team from Sleep.Thrive.Grow Consulting and together they made a plan of how to gently return Eli to his previous routine and sleep environment. 

After 2 weeks of support, Eli was self-settling, re-settling, no more cat napping, in his own cot for all sleeps and sleeping through the night. Ah-mazing. 

Mum Julie and Eli both got their sleep needs met and 12 months on, they are still going strong.

So what were the main strategies to correct a sleep regression after sickness? 


1. Re-examining wake windows to ensure Eli was getting an age-appropriate balance of awake/play time and nap time in the day, which led to an easier bedtime at night. 

2. Increasing water intake, to ensure he was well hydrated (a dry throat can lead to a coughing fit as he recovers)

3. Ensuring he was in a sleeping bag for every sleep which became a natural cue for sleep as he was warm enough. 

4. Adjusting the lighting to ensure the room was dark

5. Introducing continuous "white noise" for every day nap and night sleep.

6. Encouraged attachment to a comforter (organic cotton) which Mum had worn in her shirt to absorb her smell. 

7. Reducing (then eliminating) rocking to sleep from 3 minutes down to zero and putting Eli into the cot awake but drowsy.


Mum Julie also says the Snotty Boss Nasal Aspirator was a key factor in helping Eli recover from his cold, as it cleared his nose so quickly, allowing him to breathe and settle better. 

Jen from Sleep, Thrive, Grow understands that each child has a different personality and resettling techniques need to be consistent for 1-16 days for best results to show and to re-establish a healthy long-term sleep solution.