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How to Get a Sick Toddler to Sleep!

How to Get a Sick Toddler to Sleep!

A sick baby is not a happy baby. When your toddler is sick, he is likely to be fussy and restless. It is a common phenomenon that when children are sick, they have sleep problems. The persistent coughing, aches, fever, and pains make it impossible for the child to sleep. Generally speaking, if your child cannot sleep, you cannot sleep as well.

For your toddler who likes exploring things around, it is not fun for him to come down with a running nose, fever or cough. It can break your heart to see your toddler feeling lousy because of sickness. Obviously, you will want to check in with the pediatrician and do all within your powers to get your child well. After doing all that you can do, you will have to wait for the sickness to have its course.

When your toddler is sick, he will act like a baby for a while. It is a well-known fact that when a child is sick, all he wants is his mum. Your child might get uneasy if you leave him with another person, sometimes even his father. This is very normal for a sick child. It is just a sign that your child is sick and it does not mean that he does not like his father.

A sick child might exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Speak more like a baby
  • Cry more
  • Sleep a lot
  • With his pants and sometimes the bed
  • Want mum near him most of the time
  • Want to be cuddled or held most of the time
  • Refuse to eat

These behaviors are very normal for a sick child. They show you that your kid more attention and care during the illness period. It might irritate you when he wants you to hold him all the time or crying, be patient with your child. All these will stop when he gets better.

It is advisable to give him all the attention he needs because he will go back to his normal behavior once he starts feeling well.

Most children when they are sick do not like eating much. You don’t have to be worried about that. Your child not eating well for a few days will not do him much harm. However, ensure that he gets a lot of extra drinks. More especially if your toddler has a stomach upset and he has diarrhea, lots of drinks will do him good. Some of the drinks that you can offer your child include:

  • Diluted fruit juice
  • Water
  • Milk
  • Broth
  • Electrolyte solution
  • Chicken soup
  • Honey

Ensure that you give him the drinks more often. He can derive the necessary nutrients from this drinks more especially fruit juice to give him strength during the illness time.

Some sick children usually sleep a lot. However, if your child has some aches such as earache, he might be having broken sleep. Actually, your sick child requires more sleep so that he can regain his strength. To encourage your child to sleep, ensure that you stay where he can hear or see you. When your child is aware that you are near him, he will relax and go to sleep.

To ensure that your child gets enough sleep, you might consider putting a mattress for him in your bedroom at night so that he can know you are near.

Alternatively, if you can, sleep next to him. It is extremely important for you to get enough sleep as well. When you get enough rest, you will be able to take care of him better the following day.

It is extremely important to note that you should not leave your sick child alone or with another child. If you cannot take care of him, ask help from another elderly person to take care of him while you are away. Also, if you want to visit anywhere, find out whether it’s okay to take your sick child. However, do not take your sick child where other children are, it might spread the infection.

What to do!

Children usually become sick due to infections. Some of the infections that affect children can easily be passed to other children or even older family members. When your child is sick, ensure the following:

  • Ensure that your child washes his hands often, more especially after visiting the toilet and before handling food.
  • Your sick child needs your affection. You should hold or cuddle him, kiss him and comfort him. However, be careful if he has an infection that he can pass to you such as flu. Therefore, protect yourself and other family members against similar infection.
  • The baby’s immune system is not fully developed. Therefore, if possible stop other children from holding or kissing your sick child. Although it might be hard to achieve this, you can help protect your child and others from possible infections.
  • Wash your hands and other surfaces where your child comes in contact. By washing your hands you help stop the spread of the disease germs. Ensure you clean the floor, table, toys, and benches that might have the germs.
  • Most germs are picked and passed by dirty hands. Therefore, observe good hygienic practices.

How to get your sick toddler to sleep

Even when your child is not sick, he needs a lot of sleep. A healthy toddler should sleep between 8 to 10 hours per day. When he becomes ill, he needs even more sleep than that. If your toddler does not want to sleep because of being uncomfortable, you need to help him to get some sleep.

You can talk your child to sleep. Explain to him that resting will help him feel better faster. You can let help him lie down and read him his bedtime story or play some calming music or play some simple game together that will help him calm down and sleep.

A lot of sleep will help soothe your sick child and help him heal faster. Encourage him to sleep and put him to bed early.

The following are some of the ways you can soothe your sick toddler and help him sleep throughout the night.

1.    Warm Bath Before Bedtime

baby in bath with bubble

A warm bath will not only soothe your child to sleep, but it will also ease any pains and aches in the body. Apart from that, the steam from the warm bath water will help moisten the nostrils and thereby ease any nasal congestion.

The warm bath will also help make your child feel loved and cared for.

Sickness sometimes makes children feel vulnerable. Running a warm bath will help your toddler feel relaxed and sleep well.

To make the warm bath water more medicinal and soothing, you can add a drop of lavender oil or some antiseptic to help kill germs.

2.    Use Humidifier

Most toddlers have not yet mastered the art of blowing their noses. Due to this, most of them suffer from a stuffed nose. A humidifier is a mother’s best friend to help fight stuffy nose. It helps to create a moist and steamy air. When your toddler breathes this air in, it helps soothe congestion and clear the airways for easy breathing. If possible, add a few drops of essential oil like eucalyptus in the humidifier.

The humidifier will help break the mucus so that it will flow out easily. It is, however, advisable to use a cold humidifier where your toddler is sleeping.

Click here to see “The Best Humidifiers” available

3.    Keep him Hydrated

Some toddlers when they have sick lose interest in eating and drinking. But you should ensure that your kid takes a lot of drinks. This is because toddlers are likely to get dehydrated faster as compared to adults when they are sick.

The hydrating solution you can give your child is water. But besides the water, you can also offer him fruit juice, chicken soup, broth, electrolyte solutions. The water will help soothe your child’s sore throat.

As much as possible, offer your toddler warm liquids.

The warm liquid will help to make the mucus thin for easy removal. You can add some honey to hot water and give it to your child.

Honey contains antibacterial properties that will help your child get better sooner. Apart from that, honey will soothe your child’s sore throat and cough at night and help him sleep well.

To give honey properly to your child, mix it with lemon juice and hot water. When mixed, it works like magic to help your child feel better. However, if your child is below one year, its not advisable to give him honey.

Also, if your child is below six months, do not offer him water. This is due to the fact that his kidneys are not well developed to handle water. At this age, the best hydrant is breast milk. If he drinks less milk than usual, ensure you feed him more often so that he can get enough.

If your child is not drinking as normal due to the sickness, giving small quantities at regular intervals will help keep him hydrated. You might require a doctor’s advice on the feeding schedule so as to keep your child hydrated.

4.    Use Essential Oils

Essential oils are very good natural therapies. They contain some natural soothing properties which will help your child get some sleep. Some essential oils have very soothing aromas. For instance:

  • Rosemary oil – you can rub some rosemary oil on the neck of your child if he has a sore throat. It will not only relieve the pain but also boost your child’s immune system.
  • Lavender oil – you can add a few drops of lavender oil on your child’s pillow. Its aroma will help your child to sleep well.
  • Eucalyptus oil – it helps to ease congestion. You can apply a few drops on your child’s pillow to help ease congestion and any respiratory system problems.
  • Menthol rub – if your child is experiencing a sore throat and a cough, you can rub him with menthol. If he is coughing a lot, rub some menthol on his feet. It will help soothe the cough. If your child will stop coughing, he is likely to sleep soundly.

5.    Cuddle Up

Sickness makes children feel distressed or scarily. More especially if your child has diarrhea or vomiting. Holding your baby and cuddling him up can help your child to feel secure, relaxed, less anxious and loved. This might help him sleep better.

If your child is still breastfeeding, your child might want to breastfeed more often. If it helps him feel secure, let him feed. However, ensure that you hold him in an upright position so that he can be able to breathe well as he feeds.

Aromatherapy is a common way of soothing patients to sleep. The aroma of the essential oil will make your child relax, cared for and secure hence sleep well.

6.    Keep it Light

It is often said laughter is the best medicine. Keeping the environment around your kid light will help him tolerate the discomfort of being sick. You can do a few activities with your child that does not require a lot of energy.

You can ask your child to imitate some popular character and make faces. If he cannot get involved in such activity, find something simple that will distract him but interesting. The aim of the games is to keep your child engaged so that when he falls asleep, he can sleep comfortably.

The activities will not only distract your child but also it will entertain him. You can also choose to take him a short walk outdoor.

Also Read –

Should the sick toddler sleep all day?

Your child cannot stay in bed all day. Unless he is bedridden, he should get some rest. The following are some of the ways that you can allow your child to rest.

•    Watching TV – if your child is sick but he does not experience a headache, you can allow him to watch TV. If your child is not strong enough to play, watching TV will help him to relax. Besides that, it distracts him and gives him a break.

•    Massage – if your toddler is experiencing some pain, you can help soothe him with a gentle massage. You can massage his head, arms, legs, tummy, back among other areas.

•    Near you – sometimes all that your sick child needs is your presence. Allow him to sit with you for a while just to rest. Sometimes if you cannot hold him, let him lie or sit on a chair where he can see or hear you. This will make him more restful than staying in bed alone. Sometimes he might just want to rest in your loving arms. Let him lie in your arms for as long as he wants.


Children tend to get well soon. When he is sick, they need more sleep so that they can get well. As a parent, you need to take good care of him. However, as much as he needs a lot of rest, you do not have to banish him to bed. Just keep a close eye on him. There is no better medicine to helping a toddler sleep than a mother’s lap.

As much as possible, adjust your schedule so that you can spend more time with your sick child. Give him plenty of kisses and hugs.

You will both enjoy the moment and closeness and above all, it will make him relax. The snuggling will help your toddler sleep well and heal faster.

Also, stick to the regular routine. If you want your child to sleep well, take him to bed at the regular time. The consistency to the normal sleep time may help your child continue getting enough sleep even after he gets well.

It might be helpful also to sleep with your toddler. Sleeping with your sick toddler will help you comfort him in case he gets up during the night. It is better to sleep in your toddler’s room than bringing him to your bed. This is because if you bring him to your bed, it might be a hard task to take him back to his room. He might want to continue sleeping in your room.

Most importantly, ensure that the temperature in your toddler’s sleeping room is comfortable. If the temperature is either too high or low, it might hinder him from sleeping well.