When your baby is overtired and sick, it can be challenging for baby and caregiver. An ill baby can mean sleepless nights for everyone, plus the added stress on how to make your tiny angel feel better.
Sleeping is a way to fight off infections and heal the body. A good amount of sleep is essential for your baby because it is a vital step in their healing process. However, with an overtired and sick baby, rest may be difficult and delay your baby’s healing process.
By helping your baby get some rest, you are helping them heal faster and ease their discomfort.
Tabeeze breaks down what a sick and overtired baby means and how to help them get some much-needed shut-eye.
How Much Sleep Do Babies Need?
Babies sleep a lot. Depending on their age, this number will fluctuate. Newborn babies doze for 14 to 17 hours a day and often need to be woken up to eat. (Honestly, that sounds kind of nice.) Around six months old, babies have the capacity to sleep through the night, but don’t hold your breath — you’ll likely need to wait a little longer.
What Does “Overtired” Mean?
An overtired baby is when your baby is too tired to sleep, and when they do sleep, they will likely wake up shortly and have difficulty drifting back to dreamland. Basically, your baby is so sleepy that they can’t get to sleep. This is not one of our favorite brain-twisters, to say the least.
Overtiredness is a hurdle many new parents and caregivers face at some point during infancy.
A baby who is pulling an all-nighter will experience an influx of stress hormones and adrenaline. Once these hormones are elevated, it is difficult for your baby to settle down and go to sleep.
A baby can be overtired for many reasons, including:
- Feeling overstimulated
- Getting off their nap schedule
- Feeling sick
How Can You Tell If Your Baby Is Sick and Overtired?
When you feel under the weather, you probably only want to stay curled up in your bed all day and get as much sleep as possible. The same will be for your baby. They will likely sleep more when they are sick, but unfortunately, that extra sleep will probably happen throughout the day, leaving them wide awake at night.
On the other hand, your baby might do a total 180 and sleep far less than they should.
Why? When we are sick, we crave sleep but cannot get the proper rest because we are uncomfortable. A stuffy nose, headache, coughing, and aching are symptoms that can wake us up out of our sleep at night.
The same goes for babies. They get uncomfortable, can’t sleep, and then become fussy and irritable on top of feeling ill.
How To Encourage a Sick, Overtired Baby To Sleep
Putting a sick and overtired baby to bed can come with challenges, but it’s certainly not impossible. We’re parents — anything is possible!
Here are a few tips to help your little one catch some desperately-needed sweet dreams:
Use a Humidifier
If your baby has a cold, try using a humidifier to add moisture to the air. Humidifiers can help keep nasal passages moist and help reduce nighttime coughing and stuffiness. Using a humidifier could also help ease congestion.
When using a humidifier, follow the instructions for keeping it clean and filling it properly every time. Look for childsafe options; some humidifiers can tip over and splash hot water, making them a danger.
If a humidifier isn’t your ideal solution, running a steamy shower and chilling in the bathroom with your baby can also help decrease congestion. Bring their favorite book and stuffed animal: Now it’s a party.
Give Your Baby a Massage
Consider giving your baby a massage after bathtime. Baby massages have many benefits, including improved sleep and decreased stress.
To really bring in the at-home spa vibes, use your little one’s favorite baby lotion. Certain techniques, like rubbing your baby’s chest, stomach, and upper back in circular motions, may soothe aches and pains and clear pesky congestion.
Before giving your baby a massage, always be mindful. Make sure they are receptive to the massage and are feeling calm.
Ask Your Pediatrician About Saline Nose Drops
Congestion can build up pressure in your baby’s ear canals and sinuses, making them irritable and uncomfortable. Ask your family doctor if saline nose drops might be helpful.
Keep Your Baby Hydrated
Just like adults, babies need plenty of fluids when sick, so make sure to keep them hydrated. Breast milk or formula are the best options if your baby is under six months old. For older babies, water and (sugar-free) juice can work.
If your baby is not drinking as much as normal while they are sick, try feeding them more often. You can always talk to your pediatrician, who may put your baby on a feeding schedule. If your family doc recommends it, try handing your little patient a specialty hydrating popsicle if they resist traditional fluid intake methods.
Dole Out Some TLC
Love is the best medicine for your baby when they’re sick. Research shows that skin-to-skin contact helps speed up the healing process for young babies. They need you, so don’t be afraid to rock your baby and give them lots of cuddles.
At Tabeeze, we understand the importance of skin-to-skin contact as an essential part of your baby’s health (and yours!). Our unique Bottom-Up Baby Bodysuit not only makes changing your baby easier than ever, but it also gives you instant skin-to-skin contact when you’re ready to give your baby a quick snuggle.
Our patented shoulder flaps allow you to undress your baby without wiggling their head through that perplexingly tiny hole in their onesie. Just simply unsnap the shoulder flaps to bond with your baby ASAP.
Maintaining Your Baby’s Sleep Routine
Babies, toddlers, and growing children flourish on schedules. However, when the common cold comes knocking on your door, that carefully-maintained schedule quickly exits through the window.
You may feel inclined to wake your baby up during an extra nap to maintain their sleep schedule, but it’s probably best to let them sleep. Their bodies are hard at work fighting off their illness.
Don’t be afraid to encourage your baby to take an extra nap as they recover. If your baby is overtired and fussy, call on your favorite calming technique, and dreamland is only a few minutes away.
Your baby stepping out of their sleep routine won’t last for too long. You can put them back on their sleep schedule as soon as they feel better.
When To Call a Doctor
Here are a few symptoms that warrant a call to your pediatrician or the emergency room doctor.
- Appetite changes: Seek medical attention if your baby refuses several feedings in a row or eats poorly.
- Behavior changes: If your baby is unusually sleepy or hard to awaken or if your baby is crying more than usual and hard to console.
- Fever: Contact your pediatrician if your baby has a fever and is under three months old.
- Cold: Contact your pediatrician if your baby has symptoms lasting longer than ten days, has ear pain, or has a cough that lasts more than a week.
- Diarrhea or Constipation: If your baby has three or more stools that are especially watery, contact your pediatrician. Or, if your baby has fewer bowel movements than usual that last for a few days and appears to be struggling or uncomfortable, seek medical care.
Seek emergency medical attention right away if your baby:
- Shows signs of difficulty breathing
- Is unconscious, less alert, or becomes withdrawn
- Is in consistent pain
- Has skin or lip color changes like blue or gray
Taking Care of Yourself
As you nurture your baby back to health, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Try your best to catch some extra ZZZs when your baby is asleep. Make sure to eat well to boost your immune system and fight off any potential illnesses.
Keeping a good hygiene routine is also essential. Every time you change a diaper or come back from a public place, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Also, disinfect surfaces frequently as germs can stay on surfaces for hours.
Feel Better Soon
Dealing with an overtired and sick baby is certainly no fun for both you and the baby. But, remember it is only temporary, and you and your baby will get through this hardship.
When your baby is overtired and sick, reach out to your nearby circle, including your pediatrician, to get the help you need.
Before you know it, you’ll be packing up the diaper bag and heading to the park for your family’s next amazing adventure.