Sing it with me now…. “It’s the most snotty-nosed tiiiiiiime of the year!”
The time of year when tissues are shoved all snug in our pockets and yellow-ish liquids pour out from little noses. Delightful! As a Pediatric Sleep Consultant I hear lots of questions about sickness and sleep. Starting back in October I began to hear from my clients that their children are developing runny noses and mild colds, thanks to the ever-changing weather. These new symptoms can begin to cause some sleep issues which brings on a bit of stress to the parents, and the child. With that in mind I’m here to share with you my action plan for congested children.
Don’t Change The Rules: Congestion and runny noses are a part of life. If you begin to change your sleep expectations every time they sneeze or wipe their nose you’ll develop some permanent habits! Whatever you expect of your child before (sleeping in their bed, sleeping in yours, room-sharing, doesn’t matter) stick to it. Babies and toddlers are smart little boogers (pun intended). The moment you switch up your bedtime routine or night time expectations, they’ll likely expect it the next time. If that’s not enough to stop you, know that what your child NEEDS right now is a good rest. A great night of full sleep is always restorative.
Hydrate, Hydrate: We hear this all the time, but toddlers especially can be little Carb Monsters! Remember to give plenty of clear fluids to help them move the congestion out, and also to help bring relief to their body. Colds and congestion can also sometimes bring on constipation for some kids. Fluids will help! But what happens in the middle of the night when they need to go potty, or have a big diaper? Let them do their business, and then go back to bed. For your diaper wearing child, quickly change their diaper and let them go back to sleep. (I’m not advocating for waking them up to do this, only if you happen to be in there already.)
Gather Your Tools: Cool-mist humidifiers, vapor-rub, saline spray, and nose-suckers are a Mom’s BFF when a cold comes along. Use these as part of the nap time routine and bedtime routine to help them feel better before sleep. Don’t forget to keep that humidifier clean, and make sure your baby’s sensitive skin won’t react to the vapor rub.
Acknowledge Poor Sleep: Your child might have short naps or have trouble falling asleep. And that’s okay. They aren’t feeling well, their noses are stopped up, and coughing fits creep up. If your child is taking short naps throughout the day, bedtime will more than likely need to be moved up. This will help them catch up on the sleep they lost, not make them wake up earlier. Remember, when you’re sick your body needs sleep to help heal.
Of course if congestion begins to linger and the fluids from their noses turn funky colors…it’s time to see the Pediatrician.
May your days be merry and bright, ya’ll! And may your noses not run tonight.