Shea has had a cold for about a week now. It seems to have gone from the snotty stuff to a full-blown hacking cough through the night. I’ve been laying in bed, listening to her cough and cough, thinking, poor baby...wondering what I should do.
Does she need water? Snuggles? To work through it? I DON’T KNOW!
What I do know is that sleep trained children and surviving a cold can get tricky. We started sleep training around 3-4 months and for us, it has been a wonderful thing. At a young age (3 months-ish), Shea was put down for bed sleepy, but not asleep, after being nursed. But at this age, babies still get up several times a night to eat, and so sleep training was really more about the routine of getting to bed and getting back to sleep, not necessarily sleeping through the night (though that was a bonus!). Sometimes, there was crying, but over time it became less and less. Rarely did Shea cry when put down at night, and as the months passed by, her night feedings disappeared.
At 16 months (tomorrow), Shea has been sleeping through the night for many, many months. No middle of the night feedings and if there’s fussing or crying, we let her figure it out. Rarely do we intervene because typically, that means she won’t be going back down. Sleep training has definitely taught her that when we enter her room, sleep time is over. On occasion, she may be up for the day at 4:30 or 5am. I know she’s up-up when she’s sitting or standing in her crib. If she’s laying down crying, I let her work through it. Her typical sleep schedule is 7/7:15pm to 6:15/6:30am and more often than not, there’s not a peep from her during that time. I will also make mention that we often leave her in her crib for up to half and hour, while she plays or talks to herself. I want to instill independence and patience.
Sleep is something new parents love to talk about, and I was/am no exception. When you’re DESPERATE for sleep in consecutive, restful hours, it’s almost a topic of obsession. More than breastfeeding or any other topic, I read about sleep. I particularly loved Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and followed nearly every last piece of age-appropriate advice.
I think sleep training gave all members of our family what they needed – sleep, sanity, and independence. And it certainly comes in handy when others can step in for the bedtime routine, whether it be a grandparent or a babysitter. Shea seems to handle her bedtime routine well with any adult, so long as her routine is honored.
Rewind to last night when at 3am, Shea’s coughing was non-stop. Do I go in and risk her being up for the day? Do I ignore, even though it feels wrong and I can’t sleep through it anyway? Do I send in Mark? I let her cough until 4am when her coughing escalated even further and she was sitting up in her crib crying. I tried rocking her, but it was clear she wanted to lay down. Against my “better judgement” to put her back in her crib, we both went to lay down in the guest room. I rubbed her back and ran my fingers through her hair. Her breathing got slow and deep with complete relaxation. I slowed my rubs and strokes and she protested. I started back up. Eventually, we both drifted off into much needed sleep and her coughing ceased. She got up for the day at 6:30am.
It’s hard for me to know sometimes when to bend my bedtime rules….when to soften and be that nurturing touch, and when to hold firm to the sleep framework we’ve instilled over the past year. But, when my little is sick, it seems like the “right” time to give that extra love and attention. Even in the middle of the night. I just always cross my fingers that she doesn’t come to expect that response the next time. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But after returning to the routine, perhaps with a bit of protest, we get back on track.
Now, let’s get this girl better over the weekend…for everyone’s sake! 😉