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Adapting the routine for a baby who is unwell by Gina Ford

We are now in the season of colds and viruses. I know from the message boards, and from my telephone conversations with members, that a number of you are unsure as to how to adapt the routines when your baby is unwell.

In general, I would advise you to relax the routines and be led by your baby for its feed and sleep needs. Most babies will need to sleep for longer when they are ill. Having said this, it would not be a good idea to let your baby sleep for too long during the day; firstly, you need to keep an eye on their fluid intake; and secondly, you might find that if they sleep all day, they will be awake all night. You should, therefore, relax the sleeping routine, but still have some influence on it.

In terms of feeding, routines are very likely to change when babies are ill, and they may go off solids, so don’t force it. It is, however, vital to ensure that fluid levels are kept up, so do make sure your baby is drinking enough to avoid dehydration, which can become a serious problem. It is also possible that you may need to re-introduce a night feed during this period, even if your baby has previously been sleeping through.

The most important thing when your baby is ill is to concentrate on getting them well again. Your baby will probably need extra attention and your routines may alter, but this does not mean that all your hard work in establishing a routine has been lost. Any changes will be temporary; it may just mean that you will have to work a little harder at re-establishing things once your baby is well again.

Finally, if you are concerned about anything to do with your baby’s health, please consult your health visitor or doctor.

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