Minor illnesses and sleep
Many factors can positively or negatively influence children’s sleep. Sporadic minor illnesses are among these factors. Stuffy noses, colds, coughs…every new season comes with its fair share of minor illnesses that can have an impact on children. When they are sick, children may need to sleep more. On the other hand, their sleep may be disrupted, and they may end up sleeping very little. It is extremely important that you adapt certain interventions to meet the needs of the children in your group. A child who is not feeling well can be irritable because of his symptoms, but also because of his lack of sleep.
Ask for details about his night-time sleep
It is very important that you know if the child slept well or not at home. If a sick child has a sleep deficit, you may have to compensate during the day and provide additional rest periods. Details about his night-time sleep will also give you a good idea of the energy level he will have during the day.
Respect the child’s needs
A sick child may need to sleep more than usual. It is also possible that he will be able to function normally throughout the day. Each child is different. Pay attention to the child’s needs and make sure you respect them. Going against the child’s needs will lead to negative impacts, for both you and your group.
Adapt the environment to help a sick child sleep
Prepare a comfortable area. Set up a mattress and arrange his blanket and stuffed animals nearby. By creating this space for the child, he will have somewhere to go when he needs to rest. He may want to sleep, but often, spending time alone and enjoying a quiet activity will be enough. It may also be a good idea to open the windows and ventilate your daycare. This may help avoid serious coughs. Raise the top of the child’s mattress to create a comfortable resting position. Speak with the child’s parents to gain a better understanding of his habits and what may help make him feel better.
Give a sick child plenty of attention and affection
A child who does not feel well may require extra attention. Before naptime, take a few minutes to rock him, cuddle with him, and help him calm down.
Communicate with a sick child’s parents whenever necessary
If a sick child is having difficulty following the group’s activities or if all he wants to do is sleep, it is best to call his parents to inform them of the situation. If the child cannot participate in daily activities, he may be better off at home. Do not hesitate to contact parents if your adaptations don’t help the child get the sleep he needs.
Maude Dubé, Specialized educator