How To Maintain a Schedule When Your Little One is Sick

How to maintain your routine when your little one is sick. When your baby or toddler is sick, you can comfort and offer relief and still preserve the schedule you have worked to develop.

Mom comforting a sick baby

When your little one gets sick, so many worries pop up in your mind. First and foremost, you worry about your child. Once you are sure things are okay and you are simply working toward getting better, your next worry will be about the schedule you have worked so hard to develop.

You have made a lot of sacrifices and put in a lot of effort to have the schedule and routine you enjoy today. It is very normal to worry about if your little one being sick will completely destroy all the progress you have made so far. Will you go back to square one?

First, let me assure you that everything will be fine.

Your baby will get sick. She will get colds, she might get ear infections, she will get fevers–we all get sick. Many moms aren’t sure how to deal with their Babywise schedule when their baby is sick. 

Rest assured that your baby is not the first one to ever get sick. Your baby is not the first baby on a schedule or routine to get sick. It has happened to all babies. You will make it through and you will get back to the schedule you enjoy.

Some little ones get more disrupted than others when they get sick. Some carry on as usual and some sleep even more than usual. 

Some get disrupted in minor ways like the ocassional short nap or hard time falling asleep. 

There is also the occasional night where they wake up a lot. Some will cry out for mom and others will just toss and turn. 

Other children really have a rough time with sleep when sick and throw the schedule completely out the window.

These variances can come from different sickness and different personalities and tolerances. Also, if your baby was not super solid on the schedule before being sick, he is more likely to stray from the schedule while sick.

Comforting a Sick Toddler/Baby While Maintaining the Schedule. When your baby or toddler is sick, you can comfort and offer relief and still preserve the schedule you have worked to develop.

How to Comfort a Sick Child and Preserve the Schedule

The schedule is very helpful when your child is sick because when you are sick, rest is best. Maintaining that sleep and rest helps baby so much.

When my kids are sick, I still try to stick to the schedule as much as possible. My default is to go by our regular schedule unless it becomes clear my little one needs something changed. 

When your little one is sick, first just go about your day as usual. Below are notes on things that might need to change. It is no problem at all to adjust the schedule as needed when your little one is sick. 

Your baby schedule when your baby is sick pinnable image

Playtime When Your Little One is Sick

Most illnesses don’t really interfere with a normal schedule. Little ones still want to play. Kids don’t seem to be derailed by illnesses like we adults wish we could be–we still have to do our work and care for our families. We just wish we could call it a day and stay in bed.

Kids want to play and don’t really care about rest and sleep. Kids need to sleep, however, especially when they are sick.

You might have a shortened play time or even no play time at all if your little one really needs more sleep than usual. 

If your little one does not want to play and wants to just go to sleep, go ahead and do that. Read the section below for more on that. 

Sleep When Your Little One is Sick

If your child is in extreme pain and won’t sleep on his own or wants to be held, go ahead and do it.

Feel free to comfort your baby or toddler in almost any way necessary.

When we are sick, we want our moms. Even when I was a teenager, I would call to my mom in the night if I was sick. It is normal for your little one to want mom when she is sick and it isn’t a problem to offer that comfort your little one seeks.

I would stay in baby’s room, rock, cuddle, sing, etc. A sick baby often needs mom/dad, and that is okay. Once baby is over the sickness, you might need a few days or even a week to get back on track, but you can get there.

Your baby or toddler might want to sleep more than is typical when she is sick. This is just fine! Again, when you’re sick, rest is best. If your little one needs a 2.5 or 3 hour nap instead of a 2 hour nap, go for it. If your little one sleeps more at night, that is no problem.

Eating When Your Little One is Sick

If your baby has a cold, he should eat as usual. He might need to take frequent breaks when breastfeeding or bottlefeeding since he won’t be able to breathe from his nose, but eating should be pretty normal with perhaps some appetite decrease.

If your little one has a fever, she might not want to eat much at all. Still offer feedings and be sure to consult with her doctor if liquid intake decreases. A great thing about having a schedule typically is that you will be able to recognize if food intake is off or not. 

If your little one is sleeping more than usual, that will often come by taking time from playtime, but you should still aim to get the same number of feedings in a day, especially to get those liquids in baby.

Your feedings should be at about the same times as usual. Naps will be longer by taking time from playtime, not extending out your feedings. 


Returning to the Schedule After Sickness is Over

A lot of kids will bounce back to normal after the sickness is over. They will just go back to the schedule with no big deal.

Others will take some re-training for a few days and up to a week. But don’t let that fact stop you from comforting your kids. Retraining never takes as long as the initial training. 

In special cases like fear, sickness, or pain, it is perfectly fine to comfort the child. If they are well trained and capable of sleeping on their own, it should at most take a couple of days after all is said and done to get back on track.

The longer your little one has been on a solid schedule, the faster she will bounce back to it after a sickness. Also, some personalities go back to the schedule easier and faster than others. 

Once you are sure your little one is healthy, you might need to do some cry it out or retraining in however you trained to get your little one sleeping initially. It never takes as long as it took the first time. She already knows the the drill and has the skills. 

Real-Life Examples of Comforting 

When Brayden was about 2, he started having bad dreams on occasion. When he would wake up crying, I would go in his room and hug him and rub his back and cuddle with him until he was calm and in some cases until he was asleep. By the time Brayden was 2.5, there was no work to get him back on track.

In your comforting endeavors, I would watch one thing. I would NEVER take baby to my bed. I just don’t even want to start that.

I had a friend do that when her baby was a year old because she wanted to sleep. She then had two weeks of her daughter getting up every couple of hours and wanting to get in bed with her. She laughed about it and said she didn’t even get a good night’s sleep that night because she was getting kicked by her baby and she was worried about rolling onto her baby.

She said she got one night of semi-sleep and sacrificed the next 14 because of it.

Always go off of what you feel is best, but do be aware that what you do will have ramifications. There are things you can do that will have a lower impact on future nights than others.

Sick Children

Way back when Brayden was a couple of months shy of 3 years old and Kaitlyn was a month shy of 1 year old, we had a big sickness at our house. Brayden, Kaitlyn, and I all got really sick.

Here are some things I wrote at the time:

I wanted to share some things about this weekend that illustrate concepts I have written about in the past.

One thing, I am so glad that my children are well-trained in how to sleep. Despite their sickness, they have napped and slept well at night. That is good for them and my husband and I.

Friday night, I had passed out a couple of times and hit my head and various things (it has been bad). My husband decided to take me to the emergency room. He called some friends to come over while we were gone. It was about 11:00 PM. He went to check on the kids before we left and must have gone in Kaitlyn’s room right at a transition. She woke up, sat up, looked at him, and threw up all over her bed. He took her down to me while he changed her sheets.

In the meantime, our friends got here. She was a bit weary of them. Once her sheets were changed, my husband took her right back up to bed where she went to sleep without a peep.

I was so glad that she was so well trained and able to go right back to sleep without problems. I was able to go to the hospital without worrying (too much) about her.

Another thing I am glad for is that I have given her a bottle with formula once a week from a young age. I have always done that in case of some emergency.

With this sickness, Kaitlyn is still nursing, but is not interested in the least in any solid foods. She will not eat them. So after offering the solids, my husband will make a bottle and see if she will drink that. Sometimes she will (at least once a day). It is good to get those extra nutrients into her.

I never dreamed my “preparing for an emergency” would ever be needed, but I am ever glad I did.

Another thing we have done is in some ways let the schedule go. For example, Brayden slept until 9 AM this morning. This is a first in his life.

Also, we are offering the kids little amounts of food throughout the day because they can’t eat much at a time and can’t keep much in them. We still have breakfast time, lunch time, etc. but offer snacks in between, as often as they need. 

Naptimes are remaining constant, but longer. Brayden isn’t having independent play–he is laying on the couch all day except for nap time and meal time.

Here is my experience. I have never been happier to have done Babywise. My children are sleeping well even though they are sick, and sleeping without the need of mom or dad.

I have taken precautions in the past that are helping with the present. You will never be sorry to be prepared for the unexpected; the worst that will happen is that you are over-prepared.

And we are relaxing the schedule as needed to accommodate our sick family. I sincerely wish health for all of you!

Flexibility for Surgery

Brayden had surgery when he was about 3.5. The nature of his bandaging on his hand was that he could get it wet at all. Because of this, I knew bathing the children together was out of the question.

We typically had sibling playtime, bathtime, then independent playtime.

The reason I do the bath between the two items is that I don’t think they would very excitedly go to independent playtime after playing together.

Brayden had his surgery during our winter, so these things happen in bedrooms (in nice weather I like to have sibling playtime outside). If they were outside for sibling playtime, I think they would do independent following sibling without a problem.

So, I knew I had to rethink our order while Brayden has the bandage on his arm/hand. Here is a breakdown:

Old Schedule:

  • Breakfast
  • Do our letter/color/number etc. of the day activity
  • Singing time
  • Sibling playtime
  • Bathtime
  • Independent playtime

New Schedule:

  • Breakfast
  • Do our letter/color/number etc. of the day activity
  • Singing time
  • Independent playtime
  • Get ready for the day
  • Sibling playtime

Bathtime for Brayden was each night right before bed. Either my husband or I had him stand in the tub and hold his hand up while we bathed him. It was fast.

Bathtime for Kaitlyn varied based on the day. Some days it was in the evening. Others, it was in the middle of the day after lunch before nap. She did this instead of TV time.

It worked well.

It had me thinking of different possible orders of activities for when the new baby (McKenna) came.

I wanted to post this to show that you can adjust the schedule as needed.

You also need to adjust the schedule as needed. Sometimes you get comfortable with what you are doing without realizing it isn’t the best option.


Don’t get discouraged if baby is sick and needing/wanting comfort from you. It is a part of life. You can get back to normal after the sickness passes. You comforting your baby will not mean your baby will stop sleeping well in the future.

Comfort, but be wise in your decisions. 

Comforting a Sick Toddler/Baby While Maintaining the Schedule. When your baby or toddler is sick, you can comfort and offer relief and still preserve the schedule you have worked to develop.

More Sickness Posts on this Blog

How to keep your schedule when your little one is sick pinnable image

Reader Advice:

  • Lori said…
    My 7 month old recently cut his second tooth. The first was a breeze, but the second, a nightmare. I searched through my Babywise 1 and 2 books and only found very little information about teething. We had a couple rough nights, seriously. It was like the first week home again and after months of enjoying a baby who goes to bed easy and sleeps for 10 hours at least, I was exhausted. The problem was that he was obviously in pain, but wouldn’t let me comfort him. I tried rocking, holding, singing, just about everything (except taking him to my bed of course). Finally I just had to let him cry. After a couple days, he was fine and back to his old self again. Thing is, I just wish the books talked more about this (like what really to expect with teething and tips on handling it after you get so used to a good sleeping baby). The first night that I decided to let him cry, he did so for over an hour. I only went in once to try and soothe him. The day before that though, it seemed like each time I tried to comfort him, he would stop for 5 min and regain his strength for another long stretch of screaming.I’m not really asking for advice, just sharing my experience in case some one else has a similar problem. Here’s hoping for less pain in the next tooth!
    April 7, 2008 6:37 PM
    hunter’smom said…
    Lori, I’m in the exact same situation right now that you described above. Thank you for sharing your experience!
    April 27, 2008 7:27 PM
Comforting a Sick Toddler/Baby While Maintaining the Schedule. When your baby or toddler is sick, you can comfort and offer relief and still preserve the schedule you have worked to develop.