As frequent world travellers, we travel to a multitude of destinations with our baby each year. Our baby daughter has been on 22 flights! We have plenty of experience and tips on how to deal with flying, time zones, and jet lag.
The reality is, you can’t do much to prevent jet lag in babies or even jet lag in toddlers for that matter.
The best you can do is to simply survive it.
We know that jet lag sucks because we have all experienced it ourselves. It sucks twenty times worse when you have to deal with jet lag and your baby as well as your own.
In a bid to try and help you be prepared, we have compiled a list of baby jetlag advice that hopefully will help you get through.
Here is a list of tips to help deal with jet lag in babies & toddlers!
Jet Lag Tips for Babies & Toddler Jet Lag Solutions
Find below 6 tips that should help you deal with jet lag and your baby or even jet lag in your toddler.
1. Jet Lag Recovery Time
You know it is coming, you know you can’t prevent jet lag. I'm sure you can also guess that jet lag with a baby is going to be extra-tough. So set aside a few days upon arrival in your destination to deal with it.
Have 1-2 days that are slow-going and easy-paced. Don’t make any rigid plans or itineraries for those time, but rather ‘play it by ear’.
Remember that kids are really flexible and with no time at all your jet-lagged baby will be back to his/her's normal sleeping routine.
We personally found on our last trip from Australia to France, that Avalee adjusted pretty quickly.
The first night brought us an early 3am wake up call, and the following nights all had 2-3 brief wake ups in them.
But for the most part we could explore and she could simply dose on and off in the pram or baby carrier.
The same is really important in order to deal with babies and jetlag after returning home. Make sure that you have 2-3 days off work after getting back home.
Jet lag and arrival home from France was really challenging. They say that jet lag hits you worse when you travel east. It took Avalee a whole week to adjust back to Australia’s time zone. It was HARD!
She would wake up around midnight each night, ready to play.
After a few hours we would pop her back down, but the rest of the night she was unsettled and brought loads of short wake ups.
It was a long week, but thankfully everything settled straight after and she went back to sleeping through the night all by herself.
2. Be Mentally Prepared
Prepare yourself mentally. If you know it will be challenging … if you know your baby will wake up at odd hours and you know they might not sleep through like normal; you will be so much more likely to deal with it better when it happens.
Be prepared for it, and get your partner on board to help with some of the wake ups. Don’t try to tackle them all by yourself.
3. Just go with the Flow
It is so important to just go with the flow. Allow your child to adjust naturally.
You can’t control this, and you can’t plan what will happen.
If you are a routine-strict mum … try to forget about the ‘routine’ for a while and just let your baby do what they want to do.
If they are tired, let them sleep. If they wake up and want to play, let them have some time to kill energy before popping them back to bed.
Honestly, if you try to control it, you will simply have a really cranky baby to deal with. And considering you will be tired as well; it really won't be a fun combo.
Some mums suggest waking baby up to readjust to new time zones, I say …. sleep when the baby sleeps, wake up when they do.
Let them adjust by themselves naturally. It will be so much more peaceful and before you know it they will be back on schedule and routine.
4. Keep the Lights Low
If baby wakes up at some ridiculous time, such as midnight, make sure to keep the stimulation and activity low.
You can tell when your baby or toddler wakes up wide awake, or when they simply need a feed or a bottle. When they wake up wide awake, allow them time to play.
We kept the lights low and if our daughter was happy to play in her cot, we left her there so that we could shut our eyes in a light sleep next to her.
Give him/her a few hours and see if you can pop bubs back to sleep.
5. Keep up the Normal Night Time Routine
Whilst I highly suggest throwing the routine of ‘time’ out of the window, I think it is so important to keep up with your nighttime routine.
Our night time routine is typically dinner, warm bath, and bottle in the cot. She also always sleeps in a baby sleeping bag or grobag and has a snuggie. So that is what we did.
It happened at different times every night depending on when she was tired, but it was her cue to know that it was ‘night’ now and not just a nap.
6. Attempting Jet Lag Prevention
Now some parents are what I call a jet lag planner. They try to prep their baby for the new time zone with some baby jet lag sleep training.
Essentially what you do a few weeks before your trip is to slowly start adjusting your baby’s sleep time to be closer to the sleep time in the country you will be visiting.
This would hopefully reduce the likelihood of jet lag.
It could be worth a try.
But in my experience, our baby’s sleep was all over the shop on the flight itself. And that was enough to throw away any idealizations of a ‘plan’ that I might have had.
I found that the best thing is to simply go with the flow when it comes to jet lag and babies.
Instead my suggestion is to see if you can arrive close to baby’s bed time. That way, bubs might be exhausted after not sleeping properly on the plane and you can just put him/her in bed straight away.
Ultimately, my only really useful tip is:
Be Patient!! And know that this too shall pass!
May the parenthood force be with you! And remember to enjoy the small things, because the big things might feel challenging.
- Check out our Handy Baby Travel Blog.
- Find the list of our personal favorite infant travel gear.
- Grab 10 quick tips to help you Survive your Flight with Baby.
- Wondering where to go next? Here is a list of the best vacations with a baby.
Leave us a Comment:
- Do you have any tips to add to our jet lag in babies and toddlers list?
- Do you have any recommendations on how to handle jet lag for babies?