I believe travel, be it for a Family holiday, a life changing, eye opening adventure, or as a necessity to see Family, doesn’t need to be the source of anxiety and fear it often is for new Parents (I’ve written here about why we shouldn’t wait to travel with our babies). After concerns about flying with young Children (which I have hopefully alleviated if you’ve read ‘why flying with babies can be better than a day at home‘, and ‘the benefits of flying with a sleep thief‘), managing time differences and a Baby with jet lag is another real worry for families.
I thought I would share what I have found works best having dealt with various time differences from a couple of hours, to eleven hours!
Get that morning dose of Melatonin
If possible get outside as early as you can in the Morning, this tops up everyones Melatonin, and helps reset the body clock
I use the gro blind, (made by the same company as gro clocks) to block out light if I am trying to encourage naps when it’s bright outside, or if we are staying somewhere with curtains which let a lot of light in. It’s also really hand in the British Summer when it’s still bright sunshine at 9pm.
Check those Nappies
Often it takes a few days for their digestion to settle into the new swing, especially with young babies. So if they had stopped pooing over night, it’s really worth keeping an extra eye (ear?) on those nappies.
Children are unpredictable, and how they will adjust to their new surroundings is no different, so try not to commit to too many rigid plans, especially within the first couple of days. It creates unnecessary pressure on you all-and travel is meant to be enjoyable for everyone.
Little and Often
I tend to try and offer food every couple of hours. I have always found, even pre kids, it’s my appetite which takes the longest to adapt to new timezones. I take the view that a hungry baby/child is not going to sleep well, so unless we are somewhere for beyond a few weeks, I don’t worry about set meals times too much. A heavy Carb filled meal before bed, and including sleep promoting ingredients such as lettuce, walnuts milk and turkey can be a helpful idea. They contain tryptophan which helps produce Melatonin (the sleep hormone). More ideas for sleep promoting foods can be found here. And in the same way as Adult, easing off the Caffeine is a good idea, avoiding stimulants like chocolate in the led up to your desired bedtime is a good plan (when possible!).
Familiarity from home
Be that pajamas, blanket, bears, books, milk cup-I try and bring as much from home as is practical to reinforce the bedtime message. I also try and keep Bath time in there whenever possible as it’s always been part of our (highly unreliable) bedtime routine.
They’re Actually better at it than us
In my experience, jet lag can be quite psychological; looking at the clock thinking ‘I should be asleep’. Children don’t carry these hang ups, and are therefore often far better at adaptation.
Relax & Make it work for you
If you’re only going to be somewhere for a week or two, there’s really no point throwing yourself head first into establishing a strict routine, only for it to be undone when you get home. Try and make their out of sync patterns work for you! New later bed time? Enjoy dinners out altogether. Crashing at 5pm? Plan a lovely meal in your accommodation that’s peacefully Child free! Or perhaps you can explore those awesome night markets?
Keep it in perspective
It is thought to take roughly one day to shift one hour of timezone. Whilst I have found my Daughter adjusts quicker than this, try not to worry too much about what they would be doing at home and instead embrace your holiday “routineless routine”.
Don’t forget about going home
I have always been quite prepared for jet lag when we arrived, but tend to be far less ready for it when we get home again. Try and plan a couple of low key days, if there’s a a friend or family member on hand who could take them out in the pram or give you a hand in any way-reach out.
Any top tips I’ve missed? i’d love to hear how you manage jet lag!