Q&A: Baby Jet Lag Symptoms, Remedies and Tips to Avoid It
Most people find that traveling east to west is easier on the body than west to east. This may be due to the circadian day length period being slightly longer than 24 hours, and people find it less of a strain to stay up later than to get up earlier. The other issues is that flights to the east mean that people are required to stay awake more than one complete night to make adjustment to the local time zone.
How can you Avoid and Minimize the Impact of Jet Lag on Your Baby?
The key is to prepare well beforehand. For a week or over a period of several days before your trip, make adjustments to your child's bedtime for 15-20 minutes every night to gradually shift the baby's body clock to the new time. This will avoid having the make a large adjustment after you arrive. Try the following tips to minimize the impact after you arrive:
- Try to put your baby to sleep at the new location's bedtime.
- Immediately change your feeding schedule for the new time zone if you can. However feeding on demand will probably be the best strategy.
- For short time differences of less than three hours, it is probably best to keep our routine with the baby to your home time. Use blackout curtains and other means to help with this! Don't rush things and a period of several days to a week you and your baby will gradually make the adjustment.
- As with adults, sunlight is very important kids to adjust the circadian rhythm. Try to get out in the daylight as much as possible. Plan outdoor activities on the first few days after you arrive at your destination. Exposure to sunlight and time spent in natural daylight will help you and your baby adjust to the new time zone. During the designated night time, keep the lights out and use blackout drapes to keep things dark.
- Encourage you and your baby to be active, as this will help you sleep better! try to wear your baby out just before the designated time for sleep.
- Make sure you go to bed early for several nights before the trip, so that you are better prepared to cope with the baby's disturbed sleep patterns and for the episodes when you baby wakes you up in the middle of the night. Also try to nap when your child naps. It is important that you get plenty of rest to deal with the disturbances.
- In the days before your trip try to get your baby to sleep when it is nap time at your destination. Don't be tempted to try to keep a baby awake or a long period of time, hoping that they fall asleep at night. This strategy rarely works and the baby may be harder to handle if overtired.
- Plan ahead assuming that it will take 4-5 nights for your baby to make the adjustments to a new time zone. Take this into account when you are planning your trip and the return home.
- Try to get your baby to sleep on the plane and also try to get some sleep yourself. This will help you be rested when you arrive at your destination.
- Babies that are breast fed babies may take a longer to adjust to the mother's altered pattern of milk production. This combined with changes in when the baby want to be fed can take time to rectify. Everything can get out of sync. The combination of jetlag and dehydration during a long flight can affect the milk supply, so it is important to keep yourself well hydrated.
- Young babies depend on routines to help them operate during the day. Try to maintain your regular naps and bedtime patterns similar to your normal home routines. This will help your baby to make the adjustment to the new routine.
- Play with your baby when he or she wakes up at night, for the first few nights any way. But aim for quiet and minimal activity. Gradually phase out the play times. After a few nights, when the baby wakes up - offer milk, keep the room dark and try to calm and soothe the child back to sleep.
- Don't be concerned that the jet lag and time change could permanently alter the baby's sleep patterns at night. Developing regular sleep patterns is a long, ongoing effort. The baby has many setbacks caused by teething, illness or simply through getting older. Travel and jetlag are simply other setbacks that require adjustment.
- Surprisingly it is often more difficult to make the adjustments when you return back home. So plan for this and expect it.
- Try to gradually get your baby used to eating food or drinking milk during the daytime hours, but feed on demand if the baby is hungry and don't withhold food.
- Choose your flight time wisely so that everyone can all sleep on the plane and not be over tired when you all arrive.