Traveling Parents' Forum: How To Deal With Baby Jet Lag

Monday, March 21, 2016

Welcome to the seventh session of the Traveling Parents' Forum! I'm so happy to welcome a few awesome mothers to share their experiences dealing with child jet lag. Here you'll find tips and tricks for all ages of children dealing with jet lag, and both long and short time changes.

Throughout the series, we'll be sharing our tips, favorite products, and looking to each other for advice to make traveling easier. If you have any questions or would like to share your experience please write it in the comments below! Also, if you have written a post(s) on a similar topic feel free to add the link in the comments. You can also join our group Pinterest board to post your own articles or ones you've found helpful. Just follow our Pinterest accounts and message me to add you to the board. The more information we have the better we can travel - at least that's what I think!

We'll be chatting about a new topic on the third Monday of every month. Today's topic is 'child jet lag'.

March 21: Child jet lag


Having lived on the opposite side of the world from my family for a good 10 years now, at least once a year we need to make the journey "home" with our children - which not only involves spending an extra-ordinate amount of time trapped on a plane with them, it means crossing multiple time zones and dealing with jet lag. There is no cure! But there is prevention that can make the affects last for a much shorter time period.   

My best advice is to look at your balance of light, physical activity, food and sleep. You have no doubt spent the first few months of your baby’s life trying to get them into a pattern where they feed more during the day than the night, then you want to shift this upside down for them?!  With my babies, I would start adjusting their body clocks as soon as the journey begins. Adjust your watch to the landing time zone immediately and time your feeds and naps to this. Easier said than done with an exhausted, hungry baby, I know! I find night flights the best for this as the cabin is likely to be dimmed for a large portion of the flight.  If it’s time to wake in your new time zone, wake the baby and feed them, try and keep the light on a while and have them play for a bit.  They will no doubt still be sleepy, so let them nap again, but do another feed when they are next due mid morning or lunchtime, play and back to sleep again - so the cycle continues.   

After landing, if it’s now day time, get them out into the fresh air and get light on their skin until it’s bed time; give crawlers and walkers a chance to move outside if you can.  If it’s nighttime on arrival and they're refusing sleep, keep everything as dark as possible in the room and hushed, maybe just quiet games at home or in your hotel; don't think "well they're awake let’s go check out the nightlife" as all the noise and activity will send the wrong signals and they then won’t want to wake the following morning. The day after arrival is the most critical, but if you want to break the back of it, you need to be disciplined.  Even if everyone is still asleep, wake for breakfast at a reasonable time and immediately follow with an activity then lunch.  This method won’t suit everyone - especially if you haven't had any sleep either but is the quickest way to recover.    

Oh and specifically for breastfeeding mummies - remember to drink a lot more than normal when you're flying and bring extra breast pads! Your milk will naturally be ready when their next feed is due but while you're going through the adjustment phase they may sleep through a regular feed in your old time zone - no one informed your boobs of the time zone change either. Can you bring a pump to relieve this pressure and save it for when the next feed is due, continuing this for a day or so until both your bodies are back in sync?  We would always stock up some ready pumped bottles for the night flight to allow this cluster feeding when you're body might not be ready for it. You can see more of our jet lag conquering techniques here:

Keri Lives in Abu Dhabi, UAE with her husband and three children (aged 6, 3 and 1).  You can find more of their travel and expat adventures at BabyGlobetrotters.Net as well as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Child jetlag is way worse than normal jet lag. When I came back from Europe with my one year old, she was jet lagged for a week, and then I was jet lagged for a week. It made the recovery time twice as long. Now I think we will go no further than America until she is a little older and can cope a bit better with the time difference.

Roshan has a three year old and blogs about her travels on Roshan's Ramblings. Roshan is writing from Australia. You can find more from Roshan on her blogTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.


My experience with baby jet lag is pretty limited as Baby ISO was really struggling with sleep prior to, during, and after flying to the US from Lithuania. I actually don’t think the sleep problems we faced had anything to do with jet lag. That being said, we tried our best to put Baby ISO to bed at the time we normally do each day for naps and for bedtime. We also made sure to do the same bedtime routine and if Baby ISO woke in the night wanting to play, we would have some quiet play before re-doing his bedtime routine and putting him back down. J and I don’t have our own place in the US, so we stay with family. This is also a huge help, because family can watch Baby ISO if we need a rest during the day. We just booked tickets to fly back to the US over the summer, and our plan is to keep with this strategy.

For a less drastic time change, we keep to Baby ISO’s regular sleep schedule. For example, on a recent trip to Madrid (coming from Lithuania, Madrid is 1 hour behind) that meant putting Baby ISO to sleep around 6:30 pm and waking up with him around 5 am local Madrid time. I don’t think this would work for everyone, but we were happy to eat take-out for dinner and have a few hours to do work / let Baby ISO crawl around before heading out for a day of sightseeing.

My takeaway would be that you just need to find what works for you and your baby.

I have a 7 month old and am writing from Vilnius, Lithuania. Connect with me on social media via the links on the side of this blog.

Follow Elizabeth @ In Search Of's board Traveling with Children on Pinterest.

What are your tips for dealing with baby jet lag? Feel free to share below or check out our group Pinterest board for even more tips.

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