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Tips To Minimise Jet Lag For Babies, Toddlers, Kids and Grown-Up’s

My old job had me flying through several times zones in a month. It was certainly easier managing just my jet lag, but after flying with a baby and toddler to several long haul destinations, including The Big One; UK to Australia.

Here are some general jet lag tips that have helped us manage jet lag symptoms, followed by specific tips for jet lag in babies, toddler and older kids. 

General jet lag cures for all ages.

 

  • Keep hydrated before and during the flight.

 

  • On arrival (or if on an ultra long haul flight),  begin to establish a new routine. Eat and sleep at the right times in the new time zone.

 

  • Go outside. Light exercise and the natural light will help re set your body clock.

 

  • Try and avoid long naps and wake little ones up if they nap too long. I wake my baby up after 2.5 hours at lunchtime and my toddler after an hour during the first few days of arrival. If you can and need to, nap when they do as you will need the energy!

 

  • Take turns with the night shift. When the little ones wake up during the night, try a 4 hour ‘duty’ time with your partner. This will help you get through the day. It helps if you can sleep in a separate room to the kids, so that connecting room or 2 roomed suite can be a god-send at your destination.

 

  • Avoid caffeine after 2pm.

 

  • Speak to your doctor about using melatonin tablets. Our bodies naturally make melatonin, which helps create the urge to fall asleep. Melatonin tablets can help induce sleep, but it will not maintain sleep.
Here are some extra jet lag tips specifically for babies and toddlers:
 

Jet Lag In Babies

Long flights, mean more time zones to cross, and one of the biggest is flying from the UK to Australia or New Zealand. In general, baby jet lag UK to Australia is more manageable with a stopover, but if you go all the way through (like we have occasionally), it can mean a few sleepless nights. Expect several nights of disruption but rejoice that jet lag in babies doesn’t seem to last as long. Babies often have to re-adjust  their sleep through growth spurts, teething, not feeling very well etc, and jet lag will be temporary like these times.

  • If you are breast-feeding, your supply may also need time to re-adjust to the new time-zone, so keep hydrated and consider napping when baby does.

 

  • Try and keep any night time play fairly calm and quiet, with only minimal lighting.

 

  • During day light hours, try and encourage baby to eat solid food if they are weaning and gain most of their nutrients and calories then, rather than at night.

jet lag children on a plane. jet lag tips

Jet Lag Tips for Toddlers

  • At this age they are pretty much guaranteed to wake up at 2am for the first night or two. Again, try to encourage quiet games such as puzzles, colouring in, stickers etc.

 

  • Keep the calm lighting if they are up in the middle of the night.

 

  • Give a little snack if needed during the night, such as warm porridge and some milk. High magnesium foods such as bananas can help you feel sleepy.

 

  • Settle in for a few stories.

 

  • If you have other children sleeping or your partner is still sleeping, a little stroll around the hotel lobby can help avoid disturbing everyone else.
Please do comment below if you have any other jet lag tips to add.

 

Don’t forget:

 
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 Tips To Minimise Jet Lag For Babies, Toddlers, Kids and Grown-Up's My old job had me flying through several times zones in a month. It was certainly easier managing just my jet lag, but after flying with a baby and toddler to several long haul destinations, including The Big One; UK to Australia. Here are some general jet lag tips that have helped us manage jet lag symptoms, followed by specific tips for jet lag with babies, toddler and older kids. jet lag tips #flyingwithababy #familytravel #traveltips

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30 Comments

  1. Hi! We are doing The Even Bigger One (Edinburgh to Brisbane via Birmingham (5 hours) and Dubai (4 hours)) in December. We leave Edinburgh during the day and leave Birmingham around bed time so was planning on letting baby (almost 1 years old by then) sleep as normal for the first leg. We arrive in Brisbane around 6am so am going to try to get him to sleep for the Dubai-Australia leg too although am not hopeful, especially since I have just seen from your very helpful bassinet review that is now too long for the Emirates bassinet! What would you recommend for this journey? He's also terrible with water, so I guess milk will have to do? How do can we (baby, my husband and myself!) sleep when he can't fit in the bassinet? Any advice much appreciated!

  2. Hi Michelle,

    We have just flown Emirates ( 2 days ago and 3 weeks ago) with our 1 year old, who just fitted in. The crew always ask the weight of the baby, so if your little one is under the weight, there is still a chance he will fit in, especially if he still bends his legs. I would definitely recommend getting him to sleep on you first, then placing him in the bassinet. My little one loves turning over but this tactic helped. Be aware that if the seat belt sign comes on, the crew will ask you to remove him and have him on your lap. This happened to us, so at one point I didn't bother putting her back in bassinet and just had her sleep on me for 7 hours, which was actually ok. An extra pillow on arm rest helped. I used the bassinet for extra storage instead. It's always worth asking at check in if there are any spare seats likely, and if so, could one next to you guys be 'blocked' on the system. The crew will provide normal cows milk if you need and try have a few bottles of cow and gate ready made on board.

  3. Hi Carrie,

    This is a fantastic site!

    I’m making the trip from Melbourne back to the UK to see family. I’ll be travelling alone with my 5 month old and I’m petrified so your tips have been great.

    One thing I’m confused about is routine. i know its likely to all go out of the window and i’m prepared for that but I’d like to try and make it as smooth as I possibly can. When you say eat and sleep at the times of the new time zone- are you referring to when we get to the UK or as soon as we board the plane? I was thinking I’d stick to Aus timezone then just switch she we get to the Uk or would this not work as well? We leave Melb at 9.25pm, Dubai at 05.30 am their time for 2 hours and land in Manc at 12 noon.

    Also i’ll cheekily throw in another question you may or may not be able to help with- do you know whether emirate warm up milk? I can always call and ask them- I”m just being lazy 😉

    Many thanks in advance,

    Nicola

  4. Hi Nicola,
    Thank you!
    I found that keeping to the time zone on the flight, at least initially for sleep, gave us some much needed rest and our little ones- so for you, leaving MEL at 9.25 pm- settle them down to sleep as soon as you can after take -off. That’s obviously late than your little one usually goes to bed, but it will help later when they are adjusting to the time difference in the UK. for the next leg from Dubai she probably won’t sleep as much but you should get at least a couple of hours nap time in and it is comparatively a much shorter flight. When you get to the UK- try and keep the feeds etc to UK time and in the daylight to make the transition as easy as possible – but expect a couple of longer feeds in the next night or two.
    of course you can be ask and it’s not being cheeky at all. YES Emirates do warm up milk, they will also provide you with a little baby pack with a bib, spoon, a few wipes etc.
    Have lovely time and I hope we have some nice sunshine for you!

  5. Hi! I am so glad to have come across this site. My husband and I and our 8 month old will be travelling to Hawaii soon. Our flight leaves Sydney at 10.25pm arrive in Honolulu at 12pm. Sydney is 20 hours ahead of Honolulu.

    I hope our little one sleeps as much as possible on the overnight flight.
    I was thinking to try and keep my little one up and aim for 10pm bedtime Hawaii time after arriving which would make it 6pm Sydney time.
    Then work towards a 9am wake up which would be 5am Sydney time.

    His usual bedtime is 7pm and wake up between 6-7am.

    I was thinking of working around these time for the duration of our holiday. Later bedtime later wake up….

    Am I overthinking it or could this work??

    I am an overplanner obviously hehe. Thank you for your advice!! I’m so confused on what to do and just want the most enjoyable holiday possible!

    • Hi Karen, and thank you for your kind words.
      I think your plan sounds great. If it doesn’t work out- definitely don’t worry. Expect a bit of adjustment and any earlier settling in as a bonus. I found making a plan with my hubby really helped- and handled any wake ups if they fell into our ‘duty time’ It helped with dealing with our tiredness too.
      Enjoy Hawaii! We went there on our honeymoon- loved it! Amazing place and can’t wake to take the girls there. Please let me know how you got on.

      Thanks Carrie

  6. Please help!!

    I have a 3 month old and will be travelling to San fransisco next month when she is 3 and a half months. We are flying Manchester London, London, sfo (11hours).

    She is currently on a eat, play for a short time sleep until next feed routine until bedtime at 8pm when she sleeps until midnight when we wake her for a feed and then she demands a feed at 5am. I am so worried about what to do with her routine as the time change is 8hours I just worry she won’t transfer.

    Our first flight is at 6.45am then 9.25am so we should arrive into sfo 1.30pm (8.30pm uk)

    Please help!!! I’ll also have my 4 year old but he has flown to America a lot now and always transfers his body clock without much fuss but I waited until he was 1 to take him so he was on solids which helped on the time change.

    • Hi Naomi,
      She will transfer, it just may take a couple of days. The excitement of a different place will likely disrupt her a little, meaning she won’t necessarily nap her normal times on the flight, so she’ll adjust a little easier. As she is quite little, I would keep her on same eat, play, nap routine and be guided by that rather than specific times during the flight. We are also off there in January!

  7. Hi Carrie

    Firstly, I absolutely love your site, so helpful!

    We are travelling from Aberdeen to Brisbane in March and I’m wondering what to do about the time zone change. We leave Aberdeen to fly to Manchester at 6:40am so I imagine my 16 month old daughter will be awake and excited then, and we fly from Manchester to Singapore at 11am UK time, landing at 8am Singapore time (11pm UK time). From there, we fly to Brisbane and arrive at our destination at 7:45pm, which will be 9:45am in my daughter’s poor confused head!

    I am thinking that generally I will just have to go with the flow and let her sleep when she wants to sleep etc. My main concern is that we arrive in our apartment in Brisbane and she is ready to start the day, having slept a bit on the flight, and we are both ready to drop! Neither of us tends to sleep well on flights and my daughter is not a good sleeper when in unfamiliar surroundings. What would you do in my situation?

    Thanks so much for your help!
    Mo

    • Hi Mo, so sorry, I’ve only just seen this. For some reason it went into my spam folder. I think your plan sounds good. I do have a post on jet lag http://www.flyingwithababy.com/tips-to-minimise-jet-lag-for-babies-toddlers-kids-and-grown-ups/ and getting baby to sleep on the plane http://www.flyingwithababy.com/top-tips-to-help-baby-sleep-on-the-plane/ which may help too. I found that as sleep was disturbed a bit on the flight ( even though mine travel well) they are still tired when we arrive and at destination bedtime, so they actually seem to adjust better than we do!

      • Hi Carrie,
        My husband and I are at our wits end with our 15month old. We flew from Australia to New York last Wednesday (so it’s our 5th day here) and out little one is still all over the place. He wakes up about 10pm every night and is up till 1-2am!! And not happy! He screams and cries whenever you try to put him back to bed. During the day he’s irritable and tired, & can barely stay awake till 5-6pm! We’ve tried having him out in the sunlight during the day, putting him to bed later, shortening his naps etc…… but nothing is helping!!! We are close to flying him home, however we still have another 3 weeks here so it would be such a waste!!
        Any advice or help would be much appreciated!!
        Cheers
        Mel

        • Hang in there Mel! I know it’s so hard and that is a huge time difference. If he still wakes up at 10pm, maybe the next night wake him up at 9pm just enough to gently rouse him but he still sleepy and then put him back to bed. Hopefully this will help reset him and get him past the 1-2 am stage!

  8. Hi Carrie,

    Your blog/website is fantastic and I feel like I’ve just read the whole thing.
    We travel next week to Australia with my 19month old. We are flying with Etihad. He is very active and doesn’t sit still for two seconds (I’m very nervous about this). I’m not sure how he is going to sit on our lap, and also sleep on our lap?!
    I am also nervous about the time difference. We arrive at 6.30am in the morning (AUS Time). I was thinking we should put him down for an early nap (he usually naps at home at 12.30pm) about 10/11am and not let him sleep for max 2 hours. Then hopefully he’ll be ready for bed at normal time, 7pm. Do you think this could work?
    Would appreciate your advise 🙂

    Thank you Michelle xx

  9. Lots of great tips!!! We all try to sleep on overnight flights and it can make a huge difference. Though I find it can be worse on shorter red-eyes when the flight is only about 7 hours. Once you finally fall asleep, it’s time to wake it.

  10. Hi Carrie! My husband and I are taking our first family trip overseas. From Los Angeles to Romania. We are taking our three munchkins with us, 7 year old 4 year old and at that time our baby girl will be around 18-19 months. We are flying with Lufthansa leaving at 5:30pm and getting to Romania at 5:30pm. Thinking we can keep them up a lil more and then put them down at usual bedtime schedule 8-9pm. We got a bassinet for our lil one too! The time frame; Romania is 10 hours ahead of a California. I was thinking that if we leave at 5:30pm from Los Angeles and put them to sleep around 8-9pm that’s their usual time for sleeping. I hope they’ll sleep during the flight. I was told Lufthansa has a night lights off schedule! I’m happy for that! What advice would you give me? I’m superrrr stressed about it. My lil one is so sensitive when it comes to not sleeping in her bed. I am bringing her baby pillow and blankets with me as well. And a lot of bottles and snacks etc. I’m really doing a lot of homework.. I want my kids to feel comfortable on the plane. I am also getting my kiddos the leg pillow hahha. Yeah.. any advice would be great

  11. Hi Carrie! This website is a godsend! It’s so good to just be able to get some ideas and helpful tips all in one place. I’m looking for some advice, we are flying canada to uk in a month with our then 11 month old baby boy to see his grandparents. He normally goes to bed around 7pm and wakes 7 am. Our flight leaves at 10.30pm canadian time and the uk is 5 hours ahead (3.30am.) The flight is 7 hours long so we arrive at 5.30am canadian time (10.30am uk) I can’t put my baby to bed before the flight as we’ll have to be at the airport 2 hours in advance which would result in him only getting maybe an hours sleep before being woken up. What would you do? Just try and keep him up till take off, add in a nap? Or try to move his schedule forward before hand so hes not over stretched? As hes only going to get 7 hours max sleep on the plane I’m worried hes going to seriously crash at the other end and we still have some tube travel to go after…any advice would be appreciated! Thanks Shona

    • Thank you- so glad it has helped! We had exactly the same issue with our youngest when we flew to Australia. She was also 11 month old and it was a 10pm departure. I opted for putting her down for an hour and then picking her up last to put int he car on the way to the airport. it really helped her managing security and boarding without being so grumpy. I had some extra warm milk with me to settle int he car so she dozed for a bit longer. Hopefully this will work for you to? Let me know!

    • Your site is so great, I’m so pleased I stumbled across it!! I am flying Sydney to UK in 2 weeks time with my 11 month old who will turn 1 a few days after arriving. Due to a recent massive sleep regression we are currently following a sleep program that has him sleeping for 20mins for his morning nap at 2 hours at his lunch sleep. You mentioned about jet lag and that you wouldn’t let them sleep for longer than an hour when reaching your destination for daytime naps. Would you feel that he should do say 1 hour for morning and 2 hours for lunch instead for the first couple of days? Would value your thoughts on this! Thanks so much

      • Hi Jo, it may be that due to the disruption to his normal sleep pattern on the flight, that he’ll adjust quicker than you. I think the first day or two, do whatever suits you guys the best which enable you to function but obviously don’t sleep all day and be owls at night. 🙂 Definitely take it easy those first couple of days but have an amazing time!Let me know how it goes!

  12. Hi Carrie, we have just got back to the UK from a holiday in Mexico and our toddler (just about 2) has woken on first night back at midnight and is wide awake. We don’t know what to do – he’s obviously in another pattern totally – and it seems
    Impossible to keep him
    In his cot and darkened
    Room to go back to sleep. But now he is up he wants attention, naughty things like TV etc and if we indulge (we see no option as understandably he thinks it is awake time) how do we break the cycle that looks like it will form and get him back to normal sleeping (he traditionally has been a great sleeper). Help! Your site seems to address flights, but we need help with the aftermath!

    • So now on night two – did everything “right”. Made toddler wake up decent time, limited midday nap despite protestations, bed time with usual strict routine. Boom. Awake again three hours later same as night before. Zero improvement. Hopefully you will come back and reply with advice!

      • Hi Mark, apologies, I have just got back from holiday myself (I was away from the 15th – 31st October so took a bit of time away from here). I imagine by now your toddler is back on track! It does always a take a day or two and you did everything textbook. My top tips are above on this post. The only other thing is to try a kids’ melatonin but do check with a doctor first.

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