A trip is always a wonderful and exciting experience for the whole family. However, if you’re traveling with a baby or toddler, it can also be a challenging time. This is especially true if your trip involves changing time zones. Baby jet lag is real, and the effect of changing time zones on a baby can make or break the first few days of a family trip.
So, how can you prepare yourself and your baby for traveling into a new time zone? Is it even possible to avoid baby jet lag? The answer is yes. Here are a few helpful tips to help prepare the baby for the change in time zones so that the whole family can enjoy this special time.
Prepare ahead of time
When you are getting ready to change time zones with your baby, you’ll need to help your baby adjust to the new time even before you leave your home. Take note that if you’re going to be gone for just a few days, there’s no need to adjust your baby’s schedule. If you’re making a permanent move or spending a few weeks in several time zones away, it’s best to start adjusting your baby’s routine days before you board that plane.
One technique you can use to adjust your baby’s schedule is to shift everything forward or backward ten to twenty minutes a day leading up to your trip. If you’re moving several time zones, you will need to adjust your baby’s schedule a few weeks in advance.
If you’re going to a time zone that’s different by an hour or so, you can choose to adjust your schedule right before you leave or when you arrive at your destination. On average, it takes about three days to change your baby’s schedule by an hour. If you’ll be gone for a week or longer, adjusting your child’s schedule will be worth it.
Stick to your routine
As much as possible, stick to your routine. Leaving your house and being in a new environment already brings about a lot of changes – new people, a new room, and different scenery. To help lessen further adjustments, maintain your bedtime or naptime routine during the trip. For example, a warm bath, reading a bedtime story, or snuggling with their favorite stuffie should still be part of your baby’s nighttime routine. This will help your baby settle down even in a new environment.
Don’t overtire your baby
Some parents think cutting a nap will help their baby sleep better at night. While this makes sense for grownups, the opposite is true for babies. Overly-tired babies are cranky and don’t sleep as well as well-rested babies. We know it can be hard to stick to your usual schedule. However, try to incorporate your baby’s naps into your itinerary. If you can’t go back to your hotel room for a nap, you can use a stroller or baby carrier for your baby’s naps. Be conscious of nap times and ensure that your baby gets enough rest during the day to sleep well at night.
Stay in the sun
Starting your baby’s day with sunlight can help their circadian rhythm get back on track. In the morning, open the windows and curtains. Get them into their stroller and go outside for a walk. Being out in the sunlight will tell your baby that it’s daytime. When it’s almost bedtime, try to stay indoors or away from sunlight. Doing this will tell your baby’s body that it’s time to start getting ready to sleep.
A family trip is a great time to make lifelong memories and spend quality time with loved ones. Prepare and plan in advance to avoid having a jet-lagged and cranky baby. These helpful tips can help everyone have a happy and memorable time on the trip, no matter the time zone.