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Ask Shelly: How to help a baby adjust to a 9-hour time change and jet lag?

Phuket sunrise with baby, Thailand, Travels with Baby
Up for the sunrise in Phuket, Thailand – your baby might make it easier to get up on time than you expect!

Since the topic of SLEEP (and its ugly cousin Jet Lag) comes up very frequently when I talk with parents planning travel, I thought this question (posted to the Travels with Baby facebook page) would be a great choice to feature in the blog. Traveling mom Maggie writes:

My husband & I have your book, and we have been reading it eagerly in anticipation of the first international trip with our 8 month old daughter. We have dealt with a 3-hour time change before when she was 3 months old, but this time it will be a 9 hour time difference. Do you have any specific advice for how to adjust a baby to such a big time change? Is there a certain schedule/routine we should start following from day one? Thanks!

My quick answer, which I’ve found to be the most valuable antidote to jet lag in all of our travels, is to let natural daylight work its (biochemical) magic in the mornings by getting outside early.

Even if you arrived in the middle of the night, you may be surprised how forcing yourselves up and out at your regular time to rise can get your biorhythms in sync with the new time zone. Just try to allow for a little nap time together if you can the first couple of days—and keep your baby’s or toddler’s daytime naps as close to their regular duration at home as  you can within reason (if naps are usually 2 hours, gently wake at the appropriate time for another dose of sunlight).

I always love hearing back from families, and Maggie was kind enough to include this update to her Facebook post:

We have been here four days so far, and she has adjusted super well. I think getting out and letting daylight work its magic has been the absolute best advice. We take her out in the mornings and afternoons, and she has been napping well, eating well, and sleeping through the night!

Hooray for sleep – may we all have more of it on our next family vacations! You’ll find many more sleep and jet lag survival tips in Chapter 4: Preparing for Changes in Travels with Baby and in the “While You’re There” section of Take-Along Travels with Baby.

Have an Ask Shelly question of your own? Click here to see how to contact me with your own travel question!

Related posts and pages:
Tip #14: Sleep in.

Should I give my child Benadryl to help him sleep on the airplane?

Safe journeys,
Shelly Rivoli