How to survive jet lag with children and babies

The thought of dealing with jet lag with a baby or young children of often enough to put travellers off of a long haul flight. Worrying about how to adjust a babies sleep for a holiday is also very common.
There are plenty of blogs about how to minimise jet lag, that refer to the science behind it however these tips come from our own experience and are little changes that have worked for us.

How to minimise the effects of jet lag when travelling with children

Disclaimer: Our tips won’t they make jet lag go away, for either adults or children, but they can help you cope with it and manage the effects.

Planning for jet lag

Make small adjustments before in the two weeks before you leave home, of course if you have an 8 hour time difference to contend with, you won’t be able to switch to that, but even adjusting bedtime by 15minutes every couple of nights for the two weeks before travel can make a huge difference…just be sure to do it in the right direction.

Sunshine (or just daylight in general) is your friend

As you are likely aware, getting into the correct routine for your destination is the quickest way to break jet lag. Try your best to get your children to stay awake until a reasonable bedtime, it doesn’t always work out, our son fell asleep in his dinner for our first two nights in Mexico. One way, and in our opinion the best way, to tackle their (and your) tiredness it to get as much fresh air and sunshine as possible upon your arrival.

Nap if you need to.

Insert inhale of breath here. Yes I said it, NAP.
Most advice you will get to cure jet lag will strongly advise against napping, but like most parents you will be lucky if you have much, if any sleep on the flight. Most articles insist on getting into the local sleeping pattern as quickly as possible. I agree with this to a point, but if it is getting to the point that you have not had any sleep at all for over a day, there is sometimes no fighting it. Nap if you need to, but make sure you set an alarm to wake up after 30minutes to an hour and be prepared to feel very very disorientated.

Eat good food and stay hydrated

Ensure your children eat good, healthy and light meals during the daylight hours. Plenty of fruit. Stay hydrated too, its easy when you are feeling disorientated to forget to drink enough and ensure your children are too.

Make the most of odd hours

Before you travel it is natural to be concerned that your baby or child will refuse to go to sleep at night or wake up far too early in the morning, and I would be lying if I told you this won’t happen. It will and you can’t change it. What you can change is the way you deal with it. At the end of the day you will also be suffering from jet lag, and its likely that your child wont be the only one wide awake at 5am. Get up, have some family fun together exploring your resort before the masses descend and enjoy watching the sun come up on your new adventure.

Allow yourselves a little extra time

In our experience the children, and us, take 3-4 days to adjust to a new time zone. If you time and budget allows then factor in a few extra days onto the start of the trip. If you can’t afford the additional time, ensure your first night is somewhere fairly close to the airport and that you do not expect to be starting your sightseeing itinerary straight away.