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How to Overcome Jet Lag in Babies: The Ultimate Guide

It happens all the time. For example, you decide to go with a baby on vacation, and soon after reaching the destination, the babies’ jet lag symptoms set in. You, too, maybe exhausted and confused, not knowing what to do to make the little one relax.

Whether you’re traveling to a new time zone for a week or months, jet lag in babies is inevitable, and so you should know how to deal with it. Unfortunately, not everyone can cope with jet-lagged kids after a flight, as parents are probably experiencing the same.

Not to worry, though. You can manage jet lag by observing simple things right before traveling, during your flight, and after arrival. So, don’t let this situation hinder you from pursuing your passion: traveling.

Proper planning and foresight can help turn your traveling adventure from agony to bliss. So stay with me to know what to do to beat jet lag in babies and toddlers. 

But first things first.

What Is Jet Lag?

Jet lag, also known as time zone change syndrome, refers to a feeling of tiredness and occasional confusion or irritability that you experience after a flight through several time zones.

It mostly results from an interruption of the circadian rhythms in the body due to time changes. Simply put, traveling between time zones disrupts the internal body clock and may affect how a child sleeps, wakes up, or eats. 

Jet Lag in Babies Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Dehydration
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Malaise 
  • Indigestion

Jet lag Is Worse When Traveling Eastward than Westward

Besides, jet lag can worsen when flying eastward because days tend to become shorter, and our bodies have less time to recover. On the other hand, jet lag isn’t worse when traveling westward. You add hours to the day, so syncing with the time change becomes easy. 

For instance, when traveling to the United States from the UK, you may find the outgoing trip easier than when flying back to the UK. In the same vein, when traveling from Asia to Europe, you’ll find the outward journey more relaxed than the incoming one.

How Long Does Jet Lag Last in Babies?

Recovery depends on the number of time zones the child has crossed during the trip. Generally, for each hour of the time difference, it takes a baby 24 hours to recover from the jet lag fully.

That said, when crossing multiple time zones with a 4-to 12-hour time difference (think international travel), give it at least a week for a child to adjust.

How Do You Beat Jet Lag in Babies?

While there’s no quick fix to babies’ jet lag, you can try several things to help a baby or toddler adjust to another time zone quicker:

Bring the Routine with You

Toddlers and babies thrive on a consistent sleep routine, so you should keep that in mind when going for a trip. A lullaby, a softly spoken story, swaddling, a bath, and the likes will let the baby know it’s time to sleep.

Bring a Piece of Home Along

Does the baby adore a teddy bear? Carry it along to ease any discomfort resulting from the jet lag.

 Besides, consider packing the baby’s crib sheet, as the fabric’s familiar touch and smell may just be what’s needed to usher in peaceful sleep.

Keep the Infant Comfortable during the Flight

Dress your baby as comfortably as you can for the flight. After boarding the plane, please help make the child’s seat cozy so they can relax and sleep soundly. Remember to pack their teddy or comfortable blanket in the baby bag.

Know When the Baby Wants to Sleep

When trying to handle jet lag on the trip, you want to avoid getting the baby overtired for long. In simple terms, look for sleepy cues, such as eye-rubbing, fussiness, and yawning. 

Once the baby starts showing these signs, put them in the crib awake to settle down and sleep soundly on their own.

Get Some Sunshine

Sunlight plays a crucial role in resetting the internal body clock. That’s why you may want to spend some time outside after arrival. It’s an easy but powerful way to ease jet lag symptoms in both toddlers and adults.

Keep the Room Dark during Naps or Bedtime

Once you arrive at the destination and want to settle down, some infants may tend to get up at night. They may want to sing, talk, or play. You may be tempted to join in, too. 

Don’t fall into the temptation, though, as it’ll only prolong the babies’ jet lag. Don’t turn on the lights, get up to give them snacks, or watch videos. Just let a few hours pass in the dark. It helps to set the stage for sleeping soundly.

Stay Hydrated and Eat Well

Help your baby cope with jet lag by taking small but regular meals on the first few days. Children will start feeling hungry or thirsty at unusual times as their bodies adjust.

Have healthy snacks at hand to keep your child through on the first few days. Further, give them lots of water or fruit juice to rehydrate after the flight. Remember, if it’s juice, it must be 100% pure fruit juice, and you should only give it to infants above the age of one year.

Eating well can help with Jet Lag in Babies
Eating well can help with Jet Lag in Babies

Preplanning Tips to Avoid  Babies’ Jet Lag 

While you may not avoid jet lag altogether, you can make some adjustments beforehand to minimize its impact. Here are handy tips to prep the toddler or baby before boarding the plane.

Gradually Adjust the Schedule

If you’ve confirmed the day of departure or will be going for longer, gradually adjust the child’s sleep schedule a couple of days before traveling. Adjust the tuck-in timing by getting the child to bed a bit later or earlier each night (depending on the destination’s time zone).

Moreover, start getting up earlier, adjust your home’s clock to your destination’s time, and adjust mealtimes. 

These little steps will efficiently prepare you to fit into the new time zone and make jet lag less severe.

Consider Night Flights

You may find an evening or late night flight beneficial to you and the child. Whether the child sleeps during the flight or not, they’ll likely be tired enough and ready to go to bed. That way, they can rest well without putting up a fight.

Let the Trip Duration Guide You

If the trip is short such that you’ll be back home in under a week, ask yourself whether resetting a baby’s sleep schedule and body clock is worth it. 

Just when the child has adjusted to the new time zone, you’ll be heading back. It’s good to reset when going on long trips.

Sleep Soundly before Departure

It’s best to start the right way by ensuring the baby is well-rested. From the start of the journey, fatigue will only exacerbate jet lag in toddlers and babies.

Wrap up

Traveling with a baby or toddler is both exciting and fatiguing. Luckily, it’s possible to manage the babies’ jet lag associated with traveling. With adequate rest and time to adjust, your little time traveler will sleep easy. You can focus on the fun-filled trip worry-free.


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