7 Tips to help Toddlers and Kids beat Jet Lag

Help your kids beat jet lag - ZenParent

Kids and jet lag – a lot of us have either been there or are paranoid about facing the reality when planning long vacations. Let’s face it – the last thing we need to worry about in a vacation is a 3 am wakeup. As seasoned travelers to both sides from Europe, my family is used to vast time differences in traveling and I have hardly had a problem with my 3 year old even for 9 hour differences (that’s been the most we’ve traveled). Here are some tips from my experiences to make it easy for you too.

UNDERSTAND what you’re in for. The worst it takes is a day per hour of jet lag to adjust at the destination. This is fine if you’ve got weeks or months to adjust. If not, you’ve got to start the groundwork before you leave. Also, adjusting east to west travel is easier (days being longer helps) whereas west to east can leave inadequacies of time to adjust.

  1. PLAN you journey so that you have overnight flights or something equivalent according to the length of the journey. Arriving at a place in the morning makes it easier to adjust with the jetlag.
  2. ADJUST meal times and sleep times in between the 2 time zones, slowly inching towards the local time. This helps kids adjust faster to the place.
  3. FACTOR your jet lag in to the trip. Give yourself at least a day of light activity to get the kids acquainted to the new time zone. For jet lag of less than 3 hours, you can adjust it hour by hour over the next 3 days. For longer jet lags, you may have to make more drastic adjustments. For instance, the night we arrived in Orlando recently was early morning Paris time. I still fed my son dinner when we reached and put him to sleep and he didn’t wake till morning. It also helped that I didn’t let him nap much in the plane to help him sleep once we landed.
  4. MANAGE breastfed babies as you would by feeding every so often. Try to prolong nap time the day before you leave to make adjustments smoother.
  5. SUNSHINE is your biggest friend. Our body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) identifies with the sun. This is why arriving in the morning at your destination helps you adjust faster to local time.
  6. FOOD matters. Keep some snacks handy for when you arrive so that kids have something to munch when they’re hungry at odd hours. However try to make big meals – lunch, dinner etc according to local time. Ensuring they are hydrated helps in quicker adjustment too.
  7. DON’T fret about a few hours of mismatch or a couple of nights of odd time wake ups. It’s not a perfect world. You’ve got to give the little ones some time to adjust. Keep your schedule light and everyone should be fresh as a daisy in no time!

What are your tried and tested methods to help kids beat the jet lag? Comment and share.

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