Globetrotting

Jet lag is something inevitable about the flight to Australia. It’s an exhausting consequence of changing to a different time zone. It is also said to be associated with the lower levels of oxygen we experience during air travel.

Mum was recently contacted by a Mum’s gone 2 Aus reader travelling from the UK to Australia with a three month old baby. Establishing a regular eating and sleeping routine for a baby is no easy thing, so the thought of upsetting it by visiting a country that’s a 23hr flight away, with a 10hr time difference, is daunting.

What the experts say

The general advice about flying long haul and coping with jet lag is;

  • adjust your watch to your destination time as soon as you board the plane
  • be as rested as possible before you fly
  • eat light meals only whilst on the plane
  • during the flight avoid alcohol and caffeine, and drink plenty of water
  • don’t organise too much activity for the first days at your destination
  • upon arrival, enjoy some fresh air

SOURCES: NetDoctor.co.uk, Health.ninemsn

Flying with babies and children: Mum’s tips for coping with jet lag

1. No flight routine

Mum is sure that advice from the experts is valid, but something we’ve never been able to do is adjust our watches and the children’s routine as soon as we board the plane. In fact, during a long distance flight with children I think all notion of time goes out the window…all time except the countdown to your arrival.

Mum has never tried to adjust the children’s routine mid-flight. We’ve flown with our boys at 12 and 16 months (so not as young as our reader enquiry) and if they seem hungry we feed them, if they look tired we try and get them to sleep, if they want to play we play. If they’re screaming at the top of their lungs, we’ll try anything!

In our experience parents do what it takes to get through the flight, and deal in earnest with time and routine adjustments upon arrival. Please let us know in the comments below if you’ve done things differently.

2. Adjust routine upon arrival

As soon as we land we set our watches to local time and encourage the children’s routine to fit in with that. Depending on the age of the baby or child and how much they have eaten and slept on the flight, you still need to be pretty flexible.

As soon as we land we start using tactics to get the children on local time. This might mean having breakfast even though you just had snacks on the plane, or going to play outside even though your time clock thinks it’s the middle of the night.

3. Don’t expect routines to adjust overnight

Settling yourselves and baby into the new time zone isn’t going to happen overnight, it normally takes at least three days and nights.

4. Give the right cues

The worse thing with babies and young children is middle of the night waking, especially when they wake up and want to play. We don’t want to make it sound like you’ll be starting again, but you should think back to when you first established your night-time routine. If baby wakes during the night, don’t turn the lights or TV on; keep things quiet and dark; show them that it’s night time.

If baby is sleepy late afternoon, and you want to stretch them to their proper bedtime, taking them outside, into day light, should help.

5. The three day\night rule

We’ve travelled within Europe, and from the UK to South Africa, Thailand, and Australia with our children. In each new location we’ve found that it takes up to three days and nights for the children to feel settled. And it’s not just about time zone.

Our children will wake several times a night in a new environment and need comforting (whereas they’ll sleep through or settle themselves at home). When mums and dads travel we often wake up wondering where we are and what time of day it is, so our littlies probably feel the same.

Mum hopes sharing these experiences and tips hasn’t put you off the journey to Australia, whether visiting or relocating. Travelling parents will agree that the more you travel with children the easier it gets, so getting started early pays dividends. Wherever you’re flying, good luck!

For further reading, Mum recommends Delicious Baby (Making travel with kids fun), a very useful blog and website offering specific advice on jetlag and helping your child sleep on a plane.

P.S. Thanks Kelly for your enquiry and for prompting Mum to research and publish this article.

Related articles: Flying to or from Australia with a baby? Here’s Mum’s advice…, Top Tip! Peanut Gallery – Travel Toys, Travelling with children – six products you shouldn’t fly without.


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