How to help your jet-lagged baby
One of the biggest worries that any parent faces when moving home is how well the children are going to adjust to the changes. Any move is always going to be a bit disconcerting to a young child but moving abroad comes with its own unique set of challenges especially if you are going to be crossing several time zones.
If you are emigrating a fair distance away then one of the first issues you will probably encounter is jet lag and let’s face it, jet lag isn’t fun for anyone. Unfortunately, there are no magic tricks or potions that will 100% make that problem go away and it is just a case of finding what works for your little one.
Make time to adjust
Make sure you give you and your family a couple of weeks to adjust to the time difference and ease into the new timings gradually – black out blinds are invaluable in this respect. If you don’t have black-out blinds, I found a large cardboard packing box, flattened out, and taped to the window makes a brilliant alternative.
Don’t try and keep your baby or toddler awake all day, in the hopes that they will sleep better later – all you will end up with is a super grumpy, tired child who actually can’t sleep! Just like when the clocks change in spring and autumn, you have to ease your child into the new time zone slowly. Resign yourself to the fact that for a week or two your kids are going to wake up when you want to sleep.
Don’t force it!
There is a fair chance that you are suffering jet lag too so try and go to bed when your kids do so you can both get a few hour of sleep before they wake up. And tempting as it may be to avoid the whole thing, once they do wake up, just get up. Don’t try to force them back to sleep even if it is 4am – it won’t end well!
Give them breakfast when they wake up, and regardless of the hour, just act like it is morning. Their bodies are telling them what they need, not the clock on the wall. However, it is still 4 o’clock in the morning in your new time, so after breakfast do something entertaining but quiet that will not overstimulate them – read a book or put on a favourite movie. After a few hours go through your normal bedroom routine with them again, brush teeth, change nappy etc. and put them back to bed (here is where the blackout blinds come in handy). There is a very good chance that they will go back to sleep for a few hours, let them sleep as much as they need.
After a few days of this, if they are not already doing it themselves try and get them up for around 10ish local time. Make sure you try and fill their days with activity, daylight and fresh air that will tire them out and help their bodies sleep. The daylight will help reset their body clock.
Children are amazingly well adapted to change. Plenty of hugs, the promise of adventure and exploration and you holding their hand is all they really need to settle into any new environment. And as tired as you might all be, know that it will pass and you’ll all soon adapt to your new time zone.