How to handle jet lag with a toddler

How to handle jet lag with a toddler

Time changes can be a major source of stress when traveling with a baby or toddler. We’ve all heard the horror stories of exhausted parents wondering streets in the middle of the night, trying to get their little ones to go down. 
We’ve been on the road for about 7 months, and we’ve finally gotten the hang of time changes for our son (who’s just over 2 years old). Here’s how we do it. 

Pick the bedtime you want

When we arrive in a new place, my partner and I discuss the bedtime we want our son to have while there. This time varies based on our plans, the culture of the place, and frankly, when the sun sets. We align on a bedtime, and then ensure that our little guy is awake for 4-5 hours before that time. 

Catnaps as needed

Once the bedtime is set, it’s a matter of planning backwards from there. If we arrive at 7am on a red-eye with a 9pm bedtime in mind, we think about the catnaps our son will need to get there (In this example we did a nap from 8-10a, and another 3-4:30). When I say “catnap,” I mean nothing longer than 1-2 hours. It may seem mean to not let them catch up on sleep right away, but it’s been helpful for us to make it obvious that these naps aren’t nighttime sleep. 

Daylight, daylight, daylight

In the awake time between those naps, getting outside is key! And this isn’t just time in the stroller or being carried: we aim to find playgrounds or green spaces where our son can really run around. Sometimes, this takes some coaxing and patience, and that’s ok. Ultimately, the time outside is critical in resetting our son’s sense of time. 
And that’s it! It’s not always perfect, but we’re usually time adjusted within 2 days of travel. What other tricks have you tried?
What we wore on this most recent flight: Our son flew wearing the All-Season Sweatshirt layered over the Original Adventure T-Shirt. We love this combo because it allows us to adjust to different temperatures, while also being super comfy for our little one. The odor-resistant, quick-drying fabrics also allow us to handle spills and messes without stress. 
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