Dealing with jet lag in kids
Posted on 27th Feb 2014
If you decide to book a long-haul trip with your youngsters, don’t forget about the possibility of them suffering from jet lag, either on arrival in your destination, or once you return home. This shouldn’t necessarily put you off from going on this sort of break, though, as there are things you can do to minimise the impact.
Arrive late or travel overnight
Ideally, you want to be arriving at your hotel in the dark, which will encourage your children to sleep and help offset the time difference for them. Another alternative is to book an overnight flight, which will (hopefully) give your youngsters a chance to sleep on the journey and therefore deal better with it being morning on arrival at your destination.
Think about where your child sits
There’s one important thing you should do if you want your child to sleep on a flight – don’t seat them next to the aisle, as this is likely to lead to disturbance by the flight attendants and other passengers moving up and down the plane. There’s also the chance that little fingers or toes could get knocked by the trolley as it moves through the cabin, so it’s certainly better to put kids by the window or in between yourself and your partner.
Help youngsters settle on the plane
Another way to help youngsters get some sleep is to provide them with eye masks and ear plugs – although we do understand that not all kids will be happy wearing these! If you can convince your child to wear one or both of these things though, they are likely to have a better sleep.
You should also pack a couple of their favourite toys, and maybe a blanket or comforter, in your hand luggage so that they have something familiar to help them settle down in this unfamiliar environment.
Stick to a routine
It’s best to stick to whatever routines you have at home, as far as possible, particularly regarding meals and bedtime. It might be difficult to keep a sleepy toddler awake until their usual bedtime, but even though this is tough on the first day, it will help them adjust more quickly.
To monitor your routine, invest in a dual time zone watch, which means you can see exactly what time it is at home, as well as in your destination. This can really help you keep on top of feeding and bedtimes.
If you’re worried about your kids waking up early in the morning – long before the hotel’s breakfast service starts – make sure you have some healthy snacks stashed in the bedroom that you can give them to keep them going.
Get children to drink plenty
Staying well hydrated is known to reduce the effects of jet lag, so it makes sense to encourage them to drink plenty throughout your journey. Don’t forget that this will result in more trips to the loo, so plan accordingly – pack extra nappies or pull-ups in your hand luggage and encourage your youngsters to go to the toilet at every opportunity.
One tip is to get them to use the plane bathroom just before landing, because otherwise they’ll have to wait not only until the flight lands, but also until you’re able to find a toilet in the terminal building.
One of the worst things you can do if you and your kids are suffering from jet lag is have loads of things planned in the first couple of days of your trip. Stop, take a couple of days to not only adjust to the new time zone, but also the new surroundings, and relax.
If you’re concerned about the effects of jet lag on your return journey, make sure you leave at least a day before you have to go back to work or send the kids to school or nursery. You’ll all want a day or two to sleep and readjust to life at home, so allow for this and don’t make your return to real life more difficult than it has to be.
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