Project Sleep: Jetlag

What it is like to have a one year old with jetlag? You are probably looking this up if you are planning on traveling with a one year old. In which case, you came to right place. A baby or toddler with jetlag is a real thing. Not a reason to avoid travel, but definitely something to keep in mind. Here are all the details on our 8 hour jetlag with a baby, and what we did to deal with it!

I really thought that the last post I wrote about sleep, was going to be the last one for a good long time. Ha! Our absolute biggest issue during the vast majority of the time we were traveling was sleep.

Jetlag with a Baby

I’ll start by talking about jetlag. We had an 8 hour time difference to get accustomed to. On the first two nights Baby Boy was awake from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m.

On the second two nights Baby Boy was awake from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m.   The next three nights, Baby Boy still woke up around 1 a.m. but I was able to get him down within half an hour. The rest of his crappy sleep I can’t attribute to jet lag.  

Combating Jetlag in a Baby

What we did to combat it was:

  • waking him up in the morning
  • spending plenty of time outside during the day,
  • keeping it dark at night

Still, the formula for jetlag is generally one day for every hour difference, and in our case it definitely took that long.

On the way back things were a tad easier and it only took about 4 days to get on schedule, partly because we arrived late at night and Baby Boy just collapsed out of exhaustion.  

a rare solo nap, on the beach

Sleep Issues with a 1 Year Old

Here are some of the problems we encountered with baby sleep while traveling:

  • Moving from place to place and thus sleeping in unknown locations- no good
  • Sleeping on a crappy pack and play mattress- no good
  • Being at events during nap time- no good
  • Being out of the house way past bed time- no good
  • Too much driving (and Baby Boy napping out of boredom during the drive)- no good

Overtired 1 Year Old

Basically, it was a lot of triggers that resulted in a cycle of over-tiredness and us trying to catchup on sleep on days that were less busy, over and over again.  

In the end, it resulted in a lot of bad sleep habits, since by the final week he would only fall asleep in our arms. The solution: getting home.  

Recovering from a Vacation with a Baby

From the moment we got back, we went back to our exact old routines, putting Baby Boy down drowsy but awake, and letting him figure out how to fall asleep on his own.  

We know that at this point he will “manipulate” any situation to get his way, so entering his bedroom was just not an option. Yes, it has involved some crying but not to the point we can’t handle.  

It’s not perfect yet, but we are well on the way to having our old routine back (11.5-12.5 hours at night and 1-2 hours during the day spread over two naps).

Have you traveled internationally with a 1 year old? How did you handle the time change with them?

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