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Toddlers and Jet Lag

  1. #1
    FutureHKmom is offline Registered User
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    Toddlers and Jet Lag

    My husband and I just came back from a two week vacation in Europe with our 14.5 month old toddler. Going there, our little one managed his jet lag quite well, we think. However, coming back here is a different story. The first night we put him to bed at 11pm and he got up at 2:30am but managed to play by himself in our bed between my husband and I until 4 or 5 and went back to sleep. Last night, however, he woke up again at 2:30am and cried on and off for at least an hour. By 3:30am, I started to wonder if he was sick as nothing seemed to be able to soothe him and give us a break from the crying for more than a few minutes at a time. So I finally made some milk for him (something I hadn't done in the middle of the night since he was 6 weeks old) and he drank it all - but cried even louder after he drank it because I think it wasn't enough! I made 5 oz for him but during his day feedings of milk, he usually drinks 7-8 oz. Anyways, we gave him some water and a cracker and afterwards, he finally calmed down and after we switched off the light he eventually fell asleep again sometime past 4am. I think part of the problem with last night is also that he slept a lot during the day yesterday - sleeping in the morning until 11:30am and then napping from 2:30-4:45pm.

    My question to other mommies out there coming back from Europe is how have you helped your toddler with his/her jet lag? I don't want to create a habit for him where he gets milk in the middle of the night, but not sure what to do to get him to calm down if it happens again tonight. Last night was only the second night since we've been back so I'm hoping that after a few more nights, he will go back to normal...Any thoughts would be appreciated! Thanks!

  2. #2
    shuchisingh is offline Registered User
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    Hi FutureHKmom,

    We faced something similar. And we didnt even travel to Europe but to India which is just 2.5 hrs difference. My son (then 11 mnths) took a week to settle down after coming back to HK. He took mid-night feeds for 2-3 days. But then he went back to his normal sleeping pattern without much help.

    From what I have been told by other moms, it is quite normal for their sleeping patterns to get disturbed. They almost always take about a week to settle in again.

  3. #3
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    carang is offline Registered User
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    it takes about 1 day to recover from 1 hour of jetlag... so if you have changed by 8 hours, it should take AT LEAST 8 days for your little one to recover.

    count yourself lucky...to my mum's home it's a 14 hour time change! it took my two kids at least a week to get them back to sleeping at night.

    the BEST thing we did was to start doing our "regular" things, such as sending my son to school. the first day or two was VERY rough, but he quickly got back into the routine and was sleeping at night again quite soon afterwards (although going to be 1-2 hours earlier than normal).

  4. #4
    Honkyblues is offline Registered User
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    You can usually expect one night of jet lag for each hour of time difference (ie, a 7 hr time difference between HK and Europe - expect a week of jet lag). And the jet lag is usually worse when you've flown from West to East (which is why going from HK to Europe is the easy part!)

    Try to get your son out in the sunlight (or at least day light) during the day, to help re-set his circadian rhythms. Try not to let him nap for too long during the day - I know it's hard when he's so tired (and so are you!).

    I think it's best to put him down at his usual bedtime and expect him to wake up as though it was just a 2-3hr nap. Then let him get up, keep it night-time-ish (ie, subdued lighting, quiet) but let him play quietly or watch a soothing DVD (eg, Baby Mozart type) for a few hours then put him back to bed when he shows signs of tiredness. If he's hungry/upset, give him milk and snacks.

    It takes time and patience, but it should only be a week. Don't stress about it. If the milk becomes a habit during the night, deal with that issue later. Just let the sleep rhythms get back on track.

    Good luck!

  5. #5
    FutureHKmom is offline Registered User
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    Thanks for all your replies and advice!! I figured that I just had to hang in there for about a week until he gets over it...I just called home during my lunch hour (I work full time) and the nanny told me that my son has been tired all morning and took a really long nap - between 11:30 and 2pm (and she had to wake him up) and had trouble eating his lunch because he was so tired. I told her to try to limit his naps during the day so that he will be more tired at night...hopefully tonight will be better!

  6. #6
    jvn
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    Not a toddler yet but we had the same experience and yes, it took about a week to get past the waking at night and wanting to play and maybe a further 2 or 3 weeks to get back to solidly sleeping through the night but it was a little bit better each night.

    I tried to keep his daytime routine as normal with usual activities and naps and then just went with his cues at night, if he wanted a bottle I gave him one and if he wanted to play then I played.

    This worked fine for us, I figured he probably didn't really want to be awake at night any more than I did so I didn't worry about creating any bad habits and it didn't.

    Best of luck.

  7. #7
    AmyH is offline Registered User
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    I arrived back fromt he UK a week ago and had the same issue as you are having. My daughter (9 months) was fine when we got to the UK and this surprised me as I was expecting about a week of interupted sleep during the night but she coped vey well with the time difference there.

    When we got home she woke duing the night for feeds for four nights and wanted to play at 3am! I just put her to bed as normal (7:30 pm) and gave her a feed during the night (2am) but put her straight back in her cot and let her play there if she wanted.

    She was back to normal (sleeping through until 7:30 am) after 4 days.

  8. #8
    shoni is offline Registered User
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    I put mine down late for the first few nights, bringing it forward 30mins to 1hr (depending on how brave I feel) each night until bedtime is back to normal.

    I woke her up at normal waking up time in the morning and limit day time naps (I limited to 1.5 hours) and lots of day time activities.

    This time we only had 2 bad nights with me telling her all the time that it was night time and everyone was asleep so she should try. (but we did resort to DVD's mainly to keep me and my husband calm!) And she did eat a lot too.

    Oh and my husband and I took turns to have her, when she woke up the one not on baby duty would go and sleep in her bed, then at least she had one well rested parent the following day.

    I was known as 'mean mummy' though as I was really strict on bed times, getting up times and nap times, but it did seem to work.

    Having said this now I fear I am in for some punishment this summer when we get back from Europe.....

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