10 tips to beat jetlag

How to avoid jetlag with kids

The prospect of a long-haul fight with a baby or small child is scary enough to put many parents off travelling altogether. I’d argue that in most cases the reality isn’t as bad as the anticipation. What parents often don’t anticipate, however, is jetlag.

It’s a bit like having the baby in the first place. For 40 weeks you’re focussed solely on getting your baby out into the world when in fact the real challenge is what happens after that.

Adorable kid boy sleeping and dreaming in his white bed with toy.

Adorable kid boy sleeping and dreaming in his white bed with toy.

Symptoms of jetlag include daytime fatigue, sleeping difficulties, irritability and decreased mental efficiency. So if you’re travelling with a very young baby, you might just feel it is business as usual – for you and the bub!

We’re often asked for our tips on how to beat the dreaded jetlag. Here are our top 10 tips.

  1. On the flight itself stay well hydrated and eat lightly.
  2. Consider breaking your long-haul flight with a stopover so you’re not stuck in a plane for 18 or 26 hours without a break.
  3. Let the children sleep if they need to but try and adjust to the new time zone as quickly as possible.
  4. Make sure you’ve got access in your hotel or apartment to clean drinking water, warm milk, herbal teas, and things that naturally promote sleep.
  5. If you arrive early in the morning, the accepted theory is to stay awake all day and to go to bed early. In practice, with a two-year-old and a five-year-old after a 26-hour haul, it’s not that easy.
  6. A swim can do wonders and just walking around in the fresh air and sunshine helps.
  7. Plan very little for the first day of the trip. Traipsing through a museum or a church when you’re all tired and irritable is bound to end in tears.
  8. Small babies who are still in a routine of frequent sleeps are often the least affected by jetlag and the easiest to manage – they sleep when they need to and it’s best to leave it that way.
  9. Jetlag is usually much worse when you are travelling in an easterly direction and crossing multiple time zones (say from Europe to Australia, or Australia to the USA) so you might find it’s much worse on one leg of the journey.
  10. Be kind to yourselves and don’t expect miracles. If you’re a couple, take it in turns to rest.