Should You Bring The Kitchen Sink?

CONTRIBUTED BY KIMBERLY MITCHELL

Who can help out fellow faithful reader?

In the beginning of May I will be traveling with my 3 month old back to the states.  How on earth do you switch a 3 month old time wise.  13 hours seems impossible as it completely switches night and day!  I also want to know how flying that far with a young baby is.  I know there are people out there who have done this and can help out a worried first time mom! Thanks!

I made the move here with a just-turned-two-year-old and I won’t lie to you, it was tricky trying to get her to switch day for night. For a while she was waking up for the day at 3 or 4 am. But so were we. One day she fell asleep for her “nap” at 2pm and didn’t wake up until midnight that night! Of course then she thought it was morning and asked for breakfast. Even at age 2 she wouldn’t listen to reason– she slept when she was tired, she was awake when she wasn’t. I think it was about two weeks until she seemed to finally adjust to the new time zone. I can’t say I did anything special to make that happen. Not sure there is anything I could do. It might just take some time. But if anyone has any tips to help make a smooth transition, please share!

7 COMMENTS

  1. I have taken two trips to the States and back with my child: once when she was 4 months old, and again when she was 16 months old. From door-to-door my trips take about 22 hours. I wish that my child would sleep easily on planes, but she doesn’t. Trans-Pacific travel without another adult to assist with child-related duties is not for sissies! I have found that for me, the most important thing in adjusting to the time zone change is to choose a peaceful destination for you and your child to sleep off the initial trip-related exhaustion and tackle jet-lag. Babies/toddlers aren’t like adults; if you try to push them through their sleepiness until bedtime on your first day at your final destination, they will make you regret it. It will take anywhere from 1-2 weeks to make the adjustment.

    Our first trip was easy; no crying and a little bit of sleep on the plane for both of us. THEN, we got to our destination and it took about two painful weeks to adjust. I think it took so long because we were in a hectic house full of loud, unsympathetic people (my parents, siblings, significant others, nephews, neice etc). Basically, we couldn’t sleep when we really needed to. I vowed never to go straight to my parents’ home again. The return trip was easy and we got back on Japan time within one week of arrival. It probably had something to do with the fact that we were in our own home and volume-control wasn’t an issue.

    The next year, the plane trip itself was AWFUL because my child was antsy and never slept until the last ten minutes of our final descent, which meant I was awake for the entire trip. Incidentally, she did the same thing on the return trip! The adjustment period took about a week, but it wasn’t stressful because we took refuge in the peaceful, quiet home of a relative for the first week. It sounds harsh, but I told my parents that I just couldn’t come to see them until after I had gotten my legs back underneath me, and boy am I glad I did! Surprisingly, they didn’t seem offended. After a week, I had recovered from the exhaustion of the trip, and my child and I had adjusted to the time change.

    I am planning another trip back to the States with my child in November. I plan to go well before (at least two weeks) Thanksgiving because I want us to be fully recovered and feeling festive before the holidays. I will stay at my relative’s house again for the first week to get back on my feet. It sounds unconventional, but it works for me!

    Good luck,

    L.

  2. I have flown to the east coast 4 times with my daughter, starting at one month. The older she got the tougher her jet lag. This is how we travel to make adjusting to the time change easier.
    1- On our flight to main land, I let her nap.
    2- Once we are on our way to the States, I try to put her “to bed” as close to 8pm (JKT) as possible. This is fairly easy since I begin our routine shortly after dinner. Same as at home; go to the bathroom, brush teeth, put on pj’s or in your case feed, change diaper, etc.
    3- I let her sleep until 2 hrs before we land. No, its not a full night’s sleep, but it’s enough. We do the usual morning routine including putting on a fresh pair of clothes.
    4- Since we always have one more connection we don’t arrive at our destination until evening. This allows us to eat dinner, bathe, then put her to bed.

    This has worked for us time and time again. The following morning she usually gets up around 7am (her normal time) b/c she didn’t get a full nights sleep on the plane. Keep the first couple days low key, stick to normal feeding and nap times, and enjoy your friends and family! I’m sure adjusting the child’s schedule ahead of time works too, but I’m way too busy preparing for the trip that I just can’t concentrate on that too.
    Good luck!

  3. I flew transatlantic twice, once with a 6 week old and once with a four month old and both did fine, i think it is easier with babies than a toddler, I think anyone would agree!!! My babies adapted very quickly, just go with the flow and you’ll be fine!

  4. We buy our plane tickets to fly when our children are normally sleeping. The 6 year old only sleeps if it is pure dark. Any light on and he is awake! The 2 year old doesn’t fall asleep anywhere but a bed except when really exausted. This results in them sleeping 4 hours max of all those flights. We then go out to dinner so we don’t get to where we are sleeping until 8ish at night. Everyone is so exausted from lack of sleep we sleep good. We then plan the next 2 days chock full of festivities so that the kids have stuff to do during the day making them stay awake. This has worked twice for us. However, getting back to Okinawa time was harder because we didn’t have places we needed to be and schedules that needed to be stuck to!

  5. Just a note — it’s supposed to be harder to fly to the States than to fly back. The scientific explanation has to do with the sun and the fact that our bodies would prefer a slightly longer day than 24 hours. So when you travel west you have a longer day and your body prefers that to a “shortened” day which is what happens when you fly east.

    We just got back Friday night from the States with a 2.5 & 9 month old. They are pretty much totally whacked out — which totally blows my theory out of the water! However, we did not wake them up when they went down for naps yesterday afternoon (4pm-ish) and that was our big mistake I think. Basically I agree with the above that you just want to move their sleep every day to the slightly closer time.

    But the biggest thing is that you’ve just got to allow yourself the time. Don’t make big plans for the first couple of days and take it easy! Lots of sunlight and water too!!

  6. We arrived HERE with a 3 month old infant. About 1 month before we arrived my baby had just started sleeping through the night. I was very worried that we would have to start getting him to sleep through the night all over again. Well, it was much easier than I thought it would be. What we did was let nature help us out. When it was day, I made sure those lovely TLF curtains were pulled open wide. We shortened napping during the day, and when the eve approached we darkened the room and reduced our activity. Everyone, including the babe started to sleep in later each day and go to bed later each night. It took the baby five days. I think what helps the most is waking baby up during the day and not letting him or her sleep too long. Also, out of all my three kids on the plane ride over, my three month old did the best. Maybe it’s because he couldn’t ask “are we there yet.”

  7. First of all – try to start NOW! I’m sure it’s tougher with a baby, but if you can shift time a little bit before you go, that might help. I found this info on Parent Center:

    Babies and young children suffer from jet lag just as adults do. Traveling across time zones disrupts your sleeping, waking, and eating cycles. Any trip you take with more than a two-hour time change forces your body to adjust to a new schedule. The more time zones you cross, the longer it takes your body to adapt. Most people find that traveling east to west is easier on the body than west to east. (I just went to the east coast for 10 days and it was WAY easier coming back to Japan than going out there, but maybe that’s me. It took my 6-year-old 3 days to be in a more normal schedule – she was falling asleep very early at night. Not sure it’d be as easy to keep a baby awake though.)

    A few days before you leave home, try to shift your child’s bedtime 20 minutes each night to get ready for the new time. Once you’ve arrived, try the following suggestions:

    * Put your child to sleep at the new location’s bedtime.
    * Immediately change your meal schedule to adapt to the new time zone. If you’re traveling with an infant, though, feed him on demand.
    * Plan outdoor activities for your first few days. Exposure to sunlight and daylight will help you and your baby adjust to the new environment.
    * Don’t give your child an antihistamine to make him drowsy. The medication may interfere with his adjustment to a new time zone. It can also rev up your baby rather than slow him down.

    I’ve definitely read and heard that being out in the sun is a big help. But I’m not sure what else might help – figure you’re in for about a 5-day adjustment, and it won’t be much fun. Good luck!

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