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Baby Jet Lag

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Baby Jet LagJet Lag and Babies, have you tried it?

Every thought about doing a long haul flight with an infant or young baby… if so, read on!

So what is Jet Lag? Without getting too involved, it’s medically referred to as desynchronosis and is a physiological condition which results from alterations to the body’s circadian rhythms. Jet lag results from rapid long-distance transmeridian (east–west or west–east) travel, as on a jet plane. Read the excellent article on this subject at sleepdisordersguide.com

But how does that affect me and my baby?

The short answer is – it’s a roller coaster! One minute it could be all smooth sailing
and the next you’ve fallen off a cliff.

They say for every (1 hour) time zone you cross it takes your body a day to readjust. So if you flew from London to New York (across 5 time zones), you can expect it to take your body 5 days to readjust to your new surroundings. And this is where the fun starts with your baby – do they have a set daily routine of bed times and feeding or is it more of a laissez-faire environment where they take things as they come? The answer to this will decide the answer to your Jet Lag question!

Very young infants haven’t yet learnt the meaning of day and night and hence still feed and sleep continuously throughout every 24 hour period. Changing time zones means little or nothing to them and in turn they do no suffer jet lag at all. Young toddlers however, have become dependant on their little set routines, they need their regular daily feeds and routine nightly sleep. Shifting any of this by a few hours wrecks havoc to their fragile world and we all know the consequences – over tired, crabby, etc. and so YES, toddlers seriously suffer from Jet Lag.

But what about those babies no longer an infant but not yet a toddler? Do they suffer Jet Lag?

We took our 5 month old daughter across 8 time zones (and 24 hours of flying/travelling) from east to west. On arrival she was no worse for wear and by the second day had completely accepted her new day/night environment and all the associated routines. They say flying E-W is easier to adjust.

At the end of our 3 week holiday, we flew back across 8 time zones (in another 27 hour flying/travelling journey) from west to east. On arrival it was ‘total refusal’ on her part, to embrace her new time zone and instead her body clung onto the old. This meant staying awake and playing until the wee small hours of 3 and 4am before she would decide to sleep and then followed by her not awaking until after midday (but her still thinking it was 6am!), all the while totally oblivious to the mayhem she was causing in her parent’s sleep patterns!

No matter what we tried, our little cherub moved very slowly. But each day we managed to get her to bed an hour earlier and wake her an hour earlier and after 8 days of clawing back the lost 8 hours, we finally have her back to ‘normal’ and working with the local day/night hours. They say flying W-E is harder to adjust.

So what’s the answer, do babies suffer from Jet Lag or not?


…It’s the parents that suffer.

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