Now, we are by no means experts on this and every baby is different but these are some things they have helped us cope with reversing night to day and day to night (this has only worked on flights going back in time so far; we still have the return legs to come …)
Get into the new time zone as soon as possible: I can’t take any credit for this; this was my husbands idea. As soon as we stepped on to the plane, we put ourselves in the new time zone. Our flight was at 2pm UK time or 6am in California. So, when we got on the plane, we fed and put him to sleep as if he’d woken up in the night, then we had breakfast and lunch (in addition to the breakfast and light lunch he already had in the airport) and let him nap as we normally would in the day.
One thing that was important for this to work was the fact that we played like we would normally (as much as you can on a plane) so he knew it was time to stay up… and it wasn’t time for bed! This element can be difficult especially when you are tired and you need to make sure you’re well equipped with a few toys to keep them entertained! The back-up option for us is always singing and the other passengers were treated to a few little singing sessions of my favourite nursery rhymes.
Adapt my feeding pattern: we added in an extra feed and a snack, which meant it kept him asleep for longer at night (California time), otherwise he would have quite rightly woken up because he was hungry.
Get out and about: Once we woke up in our new destination, we made sure we got outdoors asap. It doesn’t need to be a mammoth effort and it is really hard when you’re shattered yourself but getting out and about in the light, so the baby knows that it’s day time, has seemed to help and got us into the new time zone sooner.
Get into a routine: At home we do an evening time bath and massage on alternate nights and we have kept that pattern going on holiday. We also always have a mini colourful light show when it’s bedtime. At home, we have a jazzy nightlight but I found the best handheld light from Flying Tiger which does a good bloody job as a stand-in.
Use a comforter: in hindsight we should have done this earlier on but we now have “bear, bear” which I am petrified of losing and when I get back to the U.K. I will be purchasing 3 more of the damn things but basically whenever I’m feeding or we are trying to get him to nap or we were taking off or landing we had bear bear there. He seems to like it and I think as he gets older it will help him even more with sleeping.
Give the baby time: this is as much a note to myself to remember to be patient and not stress out too much. Jet lag can be hideous whatever age you are and at least as an adult you are aware of what is happening and why. I’ve spent months tirelessly getting my baby into a routine … and then have massively disrupted things with this holiday. So I have tried to remember to give them time and try not to worry (easier said than done) that it’s never going to get better and slowly the routine will get back in gear.
Accept there may be setbacks: And this is something that I am learning about sleep in general, is that one bad night (or several) doesn’t mean that sleep has gone forever. Teething, being somewhere new or just wanting a cuddle (because sometimes everyone wants a cuddle) may cause disrupted sleep but try to enjoy the cuddles and share the burden so you can rest where you can!