There are different approaches to help our little ones adapt to different time zones after a long trip. It can take about one day per time zone change for the body clock to adjust, so how far and how long you are traveling can be a determinant when choosing what to do.
If you are traveling east, you will likely experience more difficulties depending on how many time zones away from the original one, you’ll be going. Let’s say you are traveling from Los Angeles to Brazil. You will be “losing” 4 hours of your day (during daylight savings). In the beginning, this will impact your circadian rhythm which regulates sleep, meals, and bowel movement. When traveling west, usually considered easier to adapt, you are gaining hours in your day.
So let’s get back to the example of traveling to Brazil. If you are staying for a month and the baby sleeps at 7:30 pm when in LA. That means that in Brazil, his bedtime (related to his body clock) would be 11:30 pm when you arrive. You can either keep it this way, and when you are back baby will continue to fall asleep at around the same time (7:30 pm), or you can move bedtime earlier but not as earlier as in LA. Why? Because once you are back, if the baby falls asleep at 7:30 pm in Brazil, in LA this would mean 3:30 pm. Instead, you can adapt bedtime to maybe 9:30 pm while in Brazil which means 5:30 pm in LA and once you are back home, you’ll only need a couple of days to push bedtime back to 7:30 pm.
Basically, if you will be traveling for a short period of time, maybe less than a couple of weeks, crossing two time zones, for example, keep the baby on the same rhythm. This makes things easier once you’re back.
Be ready to be flexible! Traveling with little ones is not easy, and I believe we have unrealistic expectations from ourselves and our children…Letting go of the perfect travel can be freeing!
Also, try to expose yourself and your baby to lots of natural light during the day waking the baby up at around the same time in the morning during the adaptation period.
I hope this helps, my friend.
July 18th, 2021
Hi! I’m Mariana. A mom to three, published author, Parent Educator, Certified Seasons of Matrescence Guide, and 4x Certified Sleep Specialist (having worked with thousands of families over the last 7.5 years). My background is in Child Development and Psychology, specializing in Infants and Toddlers. I’m here to support you in finding a balance between all this inner transformation AND being a respectful parent. Rediscovering yourself and what brings you joy so you can feel confident trusting your inner guide, and acknowledging your seasons and cyclicality, slowing down in a fast-paced world.