Jetlag in Babies & Kids – Need another holiday to recover from your holiday !

Jetlag in Babies & Kids

jet lag (noun) extreme tiredness and other physical effects felt by a person after a long flight across several time zones.


extreme tiredness and other physical effects felt by a mum every day without flying anywhere.

My best friend is flying over from the UK with my new Godson so I write this post for her and anyone else going on a long distance flight these holidays.

I am writing this from personal experience and not as a qualified child expert on sleep routines. Also every child and family is different, so what worked for my kids and what I found helpful, may not be something that suits you or that you may want to follow.

I have travelled numerous times across the world from the UK to Australia and Australia to the UK, with toddlers, children and the elderly (at the same time) and the honest truth is that unfortunately it can take three to five days for the established routines to fall back into place, for you and your little ones. So there is no point stressing, body clock adjust it just takes a little time.

Being the the parent (who cared for the child or children on the flight), you are actually more exhausted than ever when you return from home and all you want to do is sleep, when all your child wants to do is play. Their body clock has literally just switched naps and bedtime completely. Yikes!

My Jetlag Tips

  • During the day get as much daylight as possible, play outside with your child if weather permits, go on a walk , go to the park- just get out there in to the natural light.
  • Set a routine that extends across your regular timings, so if you child use to go to sleep at 7pm you may need to look at putting them to bed a few hours later.
  • Let your child nap during the day but no longer than they usually did. Yes I was waking a sleeping child but otherwise they sleep too long and at bedtime they are still bouncing of the walls.
  • Give them a bath using calming and relaxing essential oils like lavender or camomile.
  • Spend time in the lead up to the later bed time, doing quiet activities, read a couple of books, give them a massage, sing lullabies. Play quiet relaxing music. Dim the lights.
  • Waking up during the night and extra early starts normally occur for two nights. Let them play quietly in their room, bed or cot, keep the lights dimmed and try not to interact too much with them.
  • I slept on a mattress on the floor in my son’s room while he was happily playing.
  • Offer milk after a while and they should settle back to sleep.
  • Day by day start bringing the bedtime back to your original routine.
  • Take it in turns with your partner to care for the early riser.
  • When toddler naps during the day, you nap too- set an alarm or you may both lull into a long sleep.
  • Don’t be hard on yourself and try to unpack, tidy the house, do the laundry when you too have jet lag.
  • Look after yourself so you have the energy later without feeling stressed and anxious to care for the little one.
  • Drop the guilt, “Oh I’ve been home for two days and I haven’t unpacked-” so what is someone coming over to inspect?
  • Call a friend if you need some me time to come and give you a hand for a couple of hours.

Your Jetlag Tips

If you have any jet lag tips yourself please leave a comment and share your wisdom

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Nathalie Brown

Child Behaviour Consultant at Easy Peasy Kids
Child Behaviourist and researcher. Creator of "Less tantrums. More smiles". I look at the bigger picture and think outside the box when working with children and their behaviour. Their world is different. As adults we sometimes forget this. Happiness Creator in my spare time. Eater of chocolate and cake.

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  1. Having travelled quite frequently with our kids between Australia and the UK, we have had our fair share of jet lag kids. We are currently going through the experience again with our visitors from the UK.

    My tips is that the best thing you can do is try and get yourself thinking about the time in the country you are visiting 24 to 48 hours before travelling. As soon as you are checked in its time to think about what time it is in your destination, so if its morning Australia its evening in the UK. So try and get yourself set on the time zone you are visiting.

    There is no magic solution but “wow” there are over 10 wonderful tips on how to cope and minimise the jet lag above..

    Thanks for sharing
    James Hayward

  2. Penny Worland says

    My baby got jetlagged or “car lagged” when we drove 7 hours to the Gold Coast. He was not happy! We were only there for 5 days but the whole time he was tired and grumpy and everytime we got into the car he must have thought it would be a long trip and did not like it. He usually loves the car!
    We are going to take him on his first plane ride in a few months, it was great to come across this. A few things i had not thought of! Will keep them in mind and hopefully i wont be too stressed about the trip! X

  3. Karlene Forrest says

    I have a nightmare travel story…on a flight between Sydney and Hawaii our 6 month old had a belly ache so I changed his nappy 9 times. No exaggeration!

  4. rebecca mcevoy says

    Thanks so much for the tips, I am so worried about taking children overseas and I know that in a few years I will have to take a young child and a small toddler over to the UK. Worrying about it has the potential to turn my holiday into a nightmare, so I’m very glad I stumbled across this blog! It appears you just go with the flow until all gets back to normal, with a few tricks to help the flow…

  5. I’m reading this as I head into the third hour sitting up with my 8 month old (for the 2nd night in a row). My fingers are crossed – she was such a great sleeper but our return from the UK has sent her body clock into a tail spin. Thanks for the advice and hint of light at the end of the tunnel ;0)

  6. Duncan Faber says

    We have 5 kids, and we always keep them occupied with audiobooks for the ipods. There’s a ton of sites where you can download them, but we use this one a lot because the stories are free and original. This is the link, if anyone is intereted.

  7. Elizabeth says

    I’m reading this going into our 3rd morning being back in oz from the UK with our 2yro. We travelled to the UK with our DS when he was 5mths but he was still napping through the day (& being breast feed which helped relax and calm him). I recall it took him about 5 days to get back to his normal sleeping habits, however at the moment I’m experiencing that when he wakes early at 2am (it was midnight the first night!) that he doesn’t settle back down to sleep at all till his morning nap at 10:30am. We follow all the advice with quiet play and dim lights but this doesn’t seem to lull him back to sleep before the sun comes up. he gets too excited and wants to get and play. so we have as quiet play as you can with a 2yro and telly on very softly. When the sun finally does come up, plenty of natural sunny plays & walks. Should i be anxious that hes not going back to sleep? Has anyone experienced this before? When I put him down for his day time nap (he only has 1 in the day) I wake him after 2.5 which horrible but I do it. So do I just let it be and it will return naturally? I’m really nervous this will become a continual habit? His eating is all out of whack to. I offer everything and he’s just not interested. I try to keep telling myself it will pass but it feels so endless, even though it’s only been 3 days…. Patience is needed here if anyone has for me please?!

  8. Hi ,

    I just came back with my seven month old from Germany. On the way there the jetlag was pretty bad…took her about eight days. On the way back to Australia though we had a stop in Dubai where we stayed in a hotel for eight yours to sleep and it worked wonders ! I started her on her old routine straight away and she only has been waking up once at 9pm for four nights. I did play with her until around 11pm. She went straight back to sleep after. I would really recommend to split up the trip if it’s a long one ! She was also much more relaxed on the airplane!

    Hope this helps.

  9. I have a similar story as above – just got into Melbourne from the UK and I’m here solo with my just turned 1 year old. He’s usually a great sleeper but he’s all out of whack – last night didn’t sleep from 1:30am until 8:30am. I was so exhausted and I tried not to sleep during the day but we had two naps of 3 hrs and 2.5hrs. He won’t be put down and I can’t physically hold and rock him to sleep either because he’s only in a light sleep and cracks it every time I put him down. This is the 3rd night ( he went down fine at 8pm and then woke at 10:30pm and has been bawling intermittently ever since – it’s 11:15 pm now) and feeling like this trip here wasn’t worth it and def not solo. Any tips?

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