Travelling with young children can always present a multitude of problems, and the worst usually come when you're moving across multiple time zones.

Need help with the kids?

Need help with the kids?

This week, Bensons for Beds and Dr Guy Meadows have come together to give 11 top jet lag tips for those travelling with their kids this year. Check them out below...

  1. Stick to home timing - If you're travelling across no more than two time zones (2hrs difference) then it can be worth keeping you and you're family on home time. Using blackout blinds can help to manage their sleep whilst away and limit disruption on your return.
  2. Limit your jetlag - When you travel quickly across more than two time zones your internal body clock becomes out of sync with the local time causing jet lag symptoms such as insomnia, nausea, headaches and tiredness. This is especially worse when you travel eastwards because we lose time. A gentle way to prepare your families body clocks for the change is to go to bed and get up a little earlier (15 mins) each day for a couple of weeks prior to travelling east. Doing so will mean that you reduce the time difference between the local time and your internal body clock, thus reducing the impact of jet lag.
  3. Being prepared - Being prepared for long haul flights can make all the difference. Make sure everything your child needs is easy to hand including a special snacks, toys, bedclothes and books etc. The calmer you are, the more calm they'll be.
  4. Sleeping on the plane - As a rule, if you are arriving at your destination in the morning, aim to get your children to sleep on the plane. Alternatively, you are arriving at your destination in the afternoon or evening, try to keep your children awake on the plane so that they are ready for sleep on landing.
  5. Napping - When on long haul flights it can be tempting to keep children awake for far longer than normal under the belief that they'll eventually crash and sleep for longer. Sadly this is not the case and often creates overtired and emotional babies and children who can't sleep. Scheduling in normal napping and sleeping times can therefore prove the best option for your child, yourself and everyone else around you.
  6. Create a sleeping haven - Sleeping in a new strange environment can be tough for children. Aim to make their sleeping area as comfortable and familiar as possible by bringing along a few of their bed toys and even their pillow.
  7. Sky cots - If you're travelling with a baby then investigate whether the airliner offers sky cot facilities. Check whether you need to book ahead, as they may be limited to only a small number of seats.
  8. Dark dens - Draping a few spare blankets over a seat can be a helpful way to create a dark den for your child. Not only does it helps to block out the light and encourage sleep, it also taking their mind off the fact that they're sharing their bedroom with a few hundred other people!
  9. Sleep rituals - Bedtime on a plane should be no different to that home. Aim to gently start winding them down by getting them changed into their bedclothes, dimming the lights, brushing their teeth and reading them their favorite book. Doing so will help to trigger the release of the sleeping hormone melatonin, allowing natural sleep to emerge.
  10. Arrive healthy - The healthier you and you're family can be on your flight, the more energy you'll all have when you arrive and the quicker you'll recover from jetlag. Bring water bottles for all the family so as to keep well hydrated throughout the flight. Eat healthy food options and consider bringing your own snacks; the ones you know you're children will eat. Keep active by getting up and moving around and doing a few stretches.
  11. Tune in to the local time - Adjust your body clock to the local time zone by immediately getting out into the sunlight, eating, playing and sleeping all on the local time. If you all need a nap, then do so, but try to avoid sleeping for too long as it'll delay your jetlag recovery. On average it takes one day per time zone travelled for your body clock to sync with the new time and therefore overcome jetlag.

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