Adjusting to Jet Lag with a Toddler: Portland, Oregon to Cochin, India

adjusting to jet lag with a toddlerHere is the latest in my jet lag experience with my 20 month old on our trip from Portland (to Chicago) to India last week.  It took one week for my toddler (and consequently for her breastfeeding and pregnant momma) to adjust to the new time zone.  India is 12.5 hours ahead of Portland time.

Although we had a day at home in Chicago (10.5 hour difference) between arriving from Portland and leaving to India, we were in Portland for five days and my toddler had adjusted to that time zone and didn’t really have time to adjust back to Chicago time before setting off again, not to mention the exhaustion of lots of plane travel, including the red eye we took back home from Portland.  My husband was already in India for a week, plus he came from South Africa, so he was not on our sleep schedule at all (and also helped tremendously when I needed to sleep and Veda was wide awake).

Typically in Chicago my babe sleeps (give or take an hour) 8pm- 8am at night, with a 1.5 to two hour night somewhere around noonish.  It took her about one week, (two weeks ago Friday to last week Friday) to get on that general schedule here in India.  And now tonight we set off for South Africa, although that isn’t as much of an adjustment (it’s 3.5 hours behind India time).

It was a slow and gradual adjustment over the course of the week, partly because she (and I) were both getting hungry in the middle of the night when we would have been eating a big meal back home in Chicago.  Luckily we are in India visiting family and I didn’t need to be working at an office, so I could sleep with her during the day and wake with her during the night with the energy to play with her and prepare her food (usually we were having hearty oatmeal made with soy milk, bananas, fresh pomegranate seeds, and cashews).  It helped that I had her sleep in bed with me and breastfed her when she roused in the night, as I was able to lull her back to sleep for a longer period of time during the night than what she would have otherwise slept.

This is what it took for her to adjust to the 12.5 hour time zone change last week:

Friday: A day of catching up with lots of sleep and still completely on Chicago time

3:30AM India/ 6PM Chicago: arrive to Cochin, India- plane lands and toddler is wide awake

5:00AM India/ 7:30PM Chicago: toddler falls asleep in car on ride from airport to our house and continues sleeping for a total of three hours, waking up at 8:00AM India/ 10:30PM Chicago

10:00AM India/ 12:30AM Chicago toddler and mom falls asleep for eight hours until 6:00PM India/ 8:30AM Chicago (and so did I) as if we were sleeping for the night back home in Chicago

10:00PM India/ 12:30PM Chicago toddler and mom fall asleep for three hours until 1:00AM India/ 3:30PM Chicago around usual day time napping at home but for longer duration

Saturday: Still sleeping a lot and mostly on Chicago time

7:00AM India/ 9:30PM Chicago toddler and mom fall asleep for four hours until 11AM India/ 1:30AM Chicago

1:00PM India/ 3:30AM Chicago toddler and mom fall asleep for six hours until 7:00PM India/ 9:30AM Chicago

11:00PM India/ 1:30PM Chicago toddler and mom fall asleep for three hours until 2:00AM India/ 4:30PM Chicago

Sunday- Tuesday were similar schedules: Starting to adjust but still up a lot in the middle of the night 

5:00AM India/ 7:30PM Chicago toddler falls asleep for four hours until 9:00AM India/11:30PM Chicago

11:00AM India/ 1:30PM Chicago toddler falls asleep for five hours until 4:00PM India/ 6:30PM Chicago

10:00PM India/ 12:30PM Chicago toddler falls asleep for five hours until 3:00AM India/ 5:30PM Chicago

Wednesday: Transitioning to adjustment

3:00AM India/ 5:30PM Chicago toddler wakes up for three hours until 6:00AM India/ 8:30PM Chicago

6:00AM India/8:30PM Chicago toddler naps for three hours until 9:00AM India/ 11:30PM Chicago

12:00PM India/ 2:30AM Chicago toddler naps for two hours until 2:00PM India/ 4:30AM Chicago

7:00PM India/ 9:30AM Chicago toddler falls asleep until 5:00AM India/ 7:30PM Chicago

Thursday: Almost adjusted

5:00AM India/ 7:30PM Chicago toddler wakes up for five hours until 10:00AM India/ 12:30AM Chicago

10:00AM India/ 12:30AM Chicago toddler naps for four hours until 2:00PM India/ 4:30AM Chicago

8:00PM India/ 9:30AM Chicago toddler falls asleep until next morning 7:00AM India/ 9:30PM Chicago

Friday: Fully adjusted to India time zone

7:00AM India time toddler and mom wake up

11:00AM India time toddler takes two hour nap until 1:00PM

7:30PM India time toddler falls asleep for the night until 7:00AM the following morning

Click on the links below to read about other jet lag/ time zone experiences with a baby or toddler, as well as tips on how to help baby adjust to jet lag.


All posts written on jet lag and sleep

Adjusting Baby from Sydney to Vancouver Time Zone and Back

Breakfast at 3AM: How to Help Baby Adjust to Jet Lag

Confessions of a Cheesecake Drugging: Is Sugar the Answer to Baby’s Jet Lag?

3 thoughts on “Adjusting to Jet Lag with a Toddler: Portland, Oregon to Cochin, India”

  • We are going to Chennai from NYC end of November with our 14 month old. Spending a couple nights in Cochin. Do you use a car seat when you are in India? We did not the last time we were there but I always wore Nikhil who was 4 months old at the time when we are in a car. I’m not sure he will tolerate that now. Also, any suggestions about good toddler activities in Cochin?

    • Hi Jennifer- I hope you have a great trip to Chennai!

      To be honest, we don’t bring our car seat with us to India. We were just there in August with my daughter when she was 20 months old without a car seat and I usually just sit with her in the backseat. I still sometimes use a baby carrier or wrap with her in the back seat of the car at this age. However, part of the reason we do this is because we stay with my in-laws there that have a tiny car, and usually (Indian-style) there are three adults and three children in the back seat of a small car when we go somewhere and no room for a car seat. Do you plan on renting a car? Do you also have family there? I am guessing from the name of our son and where you’re going you also are visiting family? I certainly wouldn’t advocate for non-car seat use, but we just don’t find it practical in India. The cars, as you know, also go incredibly slow in most places, too. My daughter is getting more and more wiggly, though, so we’ve struggled in the back seat with her and I sometimes find it stressful to have her trying to move around and not in a set, sometimes wishing I had one. If you think you can practically use a seat there depending on what your car/ traveling situation is there, you might want to consider using a seat because I am assuming Nikhil is also getting wiggly. Otherwise, if you have a baby wrap or carrier that works with his size, consider using that in the back.

      Have fun in Cochin- that is where my husband’s family lives. I am sorry to say that we have never been able to find activities fun specifically for toddler there. Fort Cochin is fun to check out and explore and there’s fun tourist things to do in the area, but we’re always disappointed not being able to find fun things to do with my daughter (especially when we’re there for long periods). To be honest, we often end up at a mall plugging coins into toddler rides in Cochin just for something to do with her that she enjoys (something we would never do in the States). Since you’re only there for two days I am sure you will enjoy the sight-seeing in Fort Cochin, and hopefully Nikhil will just enjoy taking in the different sights there- colorful buildings and snake charmers and all! There’s usually also cultural events in Fort Cochin like dancing and music performances that your son might enjoy. I still haven’t been able to find a good place online for schedules of events and what not, but you can probably ask around when you get there what is happening in the area while you there, and you might be able to identify a music event that you could attempt bringing him to!

      Let me know if you have any questions. Otherwise enjoy Chennai and Cochin. Let me know if you decide to bring a car seat and how it works out for you, and if you end up finding any toddler-specific things to do in Cochin!


      • P.S. My daughter loves auto-rickshaw rides :). If Nikhil is getting feisty, depending on if he has similar tastes as my daughter- you might consider just taking him on an auto so he can soak up all the sights and sounds. My daughter loves it!

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