Here 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.