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Diary of the Mother of a Jet-Lagged Toddler


My 16 month old daughter and I are currently in London, England, as my father needed to have minor surgery and I wanted to be here for it. So it was a last minute booking and off we went on the 10 hour flight. As we were leaving, everyone wished us well and hoped the long flight with my toddler went smoothly. Luckily, it was a night flight, so I nursed her to sleep and she slept the whole way over. Phew! Hard part over.

Not quite. What no-one mentioned to me, was the possibilty of my little one becoming jet-lagged with the 8 hour time difference. London is 8 hours ahead of Los Angeles, so when we landed, it was the afternoon here, but morning back in LA. We’d lost 8 hours. I hadn’t slept on the whole flight (I decided to watch three movies with my mommy-freedom, however, all of them were terrible) and so I welcomed the early evening and looked forward to bedtime. I didn’t consider that 10pm in London, was 2pm back home to my daughter. It wasn’t bedtime. It was naptime.

We cosleep, and so usually when she stirs in the night, I simply nurse her and she falls back into her deep sleep. Not this time. At around 1am, she was awake. Not a little awake, I mean awake awake. So my family and I laughed about it, and played with her until around 5am when she fell asleep again. We all slept until around midday, so it was fine.

Then it happened again the next night. Despite her napping as normal and playing so much all day with family, she woke up again at around the same time. And again the next night. On the fourth night, I cried. I was absolutely exhausted, as people were coming over to see us everyday, given that we’re only visiting for a short time. My daughter wanting to party five nights in a row while our apartment neighbors are fast asleep left me in a crying mess ask God “PLEASE, just give me ONE night!!”

It took six nights for her to finally sleep minus party time. She finally slept for eleven hours and it was just wonderful.

We have been here for over a week, and I now have the sanity to write this piece. I’m not a doctor or anyone who can give advice on how to remedy toddler jet-lag. However, I do think that I could have tried waking her up at 9am London time, and going about our day as usual, and perhaps that may have helped things. Dr Gwenn of the website Pediatrics Now states:

“One of the biggest pitfalls to avoid is not paying attention to the direction of travel and when your kids sleep. So, when traveling east, better to try and keep the child up and get that initial bed time closer to local time than fall asleep too early and get up much earlier than local breakfast time. Similarly, when traveling west, your child may have trouble falling asleep that first night. Have books and a movie on hand but wake your child up at local time the next day regardless of what time your child actually falls asleep.”

Who wants to wake up a sleeping baby? Not me. I just couldn’t wake her up in the morning knowing she had barely slept all night. We kept her routine as normal with a bath before bed, but that didn’t change things. She finally just fell into a routine herself. So I guess my only advice is patience, because they will fall into the routine eventually.

And guess what? We travel back to Los Angeles in 6 days! Won’t it be just great to try and get her back on U.S time? I. Can’t. Wait.

Have you ever had to deal with toddler jet-lag? What are your tips?


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