9 answers

Dealing W/ Time Zone Changes and Toddler Bedtime When Traveling...

We are traveling from the East Coast to the West Coast with our 2 year old. Her sleep routine is going so well I'm so afraid the 3 hour time zone change will really disrupt things. Do you have any suggestions that have worked for you in this situation when you were traveling?

What can I do next?

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How long are you going to be gone? What is her usual schedule? Are you flying? If you are going to be gone for a short time, you could try to keep her on her same time zone. For instance, if she usually sleeps 9pm to 9am, you could put her down at 6pm and expect her up around 6 am. That can be hard to pull off, though, because it is usually not worth it for the adults (getting up that early). Most likely, she will be tired very early the first night (compared to Pacific Time and compounded by the travel) and will wake up earlier than you want her to the next day and subsequent days. Gradually she will adjust to the time zones both going and coming. Just go by how tired she is and not by what the clock says. She won't know the difference that way.

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How long are you going to be gone? What is her usual schedule? Are you flying? If you are going to be gone for a short time, you could try to keep her on her same time zone. For instance, if she usually sleeps 9pm to 9am, you could put her down at 6pm and expect her up around 6 am. That can be hard to pull off, though, because it is usually not worth it for the adults (getting up that early). Most likely, she will be tired very early the first night (compared to Pacific Time and compounded by the travel) and will wake up earlier than you want her to the next day and subsequent days. Gradually she will adjust to the time zones both going and coming. Just go by how tired she is and not by what the clock says. She won't know the difference that way.

A.,
Maybe you can manipulate her naps on the way over and on the way home so that her night time sleep schedule will not be too upset. If she can get a good nap or two on the way there maybe she can stay up a little longer while on the West Coast. Then on the way back home maybe you could try to skip her nap so that she will be really ready to go to bed once you get back to the East coast.
Good Luck with your travels and sleep schedules!

Hi A.! I checked to see what the other responses were because I'm taking my 2 1/2 year old to Hawaii in October and thought I might get a little advice too. I took my daughter to Hawaii when she was 1 and it was a disaster!!! She did not get on Hawaii time the whole week, was up crying every night a few times, and I was so ready for vacation to end...it was awful! So, on the last leg of our trip home (ATL to CHS), the flight attendant could tell we were tired and we told her the story of the "sleepless vacation". Her advice was to try and get the child on the destination time zone as soon as you leave your house. She suggested benadryl to get them to sleep (destination sleep time). Of course, I will be trying this when we leave in Oct. for Hawaii. Hope this works for you and me! D. H

The actual traveling you are going to do is going to mess with your routine anyway, so we just switch over to the time zone we are at, and keep the same bedtimes, just in that time zone. It makes things much easier. Just treat it like 8 o'clock here, when it's 8 o'clock there, and your child will adjust. We have traveled a lot to the west coast, and to even hawaii from here, and always kept our schedule just at their time zone, and it's worked for us wonderfully. Traveling makes it hard to keep schedules, and you're probably going to have to let some routines go to the way-side, but stick to the ones that are important.

A., I wish I had some good news for you. We had a trip at the beginning of July. I was hoping to "somewhat" keep our son's schedule...but my husband's family didn't get it... and our son was up until about midnight our time zone on the second day to accomodate THEIR schedules. It is SO hard going East to West. He was a disaster the rest of the trip, and although he was a great sleeper before we went.. his naps and night time sleep are STILL screwed up.
I would do anything to not listen to the people who said to not worry about it. I would have kept him on his schedule and gotten up with him at the crack of dawn there (because he woke up at that time despite going to bed later).. so he never got anough sleep.
I wish you luck. It is extremely hard, and if you change their schedule to accomodate yourself or others.... it doesn't get fixed overnight, and it might make your days there much harder. Cranky, out of sorts.... kind of like I am from not getting my sleep ~~still!

I have traveled a lot with my now 5 year old and the 2 things I found worked best when she was younger were 1. Don't completely adjust to the new time zone especially if the trip is 1 week or shorter. We used to live on the West Coast and when we came East we'd keep her on West Coast time (sleeping in is great) but when going west (after our move out here) we'd adjust her just by only 1-2 hours. 2. Make sure the bedtime routine is as close to at home as possible! Same books, same music, same blankie etc. even if it's only 6pm and still light outside as long as you are acting like everything is the same as at home and it's bedtime then it is! FYI- About Benadryl, do not try this for the 1st time on the plane or at the destination. Some (MANY) children get hyper and/or really cranky when taking Benadryl so if this is something that you think you might want to try do it at home 1st to see how your child reacts!

i travel with my kids to israel at least once a year - it is 7 hours difference and i find that it takes about a week to get them used to the time difference - so about a day per hour.. more or less. you can try and change the schedule before leaving a little bit a at a time by pushing bed time a little longer and waking up a tad earlier.
its always amazing how when you get back it is easy to just be back in the original timing

have a safe trip !
T.

The traveling is going to mess up sleep schedules anyways so you can either just follow what ever time it is for sleeping or gradually change it in 15 or 30 min spurts ever few days till he is on the time zone you are in. We just traveled from the East Coast to Northen IN (Great Lakes Area) and they are an hour slow to us so I try to keep my 2yr old on our time but when you are trying to visit family and sat in the car for 15+ hrs, it's kinda hard to do!! We just got back Sunday night from being gone for a week and he is only about and 30-45 mins off his normal schedule right now and will be back on track within a few more days. Kids seem to bounce back pretty fast!!

Good luck with your travels!
S.

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