Tips for Air Travel and Getting My 4 Month Old Adjusted to the Time Change

Updated on September 01, 2009
J.C. asks from San Francisco, CA
7 answers

My husband and I will be taking our 4 month old daughter on her first plane trip to Hawaii next week. Does anyone have good tips on how to make her as comfortable as possible on the plane so that she won't cry too much? Also, any tips on how to get her adjusted to the 3 hour time difference when we get to Hawaii and then when we come home? My daughter goes to sleep right now at 6:30 p.m. and wakes up at 6:15 a.m., but it'll only be 3:30 p.m. in Hawaii when it's supposed to be her bedtime in SF. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

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answers from San Francisco on

My husband and I spent a week in London and 2 weeks in Rome when our daughter was six months, so I know exactly what you're planning for! The good news is, at 4 months she is still sleeping quite a bit and isn't really mobile so she won't be wiggling much during the long flight. Our flight was closer to nine hours but Chloe did great! No tears at all!
I breastfed her during takeoff and landing to keep her swallowing so her ears wouldn't bother her (a bottle works well too), we took turns walking up and down the aisles a few times when she got wiggly to give her a change of scenery, and we packed a few of her favorite toys and snacks to enterain her with. Since your baby won't be eating solids yet, a few of her favorite toys/ stuffed animals would probably be fine. Honestly though, she slept much of the trip, I think due to the movement and noise of the plane.
We also asked for the bulkhead seating, not sure if they have that to Hawaii, but worth asking about. It had a platform that came down from the wall that a foam box buckled to, making a little bassinet that we could lay her down in while she slept to give ourselves a break. I called the airline and they hooked it up! It also gives you more legroom, more space for that diaper bag and is a huge plus for tall parents!
Another tip is to dress her in several layers and bring an extra blanket so that you can keep her warm on the plane and cool once you get off.
As far as the time change, we noticed that with all the commotion and excitement of traveling she stayed up later than usual and slept longer once we went to bed, so it didn't take long to adjust her schedule. Keeping the shades open while she's napping and closed when you guys go to sleep might help. We tried to ply with her when she started to get tired to keep her up a little longer but woke her when we got up in the morning, so she switched over pretty quickly.
Have fun! This is a great time to travel with a new baby and you deserve the rest! :)

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answers from San Francisco on

The absolutely most common issue during flight is ear pain on the descent. The descent is much longer/slower (~30 minutes) than the ascent and therefore more problematic. The most effective way to help with the air pressure changes is swallowing. Sucking a pacifier does NOT help. They have to actually swallow. So try to time a feeding with the end of the flight, starting in the last 40 minutes or so (or as soon as you feel the first change in pressure in your ears.)

As for the time change, our bodies respond to the cues of sunlight (or lack thereof.) So I would let her stay up late and spend some time outside the first afternoon/evening. It will help her body clock adjust, and that way she won't be up so early the next morning. Maybe even let her have an extra nap the day you travel there.

Good luck!

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answers from Modesto on

During takeoff and landing, make sure she is sleeping, nursing
(Or bottle) or sucking on the pacifier to avoid ear aches from her ears popping. At that age, my daughter slept most of the time on the plane (nursing) and was pretty easily amused people watching eve n when awake. I've found travel much more challenging now that she's older. Good luck!

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answers from San Francisco on

Before we traveled to Japan, our pediatrician told us to start changing their sleep schedule before. Just in fifteen or half our increments so that their habit is already in transition. This made the adjustment easy. I think they suffered less jet lag then we did. Going there isn't bad, the return gets you! Be sure to schedule a free day or too to get back into sinc with the local sun.

The advice about breast/bottle feeding at take off and landing is key. That is when the ears will get uncomfortable and the drinking helps, not to mention it knocks them out!

Have a great trip!

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answers from San Francisco on

Hello J.: Congradulations on the baby. What a wonderful adventure you are embarking upon. I know that parenthood has been one of my greatest rewards then I topped it off and became a Grandmother.
My son and daughter in law and sweet 4 month old went to Hawii recently. I know the cutest pictures were of the helicopter trip (but I am glad I didn't know they were going up til they sent me the pic from the air).
Remember when you were in school and didn't sleep for days because of the bar exam? Well my kids tell me that the baby's adjustments were very like that feeling. A 4 month old is constantly making changes anyway- becoming alert, eatting new things, and being held 100% of the time while being with you on vacation -- unlike at home where they may be on a blanket playing or in their own bed sleeping.
They have been home 6 weeks now fromthe trip and are just making adjustments and BAM mom starteed school again and dad is working a case. So everyone's schedual is OFF.
So enjoy the trip, take lots of pictures, play in the ocean, and thendo the best you can when you get home for routine andschedual. There is not much you can do about time changes unless you want to pretend while you are there that itis whatever time that it is back home-------- but that is not reality and very hard to do. I promise that all will fall back into place as asoon as you redefine normal when you get back home again. Nana G

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answers from Bakersfield on

My daughter travelled well on an airplane starting at the age of 3 months, including the same flight you are about to take. The best advice I received, and used, was to nurse/bottlefeed during take off and landing. This is to help her ears "pop" and adjust to the altitude changes, just the same way we swallow to pop our ears. Having a baby with pressure in her ears is a good way to have a screaming 3 hour flight!
She will probably adapt easily to the time change going there after a night of staying up "late," it's the coming home that is going to be a tougher fix!

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answers from San Francisco on

I'm sure you'll get some good practical tips, but having traveled a lot with my daughter, my general recommendations with a time change that big is just surrender to the time change, enjoy your vacation, and focus on getting back on track in a gentle and loving way when you return. She will be so affected by the travel itself that you probably won't adhere to schedules anyway. Just try and get her regular opportunities to sleep. Have a good vacation! And when you get back, give yourself some time to make the transition.

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