Traveling Across Time Zones with a Baby

Updated on February 25, 2010
A.C. asks from Atlanta, GA
5 answers

My son is on a very strict schedule: he wakes up at 6:30 and has a snack to tide him over, eats breakfast at 7:30, has a snack at 10, lunch at 12, naps from 1-4, snack at 4, dinner at 6, and bedtime is 7:30. We stick to this schedule every day, and it is wonderful, because I know when he's hungry, and I know if he fights me at nap time or bedtime that something is wrong, because otherwise he just knows when he is supposed to sleep. The schedule makes my life much easier, but my son is very reliant on it, and the one time we had to adjust his schedule for daylight savings this fall, it took him over 2 months before he stopped fighting me at bedtime because it was just wrong for him (so obviously this spring, we will have to ease him into it to prevent that from happening again!).

My question is this: my son and I will be attending a Memorial Service for about a week in April. He will be 14-months old, and the Memorial Service is in California (we are on EST where we live, so it is a 3-hour time difference). I have no idea what to do to prevent this from messing everything up, since just one hour difference for daylight savings time threw him off so dramatically. If I allow him to adjust his schedule to California time, then when we come back, he will be trying to go to sleep at 10:30 at night, and it will be agony trying to move it forward again! But if I try to keep him on the EST schedule, he will be going to bed at 4:30 in the afternoon, which I not only think is unlikely, but also would prevent me from doing any sort of socializing with family in the afternoon or evening. Has anyone else run into this problem? Any advice?

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answers from Dallas on

We regularly travel to AZ -- a 1 or 2 hour time difference depending on the time of year and dst. We've been doing this since he was 3 months old (he's now 5). My only advice is to remain flexible and keep a sense of humor. Schedules are great when you're at home, but can be a pain in the butt when you're on vacation or traveling. You're going to have to skirt between the two time zones and there will be a few days of adjustment, but you'll be ok. Chances are, now that he's older, he will do better. I noticed that with my son as well and hopefully you'll find the same to be true. I would just suggest that you go with the flow. You're going to be there for a memorial service, so chances are, there's going to be other things going on emotionally. Just try and keep your stress low. If that means he goes to bed at 10, then so be it. It's only temporary. You may want to try adjusting his nap schedule, but don't beat yourself up if he doesn't comply. You might try transitioning a few days before you leave to get a head start on the schedule change. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from El Paso on

Having traveled across the world for several years with two small kids, let me tell you, it won't be easy. For adults, we can fight sleep and adjust faster but for kids, it just doesn't register. The best thing you can do is just let him sleep when he's tired and his body will adjust with the current time zone. When you get back home, you'll just have to take a week to get him back on schedule. Won't be fun but he's so small that it's just not possible to explain to him that he should be sleep or awake at certain times when all they do at this age is listen to their bodies! Hopefully everything won't be totally wack from the traveling. Good luck!

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answers from Madison on

We visit my parents every year. They live in a time zone that is 2 hours earlier from ours. It is a pain for the first few days until the kids adjust to the new time. I always dread the sleeping transition. Always a transition again when we get home. I don't think there is much you can do to avoid this.

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answers from Cleveland on

He will be a little older so it might not be as bad.....

As for socializing, could you get a sitter if he needs to nap? or have the other folks come to wherever you and baby are staying and do the socializing there, that way you are available for him when he needs you.

Sorry I can't be of more help, my kids never had much of a schedule regardless of where we were. Good luck!

K. Z.



answers from New York on

Unfortunately, you're going to have to be a little flexible with his schedule. My son regularly travels two time zones (New Jersey to Colorado) to visit his grandparents, and he's done the three time zone change twice. He generally has one late night and early morning when we arrive, and then he's fine. But I'm no where close to being as rigid with his schedule as you are with your son's schedule.

It will take a day or two to adjust to the new time zone going there, and then again coming home. But I highly recommend you trying to get him into the new time rather than try to stick to his old schedule. It will be miserable for both of you and it may ruin your whole trip.

I may not have been much of a help, but there's my humble advice. Good luck!

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