Reader Questions: Will Travel Ruin Baby's Sleep?

I received this question from Jenny, who lives in China with her 3 month old baby.
Hi! This website is great as my husband and I are expats living in China right now and just had a baby 3 months ago. We love travelling and hoped to keep travelling even with our new son, but our friends told us it was almost impossible. We are planning on returning home to Hawaii for a month in February and I'm really worried about the jet lag. Currently he is on a great schedule, sleeping 11 hours a night and I'm so scared to ruin it all! My question is if he wakes up in the middle of night to eat and I've fed him following his usual 4 hour schedule during the day, should I feed him again at night? Even though I know he's eaten enough during the day? Will that cause him to set himself on a new schedule to eat during the night? Thanks so much for the info and your great site!

Here is my response:

Wow, a 3 month old who sleeps 11 hours at night! You are a lucky mom.

You should set your expectations now that your son will wake up hungry the first few nights (frankly, I wake up hungry the first few nights when we travel) It's ok to feed him if he's hungry. If you're worried that he's getting too used to the night waking, you can start to cut back gradually after a few nights. Every child is different, and I'm betting that you'll figure out what feels like the right pace for him.

Most likely he'll gradually adjust his sleeping and eating on his own (especially since he is such a good sleeper). Take him outside during the day a lot to help him reset his internal clock & try to keep his routine similar to the one you use at home so that he knows when it is nighttime. Expect that it will take several days for him to return back to his normal schedule and routine once you return home as well.

Hang in there. Sleep training isn't truly "done" for quite some time. Travel, teething, illness, rolling, crawling, and walking all cause temporary disruptions, so try not to get too hung up on this one disruption.

Have a great time in Hawaii!

Do you have a question about traveling with kids? Send me email: debbie at deliciousbaby dot com

Related Links:
Jet Lag with Babies, Toddlers, and Kids
Naptime and Bedtime on your Family Vacation

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  1. Nicole on January 5, 2012 at 10:33 p.m.

    Hi, I was hoping to get your help...we live in Kong Kong and we just came back from a trip to the US 3 days ago, where there is a 16-hr time difference.

    Our 16-month old son used to be the perfect sleeper and didn't have too much trouble adjusting to the US. Now that we are back in HK it's a nightmare. Eligh screams before his two naps and is only sleeping 6hrs a night (instead of 11) and screams non-stop. I'm trying really hard to get him back into his routine here but he's resisting so badly. He seems happy and fine but I know it's not ok. Can you help? Any suggestions?


  2. Robin on March 11, 2013 at 7:19 p.m.

    We have travelled with our little girls several times between our home in UK and family across Canada. It usually takes about one day per hour time difference to get back to normal but it does eventually happen! Last time was 8 nights for a 7 hour time change.

  3. jodi on June 23, 2014 at 11:50 p.m.

    Hi there travelling from australia to uk with 6.5month old. there is 9hr time difference, just wondering about what to do on the flights and also we stop over there and bk in singapore for 1 night there and back? any advice re feeding breast fed and on solids... advice much appreciated!