Diane’s Top Tips for Travelling with Children and for handling Jet Lag

Q&A with Diane Tunstall, Child Development Expert, Advanced  Neonatal Nurse & Paediatric Sleep Consultant

Dianes mantra is KISS: Keep It Sweet & Simple! Cover your baby with kisses!

KIDSORTED: Easter time also means travel time. For parents that are travelling abroad into another time zone, what would be your advice to best deal with jet lag?

Diane: Babies under 6 months find it easier to adjust as they follow their bodies lead with regard to sleep.  Adjust their milk amounts to bring feeds forward, follow bedtime rituals and set your alarm clock as you may need to insert a feed in the early morning.

Older children are starting to develop a sense of body clock and circadian rhythm so will need your help to adjust. If you are planning a short trip it may make more sense to keep the child on their home timing. If not, again, allow them to sleep when they are ready rather than putting them to bed when they are not tired. It may mean keeping them active and trying to go to bed as close to their usual time…cranky for the first day! Follow your bedtime routine as this lets your child know what to expect even though the surroundings are different and set your arm clock to wake up at the same time each day…a lie in does not help to reset a body clock (this is a bit cruel during vacation time but on the positive side will help you as well to deal with jetlag). Go outside and get lots of daylight, this helps the brain to re adjust the body clock.

KIDSORTED: Talking about travel, what would be your advice to keep little ones happy, healthy and entertained during long car rides or when on the plane?

Diane: Where possible try to travel when it is your child’s sleep or nap time. Young children have short attention spans and need to be active so plan plenty of stops along your route. Audio books and lots of small toys and books. Whilst car seats are a legal necessity, they do not provide the best position for young babies, potentially affecting breathing and digestion. Having an adult sit next to them in the car and frequently stopping to remove them from the seat (even if they are sleeping) is advisable according to research findings. Plane journeys present a different challenge. Travelling when the child is due to sleep allows parents to enjoy the journey as well. Feed babies during take off and landing to ensure pressure adjustments are facilitated. For babies I recommend layered clothing as you never know how the temperature will be on the plane. Pack lots of small toys, electronic games for older children and stickers for the toddlers!

KIDSORTED: When travelling, what are the “must have” products that should not be missing in a “travel medicine kit”?

Diane: There are many first aid kits (age appropriate) on the market all designed with your holiday needs in mind. Make sure you are familiar with the contents and interchange painkillers and creams for those you have used previously so no allergic reactions will happen.

Consider including:

  • Pain killer/anti-inflammatory
  • Insect repellent and bite cream
  • Antiseptic wipes and cream
  • Waterproof plasters
  • Sunscreen
  • Rehydration sachets
  • Saline drops suitable for eyes and dry noses
  • Thermometer

Your local Boots have qualified staff who will be able to advise you on your particular needs.

Research your holiday destination and research any paediatric doctors who speak your language. Know the telephone numbers for ambulance services and the address of the nearest hospital.

Remember to take your child’s development notes (red book in the UK) as this has a lot of relevant information inside. If your child takes a regular medication, keep it with you at all times and take enough with you plus 3 days spare in case of a delay.


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Babies don’t sleep through the night? Pregnant with second one and need maternity nurse support in first couple of weeks? Toddler tantrums are killing you? Find out more about Diane.