3 tips on how to switch baby’s sleep to a new timezone.

If you’re preparing to travel with a baby or a toddler, and you’re a mom, you definitely worry about sleep. You worry about loosing your own sleep and then worry that your little one won’t have enough rest to recover from all the activities you’ve planned.

With the daylight savings time and packing for our next trip, sleep time switch is what we are going through right now, so I wanted to share what worked for us to gently change our baby’s routine and move the sleep schedule. As parents know, if baby sleeps, we sleep. It’s so much more important for everyone’s immune system (not to get sick from germ infested airports) and recovery from jet leg during time zone travels.

First of all, the most important thing to remember is that you need to plan your day to make sure you know what 12 hours of the day you want your baby to sleep – creating the night hours for them.

It is completely appropriate for these hours to vary depending on where you are staying and what your activities are as a family. For example, when we were in Paris, France, 7 pm bedtime in NY would be 12 am bedtime in Paris. We decided to keep it that way and started baby’s bed routine at 10:30 pm. It worked out perfectly for us because there was no switch! (except for me to count the times of day he was napping) We had a slow morning, kept the room dark with room darkening curtains, and  would take turns going out in the morning. It was great because it allowed my husband and I to have alone time, which is very important when we travel and spend 24/7 together. We took turns running errands in the morning before noon (baby’s wake up time) and then went on with our day together once he was up. Parisians eat dinner late, so it fit into our schedule perfectly, we would take a stroll through the city one last time before coming back ‘home’ to our airbnb apartment around 10 in time for baby’s bed things. You may choose to do it differently, but make sure it works for your family! Another time – when we were in Arizona, baby’s sleep was 7 pm – 7 am, and we had to do a switch for him to get adjusted to a new schedule, it worked great for all of us!

Here are my top 3 tips:

Keep your baby up.

No matter what, no matter how tired your baby is, keep them up, distract them, tire them out even more and put them to bed at the time that you decide and establish as the NEW sleep time. For example, with daylight savings time, we gained an hour and what normally was 7 pm bedtime would become 6 pm. In my opinion it’s too early, so we started keeping baby up until 8 pm 2 days before Sunday, by 8 pm he was so tired and went to bed easily and very quickly. Once daylight savings day came (Sunday), he was half way to the switch; I do feel like it’s harder to move sleep by one hour, but you get it done! If the timezone is 3 hours difference or more, your baby may need a quick nap before the new proposed bedtime, so let them sleep for 45 minutes (a full baby sleep cycle) and then wake baby up for a couple of hours before the new bedtime. Same goes for nap time, keep your baby up until the new schedule nap time is up.

Keep your baby asleep.

I know, it’s the hardest thing to do when your baby just doesn’t want to sleep! Here is what works for us: keep curtains shut and put in extra layer of light blocking curtains to keep the hotel room as dark as possible. If you need some light, then keep it as dim as possible. If your baby wakes up too early and doesn’t know that you’re trying to switch them to sleep in for a couple more hours, take them to bed with you, while you’re laying down, cuddle, hang out, don’t let them play with toys, try to keep them laying down (I know its nearly impossible once your baby is on the move), give them a bottle of warm milk, it will make them sleepy, and in general keep voices low and the atmosphere as calm as possible. When the hour comes when you want them to wake up, turn the lights on, open up the curtains and let the sun in, letting them know it’s waking time. Their body will catch up to those signals really quickly!

Don’t give in!

No matter what, don’t give in and let your baby sleep in, or wake up early, or go to bed earlier then the NEW time YOU set for them! It’s so hard for those 3 days when you’re making them switch and adapt to a new schedule, but it’s so worth it in the end! My baby always did the full switch by day 4, as if his own biological clock was reset and he was ready to do it like nothing ever happened! Don’t get me wrong though, these 3 days to get there (can be more) will be tough! You will either wake up hours earlier then you want to, or loose sleep some other way. It’s hardest when its 1-4 hours difference, and easiest when its 6+ hours of a change.

For full disclosure, I did not sleep train my baby, I tried reading the books, but it was just not for me. My philosophy was to pay very close attention to my baby and his needs, his wake time and when he would want to go to sleep. I believe that we found a sweet spot where he sleeps 12-13 hours at night, 2 naps that usually last 1.5-2 hours each. This has been our schedule since he was 7 months and now is almost 13 months old. Of course we’ve had some really bad nights and teething sleeplessness, sick baby and tired parents times, no one is immune to those.

Would you like to hear more about our baby’s sleep schedule and how I learned from him what he needed?

Comment below your questions and comments about sleep, I’ll do my best to share our story. I am an expert in my baby’s sleep, because I have to be, and hope that it can help another mama friend!

XX

L.

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Breastfeeding: 5 things that helped me with milk supply

Increasing my milk supply is hard. I think ultimately it all has to do with genetics, stress levels and on the baby (what kind of feeder/eater baby is). I certainly remember doing all kinds of research in the beginning to find out what would help with my supply; now that baby and I are getting pretty good at this feeding thing and I hope my 5 tips may help someone who’s looking for ideas.

I no longer use a pump and I stopped building a freezer stash as of a few months ago. Around month 4-5 I decided that I will continue to breastfeed as long as my baby wanted, introduce foods and let him try everything he wants. I stopped stressing over it and have felt much better about our experience of feeding, since then its been great for me and the baby since he’s growing longer every doctors apt!

Breastfeeding a hungry little dude is a lot of work! This past weekend our little family went to Long Island, New York, and half way through our trip I started to worry about my supply changing mostly because Rollo wasn’t eating as much as he did at home during the normal routine. He ate more solids on this trip and even took some water from a bottle.

I’m sure every baby is easily distracted at this age, it seemed like everything is more interesting then me and eating is hard now, again. I am not sure if I’m the only one experiencing this with my baby at 7-8 months old, I literally have to hold his head, sometimes his legs and arms too, and even cover his head with a swaddle blanket because otherwise he’s too interested in stuff around the room or where ever he is.

I plan to breastfeed until 12-14 months, depending on how long he would like and how it goes with weaning him. It’s a little selfish too, because we have a big 3 week trip planned when he’s 12 months and I don’t want to make a big change like weaning him before then, making it easier on me to comfort him on a long plane flight (like more then 12 hours long) and bribing less food and formula for the trip when I’ll be focusing on less luggage.

If you have tips on traveling for that long with a baby and what to bring on a plane for a 1 year old, please let me know in comments below!

Coming home this week I went back to what works for me to increase and upkeep milk supply. I know there are tons of milk supply cookie recipies out there, so I will not include that here because that’s not always my go to.

  1. Water! I know, duh! But it really works! At home on a regular basis I drink 100-125 oz of water every day. I literally measure it because otherwise I won’t drink enough. I notice a huge difference in my supply once I started to drink 100 or more oz a day. Since then I’ve been drinking water and visiting the bathroom like when I was pregnant. Added benefit – my skin is feeling great, smooth and hydrated. This time I also added some coconut water to add the hydration to my body. Somehow when I’m traveling I end up dehydrated.
  2. Tofu. Ok, so this has been my go to for increasing my supply anytime I get worried. About 3 months postpartum we went out and I had agidashe tofu, it’s usually served as an appetizer at a Japanese restaurant. The next day I noticed a huge increase in my supply and ever since then it’s been my little secret weapon. I also have used tofu in my cooking at home, and I can link a few recipies if you ladies would find it helpful, it can be hard to eat if not seasoned well because the taste is so different. IMG_1228
  3. Muesli. I love this muesli from Red Mill brand, it’s what I have for lunch or breakfast every morning at home. I add blueberries or raspberries to my muesli with some almond milk and it’s so refreshing on a hot day! I noticed how my milk supply started to be very consistent once I added this mean into my day. I don’t know why exactly, but it must be all the different grains in it! I also know it works because when we travel and I don’t have it for a few days I notice a difference. IMG_1166
  4. Increase feedings. I think babies know home and their own bed! My baby boy certainly loves his bed and will sleep best at home in his own crib. I’m very protective of his sleep, and when we come back from a trip he always takes a day or two to recover. He usually takes an extra nap during the day and an extra hour per nap. It works great for me because I can unpack and get stuff done at home. I add in a couple more feeding sessions during the day to help increase my supply. I don’t pump anymore, unless it’s super necessary, and I feel like making my baby nurse actually increases my supply more then if I was pumping. We both enjoy the extra cuddles after a busy weekend. IMG_1454.JPG
  5. Sleep. Maybe it’s me, maybe its the stress levels, but I find that after a weekend trip, or any trip with the baby, I need a LOT more extra sleep to catch up. I find that sleep and rest, maybe a bath or a massage – whatever helps to relax and catch up to a peaceful state of mind – helps me SO much with letting my body do what it needs to! So make someone baby sit if you need to, and rest up!

 

I am no expert, I am not a specialist, just a mom who tried different things via trial and error until I found what worked for me and my baby and my body.

Best of luck to you if you are in the fight to breastfeed your little one. It’s a good fight to be in, and many of us win in the end and get the hang of it! Keep up the good work mama!

L.

Traveling with an infant: Weekend edition

 

The very first trip we took was to visit family over thanksgiving. We packed the car full. The whole trunk was filled with everything and anything we could possibly need. In the end, a tiny little baby barely needed any of the stuff, he just needed me, (boobs really), and a safe place to sleep. But hey, we were super prepared for ANYTHING!

I packed the car to the you could barely see in the rear view mirror, even back seat next to the car seat had stuff, and then I realized that there is NO room for our dog. (The whole reason to buy this SUV was to fit us and the dog when we traveled) So we ended up taking two cars to be able to bring up pup with us, she’s a harlequin great dane, so my little diva takes space.

I certainly don’t consider myself a travel expert. But I am pretty much a packing ninja by now so forgive me if I feel like it gives me the right to give advice to parents traveling with an infant.

Since our baby was born he has been on 7 weekend trips. Each trip I learn something new and get an opportunity to improve on the whole approach to packing, feeding and baby carrying. This is what I learned from our travels, I hope you find it helpful and I hope I remember my own lessons learned and not have to re-live it.

Driving

Time the drive during the baby’s nap. If you have to leave at a certain time, keep your baby up for a longer time and do whatever you can to adjust their schedule to nap during the car ride. This worked every time we were driving.

For us, it worked best to leave in the morning at 8:30/9 am, which is when R usually takes his fist nap after waking up.

Feed the baby right before the ride. It’s less likely that they will wake up.

Let the baby fall asleep in the car seat on the drive. I found that our baby slept better and longer if he fell asleep in the car on his own.

Time your own bathroom breaks. I drink SO much water, because of breastfeeding, so I get the bathroom needs. If you need to make a stop, and there is more then one adult in the car, then have them drive the car while you go to the rest area, and then switch. Every time we stop and stay staionaty for longer then 2 minutes, the baby always wakes up.


After doing this drive multiple times, my preferred time to go back home on Sunday is 6-6:30 pm. My baby goes to bed for the night between 7 and 8 pm, so its perfect if his bed time is a tiny bit early this time. During travels he doesn’t sleep much during the day, so it allows him to sleep longer during the night. If he’s asleep by 6:30 or so in the car, everything goes so smoothly! I put him into pjs, feed him, and off we go. When we get home he goes right into the crib and usually sleeps 8-9 hours before waking up for another meal.

Feeding

The first thing, you have to feed you, the adults. Because you need to function to get to your destination and not loose brain power. It’s actually so important that I’m starting with it, if the adults who are traveling are fed, there is less likely to be a fight, fatigue, dehydration and other issues that parents who are already sleep deprived can experience. So I have to think ahead and pack the car with food I can eat on the go, small meal type that I can grab quickly and eat while nursing my baby. Sandwiches work best, since in the case of hunger and fatigue from running around packing the car, taking care of the baby and putting your own clothes on while at the same time trying to remember to lock the house and the home security password, you will run out of brain power and a protein bar won’t do it. At least it doesn’t fix it for me. Some people prefer shakes, they don’t work for me either.

We all know that the hardest part about finding a place to eat during travel is often picking a cuisine. I find that it helps to look up restaurants ahead of time, before you even start packing for the trip, so when you get to your destination, you know where to go eat and can take care of your baby’s needs faster.

This happened to us. We arrived to the city where my husband was born and lived for at least two decades, where we met and still visit often, and we just sat in the car completely blank coming up with a place to go eat. It’s the baby brain, and it aparantly daddy brain is a thing too.

Keep your own (adults on the trip) meal times the same as at home. It will allow the infant to feel like its the normal day routine, well at least a little bit.

Feeding the baby – that’s easy. Write down the times your baby usually nurses/feeds at home, try to stick to that schedule. I don’t often have enough memeory to remember all of it, so I use this app to remember and keep track of feedings and sleep. It’s especially helpful when traveling. (Infant stage, so I’m exclusively breastfeeding and writing about my experience, I know it’s different when you have to bring formula, a pump, or other foods if your baby is eating solids)

Packing

Divide the responsibilities very clearly. Do it based on your strenghts. Im the one who packs, because Im very good at it. Even packing the car. Because I’ve had so much practice it doesn’t take very long. My husband will bring out the heavy stuff to the car, but I put it in, while he puts the baby into the car seat.

These photos were taken when we were visiting family over the weekend and both of our outfits we bought that weekend. I always end up going shopping, since where we are there are not too many options, and so now I pack less clothing for myself and that way can fit in what we buy when shopping out of town. You especially have to take this into consideration when you have luggage on the plane.

When leaving, pack fast, you will have to unpack and do laundry anyway, so it doesn’t matter how and where in the car everthtyhing will fit. Just shove. This is also when I take care of the baby, feed him, give him a sponge bath, and put him into pjs. By the time we are done, my husband can pack the car up and we are ready to leave.

What to pack?

After doing it almost a dozen times now, this is what worked best for me, because baby spit up.

Check out my packing check list and screen shot to save it.

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Gear

Stroller, car seat, sleeping arrangement (it’s different for every family)

This car seat toy attachment is the best! Keeps the baby entertained for a while! (or this one, you can find lots of variety).

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We also love this rocker because it folds easily to be stored in a car and we found it super helpful with our infant.

Sleeping gear was easy for us, for the first 3 months we brought the stroller and pram body where our baby would nap during the day and at night. It was easy to transport and was close to the shape of the bassinet where he slept at home.

Timing

Plan around baby’s schedule, even if your baby doesn’t have a set schedule yet, you should still be aware of general tendencies toward timing of your baby’s feeding, play time, and down time. Keep it as close to what it is at home as possible.

If you have a day when your baby is just fussy, it’s happened to us, take some time to find a quiet corner, a comfy chair, or just stay in bed for a while and hold your baby, sometimes that alone fixes fussy and out of scheduled routine baby issues.

You know your baby well, so pay attention to see if it’s the stress from traveling, a cold coming on, teething or something even more serious that’s causing extra baby fussiness.

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Baby carrier is optional, we used it once on our trips, so its up to you if you will need it or not. But since they don’t take much room, you can add this one to your list.

Expectations

Most importantly perhaps, set the expectations for the trip ahead of time. Where to go, what to do and see, don’t over book yourself and especially be prepared for plan changes and complete detours, and even returning home, if necessary.

Being prepared for the unexpected to come up allows less stress for when it actually happens to you.
I hope you found some good suggestions here from what worked for our family so far.

Where is your next weekend adventure taking you and your infant?
Xoxo

L.