Changing Baby's Schedule When Traveling

13 December 2011

So in the last two months, our family has relocated twice. The first time was our Houston to Calgary move, and more recently we've moved from Calgary to the east coast of Canada. That's a lot of moving! We've gone back 1 time zone and then forward 3 time zones and I've learnt a bit about managing twin babies' schedule when travelling.

I've learnt that the number of days it'll take to transition a baby's schedule is at least equal to the number of time zones crossed. That's how it's been in my twintopia. When we moved one hour behind, we were able to change the schedule with one day of transition. When we moved three hours ahead, it's taken three transitional days to be back on our schedule.

Changing Feeding Schedule: I've always used feeding times as my primary tool for controlling the girls' schedule and sleep times sorta fall in place. Our current schedule is to eat every three to four hours after waking up. That means breakfast around 7:30am, lunch at 11:30am, snack at 3:30pm and dinner at 6:30pm give or take 30 minutes.

The steps I used to transition the schedule is to keep move the lunch time from 11:30am in the old time zone to 11:30am in the new time an hour at a time. It's best to use lunch time because that is the easiest feeding time to maneuver. Breakfast is tied to wake up time and cannot should not be messed with. Lunch time can be moved 2-4 hours after breakfast and the afternoon nap, snack and dinner will fall in place.

Changing sleep schedule: This is a little trickier because too little sleep can lead to super cranky baby X 2 and too much sleep means waking up at 3:00am to play peekaboo. I go with the sleep theory in Dr Weissbluth's book that babies need a certain number of hours to sleep every day. At this stage, both girls thrive on 14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. 1-3 hours of naps and 11-13 hours overnight.

When in the daycare, they take one long nap after lunch. At home with Mommy they take two naps. A one hour nap around 9:30 and a 90minute nap after lunch. In this case, I had to get them to go to bed earlier in the new time zone which means wearing them out in the day time which means allowing them to play through their morning nap time. I also shortened their afternoon naps by picking them up when they stirred instead of letting them settle back for an additional 30 minute snooze.

Here's how it works (OL is old location, NL is new location)
  • Day one: Wake up and have breakfast. It's 7:30am in OL and 10:30am in NL. Play through nap time and have lunch one hour earlier at 10:30am OL/1:30pm NL. Long nap. Snack at 1:30pm OL/4:30pm NL. Dinner at 5:00pm OL/8:00pm NL. Bedtime at 9:00pm
  • Day two: Wake up and have breakfast. It's 6:00am in OL and 9:00am in NL. Observe morning nap time and have lunch one hour earlier than previous day at 9:30am OL/12:00pm NL. Long nap. Snack at 1:00pmOL/4:00pm NL. Dinner at 4:00pm OL/7:00pm NL. Bedtime at 8:00pm
  • Day three: Wake up at usual time of 7:30 am. Activities in NL are now not more than 30 minutes from their normal scheduled time.
  • Day four: Our schedule is successfully transitioned
So that's what worked for us. One thing to note is that the changes make for a lot of baby sleep awakenings in the middle of the night and that is simply unavoidable. If only this worked for mommy. It's 1:00am and I'm plugging away at the laptop because my body thinks it's only 10:00pm. Sigh!
I, Have an affiliate link on the Dr Weissbluth book

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