Tuesday Topic: Traveling Overseas with a Baby

Ok, I know that you have TONS of helpful advice on this one, so please take a moment to help a momma who is about to embark on an adventurous move overseas!

From Leigh: My family and I are moving in 3 months to South Africa (from the States). My baby girl will be 8 months at the time. Does anyone have good advice for helping the baby adjust to a new time zone? We will be going 6 hours ahead. Advice for coping with the 16 hour flight, and especially helping her transition to the new time zone would be great!

(If you would like to pose a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to formissionarymoms@gmail.com . Provide you blog address if you would like to be linked to, and specify also if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

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16 Responses to “Tuesday Topic: Traveling Overseas with a Baby”


  1. 1 Carrie March 16, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    When I left for the field, our youngest was 2 months. I think that age was easier than 8 months.

    When flying with a baby, I would nurse as often as baby wanted. This eased pain on the ears.

    I would bring a few toys on the plane, but not too many. Too much stuff can be a burden. Let baby have any comfort things (pacifier, blanket, etc).

    I don’t have any advice on time adjustments. In time, I think babies adjust like we do, so long as they have some structure. Try to keep a good nap/bedtime schedule right from the beginning.

    Above all else, be gentle with yourself. This will be a big adjustment for all and won’t happen overnight.

    Wishing you all the best in your move!

  2. 2 Ellie March 16, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Car seat on the plane if you can get one… really helps for the sleeping business.

    umm.. patience. That is about all with the time zone thing. You can try getting up earlier and earlier and going to bed earlier and earlier before you leave, but realistically, that is not practical when you are saying good bye to friends.

    When you get there, try skipping some naps, playing outside in the sun.. this helps set the internal clock. Some agreement before going to bed as to whose turn it is this time to get up with the baby helps, too! It takes about a week to adjust a baby to that much of a time zone change, so schedule a light week if you can and get help!

    We’ve done it. It is never fun, but it is possible. Keep her a little hungry so she will drink during take off – helps with the ear pressure problems. Let her cry before take off and when people give you dirty looks, ignore them. They were once babies too. Or tell them that as soon as you begin to take off, you will feed her and she will sleep. But don’t give in and give her something to drink before you are actually headed down that runway! An enthusiastic sucking on anything during take off is the best way to avoid ear pain, and the crying while waiting makes them drop off to sleep when they do get milk. And – no movies while she sleeps – sleep yourself – you’ll need it!

  3. 3 Summur Braley March 16, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    For airplane rides paper cups. The babies love all things that are not toys. They can stack them, bang them together, gnaw on them. And you can toss them on the plane. A mom told me these before I flew with my 12 month old. I thought she was nuts. It was the best thing we brought. Our daughter played with them for 45 minutes!!!!
    May the Lord bless your trip and your baby!!!!

  4. 4 Amy Medina March 16, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I think kids adjust to new time zones a whole lot better than adults. Just make sure they don’t sleep too much during the day–keep them playing and active.

    Long plane trips with small children are just no fun. I tell myself, “It will be miserable, but I can endure anything for 24 hours.” Just keep reminding yourself that it won’t last forever! She’ll crawl around; she’ll get to know lots of passengers, and you will get through it. Expect that you won’t get much sleep, and then you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you do!

    Usually big airplanes put families with babies in the bulkhead, and there’s often a pull-down bed or place to put a carseat. Ask about this to your airline or travel agent. If you can get these kind of seats, it helps significantly, because then your baby has a place to sleep other than your lap!

  5. 5 Colleen Forry March 16, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    I would definitely get a separate seat for the baby. The first time we flew overseas, my second was 8 months old, as well. He did fairly well, but he also had a seat for himself. A few small toys to play with. It can really depend on the baby. He was very relaxed and enjoyed sleeping. My first was very independent and liked to get around. Started crawling at 6 months and never looked back. It would have been tough if we had flown with him at 8 months, but like another lady mentioned, it’s just tough all around, and you just have to remind yourself that it won’t last forever! It WILL end. Just like your labor did 🙂 Good luck to you all.

  6. 6 Ashley L March 16, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Here is an older post on the topic! https://formissionarymoms.com/2009/03/15/international-travel-with-kids/
    It has more to do with the plane ride than the time change, but hope it helps! There are some other good links in the comments of the post.

    Also, as far as adjustment to the new time, here are the things wee do (many of which are mentioned above)
    -Try to get lots of sleep the week before you leave
    -Try not to let her sleep too much during the day once you arrive
    -Keep it dark and as quite as possible at night, even if she refuses to sleep and wants to play. We often try to keep our kids in their beds as much as is reasonable, even if they are playing with toys. Our daughter was 9 months when we moved overseas and we had a number of nights where she sat in her pack n’ play for hours, awake and playing with toys. I think being in bed in a dark room helps with the nighttime association
    -Sneak a nap for yourself during the day (might mean that you have a slower adjustment, but you’ll definitely be up more at night than you would if you were adjusting without a baby.) You need your rest to deal well emotionally!
    -Lots of sunlight during the daytime for everyone
    -Take shifts, day and night, with your husband and make adjusting your number one priority above other things as much as possible.

  7. 7 Shilo March 16, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    After doing a few LONG flights with a “lap child” we now buy a ticket for all of our children, no matter how young and bring the car seat along. This helps them sleep better and keeps them from kicking the people in front of you. 🙂
    Other than that, keep your expectations realistic…you’ll be in a fog at times…she’ll be in a fog at times. Lots of extra hugs and love and a couple of weeks and things should be back to normal!
    All the best!!!!!!!

  8. 8 Shilo March 16, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Oh, the other thing I forgot to say is don’t be afraid to ask for help! The flight attendants have always been really great about holding the baby while I get the car seat situated and one even walked the baby in the aisle for me…she missed her grandson. 🙂

  9. 9 Gina March 17, 2010 at 12:31 am

    With a child already 8 months, I would opt for a seat in the back of the plane. The bulk head cribs are usually good for about up to 6 months at most, and we found that whenever there was turbulence we were asked to take our kids out of them, which really was disruptive.

    If you’re in the back of the plane, there’s a better chance there are empty seats near you (if you can’t afford the extra seat, and I know we never could!). It’s also much easier to get up and have that space behind you to walk the baby around or give her space to play a little.

  10. 10 Rachel March 17, 2010 at 2:59 am

    We have not been able to afford extra seats so our almost 2 year old will be flying on my lap soon. Any idea for a older VERY active baby? When we took a 12 hour bus trip he only sleep 1 hour! The rest of the time he was moving around and climbing and even pulled the girls hair that was sitting in front of us. He moved around so much he threw up.

    So I would say if you can get a seperate seat for the baby. Maybe hid some toys so they will be “new” and exciting for the trip. Also things, like the cups, that are not toys and not usually played with will be fun. If she is drinking take a bottle or sippy cup (especially if older) so liquid is not being spilled. Try to sit by the window as she may look out and be happy some. This will also give you more of a prop for a heavy sleeping baby. I really don´t know about time zones. Maybe try to have some good play time so she will sleep better during nap and bed time. My little one rarly ever goes to sleep in less than an hour even at home so know your baby and stick to whatever you do now so she will not feel the change as much.

  11. 11 Rachel March 17, 2010 at 3:03 am

    One other thing be sure to take spare clothes and all changing things. This will make it much easier. You may want to take a change of clothes for you just incase!

  12. 12 Richelle March 17, 2010 at 11:00 am

    we’ve flown back and forth several times, now – the first time we left for the field (a 6 hour time difference, too), we had 4: our oldest was 5 and the youngest was 8 mos. now we have 8: our oldest is 14 and the youngest will be 18 mos when we return this summer. The most challenging flight was when i flew by myself with 4 of the kids, ages 6 weeks, 2.5 years, 4 years and 12… we all made it and we all survived!

    There’ve been lots of good suggestions – and new toy, a favorite book, an old cell phone, a box of kleenex, M&Ms, the little “gift” bag some airlines give to traveling children… depending on the child, we’ve found different things work. we’ve also never been able to afford a separate seat for ones young enough to ride as lap children, so I’ve never yet made the trip without a lap baby. It is all doable as long as I remember flexibility and patience, and no expectations that it will be easy for me.

    lots of sleep for me beforehand has also not been a feasible option – too many little people to try and get packed and ready to go and our flights returning from w. africa always leave at midnight or 2/3 in the morning. nursing during take off and landing, a pacifier or sucking on your finger/their fingers or thumb helps and I highly recommend it, but if her schedule is way off, I’ve not found it absolutely necessary. unless sick, their ears seem to do better than mine and at 8 mos, it is easy to distract them to look at what is going on, play, etc. Eating animal crackers, chewing on paper cups or a sippy cup, a bottle of water – whatever works for your baby plan on trying. Don’t plan on taking a ton of stuff. That becomes a headache for you. Sometimes I’ll wear a fun necklace for baby to play with.

    Make sure you’ve got plenty of diapers, dipaer wipes, a change or two of clothing, bib and an extra shirt for you just in case – unless you are ok wearing something that the diaper has leaked on or…

    as far as the time change, they’ve always adjusted more quickly than I have. busy activities, unpacking, seeing friends, time outside, long hot bath or playing in the shower… snuggling in bed between mom and dad while watching a favorite movie (and mom and dad sleep/doze) are all different things we’ve tried. Our first trip, our 8 month old wanted to nurse after we’d arrived. She literally nursed all night, not sleeping super soundly but resting and the next day, both she and I were pretty ready to go.

    Know your baby and how she responds to changes in schedule and place and sketch out your plan based on that… and then remember flexibility and patience. It isn’t usually “fun,” but it is always doable/survivable and in a few days it will all be over.

  13. 13 Andrea Pavkov March 17, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    I would say like most others relax about the time zone change. You will all be tired and a little off schedule but it won’t take long to get back to normal. I would try to keep your “normal” routine like feed, bath, book etc when you are ready for the baby to sleep just to keep things familiar. The flight will seem long although we have traveled for 2-3 days before and our kids did fine. We were worse off then they were. The biggest things I have learned are don’t over pressure yourself and come prepared. You are traveling with a baby and some crying, activity, etc is to be expected. As long as you are not rudely ignoring the needs of other passengers you need to relax and therefore your baby will be much more relaxed. Come prepared with extra clothes, diapers, wipes because it seems that is when you need them and the extra outfit for you is a great idea. Better to not need it and have it, right?

  14. 14 Leigh March 17, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    Thank you all so much! These comments have all been so helpful and I will definitely keep them in mind as we travel!

  15. 15 momfessions March 19, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Definitely fly with your carseat… our youngest slept the whole long flight to Asia in his because it was familiar and comfortable. 😉

    I heard that it takes kids one day to adjust for every hour/time zone you pass. For us, we moved 7 hours ahead, and it did take our kids about 7 days to get back into a good awake/sleeping routine!

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