So you’re back in Hong Kong after a long summer away and your little ones are of course perfectly set to your holiday time zone. So how do you get them back on track when you land back home in Hong Kong? Wide awake when its time to go to sleep, sleeping in until lunchtime or beyond, meals and milk feeds at crazy times….sound familiar? Yup, your baby is jetlagged, just like you!
The difference is, you know how to gradually shift things to get yourself back in Hong Kong time, but given the chance your baby will happily stay on holiday time! With most long hauls back to Hong Kong, you are going forward in time and this always seems to be more difficult than the other way around. While there is no hard and fast way of adjusting babies and children, here are a few tips to make the process less painful for all the family.
On your return to Hong Kong:
Do the bath and bedtime later than you would normally do in HK for the first couple of nights – but earlier than your holiday time, bringing this time forward by an hour or so the next night. Start approximately 3 hours later than usual and go through the normal motions of quiet time, bath, into pajamas, and then milk feed (for babies/toddlers). Your child may feel hungry in the night (it’s dinner time after all!) so if they don’t settle easily on the first night offer milk for babies or a carbohydrate snack like toast for toddlers and older kids, as well as a drink, in their room, with lights dim, then maybe read another story before a kiss goodnight.
Be sure to get them up at around Hong Kong morning time. It may be an hour or so later than usual but that’s ok for first morning. And give them breakfast or milk as soon as they get up.
On the 2nd night back, bring bath and bedtime earlier by another hour or so and wake up them around the normal HK morning wake up hour. And by the thirdor fourth night back you should be just about into your normal Hong Kong bedtime routine. It usually takes about a week to get totally back on track, but if you are setting the scene and sticking to the normal routine its easier for your child to adjust.
Allow the usual length and amount of naps for your child’s age, but make sure any naps are evenly spread through the day and try not to exceed total nap-time for your child’s age. Be sure any afternoon nap is finished a good while before bedtime.
Go outside in the morning or late afternoon for some outdoor play – the natural light will help reset their biological clock.
Keep their bedroom dark and cool at night and a little lighter for day naps. Try to avoid your child falling into a deep sleep on the sofa – easier said than done, but keep them on the go as much as possible so they will sleep better at nap and bedtime.
Avoid activity or too much interaction at nighttime – your child’s body clock might be telling them its playtime but avoid letting your baby or child get up in the night and turning lights on, going to the living room to play, watch a DVD etc. If they cannot sleep, give them a quiet toy or book and allow them to play quietly in their bed – without interaction and with lights very low, until they get sleepy again and fall asleep.
Offer meals at the usual HK mealtimes to get your baby or child back into their pattern as soon as possible. If meals or milk are missed in the day they will likely wake up hungry in the night.