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Jet lag? Won't sleep...

PostPosted: Fri 19 Jul, 2013 7:46 pm
by MumToOwen
Hi there,

I emailed a while back to get tips on helping my 14 month old son adapt to a new time zone whilst we were in the UK which we've now returned on Wednesday night. While we were away it wasn't too bad however due to the heat over there and their lack of air con/fans/a breeze, he was very warm at night ended up sleeping on our bed with us a lot as well as when we were travelling he had to sleep on one of us on the plane. This isn't something we've ever done before now. He's always been able to sleep by himself. When we got home from the airport we just put him in bed with us to make things easier as it was 1am. Last night he went to bed with no bother at all however he didn't want his night time bottle which he normally is HANGING for. But he went to sleep anyway. He did wake 2 hours later and was settled back into his cot within half an hour and then again up at 430am but we were pleasantly surprised at that.

He also got a cold (as did i) and is still very mucousy and having trouble breathing due to the boogies getting in the way of his swallowing/breathing through his nose. Also, with all of that he was teething and had one day where he had a temperature of 38.8c but we managed to get it down really quickly and he was back to normal within the day, just sleepy. We also had a day of too much sun the day before so we put it down to that. Yesterday he vomited twice after we woke from our big sleep and then slept for most of the day. And again today he's really only been awake for about 4 hours in total today.

Tonight we put him down at his normal time, did everything as per our normal routine (we're very routine people so he knows what the go is) and he refused his milk again, like hysterically refused it. Which is really unlike him. Hubby put him down as normal and does NOT want to be put down. When we were doing self settling with him at 5 months we did pick up put down method and waiting the usual amount of minutes before going in and re-settling. Tonight he was hysterical from the moment we tried to give him his bottle until now which has been over 45 minutes. Every time I go in he stops instantly as soon as I pick him up but if I even THINK about putting him back down he arches his back, grips onto me and screams. He's only just now settled himself after screaming for about 5 minutes and is now asleep. I didn't really want him crying himself to sleep but I just didn't know what else to do. Luckily it wasn't very long otherwise I would have gone back in.

Soooooo, my question is, is it worth going to the doctors to see if there's something else going on or does all of this sound like jet lag and he's just recovering from a cold as well as teething as well as incredibly tired? And also, how do we get out of the habit of him being so dependent on us for sleeping and sleeping with us? In your experience, how long does it take for kids to get back to normal after travel?

Thank you.

Re: Jet lag? Won't sleep...

PostPosted: Sat 20 Jul, 2013 3:23 pm
by NgalaOnline
Hi MumtoOwen

Thank you for your post. It sounds like there are a lot of things going on for your baby at the moment that will be impacting on his sleep and settling. It would be helpful to try to take a relaxed approach to how your baby goes with sleeping in the next few days as it is likely he will be unsettled and out of routine whilst he is sick and jet lagged. His settling ability at the moment is therefore not likely to reflect his long term settling behaviours. If your baby is rejecting some of his milk feeds, has vomited and is acting out of character it does sound as though he could be unwell and it would be worthwhile taking him for a review at the doctor if you are at all concerned. It sounds like he has been doing quite well with sleeping lately even following your return home, despite the disruptions of travelling and heat. If he has a cold at the moment and difficulties breathing this is very likely to cause some difficulties with sleep and settling, and can also make him likely to reject milk feeds. He may have a reduced appetite whilst being unwell or may recognise that he is not able to suck on a bottle easily and breathe whilst having a blocked nose. Following his lead with this whilst continuing to offer day time fluids and ensuring he has plenty of wet nappies is a good approach.

Last night sounds like an understandable reaction from your baby due to the fact that he was unwell and also probably not feeling very sleepy if he had been asleep for most of the day and also jetlagged. It would be best to try not to be too stressed by one occasion of him being unsettled as it is likely to be a temporary situation and him reacting to events that are out of the ordinary for him at the moment. Jetlag often takes a week or so to recover from, often getting a little easier each day. You may find that you need to be flexible with his bedtime during this transitional period (such as moving it back slightly if he has been asleep till late in the day). It can also be helpful to wake him after a period of two or three hours of napping and begin to slowly try to get his settling and waking times more inline with his usual times to help his body clock adjust to the Australian timezone. This may take some time and patience. The fact that he has been going down independently some of the time without too much difficulty since your return suggests he may not have developed any permanent sleep associations during your travel, but may simply be protesting or requiring more support in the last day due to illness and jetlag. If he has developed any sleep associations it is likely that with returning to your usual settling patterns and trying to settle him in his cot he will go back to his normal ways of settling within a week or so. Often the first few days of reintroducing old settling patterns can be the hardest, but if you can persist consistently it is likely your baby will have adjusted and be understanding how to settle himself within a few more days. When you do go in to see him, if possible it is best to offer him comforting in the cot but avoid picking him up out of the cot. You may find it preferable to sit next to the cot and put an arm in through the rail, as coming to comfort him from a lower height is less likely to make him expect that he will be picked up than if you lean in over the cot. Sitting down next to the cot will also often make babies sit down to be near you if they are standing in the cot. If he is still sick at the moment he is likely to require some more comforting and attention than he might usually require.

I hope that this information is helpful and that your baby will return to his usual patterns shortly once he is well again.

Re: Jet lag? Won't sleep...

PostPosted: Sat 20 Jul, 2013 6:13 pm
by MumToOwen
Thank you for that.

I have a few more questions if that's ok. You mention to not pick him up out of the cot to settle him. If I do that, he becomes more hysterical at me because I'm not doing what he is wanting. I believe he MAY have developed a sleep association now as he's gotten used to falling asleep on either myself or my husband due to there being no where else for him to sleep during our travelling. So how long do I let the hysterical crying go on for? Do I just sit there beside the cot for as long as it takes? He has had gone to sleep once in his cot since we've gotten back and the rest of the time I've had enough of the screaming and just let him sleep on me or in our bed.

My plan is to go to the doctors on Monday if things havent improved any. But at the moment he just cannot bear to not be touching one of of us, to be on his own seems like a nightmare to him, I've never heard him scream like this before. Last night he screamed for about 5 minutes (which feels like a lifetime) and fell asleep, woke up screaming 30/40 minutes later, screamed for another 5 minutes and fell asleep again. He did this 4 more times before I gave him and took him to our bed to sleep. Should I not have done that?

Thanks again. Just needing a little further clarification.

Re: Jet lag? Won't sleep...

PostPosted: Sun 21 Jul, 2013 2:43 pm
by NgalaOnline
Hi MumtoOwen,

It is probable that Owen is feeling anxious about being separated from you at the moment due to the fact that there has been a lot of change to routine and environment recently with traveling. As you have been away from home for some time it is quite likely that he does not feel that home and his cot are familiar places anymore, and this leads to him feeling anxious if you separate from him at bedtime. Having some play sessions in his room and cot during the day where you remain with him may help him to become familiar with these environments again.

With regards to picking him up or not, this is a personal choice depending on whether you feel it does help your son to soothe or not. Some parents find that they can pick their child up, give a calming cuddle and then the child will go back into the cot more settled and relaxed. In this instance, picking the child up to calm him down and putting him back in the cot awake when calmed is a good strategy. From your previous post it sounded as though picking him up was making him more aggravated and he was becoming more clingy / distressed when put back down rather than settled by the cuddle. If this is the case then it is often best to persist with offering comforting and settling in the cot rather than picking the child up, even if the child does protest about this. Sitting down by the cot and offering patting, stroking or "sssssshhhhhing" are often good alternatives that are easier to gently draw back on and remove as your child adjusts and becomes comfortable with settling in his cot than taking the child out of the cot may be. It is normal for a child to show signs of anger and be upset if he wants to be picked up and you are not doing this, but by remaining with him you are helping him to not feel scared or abandoned and are easing this transition back to the cot for him. It is helpful to remind yourself that you are supporting your child and trying to teach him something new (settling in his cot) because you feel it will be in his interests and the family's interests for him to get more sleep. With regards to how long to persist if your child is upset and protesting - this is an individual choice based on how you are feeling at the time. The more you are able to be persistent and consistent the quicker and easier it will be for your child to understand what is being expected and start to adjust to the new way of settling. It is important to only continue for as long as you feel you are able. If you feel that you are losing patience or getting angry, or if you feel that it is in your child's interests for you to stop then this is ok. You can view this as a time of practice, try not to be discouraged, and try again at the next sleeping opportunity.

If your child is unwell at the moment it is not an ideal to be trying to make settling changes and you may prefer to wait until he is well before you commence. This may give some time for the effects of jetlag to also wear off. It is common that if a child is upset at the time he falls asleep he may wake at the end of the next sleep cycle, as you found. If this is happening you may like to go and sit by his cot as he approaches the end of a sleep cycle (usually around 40 minutes) and place a hand firmly on his back. If he begins to rouse you can begin patting and "ssssshhhhhing" to try to settle before he fully rouses. You may need to do this for one or two sleep cycles before he will fall into a deeper sleep.

With regards to providing in cot settling, it is also very common for 14 month olds to stand frequently whilst their parent is trying to settle them in their cot. It is best not to get into a "game" of laying him back down frequently. If he is standing, as mentioned before coming down low next to the cot and putting a hand through the bedrails to stroke his legs or feet may encourage him to sit down. If he does continue standing it is best to leave him for a time period such as 10 minutes before trying to lie him down. If he leaps back up again, again give him some more time to see if he will lie himself down rather than immediately lying him back down which can become a game of "jack in the box".

I hope that this information is helpful.

Re: Jet lag? Won't sleep...

PostPosted: Sun 21 Jul, 2013 5:22 pm
by MumToOwen
That's is very helpful thank you. Just clarified things bit better..I just don't want to traumatise him if he's clearly not happy but I didn't know what to keep putting him in bed with us or let him cry which obviously wasn't helping him. I also didn't want to prolong the sleep association with sleeping with us so then it'll be harder in the long run to get him back in his bed, but as he's unwell it's best not to make big changes as you said. I'm going to call the doctors tomorrow and see if there's anything underlying or anything I can do to help him feel better and as soon as he's on the mend then ill be re-doing his self settling in his cot that we've done before. As well as the playing in his room like you suggested, to re-familiarise him with his room.

Thanks again for your words of wisdom!! :D

Re: Jet lag? Won't sleep...

PostPosted: Mon 22 Jul, 2013 6:28 pm
by NgalaOnline
Hi MumtoOwen

You are welcome. It sounds as though you have a good plan ahead. Best of luck with it and I hope he is well soon.