How my 3 month baby coped with jet lag and flying transatlantic

Guys…if you ever travel transatlantic you will know that it is harder to cope with jet lag when travelling East than it is West. Well, not my 3 month old baby!!!! She was the complete opposite. What a weirdo.

I GTS’d* ‘baby and jet lag’ and found little scientific evidence about what was going to happen to my baby when she travels across time zones. I found some tips, but no one was really in agreement. My sense is that it totally depends.  I was curious if at 3 months old my baby had any circadian rhythm at all. I’ve always questioned how she has been so good at going to bed every night no fail at 7pm. Was it the bedtime routine? Or was it the daylight cueing her to sleep for 6,7,8hrs straight?

So this is what happened….

Aviana proved that she didn’t need a bedtime routine to fall asleep for her long night time stretch of sleep, she fell asleep in her buggy before we boarded the flight (a little later than usual – around 7.30pm) and stayed asleep until her usual time of getting up for her mid-night feed.  Our flight was at 10pm, she stayed asleep when we visited the lounge, when we boarded the plane, when she cuddled on my lap as the plane took off and even when we transitioned her into the bassinet that slots into the bulkhead. What a superstar. 

Aviana in her bassinet on the American Flight to London Heathrow

Once we arrived in London I carried her in the mei tai carrier (because the buggy was taking too long to get off aircraft so I had to pick it up from the baggage carousel) and she fell asleep in that too as we went through customs and picked up our baggage. She was great. The new environment didn’t stop there for baby girl, we then drove for 1.5hrs to my parents house. That was the longest she has ever been in a car. She didn’t fuss and slept for most of that too. (BTW inbetween all this sleep I was feeding and changing her ;-p). We then had another 1.5hr car journey to my gran’s house and she was brilliant again. After all that sleeping and change I wondered if she would stay up all night and stay on US time. So I put her down for what I thought would be a nap at 6.15pm UK time…and she just kept on sleeping right through to 3am as if she was on her normal time zone! What is this witch craft??! And for the rest of the holiday she stayed on UK time and generally went down to sleep at 7-8pm as usual.

Baby carrier was essential when we landed in London Heathrow

What about the journey back to the US? Well first of all that journey was crazy because it was a daytime flight. How do you entertain and tire out a 3 month old baby on a plane for 8 hours!?? Fortunately I was sat in a seat with a bassinet by the window and the seat next to me was empty and in the aisle seat was a Jewish man. I only mention that because I’m not sure he was overly comfortable with me breastfeeding next to me, but I have read that in Judaism it is permissible to breastfeed in public in modesty, but I’m not all clued up on different sects. I like to think I’m modest when I’m feeding Aviana and he didn’t change seats, so I think we were both OK about it in the end. I digress…..I asked if he would like to swap seats because I anticipated I would be getting up a lot with baby. But he declined. Something I think he may have regretted because I made him get up about 20 times during the flight to let me out!! Plus, like I said, there were plenty other seats free on the plane!!!

Throughout the flight Aviana kept a good routine of eat, play, sleep, but she didn’t sleep well because our seats were right next to the galley, so there was a lot of loud banging. She was a little grumpy as a result. Going through customs I put her in the baby carrier and she screamed blue murder. So much so in the immigration hall I was ushered to the front of the queue!!! Brucie bonus! Once I cleared immigration and customs I put her back in the buggy and all was good with the world. Until the second internal flight. More grumpiness and crying. Fortunately the plane was practically empty, and there were a few doting grandmas to give me words of confidence. She fell asleep at about 4pm US time (9pm UK time) and she was out for the count. Nooooooooooooo. This was not good!!! When we landed and finally made it home we tried to keep her awake with a bath-feed routine. But alas she woke at 1245am and wouldn’t go back to sleep until 5am. Brutal. The next day we managed to keep her awake until 6pm, but she woke up again at 1.30am and stayed awake again until 4.30am. The second day we stretched her out to 6.30pm and she woke up 2.45am, back to sleep at 5.45am. Finally, by the third day she was back on routine -7pm bedtime one night time feed at 3.45am, back to sleep til 6am. Phew. So there you have it…dealing with a jet lagged baby isnt easy, especially  if one of you isn’t jet lagged! It takes a bit of patience, but it won’t be the end of the world!

Bassinet on return journey from London to JFK on British Airways

It took 3 days for Aviana to get back into a routine coming west and 0 days to get into a routine going East. So it wasn’t actually that bad in the end. Could have been worse?

I have some handy tips I’ve discovered when flying with a baby that I will share in another post! For now…I need just a bit more sleep ☺️
*Google That Shit

The third night back in the UK 

Aviana slept for almost the whole trip. She went pretty much right through from her usual bedtime (7pm) right to the morning 6am US time, 10am UK time when we landed. On the plane from Philly to London she slept in the bassinet that fits into the bulk head. The plane was pretty much empty so it was a relatively quiet flight. My Father in Law travelled with me so it was very handy to have help carrying things! I’ve learned what I can and can’t do in my own for my return trip back. Aviana was an angel and everybody adored her. She even managed to bag not just one set of wings, but two! One from Norfolk Airport staff, the other from American Airlines!!!

The first night in the new time zone I thought she would still be on American time. So when I put her down to sleep at 6.15pm I expected her to wake up again in her usual 40 minute nap. 3hrs later I was peeking in on her to make sure she was still alive! She was sleeping through for the night! It had been a strange and long day for her so it wasn’t too surprising. I gave her a dream feed when I went to bed at 10pm and she slept through to 4am, and again til 7am. It was as if she hadn’t left the US. How did she know? She had none of the normal bedtime cues like bath/change/feed etc.

Second night I bathed her and did the usual routine but it took a little longer to get her down, so by 8.15pm she was down and out for the night. She woke up at 2am, 3.45am and 7.45am. Not so bad, although the 3.45am feed wasn’t much welcome I almost fell asleep feeding her!

Tonight, the third night, I put her down at 6.30pm, thinking she would just nap and wake up, have her bath etc after 40 mins. but nope. She’s down and out for the night again!! What will the night bring me? 

How do babies adjust like that? How does their circadian rhythm work at this age? I really hope it works going back the other way! Because if she did this in the US at the same time we’d be screwed!!!!

I’m super impressed with how Aviana has coped with all this traveling and sleeping in different places. A month or so ago this holiday would not have been fun with Aviana. But it actually hasn’t been bad at all, she has been a star-I’m not bragging just merely commenting on my low expectations for sleep this week!!!

I’ll write another post later about my transatlantic flying lessons learned!!! Because I have a few 😝

Sleep glorious sleep!

Let’s talk about sleep and newborn babies. When my friend told me her newborn boy, who is not much older than Aviana, was sleeping for 7hrs straight and Aviana was waking every 2-3hrs, I was insanely jealous. These are the things that went through my head….

  • I’m not feeding my baby enough, my boobs aren’t enough for her
  • She is going to be a nightmare forever
  • Is my baby a freak?
  • We are bad parents

Sleep is such a contentious issue with babies amongst parents. Everyone swears by this method, that method, blah blah blah. Well, here is what I believe.. every baby is different, so chances are each baby will behave differently with different sleep patterns. For example, Chris doesn’t do mornings and I don’t do late nights, so why would we expect our babies to be any different for having a preference for when and how long they sleep for?

However, as a new parent, babies and sleep is something I have very little knowledge of, so, I did buy a book. The ‘baby solution-a proven program to teach your baby to sleep twelve hours a night’ book.  I bought this book months before Aviana arrived. I liked that it was gentle and incremental sleep training, it kind of jibed with our parenting style (what ever that is!!!). By 12 weeks old it promises you your baby will be sleeping through the night. It sounded amazing, I had read the reviews online and there were many positive stories.

In this book by Suzy Giordano, there are three requirements that baby must meet before you start the training: 1. Baby must be at least nine pounds; 2. Baby must be eating at least 24 ounces of milk or formula in 24 hours; 3. Baby must be at least 4 weeks old or 8 weeks if a twin.  This apparently usually comes around the same time and is typically around the 8 week mark. Aviana is now 10 weeks and has only just hit nine pounds so we waited knowingly it would be a while before we could start this program. BTW – I am not convinced she is eating 24 oz of breast milk yet.

There are four stages of training:

  1. change to four feeds during the day every four hours for twelve hours. Not sure I will be able to achieve this whilst breastfeeding. Lots of comments on Amazon saying this is very difficult for a breastfed baby, which I’m inclined to agree with. This would mean Aviana consuming 4-6oz of milk in one sitting. I know that even if she emptied both my boobs that would be a challenge! Maybe every three hours we could achieve.
  2. change to eliminate all night feedings for twelve hours.  Aviana has almost done this by herself already (more on that to follow…)
  3. change to sleeping or resting quietly in the crib for twelve hours at night.
  4. change to sleeping or resting quietly in the crib for one hour in the morning and about two hours in the afternoon. To me this seems quite a challenge for an 8 week old baby, but assumably if you were to follow all the steps in order then this would come almost at 12 weeks old.

Sounds simple right?  Well the book does provide you with ways to achieve this, gently and incrementally over a four week period.  Also the book provides you with some tips for priming your baby before the 8 week point. This includes creating a good sleep environment (in cribs in their own room) and routine for when baby sleeps.  BUT…we haven’t started this program yet.
However, we have established a night time routine for Aviana…. 6pm bath time, with relaxing music and dim lights.  6.30pm last feed of the night, dim lights and relaxing lullaby music. 7pm, lights out, swaddled and in crib.  The first week was a little tough keeping her awake and not letting her nap after 4.30pm, we tried all sorts of techniques to keep her awake and entertained!  Plus she has the witching hour where she becomes a grumpy moose, usually around 4-5pm.  Tricks include going for a walk, carrying her, playing and dancing to nursery rhymes.  The routine worked well for her and she has been going to sleep like clockwork at 7pm for almost 4 weeks now.  Sometimes, she even doesn’t mind just lying in her crib kicking around for a bit before she falls asleep.  Then when Chris and I go to bed later on we carry her from her crib downstairs to our room into her pack and play crib.

A couple of weeks after starting the routine Aviana did a magical thing. I woke up at 4.30AM and I hadn’t fed her yet!!! Whaaaat?  She had slept for 9.5hrs straight.   Over the last week she has been sleeping from 7-9hrs straight and only waking for one feed during the night until she wakes up at 6 or 7AM.  This is AMAZING! So she is sleeping for twelve hours now with just one feed in the night.  Having to wake for only one feed has been rejuvenating for me.  I feel vaguely like a human again – even better than when I was pregnant because then I was still waking up every few hours to pee!  Plus Chris doesn’t need to do a bottle feed and so she is less stressed (because she is impatient she works herself up when drinking a bottle at night!).  The other good thing is that we get a couple of hours to ourselves before going to bed.

I am still doing on demand feeding (except for the 6.30pm feed) and her days don’t have much of a routine yet.  The only routine we try to use is the baby whisperer’s method of Eat, Activity (for baby), Sleep and Yourself time whilst baby sleeps (EASY).  How long that ‘EASY’ routine takes is currently on her schedule.

So….do we need to start trying sleep training?  I’m not inclined just yet to start it. First she has done really well so far pretty much on her own schedule, I’m afraid to regress! And secondly because of her weight.  I don’t want to disrupt her eating and enforce a routine that she doesn’t like because I am worried about her losing weight if we move to just four/five feeds a day.  If I was formula feeding her I would definitely try it.

Now another of our friends who has a boy a couple of weeks older than Aviana is asking me how we managed to get Aviana to sleep for so long.  I actually have no answer.  The truth is, it is a bit of luck.  To begin with we had bad luck – we had hell to begin with having to do 2 hour feeds and supplementing in her first few weeks of life and she had a hell of a time with silent reflux (well we had a hell of a time too!).  Now we have good luck…she is sleeping well now in her own way…will it stay like that?!? Who knows which way our fortune will go!

Ultimately, I like what the pediatricians here say about how to get through parenting in the newborn stage ‘you can’t spoil a newborn baby’.  I think that is something I feel comfortable with and looking back the past couple of months has worked for us.  The question is, when is she no longer that ‘newborn baby’?  When does she stop ‘training us as parents’ and when do we start training her?  I am hoping that in time that will become a bit more apparent with Aviana, but many sleep trainers say it is around the 4-6 month mark.  Only time will tell……in the meantime Aviana is napping in her new Baby Hawk Mei Tai carrier and is probably going to wake up soon so I will stop blabbing, but will continue this another time!

Happy sleep my friends X

A tough few days

Last Wednesday evening Aviana decided that she didn’t want to go to sleep and rather fuss, and this trend then continued through the day and night Thursday, Friday and today.  What I mean by this is that she no longer wants to lie down in her crib, she wants to be held.  When we finally do get her down she will eventually wake up screaming the house down because she either wants to poo, fart and more often than not, shart.

It was taking us a couple of hours of soothing her in anyway possible before she would consider to stop crying.  Of course, the more tired she gets, the harder it is to get her to stop crying.  There is no one way to stop the tears, but generally requires her falling asleep upright in our arms.  I have also been spending all day carrying her and trying different ways to console the tears (thankfully I discovered the wrap works sometimes to help get her to sleep which saves my back).


Moby wrap to the rescue!

The cries aren’t continuous, but rather they would stop after a minute or two, then she would fuss again, I’d get her into another position, calm down, then she’d fuss and so on.  Each day she will have an hour or two of good sleep because she has exhausted herself from crying.

Yesterday Chris called me from his work to say that someone he spoke to recognised this as potentially being a sign of silent reflux.  All of Aviana’s symptoms match.  She has been doing other things over the past few weeks that individually didn’t concern us, but when they add up together they could be silent reflux.  We don’t have a diagnosis yet, we need to see our pediatrician next week about it before we are sure.

She is in pain when she poos/farts, arching her back, screwing up her face crying and then stops crying once it has been released.  Sometimes she will stiffen her whole body out straight as if she is a flying superwoman.  More often when she is breast feeding she will cry and cling onto my nipple and pull her head away fighting my boob – it’s very difficult to explain to a newborn not to do that, it happens so quickly that it is difficult to unlatch her in time – and it bloody hurts, she actually has a very strong neck for a newborn.  She rarely spits up, and is difficult to burp.  She gets incessant hiccups, it happens roughly 3 in every 4 feeds, and they are exhausting for her so she gets frustrated at them and cries more.  Sometimes a pacifer gets rid of them, or even getting her to drink a bit of breastmilk can help.  She has a slight wheeze and congestion that is noticeable when she sleeps. At first we thought it was just newborn-ness and was endearing, we even nicknamed her little goose because she sounds like she is honking like a goose.

Even right now as she sleeps in her bassinet that we have tilted upright I’m listening to her cough, splutter and cry for a few seconds,  then she goes back to sleep instantly.  It’s upsetting to hear her like this.

She was such a happy easy going baby until now.  Today we went to a baby massage class (despite us only getting about two and half hours of broken sleep last night) and lets just say it was very noticeable how cranky and upset she was compared to the other newborn babies.

So until we get some answers from the pediatrician we are keeping her upright after her feeds which is helping a bit, letting her sleep upright as much as possible so she does get some sleep and not get too overtired which then perpetuates the problem.  I am also going to arrange a after we see the pediatrician a consult with an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) to have my latch checked and get advice on what we can do to help her when it comes to breastfeeding.  We also have the name of a specialist doctor in the local area referred to us by a friend just in case we don’t get answers from our ped.

Whatever is going on with our baby girl she really isn’t comfortable right now and it is tough watching her feel like that, and tough on us, especially as Chris has gone back to work.  Fortunately, we have a post partum doula to help us out a bit more next week.  We may need her for more help than we originally thought, but we shall see!

Already bad parents?

Chris had been shoveling snow for much of the day, so later in the evening he exclaimed how sore his back was.  I suggested he take a bath to relax his muscles, and then I suggested how about we share a bath seeing as I was having a bath most nights (which were seriously helping with my postpartum recovery and slightly sore back & boobs from breastfeeding!).  What a great idea!  Now all we needed to do was figure out how to fit the time in so that we could both be in the bath together at the same time! Ha!  Not so easy with a new born- am I right??!

We have already discovered the ‘witching hour’, or ‘fussy time’ Aviana has in the evenings.  She is a perfect angel the rest of the day – and even at night she isn’t too bad at sticking to Eat, Activity, Sleep, You Time (E.A.S.Y. – more on this in another post!).  So trying to fit time in the evening to share a relaxing bath together was always going to be a challenge!  But!  We fed her, changed her, and after a bit of soothing help she went down to sleep at about 7.30PM. Or so we thought….

Quick!  Let’s run the bath, light the candles, grab a glass of wine and hop in whilst she sleeps!

We got to lighting the candles and filling up the tub before she started fussing.  Of course, I had just got in the bath, Chris had stripped down and was about to join me.  We knew that she wasn’t hungry (it wasn’t a hungry cry), she was comfortable, she was dry – she was fussing because she was too tired/overstimulated from being awake for the past 3.5 hours.  So Chris suggested just letting her soothe herself this time.  Chris got in the bath with me, and she cried.  Her crib was literally the other side of the wall, her cries made the bath a tortuous place to be! This wasn’t what it was meant to be like!

We timed her crying.  3 minutes is how long we agreed to wait to see if she would soothe herself. That’s what many books say is a reasonable time.

Low and behold at about 2 minutes 45 seconds later, she quietly stopped crying and babbled away to herself.

Ahhhhhh and breathe.

3 minutes later, the same thing happened.  We reset the clock and timed her crying, and again she stopped crying on her own.  It is amazing, Chris asked me how long did I think she had been crying for, and to me it fell like 3 or 4 minutes, when it had actually only been 1 minute.  It seemed like forever, what mind mess! 

The third time she started crying again, I said to Chris, I think she must be hungry still.  He urged me to just see if she will stop.  As she cried and as we watched the clock sat in our candle lit bath, drinking wine, he turned to me and said – ‘Are we bad parents for letting our baby cry as we sit next door to her drinking wine in a bath?’  I said, ‘probably….But I can’t take this anymore.’  So Chris got up out of the bath and said, you stay here, I will soothe her. And just as Chris got out, she stopped crying and fell asleep.  In fact she fell asleep and stayed asleep for her longest stretch so far – 4hrs of solid sleep!

We won’t be trying any cry it out methods.  But we learned that she can actually soothe herself – as long as we know that she is fed, clean, dry, safe, not ill and we have tried soothing her with the 5 Ss (Swaddle, Suck, Side, Sway and Shhhhh-ing),we discovered a bit of crying is OK when they are just too tired.

Sleep & the 7-10 day old newborn growth spurt

Aghhhhhhhhh….the 7-10 day growth spurt.  It IS a thing!  It’s a way to remind a new parent that there is nothing predictable about your newborn baby, so don’t try it!  Here is our timeline from birth to date assessed by parent sleepiness levels 🙂

The first 48 hours.  You get home from the hospital and you are exhausted.  There is no catching any Zzzzzs when you are recovering from child birth at a hospital.  For the first 24 hours , every two hours the nurses were checking my vitals as well as my baby’s.  Because Aviana arrived into this world just 5lbs 1oz (less than 1 percentile for weight) she had to have her blood sugar levels checked every two hours just before being breast fed.  This meant probably only 60-75 minutes of rest if I was lucky between feeds.

Parent Sleepiness Level = Super Sleepy

48 -72 hours  later.  You spend the next few days after arriving home trying to figure stuff out.  If your newborn baby is like ours at 72 hours old she will probably still want to be held, swaddled and shushed constantly in addition to needing to be fed every 2-3 hours (in our case she had to be fed every 2 hours because she was so small). I woke up to find that Chris and briefly dozed off with Aviana sleeping on his chest.  I quietly freaked out a bit at the prospect of our newborn baby suffocating her first night home.  But realizing that this was actually inevitable when your baby wants to be held constantly, I crept to his side of the bed and picked up Aviana trying not to wake either of them up.  All of a sudden I am super alert and feeling protective.  This must be the adrenaline kicking in!

Parent Sleepiness Level = Extremely Hyper

Days 4-8.  Aviana started to sleep on her own in her crib, and although we still had to wake her up every 2 hours she was sleeping like a trooper.  Huh!  This parenting thing isn’t so bad after all.  She sleeps for an hour, eats for half an hour, poops and coos for like 5-10 minutes.  WE’VE GOT THIS!!!!! People come to visit us, we make it out to the shops, we even make it out to a breakfast diner for my birthday for pancakes!

Parent Sleepiness Level = Slightly Sleepy

Days 8-11.  Who is this hungry caterpillar we have spawned??! I literally just fed you Aviana 20 minutes ago, and you want to eat again! That’s impossible!  Where is it all going?  Ohhhhhh, yup, *liquidy poo sound comes from baby* there it is – it’s one in one out! Aviana no longer wants to sleep, but just eat and poop. And fuss! Fortunately she isn’t a big crier, but it is hard to hear your baby get upset for seemingly no reason.  Those preemie clothes we bought 5 days ago?  She no longer fits in them length wise, but doesn’t fit into her newborn clothes yet.  What is this magic? This must be the 7-10 day growth spurt they talk about.  The pediatrician says we can now move to 3 hour feedings at night time because she has put all her birth weight back on (and more!), but we don’t get that opportunity because she just wants to EAT!!! Breastfeeding makes a mum sleepy enough as it is, put that with back to back sessions…and you get….

Parent Sleepiness Level = Cranky/Knock Out

Days 12 +.  Who is this sleeping angel?   She is a different baby!!  We are back to having to wake her up for her feeds, but that is OK, because she is an adorable sweet heart.  Now, can this last until her next growth spurt? 6 to 8 weeks?  OK lets bring this sleepiness level down.  You can store up sleep right?!?!

Parent Sleepiness Level = Cranky/Knock Out

tiredness levels.jpg