My old job had me flying through several times zones in a month. It was certainly easier managing just my jet lag, but after flying with a baby and toddler to several long haul destinations, including The Big One; UK to Australia, here are some general tips that have helped us.
If you are leaving on a night flight, let them sleep as per normal schedule and grab as much rest as you can too. This will help you get through the rest of the day. Don't expect your tots to sleep their normal length of time. It may not seem like it at the time, but this will work in your favour in your battle against jet lag.
Keep hydrated before and during the flight.
On arrival ( or if on an ultra long haul flight), begin to establish a new routine. Eat and sleep at the right times in the new time zone.
Go outside. Light exercise and the natural light will help re set your body clock.
Try and avoid long naps and wake little ones up if they nap too long. I wake my baby up after 2.5 hours at lunchtime and my toddler after an hour during the first few days of arrival. If you can and need to, nap when they do as you will need the energy!
Take turns with the night shift. When the little ones wake up during the night, try a 4 hour 'duty' time with your partner. This will help you get through the day. It helps if you can sleep in a separate room to the kids, so that connecting room or 2 roomed suite can be a god-send at your destination.
Avoid caffeine after 2pm.
And here are some extra tips specifically for babies and toddlers.
Minimising Jet Lag for Babies
Expect several nights of disruption. It won't last for long. Babies often have to re-adjust their sleep through growth spurts, teething, not feeling very well etc, and jet lag will be temporary like these times.
If you are breast-feeding, your supply may also need time to re-adjust to the new time-zone, so keep hydrated and consider napping when baby does.
Try and keep any night time play dates fairly calm and quiet, with only minimal lighting.
During day light hours, try and encourage baby to eat solid food if they are weaning and gain most of their nutrients and calories then, rather than at night.
Minimising jet Lag for Toddlers
At this age they are pretty much guaranteed to wake up at 2am for the first night or two. Again, try to encourage quiet games such as puzzles, colouring in, stickers etc.
Keep the calm lighting if they are up in the middle of the night.
Give a little snack if needed during the night, such as warm porridge and some milk. High magnesium foods such as bananas can help you feel sleepy.
Settle in for a few stories.
If you have other children sleeping or your partner is still sleeping, a little stroll around the hotel lobby can help avoid disturbing everyone else.
For more tips on flying with young children visit www.flyingwithababy.com or follow Carrie on @flyingwithbaby