Every parent wants their young child to sleep on an airplane. It’s just the truth. Having a sleeping kid on an airplane makes everyone less stressed. Whether your flight is 2 hours or 15 hours, it’s a good feeling to get some much needed relaxation while the little one snoozes the miles away. We have put a baby to sleep on an airplane, put a toddler and a baby to sleep on an airplane and we’ve even gotten two toddlers to sleep on an airplane. We have one good sleeper and one not so good sleeper, so it’s not always easy. In order to help other parents who feel overwhelmed by sleep time on a plane, I put together 6 ways to get your child to sleep on a flight, so let’s get snoozing!
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Here are 9 Ways to help your child to sleep on an airplane:
1) Tire them out.
One mistake many parent’s make is not allowing their child to run free inside the airport before a flight. Instead of trapping them in a stroller or putting them in a carrier, consider letting them be the boss. Let them run down the hall, climb a few chairs, or challenge them to a game that involves them moving around. One game idea would be to have them go find as many airplanes as they can out of the windows. The idea is to burn down the energy BEFORE the flight! Check out Why We Reccomend Airport Lounges for Families.
2) Invest in an Inflatable Foot Pillow
3.) Follow your home routine.
Are you flying during naptime or bedtime? If yes, simply follow the same routine you do at home. We bring these body wipes to give our kids a “bath”, then we put them into their pajamas, give them yogurt, read a book and lay them down. We follow the exact same bedtime routine that we have at home. And it works. For naps, I general do the same thing. Getting your kid to sleep on airplane is similar to getting them to sleep at home, so stick to a routine. If you’re changing several time zones, check out our 5 Tips for Overcoming Jetlag.
4.) Bring the car seat.
If your child sleeps well in the car seat, it may be beneficial to bring your car seat on the plan for them to sleep in. Neither of my kids do, so we haven’t explored this option, but we are in many family travel communities where avid family travelers use this method successfully. If you’re looking for a lightweight carseat, check out which Travel Carseats we recommend HERE.
5.) Get them full.
Be sure your child is well fed before starting a sleep time routine. Often a full tummy and the low drum of the airplane are enough to make anyone feel drowsy. Pack snacks your child will love and that make them full. We personally love bringing the Yogurt Pouches onto the plane for an easy, filling and nutritious pre-sleep snack. If you’ve got a picky eater, check out our blog on Traveling with Picky Eater.
6.) Create a dark space.
One way to do this is by asking for or bringing your own extra blanket on to the plane. You can create a canopy with the blankets by draping them over their seatback and into their respective tray tables. This creates their own personal tent space and blocks the airplanes lighting from waking a sleeping baby. If you have access to the window shade, be sure to close it.
Put your baby or toddler into a baby carrier such as an Ergo Baby or a Toddler Tula and walk the aisles. We have put our kids to sleep many times on a flights by doing this. Sometimes stationary seat rocking just isn’t enough, so we walk the aisles until our kids fall asleep. We then transfer them to the laying position.
8.) Choose the appropriate seats.
If you’re traveling with an infant in arms, you may want to call the airline to request a bassinet for the baby. (only available on long haul flights) These bassinets give the baby their own place to laydown flat and sleep uninterrupted on the plane. If you’re traveling with older children, try not to pick the bulk head seats. The arm rests typically do not go up, so you lose the extra space. With two children, we always try to snag the middle row of 4-seats across so we can have then entire aisle to ourselves. This gives all the extra room to stretch out and relax. We also try to be near a restroom, but not so close that the traffic in and out is constant. (and loud) Ideally, I like to be about 5-7 rows away.
Seriously. Don’t force the sleep issue. Don’t expect your child to fall asleep before take-off and wake up after landing. (Although, that does seem awesome!) If you are relaxed, your children will reciprocate. Be gentle with them, understand it’s not their typically sleep environment, and most of all, try to go with the flow. Sometimes your child will go to sleep 2 hours after their typical bedtime (or not at all) and sometimes they will take a 3-hour nap when they normally only sleep 1 at home. With all travel, it’s the journey that makes the trip! If your kid doesn’t want to sleep, check out our guide to Entertaining Your Toddler/Baby While Traveling.
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Whether you are coaxing a baby to sleep on an airplane or prepping your older child to sleep on an overnight flight, these tips can help you make your efforts go further. Humans typically sleep better in quiet dark spaces while laying down, so creating the most effective sleep space while still maintaining safety is paramount. Please, always ensure your child is in a seatbelt or restraint of some kind.
What are some tried and true tips you have for getting your baby to sleep on an airplane? I would love to hear about in the comments!
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