Travelling with kids is such a fun and rewarding experience until you have to get your toddlers to sleep on a plane. Long flights can disrupt your child’s routine, making it even more difficult for them to fall asleep. Not to mention that you often have to deal with their occasional tantrums and the anxiety of feeling judged by other passengers.
Getting your toddlers to sleep on a plane can be stressful, but you can always create a comfortable environment for your toddlers to make sure that they can relax and get enough rest on board.
In this post, we will share some useful tips to make it easier for your toddlers to sleep on a plan and how to make your journey as smooth as possible.
20 Tips to Get Your Toddlers Sleep on a Plane
- Schedule the flight during your toddler’s regular nap and sleeping time.
- Keep them active prior to the flight so they will get tired as soon as they board the airplane.
- Minimise their sugar intake before the flight.
- Consider purchasing an extra seat for your toddler’s comfort.
- Reserve a bulkhead seat in advance.
- Request a baby bassinet.
- Bring a foot pillow.
- Bring a blanket and a pillow for your toddler.
- Make a blanket fort on a plane.
- Dress your toddler in comfortable clothing.
- Pack a comfort item like their favourite stuffed animal to soothe your toddler to sleep.
- Ask the cabin crew for the complimentary child amenity kits.
- Bring your toddler’s favourite bedtime storybook to read to them.
- Dim the cabin lights to create a sleep-friendly environment.
- Use a white noise app or machine to help your toddler sleep.
- Bring noise-cancelling headphones to block out loud noises.
- Consider packing your toddler’s car seat.
- Do the typical bedtime routine on a plane.
- Pack BedBox for quality sleep on a plane.
- Keep distractions to a minimum.
So, here are some ways to make sleeping on a plane more comfortable for your toddlers!
1. Schedule your flight during your toddler’s regular nap and sleeping time
Circadian rhythms affect everyone, but it is much harder for toddlers to modify their daily routines than adults. As a parent, if you could help it, you would prevent anything that could cause tantrums for your children and scheduling the flight during their regular nap and sleeping time might be the best way to do it.
When your toddlers are used to sleeping at a certain time, their bodies and minds become conditioned to feeling sleepy and relaxed within the time.
Scheduling the flight during that time will enable you to take advantage of their natural sleep cycle and increase their chance of falling asleep as soon as they board the airplane.
2. Keep them active prior to the flight so they will get tired as soon as they get on the plane
As a parent with toddlers, you probably know by now that keeping them active and engaged in physical activities will burn off their excess energy. It makes them easier to get tired, which could almost guarantee extra relaxing time for you to also get enough rest while they’re sleeping.
On top of that, studies show that being physically active can help reduce anxiety and toddlers. It is especially beneficial for toddlers travelling on a plane for the first time. Travelling can be overwhelming for anyone, so keeping them active before the flight can help alleviate some of their stress to help them relax once they’re boarding the flight.
Instead of using a stroller to get to the flight gate, you can encourage your toddlers to walk around the airport before boarding. Most airports also have a dedicated children’s playground where the kids can play and engage in light exercise before the flight.
3. Minimise their sugar intake before the flight
Getting a sugar rush is the last thing you want if you try to get your toddlers to sleep on a plane. As a parent, we know too well that sugar will increase their energy levels, making it even more difficult to relax and sleep.
Avoid getting them into a sugar rush mode by offering them healthy, low-sugar food before and during the flight. Pack homemade snacks like muffins, granola bars, or dried fruits for them to nibble on the flight while giving them healthy ingredients without worrying about their sugar intake that could prevent them from sleeping on the plane.
4. Consider purchasing an extra seat for your toddler’s comfort
Infants don’t require buying a seat on the plane until they turn 2 years old. However, it may be worth considering buying an extra seat so they can have their own space during their sleeping time.
This tip could also work if you have an older toddler that might need some extra space during their sleeping time. Just take into account that purchasing an extra seat requires an extra budget, which may not be suitable if budget is your constraint when planning a trip with your family.
5. Reserve the bulkhead seat in advance
Alternatively, you can reserve the bulkhead seat for you and your family to sit together on the plane. The bulkhead seat is usually more spacious, making it the best seat on the airplane for toddlers.The extra legroom is especially helpful when travelling with kids who may need extra space to move around.
On top of that, you don’t also have to deal with the other passengers sitting in the front so you can minimise the possibility of apologising on your toddler’s behalf as the chance of them accidentally kicking the seat in front of them is never zero!
6. Request a baby bassinet
Another advantage of booking the bulkhead seat is that you can also request a baby bassinet, which you can attach to the bulkhead wall in front of you.
Each airline usually has different rules for baby bassinets depending on the aircraft they use for the flight. Typically, you can only use them for toddlers with a maximum of 12 to 14 kilograms by weight and 70 to 80 centimetres by height.
It is especially helpful if you’re travelling with infants under 2 years old, as a baby bassinet can provide a comfortable and safe place for your young toddler to sleep during the flight.
Meanwhile, you don’t have to hold and carry them the whole flight, so you can use this time to relax and even enjoy the in-flight entertainment!
7. Bring a foot pillow
The cramped space to sleep on a plane can be challenging for kids, and a foot pillow can be the solution to help your toddler have a better sleep on the way to your destination. Foot pillow is helpful to elevate their little legs and reduce discomfort to help them sleep, even on long flights.
When using a foot pillow, your toddler can sleep in their regular sleeping position, making it easier for them to sleep while remaining safe and sound during the flight.
8. Bring a blanket and pillow for your toddler
Most airlines usually provide a blanket and pillow for long-haul flights. However, it’s worth bringing an extra for them to add more comfort so you can make their sleeping area cosier. On top of that, having their own blanket and pillow can also give them some sense of familiarity that can help them sleep better.
9. Make a blanket fort on a plane
Who doesn’t love a blanket fort? Not only is it fun to make one, but it also creates a comfortable sleeping environment for your toddler. Once the seatbelt sign is off, you can build a sleeping tent using a blanket and tell your toddler to sleep.
You can also tell your kids to play hide-and-seek behind the fort first to get them tired. It will help them sleep faster, and the blanket fort will minimise the light and noise from the cabin. Just make sure to pay attention to the safety regulation and only do this when it’s allowed!
10. Dress your toddler in comfortable clothing
Comfortable clothing does wonders and can make your toddler feel at ease when trying to sleep on a plane. With the cabin pressure, the temperature on the plane can be notoriously unpredictable, so dressing your toddler in breathable clothing is a must to prioritise their comfort on top of everything.
11. Pack a comfort item like their favourite stuffed animal to soothe your toddler to sleep
It’s stressful enough for toddlers to adjust to a different sleeping environment on a plane, so giving them a sense of familiarity through their favourite toys or stuffed animals can make a difference in helping them sleep better on the flight.
Their very own stuffed animal can also be a good source of distraction during a long flight, which can help keep your toddler entertained to minimise the possible tantrum before their nap time.
12. Ask the cabin crew for the complimentary child amenity kits
Most full-service airlines usually provide complimentary amenity kits for kids. The amenity kits may vary depending on the airline, but most of them can help add comfort for kids and toddlers during the flight.
Some airlines also include sleeping kits such as a sleeping mask, socks, and earplugs to ensure your toddlers can get comfortable when it’s sleeping time for the kids!
13. Bring your toddler’s favourite bedtime storybook to read to them
If you usually tuck your kids in and read a bedtime story before they sleep, bringing your toddler’s favourite bedtime story can be a game changer!
Reading bedtime stories to your toddler can help them relax and calm down before getting ready to sleep, even on a plane.
Snuggling up with them while reading their favourite bedtime story can also be soothing for a toddler. At the same time, it can also create quality bonding time for you as a parent.
14. Dim the cabin lights to create a sleep-friendly environment
Dimming the lights during your sleeping time can help trigger melatonin production. This hormone helps with your circadian rhythms, which can be helpful when travelling across different time zones.
On top of that, it also creates a more relaxing atmosphere for your toddlers to sleep better on a plane.
15. Use a white noise app or machine to help your toddler sleep
White noise can help block out ambient noise on a plane, such as engine noise or chatter from other passengers. This can be especially helpful for toddlers who are sensitive to noise and may have trouble sleeping in a noisy environment.
You can install a white noise app on the phone or pack a white noise machine to help your toddler sleep during the flight.
16. Bring noise-cancelling headphones to block out loud noises
The noise around the plane can be a pain for both kids and adults, so make sure to pack a noise-cancelling headphone in your toddler’s backpack for the airplane journey.
Noise-cancelling headphones can be tremendously helpful in blocking out loud noises, and you can also maximise the usage by using them for the white noise app if you bring one.
17. Consider packing your toddler’s car seat
Some airlines also allow car seats in the cabin to add more comfort for your toddler during the flight. In fact, bringing your toddler’s car seat is strongly encouraged if you get on a flight anywhere in North America.
As for Europe and the other continents, there is no obligation regarding the car seats on the plane. However, some airlines allow you to bring car seats on board without extra charge, which can be convenient for parents travelling with toddlers.
18. Do the typical bedtime routine on a plane
Travelling is not a good reason to break the bedtime routine. In fact, it is highly encouraged, as giving your toddler some sense of familiarity can be a game changer when it comes to their sleeping time.
It can be as simple as changing their clothes into PJs or going to the toilet to brush their teeth before sleep, and you’ll see how it could make a difference in getting them to sleep on the plane!
19. Pack JetKids™ by Stokke for quality sleep on a plane
The good news is that we’re living in 2023, where tools like JetKids™ by Stokke exist to make our lives easier as parents travelling with toddlers. JetKids™ by Stokke is an all-in-one suitcase designed to help your kids sleep better on a plane.
At the airport, your toddler can have fun riding it to help them stay active and get them tired easily. During the flight, you can flip the lid and extend it to transform the BedBox into a built-in mattress for your toddlers.
20. Keep distractions to a minimum
In-flight entertainment can be a great way to keep your toddlers entertained, but it can also distract them from sleeping during their nap time. The best way to do it is to always minimise the screen time for your toddlers.
Getting your toddlers to sleep on a plane can be overwhelming. But you can always make a better preparation so they can be more comfortable adjusting to their sleeping time on board.
Remember, always prioritise safety first for your toddlers, even during their sleeping time on the plane. Put their seatbelts on, and watch how you can keep them safe and sound before getting them to sleep on a plane!
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You may also like to read our post about proven strategies to combat toddler motion sickness, fatigue, and jet lag!