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You know what’s better than a sleeping toddler? A toddler sleeping on the plane. Better for everyone, including you.
Traveling with toddlers is tricky because sometimes they never sleep. But here are 15 tried and proven ways to help toddlers sleep on a plane.
15 Tips to Help A Toddler Sleep on the Plane
- Travel during sleep time (early AM, nap, or bedtime)
If your toddler is on a schedule, his body will naturally be ready for sleep during the times he normally takes a nap or would be asleep. Take advantage of that!
Some websites allow you to pick what time you’d like to leave or land. This feature helps you plan to fly when your toddler’s body is normally ready to rest.
- Burn their energy before the flight
Most parents will do almost anything to burn their kids’ energy. The airport should be no different.
Did you know there are airports that have kid play areas? Boston airport, for example, has a kidsport area in three terminals. The indoor playground has a baggage-claim slide, a climbable airplane, a replica of the airport’s control tower, and slides.
If this feature isn’t available at the airport you’re flying through, don’t worry. You can still burn their energy by walking around or having a short race at an empty gate.
- Dress them in PJs
Comfort is key. The idea is to get them ready for bedtime although they may be initially moving. However, once they get settled in their seat on the plane, hopefully they are comfortable enough to easily doze off. It’s worth a try!
- Potty or change diapers before boarding the plane
No matter if your little one is still in diapers or potty training, the bathroom is a must-visit before boarding the plane. Remember we want to make our kiddo as comfortable as possible. Therefore, a clean diaper or empty bladder will help do just that.
- Feed your toddler during takeoff or within the first hour of the flight
Most people (grown-ups included) have a higher tendency to fall asleep with a full belly. Most toddlers are no different.
- Turn their seat into a bed
I will never stop recommending this. Products like Jetkids’ Bed Box makes getting your toddler to sleep on a plane much easier. Not only can you transport your kid through the airport, but you can also use it to turn your kid’s seat into a bed. The box lifts at the edge of the seat, allowing your kiddo to lay flat.
- Request the airplane bassinet
Technically this is to get a baby to sleep on the plane as the airplane bassinet has a weight limit of 22lbs or so. If your little one falls into this category, call the airline when booking your flight and request the bulkhead seat that comes with the complimentary bassinet.
- Know thy kid
Does screen time invigorate or put your kid to sleep? If it’s the former, skip screen time on the plane (at least 30-60 minutes before you want them to fall asleep).
- Bring entertainment that will help burn their mental energy
Again, know thy kid. Bring activities that help calm her, like crafts, window clings, magnetic tiles, etc. Save the race cars and other activities that may build his adrenaline for later. Again, we want to prepare your toddler to sleep on the plane.
- Read them a book
If your kiddo is used to reading as a part of their bedtime routine, don’t break the routine just because you’re traveling. Stash a small book in your carryon or diaper bag.
- Bring soothing music and headphones
If your toddler is accustomed to listening to lullabies when falling asleep, do the same while on the plane. Keeping as close to your at-home routine will increase the chances of getting your toddler to sleep on the plane.
- Bring a portable white noise machine
Instead of falling asleep to lullabies, some toddlers are accustomed to using white noise machines. Luckily, they make portable white noise machines. This just may be the trick to getting your toddler to sleep on the plane.
Click here to buy the portable white noise machine
- Bring their favorite blanket and/or stuffed animal
Does your toddler refuse to sleep without her favorite blanket or stuffed animal? If so, bring it on the plane! This is especially true for long flights.
Remember, comfort is key! The more comfortable your toddler is, the higher the likelihood of getting him to sleep on the plane.
- Consider melatonin
This is for toddlers of age and who have taken melatonin before. If your toddler is notorious for not sleeping and getting them to sleep on the plane is a must, then you may want to consider melatonin. Of course, check with your doctor first.
- Walk (or Rock) it out
If you’ve tried all of the above and your toddler won’t sleep on the plane, you have one of two options, or maybe both, depending on the child (remember, know thy kid).
If your kid still has a little residual energy while on the plane, consider walking the aisle. This may be the trick to help their little legs feel heavy and get their body and mind to desire sleep. This is especially true if they see other people on the plane sleeping. Toddlers like to mimic adults.
The alternative could be a little TLC. If your kid enjoys being rocked to sleep, this is the perfect opportunity. Take your little one in your arms, and gently rock him until he falls asleep.
Traveling with toddlers is always an experience
But a good experience. Similar to parenthood, you learn as you go along. Try to remember that the best way to get your toddler to sleep is to make her comfortable and recreate the bedtime routine as closely as possible.
Want more tips on mastering flying with toddlers, check out this blog post.