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Tips To Help Your Toddler Sleep On Plane

Settling a younger baby to sleep on a plane, is definitely made easier with airplane bassinets, but settling an older,  more wilful toddler can be ‘interesting’. For me, getting a toddler to sleep at home is even a struggle!

We are nearly out of the toddler stage in family travel, but both girls have completed many long haul and ultra long haul flights during this stage and when flying as young babies. Below you’ll find some tips for flying with a toddler and travel tips which will hopefully help your toddler sleep on a plane too and manage some of their jet lag

jet lag children on a plane. toddler sleep on plane
Asleep in the Travel Snug

*This post does contain some affiliate links, which will cost absolutely nothing to you. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

How To Help Your Toddler Sleep On A Plane

1) Choose a night flight if possible   This seriously helps even if your departure time is after normal sleep time. To avoid an overtired meltdown, we put our youngest to bed at normal time and wake her up when it is literally time to walk out the door.

This means she generally has enough energy to get her through the journey to the airport, check in and finally to after take off. Alternatively, we try and wear her out so much during the day, that she’ll cat nap in the car or taxi en route to the airport.

2) Choose seats carefully and try the spare seat trick. If it is just the three of you flying, then choosing a DEG seat and deliberately not choosing the F seat, may mean you end up with a row of 4 for free, as middle single seats are always the last to go; and worst case, the person who may be allocated that seat will always be happy to swap to the aisle so you can all be together.

If you are also travelling with a baby, then the bassinet bulkhead seat in the middle in newer aircrafts (A380, new B777) – seats DEFG have a flexible armrest between seat E and F meaning they can stretch out and lie on you.

Emirates A380 seats DEF Seat E/F armest moves up
Emirates A380 seats DEF
Seat E/F armest moves up

3) Look into purchasing an airplane seat extender or toddler ‘bed’ for the plane; essentially an inflatable travel footrest, (sometimes known as an inflatable flight cushion or travel pillow).

These devices can be inflated manually or with a hand pump and slot in-between your seat and the seat in front in the footwell.

The most well known ones are Plane Pal,  BedBox by Stokke, the new Flyaway (see our review and discount code here) but there are other versions available too. Check out the rules of use below before you buy though! Not all airlines accept them and some airlines only accept specified brands.

I’ve included some other kids travel gadgets to help them sleep more comfortably below, including a selection of the best travel pillows for kids, such as Seat to Sleep. Note that flight hammocks, like Flye Legs Up, are often not allowed on airlines, (including ones that do allow parents to bring a sleep aid or toddler flight bed,) as they attach to a part of a plane. sometimes know as an inflatable flight cushion,

Top picks to help your baby sleep better on a plane

  • This Jet Kids Bedbox has an in-flight bed or leg-rest feature. Can be pulled or ridden by your little one through the airport terminal.
  • Dragon Shaped Neck Pillow is SOFT & COMFORTABLE: PP cotton is soft, and the outer layer is short plush. 
Product nameImageWeightColour / Style Price
Inflatable foot restInflatable foot rest0.36 kggrey or blue$
For the latest prices and more info see here
Plane PalPlane Pal1.3kg (includes a hand pump)black$$$
For the latest prices and more info see here
Jet Kids BedboxJet Kids Bedbox3kglight grey$$$$
For more information and latest price see here
Bcozzy Kids Neck Support PillowBcozzy Kids Neck Support Pillow0.11kgVarious colours, pink, blue, red, green, black, purple$$
For more information and latest prices see here
Trunki Yondi travel PillowTrunki Yondi travel Pillow0.09kg/3.52ozVarious colours and characters (owl, cat, dinosaur, monkey)$$
For more information and latest prices see here
Dragon Shaped Neck PillowDragon Shaped Neck Pillow0.18kg/6.40zVarious colours and animal types including dog, cow, donkey & cat$
For more information and latest price see here
Cloudz Animal Neck PillowCloudz Animal Neck Pillow0.09kg/3.2ozVarious animal types including alligator, pig, moose,$
For more information and latest prices see

Rules for Convertible Inflight Beds for Children

Travel cushions/inflatable leg rests etc are not always allowed on board and airline regulations vary. Currently, some of those who officially do NOT allow most sleep travel gadgets and say so on their website are:

Airlines who officially do NOT allow most sleep travel gadgets/airplane beds for toddlers and say so on their website are:

 Airlines which OFFICIALLY APPROVE some sleep devices for children (as long as certain guidelines are met) and say so on their website:

However, note that the final decision will always rest with the crew.

American Airlines policy on inflatable legrests.
American Airlines policy on inflatable legrests- they allow most types.

Position of Sleep Aids For Toddlers

toddler sleep on plane, travel sleep gadgets for kids, singapore airline rules
Image copyright: Singapore Airlines
toddler sleep on plane, travel sleep gadgets for kids
Virgin Australia rules


Rules vary very slightly between the airlines that do allow an airplane kids sleeping pillow, but as a guidance here are the typical rules:

  • Inflatable inflight beds may only be used at the window seats or the middle seat between the aisles.
  • The childs head must be toward the back of their own seat.
  • Your child must also be able to fasten the seatbelt under his or her arm when using the inflight bed.
  •  If your child is under two years of age, he or she must be removed from the convertible inflight bed, and secured with an infant seatbelt whenever the seatbelt sign is switched on.
  • The item must not interfere with the comfort of another passenger
  • It must not be attached to any part of the aircraft.

4) Bring a familiar toy or comforter if they have.

5) Consider purchasing a seat for your toddler and using an airline approved car seat. A familiar car seat can help them settle.

Airline rules do vary on the use of a car seat, with some not permitting rear facing. Always check with your airline first if you are intending on purchasing a seat for a child and using a car seat.

6) With no bassinet for a toddler over 2, consider bringing an extra blanket or using the onboard one to make a canopy over the seat in front of you– slotting it into the headrest.

This obviously only works if you are not in a bassinet bulkhead position, but means again they are shielded from the cabin lights. This is one of our go to tips and both girls slept nearly 10 hours on a recent flight back from Thailand!

toddler sleep on plane, travel sleep gadgets for kids
What to pack - top tips help baby sleep plane, toddler sleep on plane, travel sleep gadgets for kids
Making a ‘den’ to sleep in

7) Consider buying a Travel Snug. These fleecy blankets provide some cushioning over the hard armrests and almost ‘cuddle” the child to sleep. They are a bit bulky to lug around but we wouldn’t be without them now they are a bit older. We’ve also used them on really hard and uncomfortable car seats from abroad. Full review on the Travel Snug is here.

8) Seat to Sleep Travel Nest Inflatable cushion is another new product to help kids sleep on a plane. Read my full review by clicking the link.

Seat to Sleep Review travel pillow
Seat To Sleep travel cushion

7) Bring extra snacks– full tummies and food like bananas help with sleep.

I hope these tips help your toddler sleep on a plane! Do let me know what works for you below.

Other Flying With A Toddler Tips

For more useful flying with a toddler tips see my helpful post here.

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Top tips to help your toddler sleep on the plane #flyingwithababy #travelwithkids #familytravel

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Thursday 27th of August 2020

We were so happy with the Flyaway Kids Bed for our flights! Our little-one slept the whole night flight and only had to be woken up for landing. Love that it keeps toys from falling off the seat on day flights too. So glad we found it on your website Carrie, we'll never fly without it again!!!

Carrie Bradley

Saturday 23rd of January 2021

So glad it helped!


Tuesday 19th of March 2019

Such a helpful post thank you! Will definitely be trying out the canopy and looking into a travel snug.

My husband and I are travelling with my almost 2 year old and 5 year old in 2 months to Mexico from London (11.5 hrs) and debating the best seats to reserve as its a 3-3-3 configuration. 3-1 or 2-2 over the aisle? Any thoughts? xx


Tuesday 9th of October 2018

Hi Carrie great post! What kind of blanket is the black one in your photo? Feeling anxious about a longhaul flight in December! Thanks

Flying With A Baby (@flyingwithbaby)

Tuesday 9th of October 2018

Thanks Caroline. That’s the airline provided blanket.


Monday 10th of September 2018

Have you tried traveling with them when they were stil under 2? How Did you manage the “fasten seat belt sign” while they were aslept?


Tuesday 11th of September 2018

Hi yes- we have travelled with ours at various ages (they are now 3 and 6). Before they fall asleep, I make sure the seatbelt is easily accessible ( if it's not already on) ie both ends lying flat towards the seat in front of them - then i clip it around them when they are in a comfy position. I've done this whether they have been a tiny baby on a spare seat, to a 1 year old, 18 month etc and older and still do now.

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