Top Tips To Help Baby Sleep On A Plane
(And older kids too!)
It’s possibly every parents’ nightmare to have their baby or toddler cry all night on a plane. It was definitely mine – the thought of dozens of eyes silently questioning why on earth did I bring a baby on to a plane, during a night flight? After many long and ultra long haul flights, I’ve pretty much learned to ignore any stares. With family living in Australia and us in the UK, we are always going to travel long distances. Besides my other half and I enjoy visiting somewhere new, and letting the children experience different cultures too. We’ve learnt a few tips to make it easier for babies and toddlers to settle and have a good sleep on the plane, ensuring that you get a bit of shut-eye too. Hopefully, these top tips to help baby sleep on a plane will help you too.
1) The Holy Grail of airline flying- request a bassinet. See my guide on airline bassinets to check your little one fits the size regulations before you book! Also bear in mind all airlines, except Virgin Atlantic and Qantas, require you to remove the baby from the bassinet during any turbulence.
2) Choose a night flight. This seriously helps even if your departure time is after normal sleep time. Depending on the flight, we put our tiniest tot 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.
3) I love this baby sleep pillow spray from This Works and it smells divine. I didn’t use it with my eldest, but my husband bought it shortly after M’s birth and I’ve have found it really helps. A few sprays of it on board the plane, in the bassinet, in the hotel cot etc, means it is a familiar smell which helps settle her.
4) If you don’t have a bassinet, then I highly recommend SkyBaby mattress. It is easy to move baby from person to person; handy for in-flight trips to the loo. It can also be used easily with the infant lap belt, meaning no annoying removal of baby if there is any turbulence. Read my full review here.
5) If you do have a bassinet, hurrah! I’ve recently road tested a bassinet cover by CoziGo. (Full review is here.) It blocks out light from the cabin and is fully breathable. Worked a treat and M slept for hours even with the meal service ongoing. Genius idea and beats the old duct tape and blanket method.
6) Still on the bassinet subject, if you have a fidgety baby, or one who cries in unfamiliar surroundings, settle them in your arms first, then move to the bassinet.
Top Tips To Help Toddlers Sleep On A Plane
1) As above, choose a night flight. This seriously helps even if your departure time is after normal sleep time.
2) Choose seats carefully. 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.
3) Dress them in their pyjamas and keep the bedtime ritual as familiar as possible, brushing teeth, story etc
4) Bring a familiar toy or comforter if they have.
5) 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!
6) Consider using a Travel Snug. These fleecy blankets provide some cushioning over the hard armrests and almost ‘cuddle” the child. 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 uncomfortable car seats from abroad. Full review on the Travel Snug is here.
7) Bring extra snacks- full tummies and food like bananas help with sleep.
I’ve decided to cover this in a separate part. Although, car seats are obviously safer in terms of an unlikely event of an aircraft accident, they are not recommended by doctors for babies to sleep in according to the most recent research. The American Journal of Paediatrics has published research showing how several babies have died due to sleeping in car seats- mostly due to the improper use of the restraints. They also advise constant supervision at all times. In the UK doctors also don’t recommend babies to be kept in car seats for longer than two hours at a time. Well worth a read…
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