Helping Children Sleep on Planes

by Jessica on April 12, 2011

Baby’s First Flight

Ah, the bliss of a sleeping baby or toddler! It can be even more blissful when it accompanies a long flight. I could always feel the tension melt away from my body as my little ones began breathing deeply and their eyes begin to flutter as the engine droned them to sleep. Because we (and all the passengers around us) much prefer a sleeping child to a screaming child, we have learned some tricks that help our little guys fall asleep and stay asleep on a plane.

• Choose the right seat. Window seats are perfect for kids because it gives them something to lean against, as well as keeps them from being bumped as people pass in the aisle.

• Choose the right part of the plane. Both the front and back of the plane have benefits, so choose what makes sense for you. The front of the plane is great because you will have fewer people parading past your seat and interrupting your little sleeper. The back of the plane will have more traffic, but the drone of the engines in the back lulls kids to sleep faster than anything on the planet. Just avoid the last seat row, as it will not recline. Also, avoid any seats that are directly adjacent to the restroom, as people will congregate in that area as they wait their turn.

• Keep your regular bedtime routine. Change into pajamas. Sing songs, Play night-night games. All these things signal your child that it is time to sleep and will help with the transition.

• Quiet Down. Although most moms and dads love the drone of the engine for sleeping, the other noises on a plane are less than slumber inducing. Use earplugs for older kids or music and stories on CD to drown out the extra noises.

• Mask the distractions. When we began flying with our first baby, we would travel with a blanket and two large safety pins. When it was time to sleep we would pin the blanket to the seats making a barrier between our row of seats and the aisle. Masking the other people and distracting activity in aisle made it easier for Mr. Busy to close his eyes. Since then, flight attendants have been pickier about allowing us to do this for safety reasons, but when it’s allowed it really works.

• Travel with your carseat on the plane. My kids were always willing to sit still and sleep better when they were strapped into their familiar carseats. Check with your airline about carseat restrictions. You can also check sites like seatguru.com to see if the width of your carseat will fit on your plane.

• Most parents have pretty strong feeling one way or another about OTC medicines to help kids sleep on planes. Always check with your doctor before giving any medicine to your child. Be aware that OTC medicines can have opposing effects on some kids, so if you want to give something to your kids, make sure it has the desired effect. There is nothing worse than giving your little one something that you think will help them sleep and discovering that it turns them into a hyperactive revved up little monster.

• A personal note about sleeping aids. Two of our children take melatonin as prescribed by a doctor for sleeping at home. We have found that this works for all of us when we are traveling and need to sleep without any side effects. As always, check with your doctor for proper dosage and advice.

• Throw out the rules. A long haul flight is the perfect time to throw out your parenting principles and do whatever works to have a peaceful sleepy time

{ 1 comment }

myanmamomma January 25, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Thanks again! Never thought about keeping the bedtime routine. Brilliant!

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