Written by Denise Stegmann in October 2019. This post contains affiliate links from Amazon, meaning I may receive compensation at no additional cost to you.
Help your child Sleep on the Plane
If you asked me what my number one parenting advice was, I would tell you SLEEP. A regular sleep schedule, a bedtime routine and everything that makes for a comfortable night for your kids. A good night of sleep makes for happy children and happy parents during the day. Sleep contributes to your child’s health, intelligence and mental well being. I think this attitude towards sleep has served me well in my parenting but it’s terribly inconvenient when it comes to traveling, and especially long distance flying. So here is all my advice listed in one quick post.
1. Make sure it's dark
You can't control how dark it is on the plane, and how other people use their screens and overhead lights. So you need to find a way to keep it dark for your child. I wished there was some kind of tent that you could set up around your child. But so far this kind of airplane tent has not been invented yet. I have tried to use clips to attach blankets to the seat to create something like a tent but that has never really worked. So on our next overnight flight I am going to give an eye mask a try.
2. Keep it quiet
It always seems like announcements are made at the worst times. Your child just fell asleep, or your child was just in a light sleep phase. And airplane announcements can be so loud. Often they are necessary but many times I have found myself quite annoyed with them. Also, some passengers use the flight time to share their travel experiences with their neighbors. Or God forbid, there is another baby or child screaming during the flight. So if you want to keep it quiet for your child you need to find some kind of gadget. To be honest I haven't found anything that would cancel noise completely for my children, and let them sleep comfortably. My safest bet would be these cozy headphones. They must limit a lot of noise entering your child's ear canal. The only concern would be that they might get too hot over a certain period of time.
You can also try earplugs for children. Most earplugs for children seem to be made to keep water out of kid's ears. But they can also be used to block sound. Reviews for them are good overall but some parents wrote that they were too big for their children. My oldest son would not tolerate these in his ears. So it is also a question of personal comfort levels. Beware that this seller does not accept returns.
3. Limit screen time
It's so tempting to just let your child watch movies and shows the entire flight. Don't do it if you are on a night flight. Have this conversation with your child before you go to the airport. Yes, airplanes are fun because you get to watch shows, but airplanes are also for sleeping in the night. Let your children have fun watching a movie or two, but once the atmosphere on the plane quiets down after meal services you need to get your child into a sleeping mindset. You are going to be glad you set that limit once they are actually asleep. But also a word of caution, know when to accept that sleep is not going to happen. You also don't want yourself and other passengers to be miserable.
4. Expand sleeping area
Nothing sets the tone for sleeping more than being able to lay down, and cuddle up under a blanket. Luckily our children are still small enough that they can still do so with the help of an inflatable foot rest. They are designed to fit right into the space in front of the seat. Depending on your child's size your child should be able to lay down flat. You are not allowed to use them during take off and landing but otherwise it is okay. I can also tell you from experience that you can easily inflate them, and also very quickly get them to shrink up again.
5. Bring comfort items
You know what your child needs to sleep. Maybe it's a stuffed animal or a blankie. Make sure it's on your carry-on pack list.