Travelling with children can be a rewarding experience but it does come with some challenges. Many parents dread dealing with an overtired child on a travel day and worry about how their child will sleep on the airplane. It may be hard to imagine, but there are many options for your child to sleep on the plane depending on their age and size. I am going to give you insider tips for getting your lap infant (under 2) to sleep!
Bring A White Noise Machine
First off, don’t have expectations that your child will have the same sleep as they do at home. Your child likely won’t have a full 12 hours of sleep due to the fact that the airplane is noisy and a stimulus for many children. As they transition between sleep cycles, they may be easily woken up. One trick to implement is to bring a travel white noise machine with you to encourage your baby to transition between sleep cycles with fewer disturbances. From my experience, neighbor passengers are happy to hear a white noise machine if it means baby is asleep! Plus, the airplane has a natural hum and rocking motion that may lull many babies to sleep and drown out some surrounding noise.
Set the Stage for Sleep
Similarly to at home, try to mimic your child’s nap or bedtime routine. Change them into pajamas and sleep sack, read a book and use a warm face cloth for their face and neck to mimic a bath. Utilize the support from your flight attendants! They are familiar to flying with children and are often happy to provide support in anyway they can. On all of our overnight flights, the flight attendants were happy to warm up some water to dip a facecloth into.
The Sleep Surface
Where are you going to put them?! If your baby is under 8 months, check with your airline for a travel bassinet in the bulkhead section of the plane. There are weight and length restrictions for infants, however if your baby fits, this is a great way to encourage baby to sleep! I recommend getting baby to sleep in your arms first and then lay down in the bassinet. The bulk head is typically free for the adult with the lap infant and either free or a small charge (approximately $50 depending on airline) for the accompanying passenger.
If the plane does not have the bassinet option, make your chair as comfortable as possible by bringing along travel pillows for under your arms and for your lower back. If your child sleeps well in the carrier, I often suggest parents strap baby on and walk the aisle with babe until they fall asleep and then transition back to your seat. Carriers can be worn on most flights except during take off and landing, so check with your airline.
When we travel, we always bring a little something sweet for our flight attendants to thank them for their hard work and for taking care of us. People love being appreciated and they have always gone that extra mile for us!