9 Ways to Get Kids to Sleep on the Plane

Traveling with kids is not always a ton of fun, because routines get disrupted and something normally goes wrong.  However, those travel memories that are amazing will be what keeps you traveling with your kids for years in the future.  You may already know all you need to know about how to travel with kids as well as all the accessories that you might need to help you get through a trip easier, but getting your kids to sleep on a plane is another ballgame. 

When it comes to routines, there is nothing worse than a child missing their nap or being awake most of the night on an airplane.  Of course, kids also get bored when they are on planes, which is why many parents prefer it when their kids doze off for a good portion of the flight.  If you have been looking for ways to get your kids to sleep on the plane, you are going to want to see the ideas that I have found to work the best.  

Here are 9 ways to get kids to sleep on the plane:

1. Choose Your Flight Time Wisely

If you want your child to sleep on the plane, you are better of choosing a flight that is in the air during their naptime or at night.  This will ensure that they are ready to go to sleep when they board the plane and that they can hopefully fall asleep easily once you are up in the air.  Some kids will even do better with early morning flights, because they were still tired when woken up to go to the airport and they will easily fall back to sleep once they are up in the air.  

2. Give Them the Right Foods

Foods that are filled with slow-release carbohydrates are perfect for making kids drowsy and ready to go to sleep.  It is recommended to give these foods to your child right before you board or once your flight has taken off.

Kid drinking milk - Ways to Get Kids to Sleep on the Plane

As for younger children, like babies and toddlers, you should be prepared to give them a bottle or sippy cup filled with milk, as it will help with their ears during the takeoff process.  Then once their bellies are full, they should drift off to sleep easily.  

3. Turn Off the Devices

You may think that you are doing yourself a favor by letting your kids watch a television show or movie on your device, but you are not!  Instead, those devices are keeping them awake. If you want your kids to sleep on the plane, you need to have those devices turned off, so that their brain knows that it is time to get some rest.  

4. Take a Special Blanket or Other Lovey

Most kids have a special blanket or lovey that they use when it is time for bed, so if yours do, you will want to have it with you when you are traveling. 

 Kid sleeping with teddy - Ways to Get Kids to Sleep on the Plane

When you are ready for your kids to fall asleep, you will want to pull these items out of your carry-on bag and give it to them. This should signal to them that it is time to settle down and get some sleep. 

5. Sing a Song and Cuddle

It is not always possible to cuddle with a child on your lap on an airplane, but they can easily snuggle up next to you from their seat.  Singing a song often helps kids relax and calm down, which is helpful when it comes time for them to fall asleep.  

6. Never Give Your Kids Caffeine Prior to Your Flight

You may not think anything about your kids having a few sips of soda or that small candy bar before you board your plane, but those items all have caffeine in them. 

Candy Bar - Ways to Get Kids to Sleep on the Plane

That caffeine can then keep them awake for hours, so it is best to skip it altogether.  

7. Choose Your Seats Wisely

Kids normally sleep better when they are not distracted by people that they do not know, which is why it is always best to have them by the window.  Of course, if you are traveling with more than one child, you should choose to sit in the middle and have one child on each side of you, so that they can both snuggle up to you.  I also recommend making sure that you are not sitting near the bathroom or the galley area, as those are two of the spots that are the noisiest on planes and your child can be easily awakened.  

8. Choose Interactive Activities to Wear Your Kids Out

While reading to your children may be helpful in getting them to sleep, you may be better off doing interactive activities with them instead. 

Kid coloring - Ways to Get Kids to Sleep on the Plane

Coloring or doing stickers in a book are excellent ways to get your kids to calm down and get tired, but you can try travel sized board games as well.  

9. Get the Wiggles Out Before the Flight

One of the best ways to get your kids to sleep on the plane is to make sure that they get all their wiggles out before you board.  Take them for a long walk around the airport if possible or go to an uncrowded area that they can run around in for a few minutes. This will allow them to work off some energy so that they can hopefully fall asleep much easier when you are up in the air.  

These nine things will hopefully get your kids to sleep easily when you are on an airplane, but you may need to experiment to see which ones will work best for your kids.  Not every kid is the same, so not every tip above is going to be the perfect solution to fit your needs. However, they should give you ideas on what to do next, so that you can have your kids sleeping like babies during your next flight. And of course, on the other end of your trip, you might be faced with jetlag depending on where you’re headed to. You do want to beat jet lag for adults as well as manage jet lag in babies and toddlers and get on with your vacation and enjoying your family! 

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