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If you are like most parents, well traveled or not, long flights in conjunction with your infant or toddler induces stress just thinking about it!!
While there are plenty of tips and tricks to keep your tot occupied and busy on flights, dealing with getting your wiggle worm to sleep is a whole other beast.
Luckily, on all our international travels, we’ve discovered quite a few options on how to make an airplane toddler bed out of the seat, making the zzzzzsssss come a tad bit easier for your little one.
Here is our list of good baby airplane bed options to help you on your next cross-country or long-haul flight with your baby or toddler.
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Air Travel With Infant and Baby Bedding
I’m always surprised how many parents aren’t aware of the airline bassinet option when booking flights. If you have any airplane travel with baby coming up where you are facing long-haul flights, definitely look into the airplane’s complimentary bassinet!
Note: this is typically only available on larger planes and ones that are going long distances.
Whether you buy a separate infant airplane seat ticket for your child or decide to do the lap baby option if they are under two when you go to book your ticket, call the airline immediately and request the airplane baby seat that has the bassinet.
These will be in the bulkhead section of the planes and are first come first serve, so you are not guaranteed one, but it is SO worth it to not only have the extra leg room (usually at no extra cost) but to also have the option of lying your kiddo down when you need a break (or s/he needs a nap!) is a godsend!
- You don’t have to bring any extra gear (light packers, REJOICE!) for your own baby airplane bed
- You get premium seating at typically no extra charge
- You’ll have a lot more extra space and legroom since you’ll be in a bulkhead section
- The max weight limit is around 22-26 pounds (pending airline). We had already hit that at about 9 months, meaning we couldn’t even utilize this option very long.
- Most airlines require you to remove baby during take off and landing as well as ANY time it is turbulent. This is a pain if you JUST got your babe to sleep and you now have to remove them because they turned the seatbelt light on.
If you travel with babies, chances are, you’ve seen a Pinterest Pin or Facebook ad on these cute little “baby airplane hammocks.”
Basically, you attach the hammock to your waist and the tray table and then you can plop your little one in.
- Small and compact (easy to pack) and comes with a carrying bag
- Has a 5 point harness system for ultimate safety
- Can be used off the plane during your travels as basically a “travel high chair” (with no tray), as it can attach to other normal chairs in an upright position
- If the passenger in front of you reclines (jerk!) then it basically makes the sling not work
- Maximum weight is 25 pounds- meaning great for babies, but not into the toddler years
- Should only use if baby can hold head up/ sit unassisted
Options For Toddler Travel Bed For Airplanes
Inflatable Pillow Bed/ Inflatable Flight Leg Rest/ Inflatable Airplane Foot Rest
I didn’t realize how “easy” flying with a baby was until we did airplane travel with a toddler!!! Toddlers are mobile, balls of energy not realizing that running around the plane is just simply not an option!
Toddlers also don’t just easily fall asleep with a bit of nursing or a bottle and some snuggles. They trash, they get distracted and they downright put up a battle to sleep on planes!
But one of the saving graces was when I discovered the use of an inflatable flight leg rest that can then be used as basically a kids airplane bed!
Some of these are marketed specifically to convert the seat into a toddler travel bed for airplanes and others are just generic inflatable “pillows” but the end result is the same.
How It Works
- Blow up the pillow
- Shove and wedge down below your toddler airplane seat and the seat in front
- Let kiddo sprawl out and sleep easier than when they are draped all over you!
- Most of these are small and compact enough when deflated that can easily be thrown into your carry on
- This is the most affordable option out of the list (frugal travel for the win!)
- Can be used for a large range of ages, meaning you can really get your money’s worth
- Some airlines are banning these types of “devices” saying they are a safety hazard. As always, check with your airline. (Not to be a rule breaker, but I only just learned about this and let’s just say that even on some of the airlines that say “no,” I’ve never had a problem….?)
Out of all the options listed on this page, I have to say, this is my top winner for Best Travel Bed For Airplanes for Babies and Toddlers. Between the ease, compactness and price point, it gets my vote!
This is a handy little toddler luggage case that your kiddo can actually RIDE! (Yes, ride!) in the airport that then converts into a bed that attaches to the airplane seat!
- Kids will love that they can ride the suitcase!
- It’s basically a fully convertible toddler bed with sides
- If you put ANYTHING inside, you’ll have to find a new home for all the contents, as the suitcase is what converts to the bed
- Some airlines are not allowing it due to safety hazards
- The pricepoint!
Tips For Getting Your Toddler To Sleep on a Plane
1) Stick to As Much of Your Regular Routine as Possible
Sure, you can’t exactly take a nice, wind-down bath when flying with your toddler, but what else is on your bedtime agenda that you can incorporate into your flight? Just a few things that we do every night that we also do when flying are:
- Read a bed time story
- Say “Goodnight” to objects (Good night, airplane seat. Goodnight, armrest….you get the idea)
- Sing a lullaby (ours is Twinkle Twinkle)
What are some of your “usuals” that can easily be incorporated into a flight?
2) Change Into Pajamas
It’s not the strongest sleep cue, but putting on a pair of pajamas is still a good way to show your toddler “We are transitioning from play to sleep”
We always pack a pair of warm PJs as well as lighter ones, because you just never know what the airplane temperature is going to be!!!
3) Wait Until They Dim The Lights
The whole airplane seems to wind down a bit when they turn off the lights, so not only will there be less commotion to distract your kiddo, but also a darkened space is just simply easier to get to sleep in.
If your kid can tolerate a sleep mask, this is actually a great thing to try as well! Unfortunately, mine just thinks it’s a fun game!
4) Remind Yourself You Are Not At Home
Regardless of how good of a sleeper Lil B is at home, it is almost always a battle, if not just a very, very long process for him to eventually settle in enough to sleep while on a flight.
Remind yourself that it is going to take longer, that your kiddo is probably going to do some major alligator rolls trying to get comfortable or at the very least push back on going to sleep!
5) Take The Baby For A Walk
When Lil B was past the baby stage where boob and turbulence did the trick and he was now in full, mobile infant mode, it was often really hard to get him to sleep for a nap or bedtime on a flight. However, I would pop him in my Tula Baby Carrier (my personal baby carrier of choice) and just went on a walk with him. I’d go to the back and just bounce him, rub his back, sing to him and he would eventually settle right in.
On our most recent flight, I saw another mother with her 5 month old doing the same exact thing with baby tucked snuggly in her Moby Wrap. Just another reason why I love baby wearing! It’s so great for travel!!!
But then you have to face transferring him OUT of the carrier!!! (But that’s another topic!!!)
If you are flying with your baby for the first time, here are some additional great tips to help you learn from the mistakes of others!
Flying with a baby and a toddler can be a challenge for even the most experienced travelers. Luckily, there are tips, tricks and gear to help a traveling family out!
What are your go-to secrets for getting your tot to sleep on flights? Help other families out by sharing in the comments below!