The Best Ways to Get Babies to Sleep on Long Plane Trips

Whether you're flying across the Atlantic or just flying across the state line, the idea of trying to soothe a screaming and wailing baby for the entire duration of the flight can make any mother quiver in fear 1. If you're worried that your baby will be unhappy on your air travels and create a multitude of disgruntled fellow travelers, try to plan ahead to encourage your little one to sleep through the ride -- your sanity will thank you later.

All About Timing

If your baby is able to sleep while traveling in a car, she may have no problem sleeping on a plane. Book your flight during baby’s normal nap time or her bedtime. If she needs her crib to sleep, avoid these times since you may have a cranky baby on your hands. Before the plane ride, tire your child by taking her for walks around the airport or, if she's a bit older, allowing her to run around in designated play areas.

Fill Him Up

Make your child comfortable as soon as you board the plane to encourage him to sleep. Put him in a clean diaper and a comfortable set of clothes, like his pajamas. Bring along formula, breast milk, baby food, snacks and any other food items that can help give him a full belly before take-off. If you're concerned about motion sickness, talk to your baby's health care practitioner ahead of time for methods of prevention.

Sleeping Arrangements

According to Elizabeth Pantley, author of "Gentle Baby Care," you should request a front row seat so that you have plenty of room to fit a requested bassinet if you feel your baby may feel comfortable going to sleep there. Bringing the car seat along may also help him fall asleep on the plane. Once your baby is resting comfortably, dim the lights and cover the window to make for a more sleep-friendly atmosphere. Read a story or sing a song to lull him to sleep.


A baby sleeping bag may be helpful in getting your baby to sleep on the plane. This will spare you from wrapping her in an uncomfortable airline-provided blanket. If your baby is asleep when you land, you can keep her in the sleeping bag without waking her. Bring lightweight cotton sheets to place over the bassinet and filter any light on the plane. A pacifier may prove soothing as well and can help with any ear discomfort she may experience. Other helpful accessories include baby's favorite toy or a portable musical mobile.