Mother holding infant wearing matching lemon print outfits

How to Get a Baby to Sleep on the Plane

By: Brooke Hamilton


When you’re gearing up for an air-bound adventure with your little one, you may be feeling a mixture of excitement and nerves, wondering how to keep them entertained, comfortable, and well-rested during the flight.

Whether you’re a new parent flying with a baby for the first time or a seasoned traveler getting ready to bring your mini along for the ride, planning ahead can ensure you and your little one get the rest you need.

Read on to learn how to get a baby to sleep on a plane, including tips on pre-flight preparation and choosing the best flight time based on your child’s sleep schedule.

Understanding Baby's Sleep Needs While Traveling

Your baby’s sleep needs may vary from those of other children. Understanding their habits and routines in depth makes it easier to craft the perfect travel plan.

Fortunately, you know your baby best, so your expert knowledge will come in handy when planning flight times, sleep environments, and other details as you navigate how to travel with a baby.

For example, if your peanut is an excellent napper, you can choose a flight that aligns with their typical nap time. Alternatively, if your little one doesn’t sleep well away from home, make sure they get their first nap of the day at home so they’re able to rest in a familiar environment. In some cases, an evening or overnight flight might be your best option to keep your little one aligned with their sleep schedule.

Pre-Flight Preparation

Being prepared is half the battle when it comes to flying with your little one, and adequate planning can help ensure your journey goes smoothly from takeoff to landing. Here are some tips for helping you and your baby prepare for a flight.

Adjusting Baby’s Sleep Schedule Before the Flight

If you’re traveling internationally or have a flight time that doesn’t align with your baby’s sleep schedule, you can make small adjustments to help them prepare for the journey.

You’ll want to (gradually) shift their sleep schedule in the days leading up to the flight, adjusting naptime and bedtime by 15 to 30 minutes each day. This can help them mitigate baby jet lag by easing them into a different time zone and getting accustomed to falling asleep at a different time than their typical schedule.

Packing the Right Sleep Aids

Even if your baby normally falls asleep without needing a pacifier or swaddle, it’s important to remember that a travel day disrupts their normal sleep routine, so you may want to have sleep aids on hand.

When you are calm, baby is more calm. So, allow yourself to relax and soak up the precious cuddles with your little one as they drift off to dreamland with the help of a sleep sack, lovey, pacifier, or other comforting items.

Staying organized can also save time and effort, making a trip more enjoyable for you and baby. That’s why you’ll want to use storage pouches like Posh Peanut’s compression packing cubes or bring a fully loaded diaper bag to make sure you have all of the travel essentials for toddlers at the ready. Elevated and versatile, our 5-in-1 diaper bag with a suitcase trolley sleeve makes it easy to stay prepared and look good while doing it.

Setting Up a Sleep-Conducive Environment on the Plane

If you’re wondering how to get your baby to sleep on a plane, creating a comfy sleep environment is crucial. Since a flight is bound to differ from your baby’s typical sleep setting, try to create a calming environment full of familiar textures and sounds to help them relax and fall asleep.

For example, if your little one is used to you reading them a story or singing them a lullaby at bedtime, keep these routines the same when you travel (just be mindful of other passengers near you on the plane). It’s almost important to bring their favorite sleep items that feel and smell like home, like their favorite sleepsack or lovey.

You can also try to snag a window seat for minimal in-flight disturbances and added privacy. If you’re traveling alone, a window seat gives you and your baby a more secluded space to play, eat, and rest. It also prevents flight attendants from accidentally waking your little one as they walk down the aisle and ensures the passengers next to you won’t need to walk past your little sleeping beauty in order to head to the restroom.

Handling Turbulence and Discomfort

With any air travel, there are certain variables you can’t control, including turbulence and ear discomfort from sudden air pressure changes. Here’s how you can keep your little peanut as safe and comfortable as possible during the flight:

  • Swallowing can relieve inner-ear discomfort, so give your little peanut something to eat or suck on (like a pacifier) during takeoff and landing, when they’re most likely to be affected by pressure changes.1

  • If you encounter unexpected turbulence, remember that the safest place for a baby on board is buckled up in a child safety seat or held securely on your lap.

  • Distractions can make the discomfort more bearable, especially if you're waiting for your little one to adjust to new air pressure levels or sleeping positions. Having several small new baby toys at hand can help. For example, a new rattle or teether they haven't explored before may hold their attention longer. If you don't have anything new, even something as simple as a cup of ice or a plastic spoon can help keep them entertained while they get more comfortable.

With these tips and tricks, you can keep minor upsets from preventing your little one from getting that much-needed shut-eye.

Get Ready for a Restful Flight with Posh Peanut

From traveling with diapers and baby wipes to loveys and pacifiers, there are plenty of items you’ll want to have on hand when traveling with your little one. Fortunately, Posh Peanut makes it easy to stay organized and look great, whether you’re headed to the airport or the playground.

Our diaper bags, duffle bags, and packing cubes are designed with both mom and baby in mind, so you can rest assured that your baby accessories are practical and fashionable. Plus, our baby clothes are made from viscose from bamboo, a super soft and lightweight material that is so stretchy to keep your baby comfy while they travel.

Shop our extensive collection of baby clothes and travel accessories with bold, whimsical designs to get started.