How To Get Your Baby To Sleep On A Plane, According To Experts
The first time you fly with your baby is never, ever easy. If you're anything like me, you'll probably spend your time panicking; convinced your baby will be "that baby" the rest of the passengers glare at for the whole flight, or tell horror stories about for years on end. Before you start making up apology goodie bags for your fellow passengers, though, I suggest reading up on and then practicing a few strategies for how to get your baby to sleep on a plane. You might save yourself a little time and energy, and even get an uncomfortable cat nap on the plane, too. Guys, a baby and a parent sleeping at the same time?! That's the dream.
According to the website Flyingwithbaby.com, one of the best ways to get a baby to sleep on a plane is to request and use the airplane bassinet (also known as "the holy grail of traveling with a baby") that is typically installed in the bulkhead of the plane. The bassinet usually needs to be requested ahead of time by phone, and not all planes have the bassinet option. Additionally, the same site goes on to tell all of you soon-to-be travelers that you'll want to double check the weight restriction on the bassinet prior to using it for the duration of your flight, because older babies are typically too strong or large to use them safely.
Travelingmom.com also suggests jet-setting parents try to plan any potential flights based on their baby's nap schedule. If you know your baby is likely to nap in the afternoon, book a flight to correspond with that scheduled snooze time. The key, however, is to try to ensure that your baby won't be overtired and too exhausted to sleep by the time you get settled on the airplane. Sometimes that's unavoidable, especially if a flight is delayed, but it still pays to shoot for nap time and hope for the best.
Likewise, if you have to take a long haul flight, try to book a red eye and your baby will likely succumb to their own circadian rhythms, even if the flight takes off later than their regular bedtime. You might just want to bring a travel pillow for yourself since sleeping with a baby in your arms in an uncomfortable plane seat is no one's idea of a good time.
Parenting also highlights another option for parents, saying parents can book a seat for their baby (or, if they can't afford the cost of another seat, hope for an empty one on the flight) and bring their baby's car seat on the plane. In other words, if you're willing to take the gamble on whether the flight might be a little undersold, you can bring your car seat to the gate and have your baby sleep in a seat they're probably used to sitting in. If no seats are available, you can always check the car seat at the gate.
If your baby isn't the car seat type (our daughter certainly wasn't), the parenting site Babycantravel.com reminds parents that you can bring your baby in a carrier, which will help you hold them while they are lulled to sleep by the rumble of the plane jets. If you need to bounce your baby to get him or her to fall asleep, a carrier can also help while you stand at the back of the plane.
Finally, Parents suggests feeding your baby on take-off, as it will not only help their ears adjust to the change in altitude, but it can help them feel drowsy enough to fall asleep. As reported by Fox News in 2013, breastfeeding rights on planes are somewhat ambiguous. For example:
"American Airlines, Northwest, and United Airlines clearly state that breastfeeding is not prohibited while on the plane. Other carriers, such as British Airways and US Airways, don't have a written policy, but say they respect the rights of nursing mothers. Most airlines suggest that mothers cover up while breastfeeding on a plane. Mommy bloggers also recommend that travelers err on the side of caution and cover up. But some say confusing the issue are vague policies where airlines leave it to cabin crew to “use their best judgment to decide whether the activity is inappropriate.”
If you're a breastfeeding parent, it probably pays to bring a cover or pump prior to boarding. For you formula-feeding parents out there, Fox News reports that, "you can bring as much baby food or formula through the airport security checkpoint as you think you will need (you still need to remove it from your bag so that it can be seen by TSA agents) but note that agents may open any containers over four ounces."
Traveling with a baby is never easy because, well, traveling in general is never easy. However, with some careful planning and a few extra supplies, you should be able to get your baby snoozing at a comfortable 39,000 feet.