Want to know the secret to getting kids sleeping on a plane? If you’re flying with kids, especially long-haul, chances are you want to minimise family travel stress.
I’ve rounded up the best airplane sleep aids for kids, including baby airplane beds, kids sleep masks and more. If you’re wondering how to get a toddler to sleep on a plane, trying to decide which is the best airplane toddler bed or whether to try something else, this post is for you.
And the best bit is it doesn’t need to cost a fortune. There are options for all budgets, though of course, we all know that sometimes it just depends on how the wind blows as to whether they’ll do what we want them to..!
9 of the Best Ways to Help Babies, Toddlers and Older Kids Sleep on a Plane
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BedBox™ – JetKids by Stokke
Age 2-7. From £149.
This stylish wonder product is essentially a carry-on suitcase for kids that they can ride on and convert into a kids airplane bed. It’s designed to make family travel so much easier.
So the main pull of the BedBox™ is that you can open it up in the foot well to create a seat extension. You then roll the mattress (included) out on top to make a comfy bed for little ones. It’s received loads of praise and great reviews saying it’s helped mini-travellers head off to the land of nod.
The ride-on functionality is just an added bonus to make getting through the airport a bit easier. It’s worth noting that this feature is suitable from age 3, whereas the bed aspect from age 2.
And let’s not forget it also acts a suitcase for children, offering an impressive 23L capacity.
Admittedly it’s expensive so you’re going to need to have a few family trips in the pipeline to justify the cost or be prepared to sell/pass it on.
Pros: 3 in 1 product and stylish.
Recommended Reading: Flying Long-Haul With a Toddler and Baby – My Experience
Plane Pal – The Airplane Seat Extender
Does what it says on the tin – this bit of travel gear transforms the seat into a toddler bed for the plane (and for older kids), or at the very least a comfier seat for children.
You inflate the cushion and then use it to fill the space between their chair and the one in front. The full kit comes with a portable pump to make blowing it up that little bit easier and takes around 2-3 minutes.
It folds flat into its own carry on bag and is available in timeless black. It’s approved by over 50 airlines across the world.
The downside is that you need to wait until the seat belt sign has been turned off before using it.
Pros: Lightweight. Kit comes with a pump. Suitable for different seats (and not just planes).
Cons: Not suitable on all airlines. Can’t be used during take off and landing.
Recommended Reading: Flying Long-Haul With a Baby – My KLM Experience
Seat to Sleep
Age 3-10. From £35.
Described as a travel nest inflatable cushion, this aesthetically pleasing product folds up super small into its own little bag, making travelling with it an absolute breeze. There’s even a little clip if you just want to hang it on your backpack.
Once on board you take it out the bag, blow it up (about 8 puffs) and then let them use it as a pillow cocoon. Often in premium economy seats you can’t lift the arm rest up, so it’s perfect for leaning up against that or the window. Lay it on your lap and let them lie on you for a makeshift bed.
One of the big advantages of the Seat to Sleep is that you can use it during take off and landing. It’s also compatible with all waist seat belts.
Pros: Super light, easy to travel with and cheap.
Cons: Doesn’t extend to create a makeshift bed like some others.
Recommended Reading: Flying With a Baby Tips
Flight Hammock for Toddlers
This plane hammock gadget creates a portable bed for flights. It creates a flat bed for babies and small children, and a platform/foot rest for older children and adults.
The hammock attaches to the tray table on the seat in front. The pillow then goes into the newly created hammock to offer a makeshift bed or foot rest.
It’s worth noting that not all airlines allow this product so check ahead before buying. However, it’s ultra light and easy to travel with, so not too much of a gamble.
Pros: Lightweight and easy to travel with.
Cons: Not suitable with all airlines.
Recommended Reading: Car Activities for Toddlers…That Really Work
The Docazoo is a blow up cube that you put in the area where your little one’s feet would normally hang from the seat. It fills the gap to create an extended seat, which encourages mini-explorers to sleep (or acts as a footrest for parents!). Some reviews suggest it may move a little depending on your seat, so you may need to weigh it down or pop your foot there to prevent sliding.
Like similar toddler travel bed for airplane products on the market it folds down into its own small carry pouch, making it easy to travel with. That said, some airlines don’t allow it so check with who you’re flying with.
This product has great reviews on Amazon, as well as hacks on how to sneak it on flights that don’t approve of it, but whether that’s how you want to roll is your choice. Rules are there for reasons, though I fully acknowledge sleep deprivation is a killer!
It’s also worth noting that there are loads of variation of this same product on Amazon.
Pros: Really cheap, small and light.
Cons: Not suitable with all airlines. May move about.
Recommended Reading: Flying With a Toddler – Free Airplane Seat vs Paid Seat
Trtl Pillow Junior
Age 8+. From £22.49.
The Trtl kids pillow is like a fleecy scarf with an in-built neck support to make sleeping in an upright position much easier. As they drift off and the head lolls to the side it’s caught by the hidden firm support in the scarf.
The scarf wraps and velcros together, meaning you can easily attach it to your hand luggage strap.
It’s machine washable and made with super soft hypoallergenic fleece. And although it doesn’t turn a seat into a bed, it is a handy, easy way to make travelling in economy or road trips that little bit more comfortable.
Pros: Cheap, super light and easy to travel with.
Cons: Doesn’t make a bed.
Recommended Reading: The Trtl Pillow in Review
SkyBaby Travel Mattress
Age 0-2. From £28.
If you’re stressing about how to get baby to sleep on a plane then take a look at this baby travel mattress. It has clever holes so that you can thread the seat belt through it and little wings that fold over the baby to create a more snug feel.
This baby airplane bed rolls into its own carry pouch that can be attached to another bag, so it’s not too much stress to bring with you. That said, in my opinion, I don’t think it’s a necessary purchase. In my experience of flying with babies they’re more than happy with their parents arms as a bed. And a cheaper alternative that you can use throughout your trip is a sling or baby carrier.
And of course, there’s also the option of using the free airplane baby bassinet (like a travel cot) if you’re in a bulkhead seat. However, if you’re not, the advantage of this baby bed for the plane is that you can utilise it in any seat.
Pros: Small, lightweight and cheap. Can keep them in it when you get off the plane.
Cons: You still need to use your lap/arms, so gains are minimal.
Recommended Reading: 8 Must Have Items For Travelling With a Baby
Bit of a niche option, but if you’re flying with Air New Zealand look into booking their Skycouch™ . It turns an economy row into a couch, so whether you utilise it as a makeshift bed, play area or comfier shared seat for your family, it definitely helps to make long-haul flights more bearable.
It also includes bedding and pillows to make it that bit snugglier. I’m experiencing it on my upcoming trip to New Zealand with my 2 and 4 year old, so expect a full review shortly.
It’s not as expensive as you might think. On an 11 hour flight it’s costing us just £100 more.
Pros: Creates a bed. No kit to carry or pack.
Cons: Subject to availability and must be booked ahead.
Kid’s Sleep Mask
The bright lights don’t do you any favours when you’re trying to get kids to sleep on a plane. A kid’s sleep mask is a great way to help encourage some sleep. A lot of the cheaper ones sit on the eyelids, whereas the Trtl Sleep Mask offers ‘freedom to blink’.
It uses a raised area to keep the mask away from the eyelashes and eyes. And it has a velcro strap so you can adjust the head fittings. Admittedly this eye mask is for adults, but it’s a great option for older kids.
Pros: Cheap and lightweight.
Cons: Possibly too big for young children
So there you have it, the best of what’s out there on the market. Go with what you think will work for your children.
My kids are 2 and 4 and have been on loads of flights, including long-haul since they were babies. We’ve survived all of them without any of these gadgets, so don’t feel like you need to buy something. But, if you want some extra tools in your belt then one of these should help.
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