How to help your child sleep on a plane

First Class Kid MAIN
Our favourite travel item to help your child sleep on a plane

We love to travel, but what we don’t love is the thought of being on a 9+ hour plane ride with our two young boys. Especially if they are up the entire flight – this has happened! But now, we use a great travel item that helps our child sleep on the plane, and remain comfortable on the plane.

It’s difficult planning, organizing, and making sure we’ve thought of everything. What snacks, toys, activities, should we bring? And then there’s strategizing, should we or shouldn’t we bring the car seat on plane?

Sleeping while flying

Related – Should you bring a car seat when you travel?

All these thoughts were running through my head after we booked our flight to Ireland.

It is a 9 ½ hour flight to Dublin and we have young boys who need to be kept entertained – for both the sanity of us, other passengers, and for their enjoyment of the experience. Thankfully, they both love to fly.

A while back we wrote a story about bringing our car seat on board the plane. It was the best decision for us at the time, but Connor is getting older now and I started to question if this would be a good idea on such a long flight. A car seat, although great for little ones, takes up a lot of room.

Connor can nap in his car seat but he’s got a max of about 2 hours before he starts to get uncomfortable. I was really hoping that both kids would sleep longer than that, so I started looking for an alternative.

First Class Kid all ready and in place

First Class Kid all ready and in place

I wanted something that didn’t take up a lot of space, and it would allow our boys to sleep comfortably on a plane. A blow -up leg pillow came up in my research and I immediately knew that this would help.

One of the things that I hate most on a plane is that when I’m trying to sleep, I can’t prop up my legs. After a while my legs get uncomfortable, and I just want them elevated. The same goes for our kids, but for them it’s much worse.

They have their little legs dangling the entire flight, and it’s impossible for them to sleep unless they rest their legs on you or somehow on the seat next you – basically pushing you off the seat (at least this is what happens to us).

I'm able to take a break and stretch out too

I’m able to take a break and stretch out too

A blow up leg pillow is a very simple idea to help your child sleep on a plane. It’s a blow up square that fits in the area where the kids’ feet go. It extends the seat so kids’ can stretch out without leaving their feet to dangle. But, the most important part is that it doesn’t hinder the front passenger’s ability to recline. The person in front is free to recline as they please.

Our kids loved it. They both used it the entire flight and when they weren’t using it, it allowed me to stretch out my legs to rest. We had it blown up both when they were sleeping and awake. Our older son immediately asked for it when we got on our second flight to come home. He must have liked it, because I didn’t prompt him asking if he wanted it or not.

How did the sleeping go?

It worked out really well and did exactly what I needed it to do – support their little legs. The boys both were comfy and able to stretch out more to get a better rest.

Comfy and almost asleep

Comfy and almost asleep. In this picture, I’ve stretched out onto the pillow and Connor has his feet next to me. This way also works well!

How does a blow up leg pillow work?

You can either manually blow it up or you can use the air ventilation system found on older planes. We were on a newer plane so we didn’t have the air ventilation system, but it was simple to blow up using our mouths.

Would we use it again?


UPDATE: We’ve now had these leg pillows for 5 years and we still use them! We just got back from Japan and our 8 and 6 year old’s used them.

I even like to use it on long haul flights.

child sleep on a plane

Anything we didn’t like?

The only thing I didn’t like was that it was hard to access our kid’s toys from their suitcases that were stored under the seat. But we learned our lesson and for the second flight we put the boy’s suitcases in the overhead compartment for easy access to toys and games.

Success a sleeping toddler

Success a sleeping toddler

Anything else to mention?

Bring a big full sized pillow with you. It will make the area that much comfier for your little ones to sleep.

You can find blow up pillows on Amazon. 

2 Responses to “How to help your child sleep on a plane”

  • There are many people who travel by plane with children. But if the child falls asleep inside the plane, many do not know how to help him. So this post is very important. Thanks for sharing your post.

  • That’s such a useful pillow. Wished we had it when our kids were smaller. Sometimes, we were lucky as the seats were not occupied, so we can let them sleep across three seats.

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