April 7, 2020

How We Got Our Toddler to Nap on an Airplane

Babies, Toddlers

Yep, you read that right. And I have photo evidence to prove it!

Airplane napLast summer, we got our two year old to nap on an airplane on three separate occasions! We took a trip out west with my family, followed by a visit to Canada to see Jason’s family, so lots of flying.

I’m sure we could have all survived the travel days with no naps, but it certainly wouldn’t have been pretty! Especially since we were also dancing with a three hour time change; so we crossed our fingers and came prepared.

We packed Olivia’s trusty sleep sack and her favorite stories in our carry on, and planned on going through her routine just like we would at home. So when nap time came around, we zipped her in, read two stories, and Jason cuddled her as he sang “Jesus Loves Me.”

Except this time he didn’t put her down, he kept singing and cuddling her, and within just a few minutes she was out!

I’m sure the rumble and natural white noise of the airplane helped, but it certainly wasn’t dark and she wasn’t in a familiar place…it was the timing of her daily nap, the routine she knows so well, and…her SONG!

Her song also came in handy when we were out and about, because Olivia napped on the go every day of vacation with my family. That was usually in the car, but she definitely had a bicycle and boat nap, as well.

Although the timing was usually off, if Olivia would start getting sleepy, SHE would initiate sleep. She’d cuddle her head up to the side of the car seat and say, “Jesus Loves Me.” That was this mama’s cue to sing to her and she’d pass out.

The magic of our song has been true for Avery, too! She took a fall to the face the other day, about 15 minutes before nap time. I think this mama was more scarred than she was, and there was no way I was putting my hurting babe down for her nap.

I thought it would take forever to rock her to sleep because she’s used to falling asleep on her own, but as soon as I was in the dark room with the sound machine on and singing our song, she quickly snuggled in and was out (also a plug for knowing your child’s awake windows!).

Catching a pattern here?

Nap time and bedtime routines are crucial, but my favorite part of our routines is the SONG and snuggles. It’s not a must, but I highly recommend one. It’s a great way to get in some final snuggles before your child drifts into dream world, and it’s an easy piece of the routine you can take on the go.

Our nap and bedtime songs even act as comfort “devices” throughout the day. When Avery is upset in the car, we sing one of our songs. Or if Olivia gets hurt, she often asks us to sing one of her songs.  And if you catch Olivia with a baby doll in hand, you’ll most often find her “rocking” her baby and singing “Jesus Loves Me” or “Be Thou My Vision.”

Pro tip: be careful not to use those songs/snuggles as the means by which your child falls asleep or becomes too drowsy; this will actually disrupt her sleep (unless, of course, you’re on an airplane)!

I suggest you choose a song and sing one verse – that way both you and your child know exactly how long the snuggles will last and she can drift off to sleep.

With Grace,