7 Tips for Surviving a Red-Eye with a Toddler

7 Best Tips for a Red Eye Flight with a 1 Year Old

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Flying a red-eye flight with a 1 year old doesn’t have to be daunting as long as you are prepared! Lucky for you, we’ve made all the mistakes so you don’t have to!

7 Tips for Surviving a Red-Eye with a Toddler

Have you ever found yourself looking for flights and the only available flights are red-eye flights?

Oh, and you have a 1-year-old?


That has been our predicament so many times and let me tell you, our first red-eye flight with a 1-year-old was a lot harder than it needed to be. Had I been a little more prepared though, it definitely would have gone more smoothly! And it has since then thank goodness. Learn from my mistakes and make your red-eye with a 1-year-old a much more enjoyable experience!

This post is all about tips for flying a red-eye flight with a 1-year-old.


7 Tips for Your Red Eye Flight with a 1 Year Old

1 // Buy your baby a seat and bring their car seat

I say this cautiously because I know a lot of people can’t afford to buy an extra seat. But if you can, do it! Or hope for the best and maybe an empty seat will end up next to you! We bought Ollie a seat and even though he was bouncing off the walls, he still had his own space and, just as importantly, we had ours.

Also, I say to bring a car seat, because if your baby has learned the art of sleeping in the car seat, chances are they will sleep well in the car seat on the plane. This was a mistake we made and we still look back on it with lots of regrets. Don’t forget to also bring a car seat cover just in case the plane stays too bright.

If your baby is pretty chill and can sleep outside of their car seat, you can get an inflatable pillow that is designed to squeeze between the seats to make a little bed. We bought this one off Amazon and it was great for a little bit, but he definitely did not sleep on it because he was way too overstimulated. Or you can splurge and get the JetKids!


He actually ended up on the floor on one of the flights though so that’s cool. I guess he likes it? I definitely don’t recommend putting them on the floor though! It can be dangerous, especially if there is turbulence.

P.S. That swaddle is from Nested Bean and was heaven on earth. In case you’re wondering!

flying with a 1 year old

2 // Research Products to Help Your Baby Sleep.

A red-eye flight with a 1-year-old is not so bad if they sleep. But how do you help them sleep in an unfamiliar place? Well, there are a lot of natural products out there that are safe for babies and help them feel calm and thus, go to sleep. We tried this one from Target:

Oilogic Baby Lavender Roller / 7 Tips for Surviving a Red-Eye with a Toddler

We started using this about 2 weeks before the flight and found it to work really well. Had we done other things right, we know it would have worked during the flight from… yeah you get it. It did help on the flight back though so that was awesome! We have also heard that Benadryl helps some babies but that it gives others more energy and we were not prepared to take the risk so we steered away from it for these flights.

3 // Try to maintain their routine

If you have a night routine for your baby, I would highly recommend trying to replicate it as much as possible on the plane. That can help tell them that it’s time to fall asleep. We definitely could have done better at this because I remember a time during the flight when Oliver was just in his diaper. Like, WHAT? He never sleeps in just his diaper so that was definitely a huge contributor to his sleep struggles.

4 // Have essentials in an easily accessible bag

This was a lifesaver! We packed this bag strategically so that we were able to easily access what we needed when we needed it. I recommend having a little bag within the diaper bag that houses all of your flight essentials because heaven knows how crazy your diaper bag can get. Our bag had the following items

  • Snacks/Food
  • Bottle
  • Teething tablets/Ibuprofen/Tylenol because teething
  • Pacifiers
  • Wipes
  • 2 Diapers and 2 Night Diapers because homeboy pees a lot when he sleeps
  • New and quiet toys that will keep him entertained if he stays awake
  • Sleeping stuffed animal (one of his stuffed animals he only gets at night in his crib so we hoped that would signal bedtime as well)

5 // If You’re Traveling with a Partner, Take Turns

If the babe is struggling with going to sleep and you’re traveling with someone who is willing/able to help, take turns! This was huge for us. We were able to get some time to ourselves and even sleep a little while the other person took care of the baby. This was hard for me at first because I felt bad that Josh was having to take care of Ollie by himself but trust me when I say what a difference it makes.

On one of our first overnight flights with our 1-year-old, we did not take turns and neither of us slept. It was ROUGH. We tried this on our next flight and it was a WORLD of difference.

6 // Don’t Forget About Yourself

With everything you have to do, it can be so easy to forget about yourself, but DON’T. Bring things that you need or that will make you feel comfortable. Bring your favorite snack or download your favorite movies or music. And stay hydrated! You may not be able to listen to your movies while taking care of the baby if he or she is struggling, but at least you’ve got something for you, right?

Below are some of my favorite travel products, especially for a red-eye flight.

7 // Stay Calm!

Remember, you can do this! A red-eye flight can be stressful enough, but a red-eye flight with a 1 year old is a new ballpark. Staying calm and taking deep breaths can help keep you grounded and ready to tackle whatever comes up with grace.

Staying calm can also help your baby stay calm. Otherwise, they just might end up screaming inconsolably as everyone is getting off the plane (yep, this happened to us!) As long as you are prepared and don’t try too many new things for the flight that may throw your baby off, you have got this!

Bonus Tips for Red Eye Flights with Babies

You guys thought I was just going to give you 7 tips? Don’t you worry! The more we have flown, the more we’ve experienced, so here are a few more tips!

Get a Bassinet

I mentioned getting your baby an extra seat and having him/her sleep in either their car seat or on the seat if you have a chill baby that does that. If you don’t though and you have a small enough child, you may be able to get a bassinet! Not all planes or flights have them, but it’s worth a call to the airline to see if they have one available!

Don’t know what a bassinet on an airplane is? You are in for a treat! Some airplanes, especially those used for longer flights, will have bassinets that they can attach to the wall between cabins for babies to sleep in. They are marvelous and usually available for no charge! Well, sort of. Most of the time, they will upgrade you to that seat if it’s available for no charge, but if you are traveling with anyone else, you will have to pay the full amount for their seat. When we’ve done it, it wasn’t terribly expensive. If you want to learn more about bassinets and general tips for flying with babies, I have a three-part blog post series that focuses on all of the things you encounter when flying with babies!

Head into the Trip Well-Rested

I can’t stress this enough but try to go into your red-eye flight with a baby as well-rested as you possibly can. If you can take naps, take one in the afternoon before you leave. If you can’t, then try to go to bed early the night before you’re flight. Since a red-eye flight with a baby can be unpredictable, especially your first one, you can’t bank on being able to sleep on the plane. If you are well-rested though, then it can help you manage what may happen.

If you guys have any other tips that have helped you when you have taken a red-eye flight with a baby, share them in the comments! I can’t wait to hear what other things have helped. And good luck! You’ve got this!

This post was all about flying a red-eye flight with a 1-year-old.

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  1. Hi, I love your tips! Traveling with a baby can be a nightmare! Good thing, you can ditch the car seats when flying with a baby!
    You can learn more at kidmoto.taxi

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