Sleep time for Long Haul flights


Registered User
Just wondering how you organise your toddler's sleep time for LH flights. Ihave a flight at 1 am in the morning and my son usually goes to bed at 9.30-10p.m, should I drag the sleep time to a later time and bring him to the airport awake at 11pm or should i just let him sleep and carry him on flight risking that I may accidentally wake him and disturb his sleep patterns. The trouble is that my son is very finicky and he will cry non-stop if he is woken up before his wake-up time. :(

Look forward to your advice.
wow! a normal bedtime of 10pm? that's really, really late! if you have time, i would gradually move his sleep time by 15 minutes every night until he's going to sleep later.

the problem is that no matter what you do, he's going to have an "off" night. it will be impossible for you not to wake him boarding a flight. likewise, he could very well be a little monster before you even get on the flight if he's too late for bedtime.

it's a hard decision. i think a lot will also depend on where you are going, the time change involved, the length of the flight and whether it is direct or there are stop-overs.

good luck! it's not easy flying with a toddler. (i did it twice last year, both times long haul. my daughter actually surprised me with her good behaviour...all except the fact that she developed a fever on the return flight from australia and puked all over me before we even hit the half-way mark!)
There is a blog called that has been written by an air steward who has done alot of flying with her own 3 children. Although some of the tips are obvious, she does cover many aspects on flying with children.
Best of luck with the flight

My children go to bed at 7 pm normally (5 and 3 yo twins). Our home flight leaves quarter past midnight. Since you need to leave home at 9 pm I figure it doesn't make sense to put them down so last summer, I wore them out in the morning, swimming pool, play town, Mc Donalds, then put them down for a nap from 3 to 5 pm, then went for early dinner at Wildfire, bath at home and watching some TV. They were fine at the airport, went knock-out once they were in their airplane seat and slept for a good 6-7 hours. Only the twins woke up the first night because of jet lag, but only for 15 minutes, and then they were all OK. I plan to do the same this summer.
my children normally go to bed at 7 and 7.30pm (18months and 3.5yrs respectively). I tried exactly what Mom2Sofie&Twins described above last time we flew and it was a disaster!
the 3 yr old was fine but the 18month old was too overtired by the time we got on the 11pm flight. they then have the stupid meal service straight away that went on until 1am and by then he went beserk. so tired. screamed for 4 hours. all bad!
I think it largely depends on the age of your son - you don't mention how old he is.
By age 3 my son was able to cope with being tired and keeping him up works fine. Any younger than that my kids just get too overtired. In hindsight I wish I had put the younger one to bed at 6.30 and given him a couple of hours sleep before going to the airport.
Hi you didn't mention your kid's age :) but I guess it doesn't matter. i actually quite like these red eyes, cos the baby is out and sleep through the flight, waking up just as we were landing. We have flown twice over the past 4.5 months (baby 4.5 months now) and the second time was at 1am, she slept for 12 hours, only waking up an hour before we arrive :)

Good luck!!!!
I put my baby to sleep at normal time as well and then picked him up when we were about to leave- there is so much going on and then there was the car ride where he fell asleep again. Frankly, once we were at the airport- there was no sleeping- with announcements, lights, people moving around, too many new things. By the time we got him settled it was good 2 hours into flying time, welcome address, service was over, he had played enough with the remote, etc. He was a bit crankier because of lack of sleep, but think of it as all of you adjusting to the new time zone. He was 14 months at the time of travel and it took about 4-5 days to get rid of jet lag either side.
Firstly you must accept the fact that this will not be a routinue night. Your child will not sleep. There will be too many lights and too much going on. They will also wake more on the flight because they are not in their cot and because it is unfamiliar and because they will be more thirsty. Sorry for all the negativity.

We recently flew to the UK (22month old). She normally sleeps at 7.30pm and the flight was at 11pm. I put her to bed at normal time and then woke her at 9.30pm (we had already checked in earlier that day). We boarded the flight etc etc, meals etc - it is usually 2 hours before they turn the lights off. She slept for 2 hours and then woke for 2 hours and then slept for 2 hours and then woke at her normal 7am.

On the way back, our flight was at 6pm. Much better. She had a small lunchtime nap as we were traveling in the car to the airport and then she slept at 11pm - for a long time (happy mummy :))

If your child gets overtired + grumpy, I would put him to bed at home before leaving for the airport. Having a screaming kid at the airport is not fun for anyone. But if he is ok, then I would skip the sleep and head for the airport. Good luck.
agree with a lot of what sazzy''s post says. anytime we prepare for a long haul flight, the routine goes out the door. we try and make our son as comfortable as possible (own pillow, toys, blankets etc...), make sure he eats and is well hydrated. i don't follow any of his sleeptimes especially for a late night flight - i follow how many hours he usually is awake for. when we traveled from NYC to HK, my son was 18 months and he could stay awake for about 5 hours the 4.5 marker, i would start to get him ready for a nap/bed etc....

an overtired child is a total nightmare at the airport so if he/she needs a quick nap before 1am, then i would give it to my child. i would not fight for him stay awake just because i want him to sleep on the airplane.