Tips for Taking a Road Trip With a Baby

 

I recently gave some of my top tips for flying with a baby. Which, I’m sure is helpful for those of you who fly. However, not everyone can afford that luxury! We’ve done our fair share of driving with Jack during the first year of his life — here are some things that we found to be helpful!

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1) Split trip into smaller sections

I know this isn’t an option for everyone, but when we went on our first big road trip with Jack, we decided to split it into two days. It turned out to be perfect, because five hours was about as much as Jack could stand being in his car seat! We found a great deal on a hotel from Priceline, were able to leave a little later in the day, right when Jack’s naptime was about to start, and we didn’t get in too late. We didn’t have to make a ton of stops — just once for Jack to nurse. And it was just overall, more pleasant.

2) Plan for Interruptions

The days of pushing through a 10 hour trip with only one stop for gas are over. Well, I guess you could technically still do that — but you’d end up with a very upset baby! Don’t leave on your trip at the very last second possible, especially if you are traveling to something that is time sensitive (like a wedding.) Just accept the fact that you might have to make a lot of stops. Baby might get upset and need some time out of the car seat, blow outs iinevitablywill happen.

3) Bottles for Less Stops

Obviously, if your baby is formula-fed, it makes it easier to not stop and feed on the go. However, that’s a bit trickier if you breastfeed, since you can’t really take your baby out of their car seat and nurse! If your breastfed baby will take a bottle, consider bringing along some milk to put in a bottle, or even a pump to make a bottle on the go. Even if you plan to stop and nurse, there is always the possibility that you might hit traffic, and your baby will want to eat. That’s exactly what happened to us. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a bottle or a pump, and it was pretty miserable.

4) Snacks

Have lots and lots of snacks if your child is eating solid food. We definitely bring lots of puffs on our road trips. I don’t normally advocate filling up on empty calories, but sometimes, when you are traveling…it’s the only thing you really can do!

5) Download apps or shows suitable for babies

If you have a tablet or smart phone that you don’t mind handing off to your baby, take some time to download some baby-friendly ones. We LOVE the Fisher Price apps that that are available for the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch (and they are free!) and Jack adores them. I also downloaded a bunch of free Sesame Street episodes awhile back that I plan to pull out when we drive to Colorado next month. If you want to protect your iPad or iPhone, be sure to grab one of these kid-proof cases (that even have some additional toys to entertain your child even more):

Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Apptivity Case For iPadFisher-Price Kid-Tough Apptivity Case, or Fisher-Price Apptivity Monkey Case

6) Toys and Mirror

You don’t need to bring along your entire toy room, but a few small, car friendly toys can help keep your baby entertained. There are even toys that are specially designed on car seats, that small infants will particularly enjoy. We purchased a mirror to put in front of Jack before one of our road trips, and I think he really liked it. I also loved it, because I could look back at Jack, see if he was asleep, or more easily find a pacifier he dropped. This is the mirror we have, and I found it to work well for us (and it is inexpensive!) There are some other fun mirrors though that have lights and fun colors, if you are looking for something that is functional and fun.

7) Make a Car Bag

Find a small basket or bag, and put some of the essentials in it, right next to you. You can put snacks, bottles, books, and toys in it. This way, you don’t have to clutter up your diaper bag, or just have random things strewn throughout the car. You could also put the snacks for you and anyone else in the car as well, just to keep everything organized. I’d also recommend having diapers and wipes easily accesible, so you can just grab them quickly. On the same note, be sure to bring a portable diaper changing pad. You never know where you might have to stop and change a diaper! And definitely put extra pacifiers in this bag. I can’t tell you how many times Jack has thrown his or spit it out, and I cannot find it anywhere while we are driving.

8) Sit in the Back

Okay, I know this isn’t always possible. When you only have one child, they usually have to sit in the back by themselves. But if you find your baby getting particularly antsy or sad, maybe sit back there for awhile. It will give them someone to interact with, and hopefully make the long trip more bearable (for everyone!) If you have more than once child, you’ve got this covered. Let them entertain each other!

7) Stop and Stretch

This goes a long with several of the things I’ve mentioned, but I just want to stress it again. Stop, get out, and stretch. Let your baby crawl around for awhile, or just sit outside on a blanket. It can get really boring, staring at a seat for hours upon hours.

8) Timing is everything

If you can try and feed your babe right before you leave, that is best. And if you happen to be traveling with other nursing babies, if at all possible, get them on the same schedule! This past summer, we went to a family reunion in Southern Colorado, and we drove in a caravan with my sister, Diana. Her little girl is just a few weeks older than Jack, and their eating schedules were about an hour different. And believe me, these little ones were not about to let us switch up those schedules that day! So our trip took a lot longer than it normally would have. If you can also try and leave, right when your baby is about to nap, that is good as well. We’ve been blessed with a baby who loves his car seat (maybe a little too much…he still sleeps best in it!) and he usually falls asleep as soon as we get in the car — regardless of if it is naptime or not. So if your baby is the same way, and you don’t want to mess up their schedules, try and leave when they would normally nap.

What are some of your tricks for surviving a road trip with a baby?

Side note: I keep having people tell me that my son is not properly secured in his car seat. First off, if you know me, you know that car seat safety is VERY important to me. I know that the belt clips are supposed to be up by his arm pits. However, we had just buckled him in this picture and hadn’t yet adjusted them. You can even see that the door is open. I triple check that my son is properly secured in his car seat. I hate that I even have to write this, but when people call my parenting skills into question, I feel I should defend myself! Thanks!

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17 Comments

  • Awesome list! Thanks for the tips! We are a bit nervous for this trip (33 hours of driving, not to mention stopping for potty breaks, food stops, sleeping, etc. makes for a few days of roadtrippin). A little mention about your side-note. Always good to know when people are aware of carseat safety, but instead of being angry about all the people telling you you're supposedly doing it wrong, be grateful that people speak up about it at all. Because there are countless cases of people actually doing it wrong and are oblivious to the correct way. People NEED to speak up, even when the people being told off have actually got it down just fine. Just a thought. :)
    • Haha, I'm not angry. I'm sorry it came across that way! I just felt the need to write that so people would stop commenting. I got some pretty brutal comments from people! Believe me, as I said, I feel very strongly about car seat safety, and yes, people need to speak up. But there's a way to do it, and most of the people that made comments were very, very rude. I appreciate the first part of your comment - I hope you didn't just comment to share the last part though :) Have a great day! Good luck on your 33 hour trip. We had one of those when Jack was about two. It was hard but we made it!
  • Thanks for the info on iPad baby apps. I had no idea there were apps for babies. Going to download a bunch now. We do take road trips quite a bit, so it should be very helpful.
    • You're welcome! My son always enjoyed them, and I feel like they have helped him learn. They are definitely great for road trips!
  • Hi! I am planning to get my child's first booster seat, and I am looking into Sentinel II from this site: http://www.safety1st.com.au . I am just wondering if you have any opinion on it or do you think it is good enough? Thanks a lot and you have a wonderful blog with great tips! :)
    • I took a look at that seat and I think it would be an excellent choice for your child! It looks very safe. :) Also, thanks so much for the compliment. I appreciate it!
  • Great Tips! Our little one is afraid of traveling in the dark, so we usually have to turn the light on or use a flashlight. Also, someone is usually sitting in the back to keep him company.
    • I never thought of using a flash flight for little ones scared of the dark in the car. Great idea! Our last road trip, I sat next to Jack the whole time...it beat having a crying toddler the whole time!
  • Traveling with your little one can be difficult. Babies demand a lot of attention and love, which seems difficult to provide on a car ride. This post should give mothers some wonderful ideas and peace of mind for their next road trip.
  • Great tips! We do a lot of the same with our son - he's nearly 4 now but a great traveller thankfully.

    I found you via The Friday Baby Shower. I hope you don't mind me mentioning but I hold a linky on Tuesdays called Trendy Tuesday. It's for bloggers who want to link up children's fashion/style blog posts. It may be your kind of thing? You can check it out over here:

    http://www.medicatedfollower.com/2013/04/trendy-tuesday-nesting-for-baby.html

    Alex
    x
  • Great tips - After quite a few road trips with my son I do a lot of the same - he's nearly 4 now and a very good traveller generally so I think we're lucky. We took him on holiday recently and we were in the car for 5 hours not including breaks and he didn't moan once. A handy combo of snacks, apps, story CDs, music, radio shows we all enjoy and stopping once for a good stretch of the legs. It helps if he falls asleep for a bit as well!

    I found you via The Friday Baby Shower. I hope you don't mind me mentioning, but I hold a linky on Tuesday's called Trendy Tuesday - it's a linky for bloggers who want/like to show off their children's style/fashion/clothes. It might be your kind of thing? You can check it out over here if you like:

    http://www.medicatedfollower.com/2013/04/trendy-tuesday-nesting-for-baby.html

    Alex
    x
  • Awesome tips, Katie! My kids are all older know, but totally pinning so I don't forget any of this in case we travel with the grand babies.
  • These are all great tips! We just did a road trip with baby girl last week so all of this is still very fresh in my mind. ;)
    We brought along a portable DVD player, but she was not too interested in that... unfortunately.

    I did sit with her in the backseat quite a bit of the drive. And I will admit that I just may have leaned over and nursed her a few times while we were driving- she was of course still strapped in her car seat, lol!

    My only other tip is try something unconventional if baby seems disinterested in all the goodies you brought along to entertain them. We had to stop at a drug store so I could buy eye drops. Baby girl got really fussy soon after and I handed her the empty box from the eye drops. I swear she played with it perfectly content for like 30 minutes, lol! ;)

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