Travelling With Baby in a Car

Taking that first road trip with your baby can be daunting task.

Here are some tips that will hopefully make the trip an easier one.

  • Feeding – If you’re feeding formula, this one’s pretty easy. Make sure you have a way to warm up the bottles in the car (there are many products on the market for this) and you’re set. Don’t forget to pack enough formula, bottles, and water. If your breast-feeding, well there is nothing else to plan for. Also if your baby is eating solids make sure you bring enough along.  When the car is stopped try nursing the baby while he or she is still in the car seat. This usually involves some form of dangling, draping, or leaning over the seat, but babies don’t seem to mind. This can also be an excellent comfort if baby gets fussy in the car seat, or can be the thing that helps soothe baby off to sleep.
  • Regular Stops – Make sure you plan regular stops. This is good for both baby and grown ups. Both get a change of scenery, some fresh air and a good time to eat and take care of ahem business.
  • Sleeping – If you can, start your trip about the time of baby’s longest nap – or even around baby’s bedtime. Many babies find the motion of the car to be soothing, and many babies take longer naps while traveling.
  • Give Baby a Friend – Consider having one parent sit in the backseat with the baby while the other drives. Many times, babies fuss in the car seat because they’re simply lonely and bored back there. Having someone to look at, play with, and talk to can help turn an unhappy baby into a content one.
  • It Will Take Longer than it used to – There’s no getting around it – trips with a baby just take longer. You’ll be making more frequent stops and the stops will probably be longer. Plan for this upfront so you’re not stressed out once you get on the road. Calm parents help make a calm baby.
  • Stops – Don’t plan marathon stretches of driving. Invest in a map that shows where the roadside rest areas are – this information can come in really handy when baby starts trying to break the sound barrier with its voice and you’re trying to decide whether to pull over or keep going.
  • Feeding – it’s easy to let baby sleep through a feed or think “just five more minutes”. It will be easier to keep your baby’s feeding schedule as close to their normal routine as possible. It will save tears and stress on both sides in the long run.
  • Routine – Again keep the routine as similar as possible to home.
  • New Toys – for older babies a new special toy can be a great distraction. A mirror and can also be a fun toy for a baby to talk to. Like wise tape some light toys to the roof, create a viewing poster, or make a chain of light weight toys to string across the car seat. Be creative! We had our son amused with a simple empty soft drink cup for ages (washed and cleaned of course).
  • Books – if your baby is old enough some books with bright colours (or a photo book with relatives) can keep your baby entertained as well. The emergency exit laminated sheet kept out son entertain for quite a while.
  • Car seat – NEVER TAKE YOUR BABY OUT OF IT’S CAR SEAT WHILE DRIVING. It is so tempting to put a parent in the back and drive with baby to soothe. But it is illegal and dangerous.
  • Let there be light – some babies do not like travelling in the dark. If this is the case with yours, try turning on the back seat light (if there is one), take a portable battery-powered lamp and put that on.
  • Play that funky music – many babies find “pop” music soothing. Try some beetles or easy listening. Better yet if you can stand it some children’s music like The Wiggles can be great for babies.
  • Practice – do some dry runs before hand and see how your baby copes. That way you identify before hand areas you need to address. Much better than finding out while doing 100 kph down the highway.
  • Sunshade – a sun shade on the window helps prevent sun burn on your child and keeps them cool in their seat.
  • Sightseeing – plan your sight-seeing stops around your baby’s sleep routine. Obviously do not go to a noisy busy place while your baby is sleeping. Try and go somewhere more sedate (like a park or museum). Save the action packed aquarium full of screaming, excited older children for when you baby is awake.

Most of all remember to have fun!

Please share any of your tips.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Literary Feline
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 23:38:55

    Thanks for the tips, Caspette! I admit I’m a little bit dreading our first car trip to visit my parents who live over 400 miles away with a baby. I know they would like us to visit for Christmas, but I am considering staying home that first one and making people come to us if they’re so inclined. It’d be so much easier, not to mention I’m not sure how much time I’d be able to take off of work (or my husband) due to all the time we’ll be out for maternity/paternity leave. I’m sure though we’ll be making many smaller trips in the meantime though! There are also my in-laws who are just over 200 miles away . . .


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