Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tips for Car Travel With Baby

I have now made several long car trips with Echo and figured I would share my words of wisdom with all of you pregnant ladies and new mamas out there. In December and again in March I made the 11 hour car trip to DC with baby Echo. Here is my advice for preserving you sanity on long car rides with a wee one.

1. Budget Extra Time
This trip is going to take twice as long as you think it will. You may have been able to drive for 11 hours straight when you were in college but your baby is not going to be up for that. You'll need to make frequent stops to feed, change and exercise your baby. Echo hates being restrained in her car seat because she can't move the way she wants to. Frequent stops allow her a chance to stretch, kick and wiggle. Getting exercise during stops helps her be able to sleep while we drive for long stretches too which is easier on everyone.

2. Bring A New Toy... And An Old Toy
I hate to break it to you but your days of packing light are over. You'll need multiple extra bags to bring enough diapers, toys and clothes for your baby on the trip. I think I overpack on toys and books because I am so nervous about keeping her entertained in the car but if you want to cut down on the amount of toys you lug around try the bring a new toy, bring an old toy tip.
I found that is was helpful to bring a new toy on the car ride, or just something that Echo doesn't play with that much at home. The novelty of it really helped distract her from being miserable in her car seat.  It's also helpful to bring an old toy, something you know your child loves and something they find comforting. For Echo it's something she can chew on that will always soothe her.

3. You Are The Best Toy
Toys are great and all but nothing beats your undivided attention when it comes to entertaining your baby. So get ready to make a fool of yourself and learn some good kids songs because you will be performing for much of the car ride. On our first trip out of state Eric and I made the mistake of both trying to sit in the front seat and letting Echo ride in the back on her own. This did NOT go well. Now I always ride in the back with her so I can talk to her, sing to her, read her stories and help her play with her toys. This makes for a much smoother trip.

4. Pack Snacks!
What's a road trip without snacks right? We all love snacks and so does your baby. If your baby is too young for solids bring a bottle for him/her to sip on during the ride. If they are old enough for solids pack a little tupperware container with whatever they like. On our last trip I brought cooked peas for Echo to eat in the car. Not only does she love them but they are relatively clean for baby food and won't make a mess in the car. I also brought her sippy cup filled with water which she loves. Sometimes when all else fails food is the only way to keep a grumpy baby happy.

5. Never Wake A Sleeping Baby!
This is the cardinal rule of car travel with a baby. If thew baby is still asleep, we keep driving. There will be time to stop later when the baby is awake and screaming her head off.

I haven't tackled air travel yet with my little Echo but we plan to try that over Christmas most likely. In the mean time we will probably continue to take car trips now that we've kind of figured out how it works. I hope these tips are helpful for some of you. Maybe you will get lucky and your baby will love car rides, but keep these in mind just in case :-)

1 comment:

  1. I hate road trips, and am dreading long car trips with the baby. (My sister is moving to North Carolina this summer though, so we will certainly be making the drive there now and again). Thanks for your tips. I never thought about sitting in the back with the baby. I was always a light packer, but have come to accept that those days are over!