When you have a baby, it can be hard to leave the house. But when you want to take a road trip with your little one in tow, you mustn’t let this fear stop you from enjoying yourselves and taking some much-needed time for family bonding.
This article will give expert advice and provide a checklist of items for taking a safe and fun road trip with your infant!
1. Be flexible.
I cannot stress this enough. Before we set out for a 12-hour road trip with our three-month-old, my husband and I kept reminding each other we had options.
If we had to stop and stay over somewhere, we could. If we had to stop for a two-hour break, we would. It was a drive I had done every year my entire life, and, in years past, we had traditional stops we’d make along the way.
We made none of them. And that’s ok. Don’t plan out your holidays. You will stop when the baby needs to be fed, and that’s when you’ll get food.
You’ll stop when the baby needs to be changed, and that’s when you’ll run to the restroom. If the baby is sleeping, you won’t want to stop for lunch, which brings us to our next trip.
2. Pack lots of snacks.
The stops for the baby may not coincide with the holidays you’d like to take for food breaks. While emergency bathroom stops for parents are apparent, do not stop for food if the baby doesn’t need anything.
You’ll want to take advantage of a sleeping/content baby and get your driving in. We packed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hummus and carrots, nuts, fruit, and some sweets to keep us going.
I was in the back with the baby, more relaxed, and snack bag, and would pass my husband a snack when he wanted one.
3. Be cautious about driving through the night.
It may be tempting to drive through the night, assuming the baby will sleep the whole time. You figure while one parent drives, the other sleep, while the baby sleeps the entire time.
This is the best-case scenario. And you may think that since your baby falls asleep as soon as she is put into her car seat, she’ll surely stay put for a long car ride.
However, that doesn’t mean she’ll sleep for a long road trip. Imagine having to stay up all night, driving, with a screaming baby.
Also, remember that if any emergency should arise, it’s easier to find places open to stop during the day. We knew there were 90 miles of road with absolutely nowhere to stop at night, so this made our decision easy. We didn’t want to risk something happening at 3 a.m. along those 90 miles.
4. Be prepared.
Have the diaper bag well stocked and organized, so diaper changes are a breeze. Have a designated spot in the car to layout the changing pad. Make sure your phones are fully charged and you have a charger in the car, so you don’t get stranded anywhere in case of emergency.
Pack several changes of clothes for parents and baby. The last thing you want to do is have anyone sitting in the car with dried spit-up rotting in the air. Pack a lot of wipes for said instances. If you are breastfeeding, pack formula or bring some of your frozen stock.
The cramped space of a car may prove too challenging of an environment for your baby to nurse, and you’ll need to bottle feed.
Bring whatever you use to breastfeed and have it in the backseat with you- whether that is a Boppy, Brest Friend, a particular blanket, bring it. Pack a bag of toys that you can grab and entertain the baby with.
5. Make the best use of your time.
When you make stops, there’s no reason for the whole family to trek into whatever gas station/convenience store/restaurant you’re stopping at.
Have one parent go in while the other takes the baby for some air. I nursed my baby in the car while my husband went in and got food, then ran in to use the bathroom while he walked around with the baby and walked the dog.
6. If possible, have one adult in the back seat with the baby.
This is tougher for a single parent or a parent travelling solo unless you have someone accompanying you on your trip. But, if you can have another adult, teenager, or even a bigger kid with you sitting in the back, observing the baby, it’s enormous.
When the baby starts crying, there’s someone there to say exactly what’s going on. He lost a toy; he’s wet, he spits up–whatever it may be.
Having someone back there to tend to the baby’s needs will eliminate a lot of pulling over to the side of the road to check to see the problem.
7. Remember: You’ll get there when you get there.
If you have in your mind that you’ll arrive at your destination at 6 p.m., get that out of your head. Unless you decide to drive through the night, you make no stops, and by some miracle, your baby does sleep the entire time; the trip is going to take much longer than what your GPS tells you.
A typical five-minute stop will take a half-hour, and 10 minutes after you made a stop, the baby might need a diaper change. Things are going to come up that you don’t plan for.
It may seem obvious, but you have to remember that the baby’s needs come first. What you might want the trip to look like may not be best for your baby.
Stay flexible, be prepared, breathe, and remember—eventually, you’ll arrive at your destination.
When it comes to travelling with a baby, preparation is critical. You need to have the right car seat and other equipment for your child’s safety, as well as food and diapers for both you and your baby.
Ensure that you pack enough clothes, so everyone doesn’t fall into an uncomfortable mess after a day of driving—trust me when I say it will happen sooner or later!
Try not to overthink about what you want your trip to look like; instead, think about what would be best for your little one. When they come first, everything else falls into place.
With these seven tips on preparing yourself and your infant before hitting the open road, things will hopefully go more smoothly than expected!