Babies can make great traveling companions. Unlike road trips with toddlers who seem to require constant entertainment, road tripping with a baby isn’t as stressful as one might think. Up until they are about a year old, babies require at least 14 hours of sleep a day. That gives you plenty of time to drive while they sleep, making a road trip with a baby a breeze!
When our daughter Avery was 2 months old, we took her on her first long road trip, a nine hour drive across Texas. We were worried about how our sweet newborn would handle such a long drive. Turns out she did great! Since then, we’ve taken her on several more road trips, all of which have been fairly easy.
Road trip with a baby
So how do you have a successful road trip with a baby? Keep in mind there will be times when your baby gets fussy, irritable, or simply needs a break from the car seat. Roll with it, and stop if needed. But these simple tips will make your road trip with a baby enjoyable for everyone.
TRAVEL DURING SLEEPING HOURS
It might mean driving at night, or at the very least leaving home right before nap time, but planning your travel during your baby’s sleeping hours is going to buy you a few hours of uninterrupted adult time in the front seat. Our daughter tends to nap longer in the car, so leaving home right at nap time typically gives us a good 3 hours of peace and serenity.
Say what you will about screen time and babies, and go ahead and judge me, but baby videos help us get through long road trips without full out meltdowns. When our baby gets fussy during a car ride, either my husband or I will get into the backseat to entertain her. We’ve found downloadable baby videos seem to keep her attention and calm her down. She typically doesn’t watch TV at home, but we allow it on road trips. Plus, we choose videos that are educational. If you are traveling in an area where the cell reception is spotty, it may be in your best interest to download a few videos for the road.
PLAN FOR FREQUENT STOPS
Babies have to breastfeed or take a bottle about every two hours when they are awake, so plan to stop every few hours for diaper changes and baby’s meal time. If my GPS tells me the trip will take 6 hours, I typically factor in an extra couple of hours to account for stops. We always plan to stop somewhere for a meal during the drive and we stay awhile, so our little one isn’t strapped into a car seat for 6-8 hours straight.
Once your child starts solids, these pouches can be great for road trips or air travel. They are a bit more expensive than the jars or plastic containers, but they are organic, come in lots of interesting flavors and varieties, and are much easier to deal with while on a road trip with a baby. You can find them at basically any grocery store or online. We love these three brands: Ella’s Kitchen, Happy Baby, and Plum Organics, which you can find on Amazon for about 50 cents less a pouch! (FYI, if traveling by air, the TSA liquids rule of 3 ounce of less doesn’t apply to baby food.) Also, don’t forget snacks! Puffs and Cheerios obviously work great.
RIDE IN THE BACKSEAT WITH YOUR BABY
How would you like to ride backwards, staring at the seat for 6 hours a straight? No fun, right? As long as you aren’t alone on a road trip with a baby, it will definitely make things easier if someone rides in the backseat to play the role of entertainer.
When our baby wakes up from her (hopefully) extra long nap, I will usually climb in the back and read her books, play with her, or feed her a food pouch while my husband drives. That will usually buy us a couple more hours to get to our destination.
INVEST IN A MIRROR
Babies and toddlers are required to ride rear facing in the U.S. until the age of 2. So if you plan on traveling a long distance with your infant or toddler, an inexpensive baby mirror that straps to the backseat will definitely help ease your mind during the drive. You’ll be able to keep your eye on your baby from the front seat, and your baby will have the added enjoyment of looking at herself in the mirror. (Babies are little narcissists. They love mirrors!)
One last piece of unsolicited advice. Please do not, under any circumstance, take your baby out of the car seat while the car is in motion. It’s tempting when they are crying or hungry, believe me I know, but isn’t worth the risk. It’s not only extremely dangerous, but it’s also illegal. I would also recommend before any road trip, or better yet, before your little one is born, take your car seat to a fire station or any other location where there are licensed car seat technicians who can make sure it is properly installed. Chances are, it is not.
Traveling with toddlers or older kids? Check out these tips to keep them entertained in the car!
Have a comment or question about taking a road trip with a baby? We’d love to hear from you. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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