Your challenge: You can’t wait to introduce your sweet, perfect baby to family and friends. The only problem is that they live over the river and through the woods—and you aren’t exactly sure how to manage a road trip with baby quite yet.
The solution: Babies love little more than exploring and observing. And, let’s face it, feeling constrained to a car seat isn’t fun for anyone during a long road trip. But the good news is that exploring, observing and staying safely secured in their seats are not mutually exclusive. With a little preparation, you will all be ready to take the road.
Safety: Most babies fall into one of two categories: They either love or loathe their car seat. By now, you probably have a pretty good sense of your baby’s feelings—and if they are in the latter category, there is still reason to take hope. Not all car seats are created equally, so your baby may honestly prefer another seat. Take your baby to the store with you and try a few on for size. Next: Make sure the seat is properly installed. Something as simple as a wonky angle may bother baby and make them less safe.
Entertainment: Between napping and playtime with some new toys, babies can pass time in the car with the best of them. Before hitting the road, make sure there is some space in the seat next to baby so you can hop beside them if necessary and provide additional entertainment with some fun new finger puppets or books. Still not working? If your little one is getting worked up, take a deep breath and then find a place to pull over, if necessary. Some fresh air can help everyone reset.
Schedules: Babies are creatures of habit. At home, they are probably used to a routine that goes something like change, play, eat and sleep. Aim to replicate that on the road by building in some rest stops. Even if your little one isn’t “stretching their legs” like you, experts advise giving them regular periods of time out of the car during long hauls.
Time of day: Before you make plans to hit the road, consider baby’s habits. Are they most content in the morning? That may be a good time to drive. Do they sleep well in the car seat? Perhaps you could get some of the driving done during the night while they snooze in the backseat.
Pro tip: Also think about what could help baby out during rest stops. A play mat doesn’t take up much more space in the car!
You’ve got this.
Motherly + Kids 2 provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Return to Go2Guide: Surviving Road Trips