Thinking about taking a road trip with your baby can be scary. But it doesn’t have to be!
We took my almost 4-month old daughter on a 16-hour road trip to my brother’s wedding. The days leading up to us leaving were a little stressful. This was the first trip we were taking with our new baby and it was going to be a long one. I wanted to be absolutely sure we had everything with us that we would need on this trip.
How do you take a baby on a long car ride?
I want to share with you some tips I learned for a successful road trip with your baby that helped us make that long drive with minimal fussiness for our baby and minimal stress for us!
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1. Feed and change baby right before you leave
This one is kind of a no-brainer. If you feed and change your baby right before you leave, you’ll be able to have a longer first stretch of riding in the car.
2. Make frequent stops
Your baby will set the schedule. Allow time for stopping when they are hungry or need to be changed. Make sure you give them some time to stretch out and play.
We almost always stopped at a rest stop that had a shaded grassy area. We brought a blanket that we put in the grass to let our daughter wiggle around and stretch for a while before loading back up in the car seat.
Another good tip is to pack your lunch. If the timing works out you can have a picnic lunch while your baby works out some energy wiggling around.
These stops were much longer than they would have been if it was just adults. And that’s okay! Being flexible is key to a successful road trip with your baby.
3. Prepare for feeding on-the-go
If you are using formula, consider using ready-to-feed formula or divvying out the powder the night before you leave and bringing distilled water.
We used powdered formula and bought distilled water to use while we were traveling. The night before we left we measured out each feeding’s powder into a bottle and packed the bottles in a bag that was easily accessible in the car. This way all we had to do when it was time to feed our baby was pour water into the bottle and shake. You can also use a formula dispenser to store premeasured formula powder.
If you are breastfeeding, consider bringing some of your frozen stash or make a spot in the car available with enough space to breastfeed during your stops. You might want to bring your nursing pillow or some sort of support to make it more comfortable.
4. Aim to get full wake windows
Car rides tend to put babies to sleep. If you are traveling during the day try to keep your baby awake for their full age-appropriate wake window. This will help them stay consistent with their night sleep. It’s no fun having your baby awake all night because they slept too much during the day!
Some tips to keep them awake are to bring their favorite toys (just make sure the toys are safe to have in the car). Having your baby’s toys available for them to play with will help keep them awake in the car.
You can also stretch out your stops so that most of or all of the wake window time is accounted for while you are stopped. Your baby can wiggle around and work out some energy while out of the car seat.
5. Have someone sit in the back with baby
If possible, have an adult sit in the back with the baby. This person can help play with them during their wake windows and help soothe them when needed.
My husband or I was always in the back with our daughter on this trip. I think it really helped make the long drive go much smoother having someone easily able to see and reach the baby.
6. Use sun shades
We put up sun shades on the back windows to keep the sun from glaring in our baby’s eyes. This helped her take better naps so the sun didn’t wake her up. It also made play time more enjoyable when she wasn’t blinded by the sun.
Even with the sun shades, sometimes the sun was at just the right angle to peek through the shades. So, if someone is in the back with the baby, you can drape a blanket over the seats to help block the sun.
7. Overstock the diaper bag
This one is important. You don’t want to run out of diapers, wipes, burp cloths or clothes. Pack more than you think you need for the day.
We went through tons of burps cloths. Whether it was because they were dirty from wiping up lots of drool, spit up, or eye gunk or because we accidentally dropped them on the ground when we were stopped outside we needed more than we thought we would.
We had a handful of diaper blowouts that needed a change of clothes and were happy to have a couple extra outfits handy in the diaper bag.
Pack some bags that hide dirty diaper smells too. We used these! Luckily we always found a garbage can right away for dirty diapers, but we used these bags to put the messy clothes in until we were able to wash them.
Also, pack some hand sanitizer. If a place to wash your hands isn’t available, hand sanitizer is a must!
Overall, I’d consider the road trip with our baby a success. It was a LOT of car time, but we were able to adapt and be flexible enough to have it go pretty smoothly.
Traveling with your baby can be a little daunting, but it’s definitely doable. Just remember to go with the flow (I know…it’s easier said than done) and enjoy all that time you get to spend with your baby!