Once upon a time, I loved road trips... Windows down with music blasting, getting there was truly half the fun! After the birth of my daughter, open windows might mean a draft, and instead of Motley Crue blasting, it was yells of displeasure from a very cute but car-seat-hating baby girl. Eventually she’d succomb to her fate of remaining buckled, but we have several hundred photos of her “stink eye” - the name we lovingly gave the permanent expression on her face while strapped in.
Road trips happen, and getting unbuckled is not an option, so if you’re hitting the highway, here are a few tips for keeping your baby happy and you sane.
Keep Baby Comfortable – Babies get warm in their car seats, and while the plush liners are convenient for trips in and out of the car, it doesn’t take long for babies to get hot and uncomfortable in them. Double check that bub isn’t too warm, and use a roll-down screen to help keep the sun at bay.
Keep Baby Company – It can get a bit boring all alone in the back seat – especially facing backwards! While your baby’s up (or when you want to keep her up) have one of you hang out and chat for a while. A few minutes of peek-a-boo may be all it takes to quell the fussing.
Distract By Singing! – My pre-kids travel tunes of choice aren’t necessarily family-friendly, but I’ve found some suitable substitutes that my daughter enjoys and lets us leave The Wiggles at home (sorry Jeff!) We all love singing along to Bob Marley, Beach Boys, early Beatles, and especially Abba.
Prepare To Stop – Plan your route with stops included, and prepare for unplanned stops as well. Baby will need to be fed and changed, and you’ll need to stretch your legs. Your trip will take longer, but you’ll all be happier once you arrive if you take your time.
Prepare For Sleep – After the fussing, my daughter would inevitably fall asleep in her seat and stay asleep until the car stopped. If you’re traveling by day, you may find that you’ll be up all night with a very well-rested baby! If possible, try to arrange your trip so you’re fine if baby sleeps... leaving in the middle of the night may not seem fun at the time but may well be worth it by the next night.
It won’t be long before DVDs and portable game devices keep your kids busy in the back seat, but in the meantime, don’t put off that trip you’ve been wanting to take because you’re dreading the journey. Anything’s possible (and sometimes even pleasant!) when you plan ahead, and starting travel early means every trip gets easier, and your kids grow up loving it too.
For more Parenting tips, check out the Parenting blog category!
Corinne McDermott is the founder of Have Baby Will Travel, your online guide for travel with babies and toddlers. For more information please visit www.havebabywilltravel.com or send a message to [email protected]