Baby is already a few months old, you have got a routine going then, wham! It’s time for a family wedding or reunion and you need to pack everything in the car and get going.
While you may be fond of car trips, planning a long road trip with Baby will test your every possible skill. You will need to think ahead, plan and pack for anything, and be several people all at once: driver, entertainer, food provider, caregiver, etc.
It would probably be a good idea to take a day off to pack and prepare, then leave according to your child’s daily routine.
Here’s what to keep in mind when planning a long road trip with Baby:
- Whatever happens, remain calm.
You will be probably be stressed. If this is Baby’s first long car ride and he does not cope with it well, you may feel like you have no idea how you are going to get home. Simply pace yourself, think about the fact that you have prepared for this after days of planning a long road trip with baby, that it might not be easy, but it is doable. No matter how frustrated you might get, try to stay as calm as possible or you risk agitating baby and things can get even worse.
- Work around the already existing baby routine.
Routines work for babies because by constantly repeating certain actions again and again and again, they get used to it and start to understand how things work. This makes them feel more stable and confident. Disrupting the regular feeding, sleeping, and playing schedule will be confusing and you may end up with a very fussy baby. The whole point of putting time into planning a long road trip with Baby is to prevent such situations. Therefore, try to keep as much of the schedule as possible. Choose the travel hours so that baby sleeps through a part of the trip, keep the regular feeding hours, and make everything in the car entertaining.
- Do as much of the normal stuff as possible.
When planning a long road trip with Baby remember that the more you make things seem familiar, the more cooperative Baby will be. If there are things you do before putting him to bed, like changing him, feeding him, putting specific music on or giving him a certain toy, you should try and do this in the car as well.
- Map out the road as well as possible.
You do not have the luxury of winging it with a baby in tow. Now you need to know how long the road will take, plan breaks every 2-3 hours tops, make a list with all possible stops, and ask as many people as possible about them so you know which ones are good for changing the baby, getting something to eat, breastfeeding in privacy, etc. Parks along the way are a better option because you can lay down a blanket and have baby stretch his arms and legs too while he rolls around. Make a list with all of the possible stops and plan backups as you may choose to pass some of them if Baby is asleep.
- Stop for feeding.
Babies choke easily. It safer to feed them while you are taking a break instead of in motion. Put down some of those many stops for eating.
- Pack soft toys.
Your baby may have his favorites, and all guides for planning a long road trip with Baby may tell you not to separate him from it during a car trip, but unless that toy is a soft plush or anything made out of textile, it will turn into a hazard. The child can be gnawing at it when you hit a bumpy road and he could hurt himself, or it could be tossed at the head of the driver. If you are afraid that those soft toys are not enough to keep baby entertained, stick colorful images on the backs of the front seats and on the roof of the car so that baby will at least have something to look at.
- Triple check the emergency kit.
Apart from what you usually take with you when you leave the house with Baby, like diapers and wipes, times the number of days you are going to be away, you need to take the baby’s medicine with you as well. He may not have anything now, but it’s better to be prepared with the stuff you know works should any medical thing come up.
- Get an extra rear-view mirror to check on the baby from time to time.
This is a “planning a long road trip with baby MUST” if you are the only adult in the car. Turning your head or assuming that baby is fine or sleeping is not enough. Make sure you can keep an eye on him the whole time.
- Clean and sanitize everything.
Despite the obvious, the real inconvenience when traveling with a baby is that nothing is as clean as your home environment is. This goes for adults as well, but babies are more prone to infections. This is why you need to pack all sorts of cleaning products, wipes, sanitizers, and wet and dry towels. An important part of planning a long road trip with Baby is making any new place comfortable and safe for your little one.
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