how to do long road trips with a baby

My Experience

So it’s been awhile since my two month trip home but I have been super busy adjusting back to the time difference, getting ready to go back to work and now being back at work. But I didn’t want to lose some of the tips I knowledge from this summer.

Over the course of two months in the US we had nine days that we were in the car for a long haul (longer than three hours) so we became quite good at driving cross country but also knowing what to do with our baby because being trapped in a car with a baby that wants nothing more than to not be strapped into a car seat for hours on end can be an utter helpless nightmare.

How We Coped

Leave at a good time.  We left usually after breakfast when she would normally be napping.  The first road trip we took was over four hours and she was eight months and still taking two naps a day 1.5 -2 hours at a time.  If we set-off she would fall asleep after a while around her normal nap time and when she would wake up it was usually around the time she would need to eat lunch.

We would find someplace to eat and change her spending usually 45-60min out of the car and even let her crawl around or sit in the grass to get some other stimulation besides sitting in the car or a lap.

After lunch she would play a little in the car and then usually fall asleep again at some point for her afternoon nap.  If this nap didn’t happen, was shorter than usual or she became agitated that she had enough of being in the car we had her Baby Signing Time videos downloaded onto my iPad to the rescue.  Each video is 30min long so when there were longer road trips or just long periods of her being angry and frustrated we would have to play multiple episodes back to back to settle her and regain some peace that we needed to navigate often complicated highway systems and listen to the GPS tell us where to go.

I also made sure that I had new toys for her to play with in the car so she wasn’t bored of her old ones and that I had plenty of snacks and water available to offset hunger till we could find a place to stop.

Our Travel Top Tips

CAR SEAT – make sure you have a good one, I bought a car seat because we were going to be in the US for two months and it was more cost effective to buy than rent one for that long. I ended up buying a maxi-cosi pria 85 because I already had a maxi-cosi pebble here in the UK and trust the brand.  It also came with a bunch of really cool features like – a FULLY REMOVEABLE WASHABLE COVER which at the time was the only one on the market and is definitely needed when you have accidents and food smears everywhere.  I did wash and dry mine and it was still easy to put back on the frame.  The other benefits are that it goes to 85lbs which there is some debate about but I was only 45lbs at ten years old so it won’t last for all kids but it will last longer for some.  Either way no other car seat went up to such a high weight at the time.  It also has a cup holder which is handy since toddlers love drinks and they aren’t able to access the other cup holders in the car.  The fabrics are also soft and really nice – some people complained about it taking up too much space from the front passenger seat but if you want safety and cleanability I don’t think this matters so much.  We have pernsonally used it in a Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Explorer, Jeep Compass, Toyota Camry and a Range Rover Evoque (we had a lot of rental cars!!) and it has fit in all of them so we could still fit two adults in the back seat for a short journey and someone could still ride in the front passenger seat.

LENGTH – five hours max of driving a day because with the stopping it will be over six and probably longer with traffic, from experience it’s not possible to do more than this unless you want to be totally exhausted and stressed out from an angry screaming baby (unless yours is soo little that all they do is sleep all day but also difficult to feed in the car and they aren’t supposed to be in a car seat for more than two hours a day (under six months) because it affects their spinal development and digestion

TIME – leave within the hour before they normally nap or should nap and after they have eaten

GPS – use WAZE app it works in the US and the UK and im sure other countries but it really helps with traffic and knowing where to go to avoid it when you have know idea where you are

STOPS – plan a stop in advance, you can program one in WAZE before your end stop but the best places to stop in the US are Target and Panera!  They both have clean bathrooms and changing tables.  Panera has good healthy lunch options and high chairs.  Target is a great place if you don’t need to eat but need to stop or stock-up because you can buy anything you may need – diapers, wipes, baby food, healthier snacks than at the gas station and definitely cheaper.

ENTERTAINMENT – definitely bring some show that your baby already watches on an iPad so you have a way to calm for a period of time to get you to a stop or your destination.  Also make sure that you have enough new toys and a variety so you can keep trying new things after they throw them all down the side of the car that you cant reach.

SNACKS – if your baby has started food make sure you pack snacks to tide them over and keep them entertained.  I buy organic food and Ella’s Kitchen and Organics Happy Baby puffs that come in a super convenient plastic closable container.  It can also double=up as a toy since it shakes like a rattle, the opening and closing the lid also becomes entertaining and letting them reach in and grab the food also wastes time.  I would avoid snacks that stain or get soggy/cakey when eaten like cookies that end up staining clothes and are hard to get out of the car seat.

#baby #babyfood #carseat #babycartravel #waze #babysnacks #ellaskitchen #organicshappybaby #panera #target #babysigningtime #newmom #millennialmom

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