Road Trips with Baby: A Survival Guide for Parents

Going on road trips with your baby can be something that might make you scratch your head in confusion at first. However, over time, you learn a couple of things that make traveling with your baby much more enjoyable and fun.

The first time you take your baby to the doctor or for a grocery shopping outing with you, even just getting them set up in the car seat can seem like it takes ages. While it can bring a lot of frustration at first, this is something that gets easier the more you do it.

Once you gain more and more experience setting things up for traveling, you’ll eventually find yourself able to go on trips that are longer in duration. Some questions that parents might have when they’re going traveling with their babies are:

  • What types of things should I bring with me?
  • What about breastfeeding?
  • How am I supposed to change the diapers?

Road Trips Baby Traveling Tips

The first thing you’ll want to keep in mind is just to relax. Getting all tense, frustrated, and stressed about everything just adds to the burden of traveling, and the baby will feed off the negative energy that you’re conveying. Traveling should be something that is relaxing.

Being a parent is one of those things that contains a lot of highs and lows. One particular day, you might feel like everything is going completely according to plan, and the next, minute things can suddenly get out of control. The first few times you travel with your new baby will be a bit of a learning curve, but like everything else in life, you’ll get better at it.

One of the biggest virtues that you’ll need to practice is patience. It might be a lot easier said than done, but you get better at it over time. Going on road trips with your baby is much easier than going on an airplane, so you’re already one step ahead if you’re traveling by car.

The Car Seat

Before you go traveling with your baby, ensure that your car seat is set up properly. No one wants to be traveling to later find out that the car seat is loose. This could lead to a panic situation when you’re on the road, and that’s not what you want. After installing the car seat, double-check it again to make sure it’s solid and stable.

Some people like to take things a step further and look on the National Child Passenger Safety website to see if they can find someone that will check to see if the car seat is installed, but that’s more of a preference. It can boost your confidence to have someone that’s experienced take a look at it.

close up of baby sitting in car

Start Off with Less

When you’re first beginning to travel with your baby, you’ll want to start off with short trips. This will give them a bit of experience in the vehicle and prepare them for longer road trips. This can be seen as a trial run and will help ensure things go smoothly as you gradually work up to longer periods of time on the road.

This will also give you and your baby a chance to get out of the house and enjoy some new scenery. It’s a good way to test out the car seat for your baby to make sure everything is working properly. Hopping into a vehicle suddenly and going on a long road trip with your baby with no previous exposure to the car seat can end up not being fun for anyone.

If you don’t feel like sitting in a vehicle with your little ones for extended periods of time, consider renting a recreation vehicle. This will make things a lot easier, and you’ll have all of your baby products at your disposal.

Some people develop the misconception that they have to be hauling along every single product from their homes in order to travel with their baby. Packing light will lower your stress levels much more than emptying your house into your baby bag and hauling that around with you.

Make A List

When you’re getting ready for a road trip with your baby, you’ll want to make a list and check off everything that you’ll be bringing. It might take you a lot of willpower to resist the urge to bring all of your baby products, but you don’t have to.

The only occasion where you might need to be bringing an extensive list of items with you is if you’re going to be camping in a remote area that doesn’t contain any baby products.

There Are a Bunch Of Items You’ll Want To Bring On Your Road Trip:

  • Bottles
  • Sippy cups
  • Powdered formula or pumped milk
  • Sanitizer
  • Baby wipes
  • Diapers
  • Cream
  • Changing pads
  • Bags for diapers
  • Baby food
  • Bibs
  • Burping clothes
  • Change of clothes for the baby
  • Pee pads
  • Diaper cover
  • Ziploc bags
  • Sunshade
  • Pacifier
  • Car seat cover
  • Birth certificate for the baby if you’re going abroad

Before you begin traveling, ensure that you know the exact routes that you’ll be taking. If your journey ends up crossing international borders, you’ll want to be bringing the birth certificate of your baby along with you.

Diaper Changes

Doing diaper changes on the road can be a little frustrating until you get the hang of it. With cars zooming past you on the freeway, stress levels can increase pretty quickly. It always helps to pull over to an area that’s nice and secluded to do diaper changes. This will not only be safer but also more private for you and the baby.

Some people like to stop at a rest stop to do diaper changes if they don’t have a changing pad in their vehicle. Many people prefer to do the diaper changes in their vehicle because it saves time in having to wait around for the next rest stop to do the diaper change.

If you have a spacious passenger seat, that will be a perfect spot to do a diaper change. Before you go to do a diaper change, it’s best to have all of the supplies organized and ready to go. This will speed things up and make the process much smoother. Ensure you have your wipes ready to go.

You’ll want to make sure you have grocery bags with you so that you can easily pop any of your garbage into it. This will keep the odor trapped much more effectively.

The Route

When you’re planning out what route you’ll be taking, ensure that you’re selecting one that doesn’t lead you into any construction areas. No one wants to be sitting around in traffic for hours and hours to get to their destination. Waze is an app that gives you updates on current construction areas that are backed up with traffic.

When Should I Drive with My Baby?

Some babies will do better in the car at certain times of the day. You’ll want to keep a close monitor on when your baby’s routines are, their nap schedule, and when they seem to be in their best mood. If you notice that your baby is spending a lot of time napping during the morning hours of each day, then that might be a wise time to start traveling.

If your baby is very uptight during the morning and afternoon, then consider traveling during the evening. Doing a test drive during certain times of the day will give you a better idea of how your baby will react to driving around with you.

If you do a test drive with your baby in the morning and it seems like they aren’t liking it at all, then try a test drive during the afternoon or evening and see if it will be any different. Some people like to drive during the late hours of the night in the hopes their babies will sleep right through the journey. Every baby is different, so while this might work for some, it won’t work for all.

Traffic

Avoidance of construction routes was mentioned earlier, but you’ll also want to avoid routes that are heavily congested with traffic. Babies seem to do best in the vehicle when it is in motion, so if you find a route on your GPS that looks like it is a detour around traffic, it’ll go a long way in preventing any crying outbursts from happening.

view of traffic jam in busiest city road

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is another task that might seem daunting when you’re on a road trip, but it’s something you’ll get the hang of. A lot of people naturally stop drinking a ton of fluids when they are going on a road trip because they are worried about having to stop to go to the bathroom.

This isn’t a wise idea because you’ll have to keep your baby fed. Plan for a couple of stops along the way for wherever you’re heading off to. It will make the road trip a little longer, but also a little less stressful. If you’re going to be bringing a breast pump, you’ll want to get a car charger for that.

It also helps to bring a cooler along with you so that you can put the breast milk inside of it. You can also use the cooler for other snacks and fluids for the road trip. Bring a couple of different nursing clothes with you. Some people like to bring a nursing cover for an increased measure of comfort while breastfeeding.

Always keep good hygiene in mind. You don’t want to be running into any infections while you’re out on the road. Breastfeed on a regular basis so that you don’t end up getting mastitis. After you’re done, use some sanitizer for your hands.

Get In the Vehicle

Before going on road trips, many people will doddle around for hours and hours while packing up every single thing they think of. It’s always good to prepare for things in advance, but the more you wait around, the higher your stress levels will be. You can always pick up products in a retail store during your road trip if there is one in the area that you’re traveling to.

Calmness

Staying calm during a road trip with your baby can seem like a hard thing to do if it’s your first time on the road. If your baby begins a crying fit that doesn’t seem to stop, consider pulling over to a safe area on the road and take a couple of deep breaths. Doing this will help you avoid a car accident and will give you a few moments to recuperate your thoughts.

Give Yourself Time

When you’re preparing for a road trip with your baby, you’ll want to give yourself a lot of extra time. Account for several stops along the way and exercise a lot of patience while you’re driving from Point A to Point B.

Many car seat manufacturers recommend that people take a driving break around every two hours. This will give babies a chance to adjust their positions in the car seat and reduce the chances of any respiratory issues. Doing this is even more important for babies who aren’t fully able to keep their heads supported.

When your baby starts growing up, you’ll want to stop for bathroom breaks about every two hours. There are usually rest stops along the side of the road every now and then; doing this will go a long way in ensuring the road trip will be better for everyone in the vehicle. Allowing your kid to stretch their legs and just move around during your car trip can make things much more fun.

Flexibility

You’ll want to be flexible when you’re going on a lengthy car ride with your young child. If you really want to see a scenic route but notice that it will add another three hours to the journey, you might want to reconsider it, especially if your baby is already crying. There is a good chance that you might not even enjoy the scenic route if your baby is crying.

Essential Products

When you’re packing up your vehicle for the road trip, you’ll want to have all of the essential items nearby. If your baby has a certain toy that they enjoy and that brings them peace, have that toy within arm’s reach in case they wake up and start crying. By doing so, you’ll be able to grab the toy and give it to them to bring them some relaxation.

Babies tend to get restless when they aren’t able to move for extended periods of time. Toys and music can keep a baby distracted for a good chunk of time. Keep other toys beside the baby so that they can easily grab one whenever they are getting restless.

If your baby starts getting bored of the current toy they’re playing with, consider bringing a few bonus ones along for the road trip that they haven’t played with. Another thing parents can do to make a road trip more interesting is to point out certain objects on the road to make the trip more enjoyable.

If you notice any interesting vehicles or planes, state it out loud to grab their attention. This might lead to your young one doing the same thing as they look out the window.

close up of natracare baby wipes placed with fresh flowers

Seating Positions

If there are two parents and one child, one parent might have to rearrange their seating area to the back with the baby in order to keep them relaxed. Doing this will also give them a chance to do diaper changes, feed the baby, and provide them with toys so that the other parent can continue driving.

Sunshade

Sometimes the sun can shine inside a vehicle while you’re driving, and this can be very annoying for anyone it happens to. Consider getting a windshield sunshade to prevent this from happening.

Portable Potty

If you’re going on a road trip with a toddler, you might want to bring a port-a-potty so you don’t need to pull over all of the time.

Motion Sickness

Motion sickness can become quite an annoyance during a road trip. If your young one develops this while driving, consider visiting a doctor beforehand to get some medication.


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