It’s probably not the first thing that pops to mind when you’re thinking of a nice, relaxing holiday, but for many families, it makes sense to pack the kids up in the car and head off on a road trip for their time away. Luckily, there have been thousands before you who’ve had the same idea and they’ve imparted their wisdom for you to use so that you can have a successful road trip with your baby.
Before you can even consider hitting the road, you need to make sure your car is equipped for the trip ahead. Your vehicle should receive a thorough check and possibly a service if required to ensure that it’s safe for a long haul journey. The car seats for babies and younger children should be installed and checked to ensure they meet safety standards. If you’re travelling with very young babies, you shouldn’t leave them in their car seat for longer than 30 minutes at a time, according to the latest advice from health professionals.
If your baby has a solid routine in place or a general time frame for when they feed, nap, and play, use this to plan your trip. You want the baby to be sleeping as you drive so that they’re less likely to become upset, so plan your road stops around their meal times and when they might be ready for a feed.
Pack everything you need to breastfeed comfortably too, as some of your stops might not have many baby-friendly amenities. We suggest that mum wears breastfeeding tops or dresses that Peachymama has designed just for nursing mums.
No road trip would be complete without a playlist, but remember that the little ones in your car probably have slightly different music tastes than you. While it’s fine to have some of your adult mix peppered throughout, try to focus on upbeat and happy songs that can be sung along by the family to keep kids entertained at the same time. Babies, in particular, might enjoy the soothing sounds of Baby Einstein or other infant-focused music.
Rather than packing one huge suitcase for everyone, separate your luggage into the times and needs that you might have. The best approach is a larger bag for once you arrive at your destination, and a smaller, more accessible bag that has everything you’ll need for the day. Snacks, entertainment, clothes, nappies, bottles, and anything else that needs to be in easy reach should be in a separate area.
Whenever you get the chance to take a stop and stretch your legs, ensure you let the kids and little ones burn off energy. Even though your bub might not be very mobile, just getting them out into the fresh air and rolling around can stimulate them enough so that once it’s time to hit the road again they’re worn out and ready for a nap. Try to give everyone as much excitement as possible outside so that when they’re in the car, it’s the perfect opportunity to relax and wind down.
A must have on any car trip for young or old is a well-stocked snack pile. To ensure nobody goes hungry make sure you pack more than enough for the entire family with a healthy mix of everything. Opt for food that won’t get too messy, and ensure that mum also has enough to keep her sustained for breastfeeding. If your baby is eating solids, pack some rusks or rice biscuits to keep them entertained and then save the larger feeds for when you’re having a break at a rest stop.
Although baby might be too young for electronics, these sorts of devices are a great way to keep the older kids in the car entertained. Since your bub will take more regular naps and be entertained by the baby friendly activities, it helps to keep your other children occupied too. The less disturbance from everyone the less stress you’re likely to feel, which will mean a happier and more comfortable trip for everybody.
Having an arsenal of baby friendly games that you can play in the car is the key to keeping them entertained. Everyone knows that after just a short time in the car, your bub can get restless and upset, so the key is to keep them happy before they realise just how long they’ve been sitting there. Games such as peek-a-boo, eye spy, and nursery rhyme singalongs are some of the easy ways you can engage them between breaks.
Although you might want to get there as fast as you can with an upset baby in the back, your stress when it comes to trying to hit these checkpoints can be felt by everyone in the car. If you have a long route planned, try to break it up as much as you can to ensure that everyone stays as content as possible, and you don’t succumb to the dangers of stress. Take time to enjoy the scenery, make regular stops, and don’t put any tough deadlines on when you should reach your final destination.
If you’re lucky enough to have another adult with you in the car, take turns at driving and split up the responsibility. While one person drives, it’s the job of the other person to sing songs, play games with the kids, and dish out the snacks along the way. This way each adult gets their fair share of driving and fun and doesn’t become too sleepy along the way which can be a real hazard on longer trips.
Just as with anything baby related, planning is the key to success for the whole family. A little bit of research and a lot of preparation now will give you more time to focus on keeping baby happy on the journey ahead. For more handy resources on living life with a baby, head to the Peachymama blog to check our other articles!
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