Thinking of going over to Grandma’s house with your baby in tow? All kids love going to their grandparent’s place. However, if the grandparents live an 8-hour car ride away, taking your kids there is going to be a tough job.
Don’t let this stop you from embarking on the road trip – with the help of smart preparation and planning, you can arrive at your destination in one piece! In this article, we will give you helpful tips on how to road trip with a baby.
Buckle up and read on!
Tips for a Successful Road Trip with a Toddler
Whether you are going on a family vacation or bringing your kid to meet your family for the first time, your baby’s first road trip is going to be an exciting event. But let’s be honest – it is going to be slightly intimidating as well.
We have been there. We have made 10-hour long trips with our kids and trust us, we have faced our fair share of difficulties. Every road trip has its own unique challenges, and despite the challenges, you can easily make it through.
To help you have an amazing road trip with your kid, we have put together a list of the important things that we learned as we took road trips with our kids. Let’s take a look at the essential planning strategies that will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
- Choosing the best time for leaving for the road trip
- Planning your stops strategically
- Feeding schedule for the road
- Having a sleep strategy
- Preparing the road trip activities
1. Choose the Best Time to Leave for a Road Trip with Your Baby
The first thing that you have to do is select the best time to leave. Doing a large part of the driving as your baby sleeps will help you in the long run. Keep an eye on your kid’s meal times, sleep times, your work schedule, suitable arrival times, etc.
The best departure time will reveal itself when you factor in all these things. You can start the road trip in the afternoon right before the baby’s nap time, or in the evening before their bedtime. For some people, leaving early in the morning works better.
Our kids didn’t sleep in the car for long. Therefore, we tried to get on the road while it was still dark – usually by 5 am. We would wake the kids up, feed them quickly and change their diapers. We would put them in the car in their PJs and cover them with a cozy blanket.
With any luck, they would fall right back to sleep. If not, they would be sleepy and groggy for the first couple of hours. This bought us a few hours of peace on the road before they were hungry enough to ask for food, etc.
2. Plan Your Stops
The next thing you have to do for a smooth road trip is pre-plan the stops you will make along the way. If your baby can’t sit up on their own, you have to take them out of the car seats once every two hours. This usually lines up with their feeding schedules, so plan your stops according to two-hour intervals.
Keep the total length of these feeding stops in mind while you are planning the trip since all this time can add up and affect your arrival time. Let your toddlers crawl around the car when you stop – this will do wonders for their mood.
Moreover, you need to go to the restroom as well. You have to consider whether you are comfortable leaving your toddler in the car seat, or will you take them with you. One thing that you have to remember is that when you travel with a toddler, things don’t always go according to plan.
However, you should have a base plan that you can work with. Do your research and plan all these stops in advance. You can plan a picnic in a park or a playground. We would suggest that you try to avoid eating at a restaurant as this would mean that your kids will have to sit still even more.
On our road trips, we would stop for half an hour to let the kids crawl around in the car and burn off the pent up energy. Usually, we liked to stop at McDonald’s with a PlayPlace so that we could grab a quick bite as the kids had fun in the PlayPlace.
3. Feed Your Toddler on a Car Trip
If you are going on a road trip with your kids, you will have to make several stops – from changing their diapers to feeding them, there are various things to take care of. We suggest that you pack healthy meals for your kids from your home, if your kids are old enough to eat baby solids.
Keep a small insulated cooler or a hotpot (depending on the food you take along) to keep the food from turning bad. Pack small, portable snacks that you can give to your kids when they are hungry or as a distraction.
If your baby is in a rear-facing car seat, make sure that someone is monitoring them while they are eating. Make some extra sandwiches and fruit to ensure that your kid doesn’t go hungry. Moreover, pack plenty of food for yourself as well.
If you are leaving at the crack of dawn, pack some breakfast for your kids that they can eat when they are awake. We used to pack Cheerios in spill-proof containers along with milk in spill-proof sippy cups.
It may not be the most exciting breakfast, but it is portable and keeps the kids occupied for a long time.
4. Get Your Babies to Sleep in the Car
Each baby is different – you as a parent know what are the optimal conditions to get your baby to sleep. Try to create a cozy, comfortable environment in the car for your kids to sleep. You can play audiobooks with bedtime stories or soft, soothing music that will help the babies fall asleep.
Want to learn a great tip? Slightly increase the temperature in your car. This will help them get a bit sleepy. If it isn’t possible for you to leave early in the morning, try to schedule your departure time right before your baby’s nap time – make sure they have a full tummy!
5. Select Activities for Your Kids on a Road Trip
Wondering how you will entertain your baby in the car for hours? If you are traveling with your partner, you can take turns sitting in the back seat and interacting with your kid. There are many baby travel toys that will keep your kid occupied and mentally stimulated.
From coloring books to writing tablets, the choices are endless. Even if you don’t let your kids watch a lot of TV at home, you can let them spend some time on their iPads while traveling. There are several educational programs that you can download for the trip.
Our favorite activity was to play audiobooks in the car, such as Winnie The Pooh, Cinderella, and other Disney classics. This not only kept them entertained, but did so without the need for a screen or a toy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Can I travel with my baby alone?
Yes! You can travel with your baby on your own. You only have to be a bit more careful and plan all the details of the trip in a meticulous way. There is nothing that you can’t do as a single parent, folks!
Q. What should I pack for a road trip with my baby?
For any trip, creating a packing list is essential. Before you embark on a road trip with your toddlers, keep in mind the things that you will likely need, and pack them. Here is a list of the essential items you should keep.
- Sippy Cups
- Travel Toys
- Breast Pumps
- Milk Bottles
- Baby Wipes
You can add more things to the list as per the needs and requirements of your baby as well as the road trip you are going on.
When you think about how to road trip with a baby, it seems a bit daunting at first. Between the things you need, your baby’s sleeping schedule, diaper changes, and whatnot, there are plenty of factors at play here.
However, with a bit of planning and preparation, you can easily get through the challenges of the road trips you take with your kids. Read the helpful tips and techniques that we have mentioned above to make your road trip a breeze!