A road trip with a baby. Just thinking about it makes you cringe and already tired.
But, it doesn’t have to be like that.
You will no doubt wish to take your little one to visit the grandparent. Or maybe you want to relax and visit vacation destinations especially for families with babies, with some even offering child care services.
So, whether you will be on the road for 5 hours or 5 days, then you will need some knowledge on how to survive a looooong road trip with a baby.
1. Tag Team
While your partner is driving, sit on the back with your baby. Having a caretaker beside the baby can help address any issues that may arise— wiping up, preparing a bottle or curing boredom— which can help in reducing stop as well as avoiding total meltdowns.
Also, make sure to sleep when the baby sleeps, so that you will feel refreshed to take over driver when your partner gets tired.
2. Manage Expectations
During a road trip, a number of things can go sideways— bad weather, flat tires, upset stomach. However such hiccups can exponentially become more stressful with a baby (likely crying their eyes out) in tow. Accepting and having a sense of humor or positivity about any situation can go a long way in order to help ease out the building tension.
A way to make light of any unexpected situation is to create a game out of them. This way, even the “worst” situations are wins.
3. Drive During The Night
This may be a bit uncomfortable for you, but then again, so is the screaming baby with no exit in sight. Driving during the night only means that your little one will spend more time sleeping and less time being awake, bored, hungry or needing changes. You will be able to drive for longer without the need to have a break.
A great way in order to maximize drive time is to time your travel that coincides with your little one’s bedtime. Go through the whole nightly routine, and put your baby down to sleep in the car seat instead of her crib. Drive for as long as your little one is sleeping or as long as you are comfortable. However, be sure to caffeinate, switch drivers and rest in order to avoid any accidents due to your drowsy state.
4. Plan Frequent Breaks
You might go on for 6 hours without eating or using the bathroom, but your baby likely can’t. So, plan for breaks and stops every 3 – 6 hours during the night and 1 – 3 hours during the day to eat, stretch those legs, change diapers, and change spit-up or sweaty clothes as needed.
5. Skip The Scenic Route
While having a scenic route can make a road trip worthwhile, it can also make it hard to find and get help when needed. So, choose a route which has frequent access to 24-hour gas stations, food, service areas, and restrooms.
Or you can also plan out some stops as well as hotels if you really need a few hours of rest so that you can pull-over along the way and have some snooze when necessary.
6. Keep Supplies Nearby
You might think about getting a colossal suitcase containing just about everything in your kid’s cabinet and pantry to survive the road trip with your baby. However, surely you do not want to dig through it at 65 mph while your baby is screaming on top of his lungs or while the car is parked at a risky rest stop in the middle of the night.
So, be sure to keep a kit or bag within an easy reach so you do not have to stop and unbuckle in order to get any important items and make sure to fill the kit or bag with just a small number of necessities that you can always refill as you go.
You can pack these things into a tote bag or a medium-sized backpack:
- An extra blanket
- A small portable sound machine
- A baby forehead thermometer
- Ibuprofen or infant Tylenol
- 2 – 3 small but versatile toys
- Pre-portioned bottles breast milk or formula in a small cooler bag
- A packet of wipes
- Portable changing pads with 2 -3 diapers
Additionally, you also need to be sure that there is one for you too. This kid should include earplugs, earphones, a small pillow, sleep mask, sleep aids, easy to eat snacks, tablet, phones, and portable chargers.
7. Learn Baby Massage Techniques
Just like you, your little one can get uncomfortable and stiff after sitting for hours in their seats. So read and learn some infant massage techniques that you can use either during stops or while driving.
Gently massaging the feet and legs, in particular, can usually help calm a fussy kid long enough in order to get you to a good pit stop where they can totally stretch out their legs.
8. The Simple Camp Songs
In terms of dealing with a stressed and fussy infant stuck in the car seat, you will need to be prepared with different tools at your disposal. Singing some songs are usually effective than the car’s stereo when helping a baby put to sleep or calming them when they are fussy and keep them entertained when they are bored.
So, try to pick some songs with simple melodies. Taking turns inventing some new lyrics can actually help break up the monotony.
9. Take Some Precautions
Traveling with or without a baby, standard preparations and safety precautions need to be followed. So, make sure that you have a tire iron, car jack and spare tire read or have some stress later.
Also, while packing the car, make sure that you do not obstruct the driver’s view as well as the rearview mirror. Always take steps in order to pull over to some well-lit areas when you stop during the night.
10. Admit Defeat
If you are frustrated, if you are tired and if everyone in the car just can’t take another second on the road— stop!
Find a place for all of you to rest and give yourself a few hours or minutes to regroup. Most hotels take booking any time of the day and some provide cribs in the room when requested.
So, freshen up with a hot shower, take a nap in a real bed or have a real meal at a restaurant. You might be in a hurry to your destination, but you also need to give you and your baby can have the chance to reset and make the rest of the ride go smoothly.