All the tips you need to take a road trip with your baby.
That time has come. The time to plan your first road trip with your baby!
You have been putting this off because you don’t want the hassle of traveling with a baby? Or you were not sure how to travel safely with your baby.
Besides, traveling with a baby is exhausting, right?
It doesn’t have to be.
I have taken long road trips with my daughter every month since she was 3 months old. She is now 3 years old.
It’s overwhelming at the beginning. But after a few months, you get used to it.
This post is filled with genius tips that I have applied over the years and are still working for me.
At the end of the post, you will realize there’s no need to panic. Apply these helpful tips and your road trip with your baby will be a breeze.
How To Take Your First Road Trip With A New Baby
Follow these simple tips and your trip will be less overwhelming and more enjoyable
1. Plan Ahead And Map Your Road Trip
It helps to draft a checklist for a road trip with a baby. Then you can know you have checked all-important items before leaving the gate.
Firstly, decide on what time you want to arrive. Then decide on which route you are going to use, how many times you are going to stop and where.
Here is how my checklist looks like:
- Did we check the car’s water, oil, and tyres?
- Filled up on petrol?
- Is the route we are using busy? I personally don’t like lonely roads where we’ll be the only ones on the road whether it’s day or night
- How many petrol stations are on the way? Are they safe? Some stations aren’t busy, are in the middle of nowhere, and look dodgy.
- Are there hospitals or clinics close to the road?
- Check the weather at your destination. Is it cold? Warm? Very hot?
- Plan to make use of GPS
- Have we taken everything we need? Check your packing list and tick what has already been packed.
- If you are going to use an unknown road, be prepared and have two SIM cards from different networks with you. In case you lose signal and you get lost
As you can see, my list consists mainly of stuff focused on traveling safely with a baby.
Add items on this checklist based on what you need to do for your road trip.
2. Use And Correctly Fit The Car Seat
When traveling with baby in a car, always make use of an approved car seat. For your baby’s safety, and your peace of mind.
Make sure your baby’s car seat is fitted properly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It goes without saying that it should be the correct size for your little one’s age and weight.
You should also make sure you childproof your car before embarking on your journey.
Always follow the manufacture’s age and weight recommendations for the proper use of the car seat.
If you are unsure, you can always ask for help from where you bought the car seat. Knowing it has been fitted properly goes a long way in knowing your precious gift is safe on the road.
3. Make A List Of What You Are Going To Need.
Make a list of everything you need to pack for your road trip. Group into categories like clothing, food, toiletries, etc.
If you have time, write down (in full) all items you need. Otherwise write something like 2 warm outfits, 4 hats, 2 pairs of shoes, etc.
Having a packing list keeps you sane and helps you remember what needs to go into the suitcase as well as what you need to keep close to you.
A packing list for a road trip with baby can look something like this:
- Diapers with changing mat, wipes, and bum cream
- Moisturizer and lip balm for dry skin and lips
- Burping cloths / Muslin receivers x 2 to wipe up spills
- If bottle-feeding, feeding essentials like warm water, formula, thermal bottle holder and 2 -3 extra bottles and teats depending on how far you are going
- If breastfeeding, bring your boobies along ha-ha! And a nursing pillow
- If your baby is already on solids, pack what they will eat on the road
- Healthy snacks that you and baby will enjoy
- Water for hydration
- Change of clothes in case of mishaps on the road
These are the things you will keep close to you. Not in the boot at the back of the car.
I always travel with a needle, a thread, and buttons for those times when a button pops and needs to be replaced.
The list doesn’t have to be too long. Just pack stuff you regularly use on a daily basis.
Don’t forget to pack a few items in case the weather changes. A sleeveless shirt in cold rainy weather is enough to put you off!
Don’t forget about yourself! Definitely take a cell phone charger. More often than not, your phone’s battery will always go flat while on the road.
4. Remember To Pack Medication
Always be prepared for unforeseen circumstances. If your little one is taking prescribed medicine, you should remember to take them with you.
However, even when they don’t take any medicine, you still want to be prepared just in case a fever strikes in the middle of the road.
Besides her prescriptions, my daughter’s regular medicine bag always has the following:
- Digital thermometer
- Cough syrup
- Saline spray (I prefer the spray instead of saline drops)
- Teething powders (when she was teething)
- Insect repellent spray
The above list includes medicines I keep in my baby’s medicine cabinet.
Add extra meds that you know your little one might need.
For example, if your baby has eczema, you will want to include emollient creams or any other treatment you use for the condition.
Just remember to make it a habit to put the medicine bag out of your baby’s reach.
5. By All Means, Don’t Start Packing On The Day Of The Road Trip!
Packing is exhausting! Even with a packing list in hand, your head can spin!
Take it from a mom who packs for a trip every single month.
Draft your road trip packing list a few days before. Start packing bit by bit every day leading up to the day of departure.
You will thank yourself!
Packing on the day you leave is just exhausting, time-consuming and you are bound to forget something.
Another advantage of packing early is that you can put your bags in the car the night before you leave.
On the day you travel, you just focus on packing the stuff you will need on the road.
Do this to save yourself lots of time and energy. Believe me, packing backs in the car takes time!
You Might Also Like:
6. Organize The Car So You Know Where Everything Is
Think of all the stuff you will need on the road. Have them strategically placed inside the car.
Like milk/water bottle or thermal warmer in the seat pocket in front of them, your water in the pocket in front of you, etc.
Know where everything is and place it within arm’s reach.
You want to eliminate searching for necessities with a crying baby in the background. Or having to stop and take stuff out of the boot in the middle of nowhere.
If you haven’t done it already, follow these steps to babyproof your car.
7. Have Someone Sit With Baby
Having to constantly check on your baby and entertaining her on a long trip can take its toll on you. Not only is it exhausting, but it’s also unsafe!
Having someone sitting with the baby at the back is a winner. They keep them entertained, fed, and hydrated.
I don’t like driving with a baby mirror to check on the baby. This just ends up taking a portion of your attention from the road.
And having another adult in the car is a bonus for the driver. Conversations with a grown-up can be refreshing on the road.
Sometimes strategically picking a suitable time for departure can make a huge difference.
For example, I make sure my daughter has had a meal before I put her on her car seat.
It helps to not have a hungry baby crying while trying to avoid losing your mind.
8. Pick The Right Time To Travel
Most of the time, we leave when our little one is just about to take her afternoon nap. This gives us an hour or so, to calm ourselves before she wakes up.
So how do you schedule everything?
It all depends on your baby’s schedule really.
For us, leaving in the evening always works like magic. However, leaving in the early hours of the morning is always a disaster! But our usual time is in the afternoon.
For times when we can’t leave in the afternoon, we sit and plan the trip and I schedule her eating and snacking times around our stops.
This brings us to the next point…
9. Plan For Regular Stops
It is recommended that babies don’t sit for long periods of time on a car seat. Their backs aren’t strong enough yet.
Besides, no baby wants to sit in one place for 3 long hours. They are bound to start complaining.
If you are going to be driving a long distance with your baby, plan your road trip in such a way that you stop and take him/her out of the seat after 2 hours or so. To feed, stretch, and just change of environment.
The stops are also for you. Use the bathroom, get coffee, stretch your legs, and refresh.
10. Plan Feeding And Snacking Times
Make a plan of when the baby is going to have a feed and when they are going to snack. Make life easier and place water, snacks, and food at arm’s reach.
Since we mostly start traveling in the afternoon, my daughter eats her lunch just before we get into the car. I know she will want to have a snack an hour or two after lunch.
I usually pre-pack my daughter’s dinner and snacks before we leave.
If you are taking a long road trip with your baby, pre-pack all the meals before departure.
Planning meals ahead will also help you avoid giving your little one foods that are not suitable for babies. When you are on the road, convenience is everything!
Most unhealthy foods are so convenient.
If you are bottle-feeding, make sure you have enough formula already measured into clean and sterilized containers (preferably made from glass), and warm sterilized water.
Here are four ways to sterilize baby bottles. You can follow the same tips to sterilize any baby equipment, just check on the manufacturer’s label if the sterilization method you have chosen is suitable.
Traveling with a baby can send your head in all directions in a minute.
If you are bottle-feeding, make sure you strictly avoid these bottle-feeding safety mistakes, all common while traveling.
Can You Feed Baby In The Car Seat?
Honestly, giving baby food while on her car seat works for both of us. She gets to eat at the right time if we haven’t reached our stop.
And by the time we stop, I use the time for her to get out of the seat and stretch.
It’s not recommended to take your baby out of the car seat to breastfeed while the car is moving. If you feed your little one every 2.5 or 3 hours, plan to stop at those intervals.
You can also plan around where you are going to stop to refill your food supplies.
However, you want to still have the baby’s food left when you get to your stop. In case there is a delay. A baby crying from hunger is enough to make you feel like the worst parent ever!
11. Road Trip Entertainment Is A Must!
So how do you keep baby entertained on a long road trip?
The best part is, you don’t have to hurl along a whole toy box with you on the trip.
I have grown to learn that babies get entertained by almost everything. You just have to make it fascinating.
Think of ways to entertain the baby in the car.
Make use of empty cans of chips, moisturizer containers, and caps, combs, brushes, anything! Just remember to pack away these items when your baby is not playing with them.
Try to be creative and create a game out of these and you’ll have an entertained baby for a good hour or even two (if you are lucky).
Make a playlist of songs you can sing along to and act out for your baby to watch.
I usually pack her favorite stuffed toys (we play games where I make the stuffed animals talk), music, and two toys. We then use empty cups, water bottles, and papers to add some fun.
I also take along 2 books for times when she doesn’t want to sleep but I want to calm her down.
12. Don’t Expect Everything To Go As Planned.
Not every road trip is a success. Sometimes your little one will be nagging or crying the whole way. Maybe you get roadblocks, delaying your arrival time.
Sometimes you get diaper blowouts just after changing a wet outfit that’s covered with vomit.
Anything can happen.
Before you leave, adjust your mindset to adjust to any situation. That way you will be able to let things go.
Enjoy Your First Road Trip With Baby
Now you have planned your trip, you know what to do and what to take. It’s time to hit the road.
During the trip, you will learn what works for you, and what to do to make the next trip easier. It takes a bit of getting used to.
This post has got you sorted on the preparation part. Now, all that is left is for you is to get in that car and enjoy your road trip with baby!