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Car trips with kids are always an exercise in keeping the ubiquitous question at bay: ‘Are we there yet?’ Kids are not masters of sitting still for hours at a time, amusing themselves quietly. And if your child can do just that? You are one lucky parent! So you make sure you have treats and toys and things to keep them busy for the duration.
But what about a road trip with a baby? The usual tricks for keeping kids entertained won’t work with them, so what’s a parent to do?
Tip #1 - Trip Timing
Time your travel for when your baby will be napping or sleeping (night). If you can be rested enough to drive at night, this might be the easiest way to get through a longer stretch of road. If your baby isn’t a good car napper, this would not be a good tip for you! You know best when your baby is happiest: try and time your travels for those periods!
Tip #2 - Travelling by Twos
Travelling in pairs is easiest, if you can. It’s practical to have one person sit in the back seat to tend to the little one when it’s simply not possible to stop, to say nothing of rousing games of peek-a-boo that can raise a smile. That said, never remove your baby from the car seat in a moving vehicle, no matter how stinky that diaper is! Whether in pairs or not, be sure to plan lots of stops en route so that you can take care of all of these necessities. Babies far prefer face time with their family than staring at their toes!
Tip #3 - Let’s Play Some Tunes!
Music! Top up that playlist with all manner of baby friendly tunes that they can enjoy. You will spend the next week with purple dinosaur ear worms running through your head at the oddest times, but it will be worth it if your baby remains entertained. Another option? Audiobooks - and they don’t have to be the baby variety. Simply the soothing sound of a voice reading is enough to lull baby into a comfortable, happy place. We used to listen to podcasts of the Vinyl Cafe from CBC. Great stories for the parents and Stuart McLean’s voice seems to be very baby friendly!
Tip #4 - Toys! Toys! Toys!
Make sure you have the soft, safe toys handy. Particularly if there is no one in the back seat with baby, it’s vital that the toys have no strings or other ways that your baby could hurt themselves, while not under direct supervision. One option is to install a mirror on the seat back: you can see them and they can see the reflections of clouds and scenery. Just be sure that you aren’t distracted from your driving by constantly looking in the mirror!
Tip #5 - A Little Tech Goes a Long Way
If you aren’t opposed to the idea, a portable DVD player with Baby Einstein or other shows can be a good distraction - my daughter was a fan of ‘In the Night Garden'. It can be the thing that takes your long driving route from crazy to bearable.
Tip #6 - Routines Can Still be your Friend While on the Road
If you have started a bedtime routine with your baby, keep it going, even on the trip. As you approach bedtime, stop and change them into PJs, give them their favourite lovey and if you usually play music or read a book, do that. Babies, like most of us, find comfort in routine.
Tip #7 - Stock Up on Essentials
You don’t want to run out of diapers or wipes so keep a plastic lidded box in the car with ALL the essentials including snacks, water, formula, extra bottles, extra soothers and, to be safe, a box of Ziplock bags. These are the best and most smell proof way to deal with any messes or upsets until you can safely stop and clean up properly. Trust me on this last one.
Whether visiting family or just taking a little long weekend staycation with your baby, a car trip can be a fun, relaxing and comfortable way to travel, for everyone.
Worried about what you might feed your baby while away from home? This post from Top Reveal has an excellent list of 21 Best Easy as 1-2-3 DIY Baby Food Recipes. I especially like the Avocado and Banana Mix since this can easily be done with just a fork!
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Have any other great tips? Share them in the comments below!