Our first ever road trip with a small baby was a total disaster. Galen was a couple of weeks old. We planned to put our baby in a car for 2 hours to go to a friend’s birthday party. Novice parents travelling with a baby. A tiny baby. What could go wrong? Lots of things as it turns out. I’ve since learnt that there are a few things that help when you are travelling with a baby.
Our journey was a catastrophe. For several reasons but mostly as we hadn’t though it through. We got stuck in traffic that we hadn’t accounted for. Our precious baby started screaming. We hadn’t thought of that. Yep, that novice.
Then I realised I couldn’t breastfeed as we travelled along.
I know it all seems obvious now that I’ve been doing this parenting thing for donkeys years but when you first start, you hardly know how to put a diaper on.
Such simple things, but here’s how to rock when you take your baby in a car.
- Feeds! Feeds are so important. Whether you are breast feeding or bottle feeding, whether you have a strict schedule or feed on demand, be prepared to feed your baby.
- Routine. Think of your baby’s routine. Will they sleep whilst you travel in the car? If so, try to set off just before a nap.
- Change of diapers. So obvious but a disaster if you forget!
- Change of clothes. Or 5. You pull out of the parking lot to start the long trip home. Your baby vomits all over themselves and the car seat. Yep. It happens.
- Wipes. Ready to hand.
- Stop frequently. No one likes being stuck in a car seat, make sure you give your baby a rest frequently. Babies shouldn’t be in a car seat for more than 2 hours at a time.
- Extra time. Be prepared for your journey to take much longer than you expect. Much, much longer.
- Soothing music. Try some gentle, calming music to help your baby sleep. If it doesn’t help the baby, it might help you.
- Black out cloth. I used to put a dark blanket over the baby seat to try to make a dark environment for him. It sometimes worked, but often he’d just kick it off with his feet. Sleeping never was my first baby’s activity of choice.
- Some babies cry. Some babies cry before they go to sleep. One of my babies used to cry for a few minutes before sleeping. When he was in the car, I couldn’t bear it. I’d try and distract him which just kept him awake. Went I learnt to accept it and listen to him cry he’d actually go to sleep. Sitting so close to him was torture. It felt like he was crying for hours. I timed it once. 3 minutes.
Every baby is different. You will get to know your baby and how they like to travel by car. Or not. You’ll get to know what things work and what doesn’t. Generally travelling by car with a baby is easier than with toddlers who get bored and won’t sleep.
By the time babies 3 and 4 arrived, we’d got the whole car thing down pat. Pile everything in, drive 4 hours to grandma’s, stopping on a precarious mountain side for a quick breast feed and a vomit and jump back in again.
Who says you can’t rock travelling with a baby? Or two? And a vomiting toddler?
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