Traveling with kids is challenging but when you add a baby into the mix it’s a whole new ballgame. We’re old pros when it comes to traveling with kids but it’s been a few years since we’ve had a baby. Traveling with my almost 1 year old has required us to change up our routines and get creative about our road trips.
Travel During Naptime
We took our first trip when my baby was 2 months old. Already not a huge fan of her car seat, she screamed nearly the entire trip. It was so bad that by the end she would start screaming the second we put her back in the car seat. As she’s gotten older, she’s a bit more tolerant of her car seat but we’ve learned that the trip goes smoother for everyone involved if we time our trips to coincide with naptime.
Take Frequent Breaks
Babies need to get out and wiggle. On longer trips when she can’t sleep the whole way, we take frequent breaks during the times the baby is awake and drive as far as we can while she’s sleeping. Use it as a chance to get out of the car and explore along the way.
Make the Most of Stops
Car breaks with older kids are fairly straight forward – everyone gets out, uses the bathroom, and stretches. Babies, especially before they begin to walk, are a different story. Nursing babies will need to be fed and then given additional time to wiggle around. If you can find a grassy area to lay a blanket down on you can let your baby roll around a bit. If the weather isn’t nice, find an indoor area and let your baby wiggle around on your lap, stand on your knees, and stretch her arms and lets out for her. We’ve always found that the more we let our baby wiggle during car breaks, the more likely she is to take an extra nap once we get going again.
Bring New Toys
Let’s face it. Car trips can be boring. After a few hours everyone is looking for something to do. Babies are no different and often they’ll cry, not because they are hungry or uncomfortable but because they are just bored. Bring along a few new toys that your baby hasn’t seen yet (or some that she hasn’t played with in a while) and bring them out at intervals during your trip when baby starts to get fussy.
Place Older Siblings Near Baby
Older siblings can sit next to the baby to provide some entertainment (and an extra pair of hands). The first time we traveled I put my youngest son next to the baby so I could help him but he wasn’t able to help his sister. Once we shifted things around things went a lot smoother.
I’m not usually a fan of electronic toys for babies but they can be a lifesaver when baby is confined to a car seat. We even resorted to strapping an iPad to the back of the seat and turning a movie on for our baby to watch when she got bored and it worked perfectly. Nine times out of ten the movie put her to sleep.
Ultimately, the best tip I have when traveling with a baby is to be flexible. Things will not go as planned. You won’t leave/arrive on time. You’ll have to stop more than you think you will. Plan your trip but avoid over planning. Everyone will be happier.
What are your tips for traveling with a baby?