Tips for Taking a Road Trip with an Infant

Posted July 20, 2015 by Julie in Parenting, Tips and Resources, TopPosts, Travel / 49 Comments

We went on a family road trip over the Fourth of July holiday weekend – the first road trip for Baby H. We visited family in Florida and Georgia, so it was a long drive. 800 miles each way with an 8-month-old is quite interesting, let me tell you. We prepared the best we could, and I wanted to share some tips and lessons learned.
Tips for Taking a Road Trip with an Infant

Tips for Road Trips with Infants

1. Plan your driving time wisely and include time for many stops along the way. On the way there we actually left in the evening and drove through the night. It was hard since we both worked a partial day before making the trip, but it ended up working in our favor since Baby H slept for a lot of the ride. We stopped around 4 am at a rest stop so hubby could nap and I could nurse and let the little guy stretch out before continuing the rest of the way. On the way home we wanted to get a good night’s sleep before driving, so we planned to leave in the AM and drive all day. That was rough and Baby H screamed so much! He just was fed up with being in the car seat and that was that. We’d stop often to let him stretch and relax but we had to keep moving so there were times when I was patting him while we drove and he cried. I hated that and it was extremely stressful, but I really don’t know what else we could have done.

2. If you’re bottle-feeding, have at least one feeding ready to grab at any time. Just like it is a good idea to have road trip snacks and drinks easily grab-able while the car is in motion, we likewise had food for the baby prepped. I do a combination breastfeeding and formula feeding and in order to save on time I would pump while hubby drove (which, by the way, is not fun) and we would stop for feedings and diaper changes/restroom breaks as needed. Baby H has a formula “top off” after nursing or drinking pumped breastmilk, sometimes right away sometimes an hour or so later, so I always had one bottle ready to go. I had pre-measured out the water and formula in this lovely dispenser, and I could mix it up and hand it to him on demand and not have to pull over.

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3. Have a diaper changing station right in the car. I used an empty diaper box as a caddy to store our travel diapers, wipes, disposable pads, water bottles, formula box, etc. together, for easy grabbing and using on the go. When we stopped to fill up it was much easier to just change Baby H in my seat than to carry everything into the station hoping for a changing table. Sometimes it takes two people to change the little guy, now that he is so wiggly and rolly polly, and family restrooms aren’t always available. Then hubby and I would take turns going to the restroom while the other fed Baby H or let him stand in the front seat and strech out. We also used a disposable changing pad to line his car seat in case there were any accidents while he was sleeping. We wouldn’t have a way to clean the car seat while en route so this provided a safety for us, but thankfully we didn’t end up having any blowouts.

4. Create a packing list in advance. There is so much baby gear to bring with you, much of which you’re using right up until the time the trip begins. I made two packing check lists – one for Baby H’s stuff and one for my pumping stuff. I didn’t need a packing list for my own suitcase since I pretty much know what I need when I travel. There were a lot of items we had to think about, like our Pack n Play, a travel high chair (which we didn’t really end up using), tons of change of clothes, some toys, etc.

5. Bring the favorite toys, a pacifier, and anything else to calm that baby. Baby H loves his piano, so we brought it with us and kept it in his car seat so he could entertain himself on the ride. We also clipped his pacifier to his shirt so he could grab it and chew on it as needed to calm himself down. He goes through moments of being able to self-soothe (and other moments of outright tantrums). He threw his piano behind the seat quite a bit and had to wait for the next stop for us to rescue it if we couldn’t reach it, but the music helped soothe him in the beginning.

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What tips do you have for road trips with littles?


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JuliepicI'm Julie, a new mom who works full time and blogs, all while wishing I had more time to read fun books. I write about being a first time working mom in order to help myself and other working moms in our journeys to find balance between family, responsibilities, and hobbies so we can thrive both at home and at work.
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49 responses to “Tips for Taking a Road Trip with an Infant

  1. Always so frustrating when you give baby something to soothe them and they toss it and you can’t reach it. LOL! Some great tips here–I’ll also just add “patience” to the list. Sometimes baby cries and there’s not a dang thing you can do about it. But kudos to you for making the trip!! Everytime someone tells me they’re too scared to travel with kids, I feel so badly for them–how will the kids get used to roadtrips/flights if you never take them!

    • You’re so right about patience! Yes, the kids need to get used to travel and not taking them because it is hard just deprives everyone. Thanks Trish 🙂

  2. Good tips!! We took my son to iowa, about 6 hours, when he was 2 months old and it was a breeze but now we are headed to Connecticut in a couple of weeks and he will be 6 months and I am freaking out a little! He loves to play more than nap so I am hoping toys in the car work and he doesn’t scream the whole way!! I love your idea of a changing station in the car. it is much needed bc surprisingly there are still bathrooms without changing stations and sometimes weirdo (nice) ladies like to stand by and coo and your baby while your changing his diaper lol (yup that happens to me a lot)

    • It is just not right how many bathrooms still don’t have changing stations. Or, they are so old and not kept up with and the seat belt thing is broken. At least in the car you have both sets of hands to hold him down heh. Good luck on your travels 🙂
      Thanks Carisa!

  3. Went on so many road trips stateside and abroad when my daughter was a wee one. Your tips are spot on. Two more tips helped us arrive at our final destination without giving up completely: 1. age-appropriate movies/shows — they were like a time warp for her! And 2. if you treat it like a super awesome adventure (no matter how numb your bum is), kids’ enthusiasm (and patience) will generally mimic your own. =D

    • Those are great tips too. We’ll definitely have some movies on a tablet or something when he’s old enough to pay attention to one. Thanks Elle 🙂

  4. You’re a brave woman! I haven’t had to take a long car trip with a baby yet, and I’m hoping to avoid it all together! lol These tips will come in handy if I should ever find myself needing to travel with one in the future!

    Thank you for sharing with us at #MommyMeetupMondays!

  5. These tips are spot on. I always make sure we have snacks, stop at service stations for the kids to have their toilet break and stretch legs.

    Thanks so much for linking up with #justanotherlinky 🙂 Hope to see you again this week x

  6. These are excellent tips. I think I’ll tuck them away for later reminders because as of right now my kids are a bit older, but we’re still not convinced we’re done having kids. Who knows, in a couple of years we might have a baby around the house again! Thanks so much for linking up at the Sunshine Life link up. As much as I’m glad I’m not traveling with infants anymore, I sure do miss their giggles surrounding me.

  7. Great list. Having toys and snacks are essential for travelling with kids! And yes, you always need a washroom/change table solution. We can always change my daughter in the trunk and for my son, I always make sure we have a plastic cup for him to pee in! Thanks for sharing. #ConfessionsLinkUp

  8. Great tips here Julie and thanks for sharing them with us at #AnythingGoes. When you have a baby you have to be so organized so I’m sure a lot of mums will be grateful for your post. Have a lovely day and see you next week.

  9. I time all road trips around nap time. That’s as far as I have made it, hahaha. We haven’t ventured too far or often so it has worked for us. I love these tips though. Thank you for sharing at #mommymeetupmondays.

    • Yes, definitely for shorter trips planning around nap time is a great idea. Especially better when your kids are happy to sleep in the car heh.

  10. The only thing I might add is to maybe go for a walk, if it’s possible, when at a rest stop with the baby; for just a change of scenery if nothing else. Being strapped to the car seat for so many hours can be tedious on the little guy, and for mom and dad if he’s screaming his head off. I remember with my son, he would just flat out refuse to be placed back in his car seat once he was taken out and would arch his back so it would make it hard for us to buckle him in. I would put him in my ring sling or carrier and just take a little walk with him, and that would usually help. From #MommyMondaysMeetup

    • Going for a walk to stretch out is a great idea. Not quite as easy at gas stations but rest stops are good for walking around a little while taking a bathroom break. Thanks Lissette!

  11. I fed my babes a mixture of breastmilk and formula, so I got pretty good at pumping while driving so that we could feed on the go. Thanks for linking with #TwinklyTuesday.

  12. My husband’s hobby (professional lumberjack competing) has us on the road a lot in the summer and fall. Our daughter went to her first competition at 3 months old. I agree with all these tips. Also, try to avoid being in the car during “prime play time.” We would sometimes hang out a little bit longer than we needed to to avoid that 3-4pm time period in the car. (visiting from Mom 2 Mom Monday)

  13. We tried leaving late at night so our daughter would sleep through the trip. Of course, she ended up staying up the whole way and falling asleep 10 minutes before we reached our destination. That backfired, huh!?!

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