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 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.
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.
What tips do you have for road trips with littles?
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