The weather is warm, the sun is shining and you can’t wait to hit the open road – as a family! Taking your baby on his first summer road trip can be both exciting and nerve wracking! Before packing up your smallest passenger, read below for tips on how to help make the trip enjoyable and safe for you all.
A safe drive is much more important than a calm, relaxed drive! Prior to departure, double check that the car seat is secure. It should not move more than one inch in either direction. Also be sure your baby is snugly buckled into the seat. If your baby is less than 20 pounds, he must be in an infant seat. Rear facing is the safest direction for all children to travel up until the age of two. Keep an eye on your baby by investing a rear-view baby mirror or opt to sit in the back seat during long stretches of the journey.
Expect the Unexpected
The trip might start off with a happy baby but this can quickly change! Babies are simply unpredictable. It’s therefore important to be flexible with your travel plans and make several stops along the way. Map out some child friendly parks to stop in and lay out a blanket to allow baby to roll and crawl around every couple of hours.
Also be sure to pack an easy-to-reach bag of “emergency” essentials for whatever situation arises -projectile spit ups, diaper leaks and temper tantrums to name a few. Some products to pack in the diaper bag include:
- Diaper wipes
- Change pad
- Extra clothing (for you both!)
- Bug repellent
Protect From the Sun
As you’re enjoying the air conditioning up front, your baby could be in the path of the sun’s harmful rays coming in through the rear windshield. This can cause him to overheat or burn. It’s therefore important to invest in some window shades to help keep the sun out! On a really hot sunny day, you may opt to drive at night, saving the day time for a relaxing break instead.
Stick to Soft Toys
Although he may love his plastic car, this toy could easily become a weapon in a car accident. Avoid potential hazards by packing up the hard, clunky toys in the trunk and keeping out only plush, soft toys for the car ride.
Pack Familiar Foods
Road trips aren’t the best time to introduce new foods to baby. Pack snacks and foods he is already familiar with. Otherwise you risk a huge mess in the backseat should he not approve. Or worse, an unexpected allergic reaction!
On the subject of food, store anything that needs to be chilled in a cooler with ice packs (this includes breast milk). And have some snacks readily available. Here is a list of foods that travel well:
- Puffed corn snacks
- Rice cakes
- Cheese strings
- Apple & pear slices
Please note: If you’re nursing, be sure to pull over to a safe location to feed your baby. Never attempt to nurse in a moving car!
Plan Around Naptime
If baby sleeps well during car rides, plan to travel during his sleep time so you can accomplish part of the journey uninterrupted. If he’s not too keen about sleeping while in motion, plan to start your trip first thing in the morning or right after a nice long nap.
Whether you’re going on your first family vacation or visiting grandma, a long road trip doesn’t have to be a challenge. With planning and preparation, your baby’s first summer road trip can be a rewarding experience your family won’t soon forget.