Road trips can be fun but also exhausting, especially if you have a crying baby or toddler in the backseat. After all, who likes sitting in the same spot and seeing the same things for hours on end? But that doesn’t mean you’ve to stop taking road trips or sit at home while you wait for your children to grow older. If you pack the right things and remember a few tips, you can enjoy your road trips with happy kids in the car!
This seems like an obvious tip but it’s easy to forget in the build-up to D-day. Take the time to plan out your road trip – including rest stops, food, directions, possible alternative routes in case of traffic, road closures, the weather etc. A road trip with adults may not need more than a few stops for gas and food but plan for more if you have a baby. Most kids hate being cooped up in the car for hours, give them a break to run around a bit. Even a baby will appreciate the change in scenery!
Pack Baby Essentials
This goes without saying, almost. Keep a bag with essentials for the baby close at hand. Include food, snacks, a few toys, diapers, and even a couple of changes of clothes. An accident can happen at any time and you certainly don’t want to dig into multiple suitcases to find the one with baby clothes in. If it’s summer, don’t forget things like sunscreen and bug repellent. In winter, have an extra coat, lotion, and a blanket handy.
Whatever the weather, you should probably bring a changing mat like the Matty Baby Changer with you. Yes, most restrooms now have changing tables but what if you stop at one that doesn’t? It’s far more hygienic than a random restroom counter or a changing table that hasn’t been cleaned in a while. The Matty is soft and has a slim profile, so you can fit it in pretty much any bag or case. You can also use it anywhere – restroom counters, RVs, or even the hotel room floor!
Leave Room Next to the Car Seat
Not that you’ll sit next to your toddler the entire trip but leave some space for a parent next to the seat. You can sit next to your child and keep them busy and happy if they get grumpy or hungry. It’s much better than having to sit in front and listen to your baby cry or scream from the back.
Comfortable Clothes and Toys
Make sure to dress your toddler in comfortable clothes. Car seats are designed to keep children snug and safe but it means they don’t leave much room for movement. Comfortable clothes may mean pajamas or a simple shirt and pants. Don’t dress them up in clothes that have fiddly buttons, ties, and other closures. It will take you forever to change them if they spill some juice all over the seat.
Toys are a must have on any road trip. Try to have a mix of new and familiar toys in a handy bin (keep it out of sight though). You never know which one will keep your baby happy on the trip. Hand them a new one if they start getting bored but take away the old one first. This way you can have a rotation of toys so they don’t get too bored.
Sync the Trip with Daily Routines
You know your toddler’s routines best. What time do they take a nap or have a snack? Try to sync your stops with their usual schedule. Some parents like to drive at night when the baby might sleep through the journey. Others start a trip right after lunch in time for a nap. Try not to drive more than a couple of hours continuously.
Another thing you can do is break up the trip with fun activities. Play a quick round of tag at a stop before eating lunch. Some rest stops have a shopping plaza that you can walk around in. Even an old game becomes fresh when you play it in a new location. Road trips don’t have to be boring for a child or by the same token, tire you out. Prepare well in advance and enjoy your next trip with the entire family!