So, you’ve got a road trip coming up. And you’ve got an infant… Can the two coexist? Yes! We live four hours away from my family, so our little one has seen many road trips in his short life. If you’re wondering how to have a successful, enjoyable road trip with an infant, I’m here to help!
The first time we went to visit my parents, my son was a month old. I’ll tell you right now: if you want to take a trip with a young baby, do it. That was the easiest trip we’ve taken, hands down. My son slept the entire way (except when we woke him up to feed him halfway through). Since then, none of the trips have been quite so easy. But only a few have been brutal. So today I’ve decided to share my wisdom on road trips with infants!
Possibly the most taxing part of any road trip is the preparation. Planning out any stops you’ll need to take, when to leave, what to pack, etc. If you’re going somewhere with a deadline (i.e. you need to check in by 5 PM) then you’ll really need to plan ahead, and I’d suggest adding 30 minutes to an hour to whatever time you think you’ll want to leave. Babies generally have their own plans for how things will go down.
There’s also the logistics of packing for a baby. What I would recommend is (depending on how long you’ll be gone) giving yourself about a week to determine what you’ll need. If you use it within that week, you’ll probably use it on the trip. If you don’t, you can probably keep it at home. Granted if it’s a quick overnight trip, less is probably more. No need to pack the entire nursery.
My General Packing List
- Clothes–depending on if you’ll have access to laundry, bring a few more outfits than you’ll “need”–chances are you’ll need everything you brought and will still end up doing laundry
- Diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream–again, bring more than you think you’ll need
- First aid kit–hopefully you won’t need it, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Particularly if you’re going somewhere you’ve never been and so you aren’t sure what their convenience store situation might be. And make sure the nail clippers are in there!
- Pump & accessories–if you need it
- Whatever sleeping mechanism your baby sleeps in
- Your baby carrier or stroller
- The diaper bag–sure, you could lug the suitcase around the whole time, but you probably aren’t going to want to!
- Depending on the length of stay, all the supplies you need for your baby’s bath–if you don’t absolutely need baby’s bathtub, don’t bring it, it’s a colossal waste of space. Personally, we just shower with our little guy, so there’s no need to bring our bathtub–which is currently sitting in his [unused] room, with tens of other unused things
- Always bring 1-2 outfits for wild weather–if it’s the dead of summer, bring a few long-sleeved, long pants outfits; if it’s an icy winter, bring a few lighter items– you seriously never know what the weather might do, and you don’t wanna be “that mom” who has her kid in a parka when it’s 80° outside.
- Depending on your baby’s age, feeding accessories or food–So far things have been very easy in this department because my son has been exclusively breastfed, so as long as I was in the car, so was all of his feeding equipment. However, once we start solids it will be a whole new ballgame.
- Two blankets–one to keep him warm if necessary, the other to lay down to change his diaper on
- Don’t forget the baby 😉
If you’re going with another adult, which I highly recommend as it will make your trip much easier, have one person sit in the back with the baby. This way you don’t have to pull over the instant your little one starts crying. If that’s not feasible, get a mirror so you can keep an eye on your precious cargo. (But obviously drive carefully and only glance back quickly when it’s safe to do so, please use your own judgment here people)
I recommend stopping at least every two hours, but you may need to more often if your little one is fussy or hungry. Remember that when you’re going on a road trip, your baby is in charge. Don’t watch the clock to know when you need to stop. If your baby is crying, you need to stop.
Note: sometimes a trip that used to take us 4 hours takes us 6 hours, which is why I would strongly recommend a very loose schedule. If you have to be somewhere right on time, you’ll want to be overly cautious and leave well before you think you’ll need to.
While the general rule of thumb is to try to get your angel out of the car seat about every two hours, there’s no rule against getting them out even more frequently. Any time you stop, you should get your baby out. Even if it’s just for ten minutes. If you’re getting sore, chances are your baby is, too.
Don’t feed your baby in the car seat. If your baby were to choke, you’d need to pull over and unbuckle the baby before being able to help. It may seem like a time saver, but it isn’t a risk worth taking.
Bring a few little toys, sometimes a toy is a good enough distraction to calm your baby down until you can pull off at the nearest rest stop.
Have you taken a road trip with an infant? How did it go? What would you add?
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