How to make car trips with a baby (almost) hassle-free
As temperatures rise (only a little, we are in the UK after all!), there are a lot more cars on the roads. More of us are venturing out to visit family, or for breaks by the sea. And that means more babies in cars, too.
While some babies are pretty portable, others are a little harder to manage. And none of them can handle traffic jams, roadside breakdowns, or queues at service stations. So, if you are buckling up to go and see Granny, then here’s our guide to making car trips with a baby as hassle-free as possible.
Choose the best time to travel
If at all possible travelling when your baby would normally be sleeping is an excellent idea. During their usual afternoon nap slot, or after bedtime, you can snuggle them into their pyjamas and jump on the motorway. You’ll probably find that the natural white noise of passing traffic will lull them off to sleep fairly easily. We can’t help with getting them out of the car without waking them up, though.
Have entertainment on hand
If you’re travelling during waking hours then you’ll need to think of some sort of entertainment. If only to stave off the insistent cries coming from the back seat. If you’re old school then you might point out passing farm animals or tractors. Or get a slightly older toddler to notice lorries, or more M4 roadworks (sigh).
Otherwise, toys (like these taggies that you can attach to the car), music CDs, or child-friendly tablets with plenty of Peppa Pig downloaded will be your saviours.
Plan in breaks
Small babies shouldn’t be in their car seat for longer than an hour at a time, so plan your route carefully and make allowances for breaks. Making regular stops means you can deal with nappy changes, feeds, and stretching your legs. See if you can find somewhere along your route with a play park to run/crawl around in for 30 minutes. You get some fresh air and a break, and they might even nap afterwards!
Your car seat should always be in good condition and adjusted correctly. But there are other things to consider on a long car journey. The AA recommends you keep the following in your car (depending on the weather):
- First Aid Kit (you can find our favourite here)
- Bottled water
- Jump leads
- Spare tyre or tyre repair kit
- Hi-vis jacket and warning triangle
- A charged phone
Then you’ll be prepared for anything!
Pack portable snacks
If you’re in the car for a while then your children will probably need feeding.
They’re like that…
You should be aware that choking is a risk, and consider having one adult in the back with your baby to keep an eye on them (this will also help with entertainment…and recognising when there’s been a nappy emergency!
Reusable portable pouches for your weaned baby are so useful, as are spill proof sippy cups to stay hydrated without watering your back seat. And, if you’re formula feeding, then ready to drink Cow & Gate First Milk is easy to pop in your bag. In case you get stuck in a traffic jam.
Be prepared to clean up
The chances are your little darlings will make a mess. Things are moving, tempers will rise, and your leather seats will pay the price! Firstly, we would advise bringing a bucket…even if your child has never shown any signs of travel sickness, this is not something you want to find out about unprepared.
So, what else do you need (that you can store in the bucket!)?
Disposable changing mats are great for unscheduled car park nappy changes, but also for covering the back seats in case of aforementioned sickness. And a good supply for every parent’s best friend - wipes - to deal with spills, sticky fingers, and snuffly noses.
And there you have it - how to travel to see you Auntie Jane without having a nervous breakdown! Wishing you pumped-up tires, green traffic lights, and endless iPad batteries.