If you have plans of travelling with a baby in a car, the first thing to know is it will take you more time than usual, with many breaks in between. And unscheduled stops are normal. Long distance travel by car with a baby calls for some preparation in advance.
Travelling with baby in car is the best plausible option that many parents are left with because of its ease and convenience. The question of safety and comfort surely arises and you could get stressed thinking about it, especially if the drive is long. So here are a few tips that can be helpful to make your and your baby’s car travel safer, easier and comfortable.
12 Must Know Tips When Travelling With Baby In Car
Perhaps as a couple you love to travel, and now considering you have a small human to take care of, you may have decided to put your travel plans on hold. While that may not warrant urgent attention, you cannot totally avoid travelling with baby in a car.
Whether it is the frequent visits to the doctors for vaccinations, or for times when there is no option to leave your baby at a day care or with someone responsible to babysit for some time while you run some errands. Or perhaps, you want to visit your friends or extended family with the baby by your side.
When travelling with a baby in a car, the below tips can be helpful to you –
1. How soon can a baby travel in a car?
The first and the foremost question that every new parent wants answered is about the right age for their newborn to travel. Though your child would have arrived home in a car only, it is very important for your baby to have a better developed immune system before you take them out for a ride. This can be a period of one month at least, though it is recommended to wait till your baby is 3 to 6 months old by most doctors.
2. Buying a car seat for your baby
Before hitting the road it is very important to buy a car seat that is both comfortable and safe for your baby and you. Important points to be considered while buying a car-seat for your cutie:
- Size and Dimension of the seat: Check the dimensions of the seat you are buying with the space inside the car. It should have enough space for the baby to look around.
- Seat mount type: There are primarily two kinds of locking and securing mechanisms used to secure the seat inside the car. Most of the new cars have a LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children system) to put and secure the seat in, while the other design uses seat belts to secure the baby seat. As LATCH system can only be used at a particular section inside the car where it is located, the baby seat which uses seat belts can be positioned as per your convenience. So choose wisely.
- Convertible and infant seats: Buying a convertible seat can help you save money as it can be used back facing while the baby is less than a year old and front facing beyond that age. But it cannot be taken out of the car like the infant seat, which on the other hand can be used to carry the baby while being sound asleep.
- Safety and comfort: Make sure the seat you choose is of good quality, has a five point harness and side impact protection using extra cushioning near the neck and head also.
3. Packing for travel with your baby
Now with your baby is safe and comfy in the car make sure you got everything your baby may need while you are on the go. Things such as extra diapers which may be needed every hour or two. Keeping disposable bags for used diapers, dirty clothes and other soiled piece of clothing can be really useful.
Keep blankets which can be used to cover the baby or the window if the sun is too strong. A first aid kit with lotions, ointments and medicines. You can even pack a hat to block out the sun, a few extra clothes, baby wipes, disinfectant gel and toys in case the baby gets bored during the journey. So pack wisely while travelling with baby in car.
4. Hacks to feed your baby while travelling
Babies need to be fed on regular basis especially infants. Breast feeding may not be an option all the time. For this you can carry baby formulae and a thermos filled with hot water. Keep it handy with you so that you can prepare the baby formulae by mixing the two in a bottle as soon as you halt.
Another important point would be to bring food already packed or prepared and ready for consumption for the baby. You can even stop and breast feed your baby or can consider using pumped breast milk, provided you have proper storage and proper heating facilities in the course of your journey.
Pacifiers can be really helpful if your baby isn’t really hungry yet and can be used to keep things smooth.
5. Long car rides and your baby
Though, it is not advisable to travel with baby because of their low immunity and stronger muscles; especially long distance travels, sometimes you may have to. If you do plan to, make sure to take regular breaks while travelling with baby in car. Try and avoid travelling alone with the baby by choosing a companion such as close family and friends or your baby’s caregiver.
Try and leave as early as possible in the morning hours before the baby wakes up if planning long distance travel. Schedule regular breaks along the way, say one every 2 hours.
Sit with the baby in the backseat from time to time to play or share snacks. Keep in mind that babies are not accustomed to travel as much as you do so don’t over do it. And yes, they may not enjoy it as well. If planning to go far break your journey into segments with frequent stops for food, playing and sleeping.
Just as us adults your baby might get uncomfortable and stiff while sitting in the seat on long drives. Be sure to read about some baby massage techniques which you can modify or administer during breaks along the way. Massaging the babies gently on their legs and feet may help to calm a fussy baby.
6. Carry a small bucket
A bucket can prove to be very handy whether you travel long distances or short as the baby may get motion sickness or stomach flu during the drive. Be sure to keep it at arms distance from you for immediate need.
7. Keeping baby happy in a seat
Keeping the baby engaged while travelling may help keep the baby happy while being on the road. First and foremost would be to pick a right time to travel. Like when the baby is just feed or likely to sleep. Take your baby around on short trips so that the baby gets used to travel by car.
Keep talking to the baby and distracted by teething toys. Sometimes music can also help to soothe the mood. Singing lullaby’s, camping and soothing songs with a sweet melody and rhythm may help distract and clam the baby.
A favorite toy helps in keeping the baby happy and engaged, so can consider taking it along.
8. Check your car thoroughly before travelling
Get the car properly checked and serviced before you venture out. Make sure the car tyres have the optimum tyre pressure and check the spare too.
For long distance choose a route that has hotels and other facilities available at regular intervals along the way rather than taking the more off beat path. Stop at a well lit place if travelling during the night.
9. Organize your car in the most efficient manner
Make sure to pack, organize bags and other items according to their requirement along the way. Like keeping the diaper bag, milk and water bottles for the baby handy or at arms distance.
Keep suitcases and large baby items such as a stroller or diaper changing station in the back of your car. Position the luggage in such a way that it doesn’t hinder the driver’s rear view mirror while driving.
10. Avoid using mobile phones
One should always keep in mind to avoid distractions while travelling with baby in car. Remember babies’ need a lot of attention at all times. So it’s better to keep your phone at bay while you are in the car.
You can install a separate rear view mirror to keep a check on your baby while you move.
If you have a habit of checking your phone frequently, you may get distracted from your baby’s needs. Keeping the phone near your baby in the rear seat may help you getting less distracted by it.
You can check your phone when you stop along the way. Never leave your baby alone in the car.
11. Think out of the box and be prepared for anything
If the baby is quite fussy while travelling be prepared for all sorts of ways to comfort the baby. Maybe taking him out of the car at every now and then when you halt and taking a walk. Or just cuddling the baby, giving a nice massage along the way or holding him in your arms may calm her.
There can be a million reasons for your baby to become fussy, so just pay close attention and try to be creative.
12. Make a list
You have probably made mental notes of all the points above and have chosen few you feel would help. This last bit of advice is probably the most useful one. Make sure that you prepare a list well in advance and check out things taken care of. It will save you from many unpleasant surprises!
What is the best age to travel with a baby?
Though, to say that you can travel with baby after 3 to 6 months after the baby has developed better immunity against potential threats. Most doctors advice that babies that are less than an year old should not travel by car for more than 30 mins to an hour maximum.
By the time your baby is a year old it would have learned how to focus their vision, reach out and explore the world around them. This will help them to enjoy the world as they see while they travel. Long distance travel should be avoided till then as it is will safer for them.
With all said and done it doesn’t go by saying that accept your defeat. If in case you do get tired during the journey so would have your baby. Stop and take a break for a few minutes to even an hour or two if required. Do not push it. Your baby doesn’t have as much patience and perseverance as you. So take it easy.