Everything you need to know about road trips with babies. A guide and best practices from a travel family with three kids.
Traveling with or taking a road trip with a baby can seem like a daunting task. But with a few preparations and tips it can actually be a joyful experience (or at the very least not absolutely miserable)!
I am a mom of three and have traveled fairly regularly with all of my kids as babies. We regularly fly and drive long distances when traveling, and recently driving has become my travel method of choice. These are the things we have done to prepare or learned along the way to have the best possible road trips with babies.
1. Get a Comfy Carseat
If you are going to be stuck in the car for hours and hours on end, it’s a good idea to get your baby a safe and comfy carseat; the Chicco Fit4 Convertible Carseat is our favorite!
The Chicco Fit4 is a 4-in-1 carseat meaning it grows with your baby in four stages from infancy through childhood. We love the adaptive, breathable fabric and the 4-Stage FitKit™ System that takes all the guess work out of making sure the carseat is at the right stage and fit for your baby’s age and size.
A comfy carseat will make sure your baby is comfortable and therefore less-fussy during your road trip. It will also be easier for your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep if they are snug and at a comfortable temperature. Plus parental peace of mind that your baby is safe and secure.
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2. Schedule it Out
Try and stick to baby’s feeding and nap schedule as much as you can while you are traveling. One good way to do this to leave first thing in the morning (right after breakfast) so that your baby is full and cheerful. They will also likely be ready for a nap and can fall asleep early in the trip.
Plan stops to coordinate with the timeframe your baby normally eats. If they normally eat every 2-3 hours, plan stops around the 2-2.5 hour mark so that you don’t push them too far and end up with an overly hungry baby.
3. Make Frequent Stops
Make frequent stops even if you aren’t used to it. Everyone in the car will be much happier if you stop frequently to feed, change, and let your baby stretch their legs. This may mean stopping more frequently that you are used to and taking longer to reach your destination.
General safety recommendations are that babies should not be in their carseat for more than 2 hours at at time.
4. Plan Stops Ahead of Time
Take some time and plan your stops ahead of time. Map out a family-friendly restaurant or park at the location you will be during normal feeding time. This will help you from scrambling at the last minute or ending up in the middle of no where with a hungry screaming baby.
5. Rotate Toys
Did you know babies only have an attention span of 1-2 minutes? Rotate toys like this silicone teether toy, Dimpl baby toy, or Indestructibles books. If your baby is a little older it may also be fun to wrap new toys from the dollar store or wrap books for them to open (ripping off the wrapping paper is half the fun).
If your baby like to throw toys, consider using pacifier clips to secure them to their carseat. It may also be a good ideas to have an adult sit in the back so that you can easily hand your baby new toys when they start to get fussy.
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6. Use a Headrest Mirror
If you don’t have one already, consider getting a headrest mounted mirror like this one. This will give you peace of mind because you can easily checkin on your baby and will also keep your baby happier because they can see you and more or their surroundings.
7. Plan for Feedings
Plan ahead for feedings; if you normally breastfeed, consider pumping while riding in the car and giving a bottle at your stops so that you can more easily eat or trade shifts with a family member (my favorite pump).
If you formula feed, bring pre-measured amounts of formula in a formula dispenser for easy feedings. I like to fill my bottles with the correct amount of water before we leave the house or bring along a bottle of water.
Read More: Nursing and Pumping Essentials
8. Don’t Forget The Snacks
If your baby is eating solids, bring lots of snacks to keep them occupied and happy! We love this carseat cupholder snack tray.
9. Bring a Sound Machine
Cars can be noisy and distracting if your baby is tired and trying to sleep. Bring a long a portable sound machine to help drown out some of the noise (like music, road noise, or siblings), and help your baby get better sleep.
10. Be Flexible!
Finally, the most important tip for road trips with babies is to be flexible!
- Plan for the trip to take longer than you expect or longer than you are used to due to your extra stops.
- Don’t worry if your preplanned stops don’t work out, if something is closed, or if your baby is grumpy.
- Don’t fret if your baby naps too much or less than normal.
- Throw the schedule out the window if you need to!
Summary: How to Have the Best Road Trips with Babies
Here is a quick breakdown of 9 tips for having the best road trips with babies:
- Get a comfy carseat like the Chicco Fit4 Convertible Carseat*
- Schedule it out
- Make frequent stops
- Plan stops ahead of time
- Rotate toys
- Use a headrest mirror
- Plan for feedings
- Don’t forget the snacks
- Bring a sound machine
- Be Flexible!
Thanks for stopping by!