Let me predict your future. (If I’m wrong, I promise to change 10 up-the-back-into-the-hair dirty diapers for you.)
*putting finger to temple* I’m going to predict that at some point “traveling with baby” is going to be something you search for online.
You are either going to be nervously preparing to fly with your minion for the first time, or there’s a long car ride on the horizon.
Well, which traveling soundtrack would you rather listen to?
- Four hours of whines, howls, wails, and screams?
- Or four hours of giggles, gurgles, and the occasional productive grunt?
Today I’m going to unload all the suggestions you need to keep Joy behind your baby’s brain control panel. Who says traveling with a baby has to be hard? Not this gal! You’ve got this!
Traveling with Baby Stop #1:
Our first stop on this Tour de Family has got to be Safetyville. This is the quaint little village that helps ensure you all stumble back from vacation alive (but probably exhausted).
The Must-See Safetyville Highlights
As you’re planning to go, keep these important tips in mind.
- Is the car seat installed correctly? We’ve broken down those steps into tired-parent English! Click here to see the 3 steps you need to follow to make sure the car seat is safe.
- How comfortable is your child’s car seat? It’s one thing to ask your child to sit on a board-hard car seat for 30 minutes around town, it’s a whole other nightmare to expect him to sit on that board for four hours. See my convertible car seat reviews.
- Is he facing the right way? The AAP recommends that all children under age 2 ride in a backward-facing car seat. They aren’t trying to make your life annoying, there’s real evidence that it makes a big difference in fatalites. (75% less likely isn’t chump change!)
- Can you still watch what he’s doing? It’s amazing what babies can find in the car to put into their mouth. Do your blood pressure a favorite and use a baby mirror to keep an eye on him.
- Do you have a window hammer? Yes, I’m a bit paranoid, but I like having one of these in the glove compartment. It cracks windows and can slice through seat belts in the case of the unthinkable.
Traveling with Baby Stop #2:
The Plains of Playdom
Our next pit stop as we go traveling with baby is the great Plains of Playdom. These consist of a plateau of playful toys, apps, music, and activities to keep his attention occupied.
Warning! Don’t pull out all of these at once! These are meant to be trickled out one at a time, so you always have something else to use in your back pocket.
If you’re planning on taking a really long road trip with baby, consider purchasing some of these new. After all, nothing quite entertains a child like something new and unexplored.
Traveling with a Baby:
Bring the Right Distractors
If you’re looking for other brain-boosting toy ideas to travel with, browse through my toy gift guides for some award-winners:
- Baby Toys: How to Hedge Your Bets and Purchase a Winner
- The Best Brain-Boosting Toys: A Smart Parent’s Guide
- 15 Newborn Toys Your Baby will Find Fascinating
Traveling with Baby Stop #3:
Besides the toys on the Plains of Playdom, I would also recommend spending some quality time on Activity Island. After all, sometimes it gets boring just playing by yourself. Sometimes a little interaction can go a long way! (Even if that interaction is with a piece of paper!)
Traveling with a Baby:
Allow for Interactions
1. vTech Baby Laptop | 2. Atom Rattle & Teether
3. Dimpl | 4. Magnetic Doodle Board 5. Gripper Cars
6. Mess-Free Touch Lights | 7. Latches Board
8. Sensory Activity Board | 9. Basket of Babies
10. Montessori Quiet Book
Traveling with Baby Stop #4:
You will definitely want to bring some healthy snacks with you because a stop on Munch Mountain is inevitable.
Remember, a hungry baby is a cranky baby so work a few rest stops into your schedule to have a 15-minute picnic. Bonus: running around for a few minutes outside may wear him out enough to nap in the car!
Snack Packing Do’s on Munch Mountain
- Look for squeeze packets so you don’t have to try to feed with a spoon on the go. You can purchase organic baby food, or get your own squeeze kit if you make your own baby food.
- If your baby is old enough, pack some Gerber Puffs, Cheerios, or Yogurt Melts for him to munch on.
- Use an activity tray (see the next stop below) to give your little one a flat surface to snack on.
- If you’re breastfeeding, pump ahead and store the milk in bottles inside a cooler.
- For formula feeders, let me introduce you to PopYum, an amazing bottle design that lets you release the formula into the water at the push of a button.
Snack Packing Don’ts on Munch Mountain
As you’re packing your snack bag (this collapsable one is my absolute fav), here are some things to keep in mind:
- Limit the sugar. He’s trapped in the car, so this isn’t the time for him to get a sugar rush.
- Nothing sticky, meltable, or gooey.
- Nothing that can stain This means chopped cherries, blueberries or anything with beet juice is out.
- Make it choke-proof. If your baby is going to be snacking, you need to make sure he could, in theory, swallow his food whole. (Quarter those grapes!)
- There will be a mess. It’s impossible for your baby/toddler NOT to make a mess. Accept it as inevitable and then come prepared with the tools below.
Traveling with a Baby:
Think About Food!
Traveling with Baby Stop #5:
Canyon of Cleanliness
Before you know it, the kids are smashing fries into the carpet and the bottle of milk has spilled over the carpet. (I recommend crying over that spilt milk, btw. It’s going to fill the car with the aroma of decaying bovine excretions if you don’t get it cleaned up fast… #experiencesucks.
There are a few sanitary items I refuse to pull out of the garage without.
- Disinfecting wipes—I cannot tell you how handy these are.
- A kitchen towel—Tucked into the glove compartment, for bigger spills. A roll of paper towels always gets trampled and soaked with mysterious liquids. Trust me, you’ll end up having to toss the entire roll, wasted.
- Booger wipes—Do you really want to stumble out of the car to see your friends and family, only to look over and see a mountain range of snot forming on your “I swear he’s normally really cute” son? Save yourself some humiliation – these work so much better than regular tissues.
- Activity trays—Giving your child a flat space that’s theirs can prevent sibling arguments and provide a place for an electric device to be propped up for when you get really desperate and need a new babysitter. (Don’t feel shame, it happens to everyone on these long trips!)
Traveling with a Baby:
Keep the Car Clean(ish)
One More Thing…
A FREE Baby Travel Checklist!
So we’ve gone over a lot in our little sanity-saving traveling with baby article here.
An insightful reader asked me for some sleep and napping tips for the weary traveling baby. I thought that was a brilliant idea. Check it out here: How Mater & McQueen Can Help Your Baby Nap in the Car.
I thought it might be useful if I included a free little baby travel checklist for you to reference. Making checklists is how I successfully procrastinate things (like packing the car).
It’s my secret weapon of “Let Get Myself One More Coffee While I Work On This”. *wink* Just fill out the form here and print off your free baby travel checklist!
That said, if you’d rather use my secret to procrastinate your own packing, I’d hate to rob you of one more coffee. Pretend it’s not here. 🙂
No matter how long your baby’s first road trip is, it’s important to try to keep your mindset on the positive side of things. Think of it this way…
Have You Read These Other Traveling Articles?
- What Every Parent Needs to Know About Flying with a Baby
- How to Build an Emergency Baby DIY Kit in 3 Easy Steps
- The Mary Poppins Guide to Flying with a Toddler
- What You Need to Know to Help Your Baby Sleep Away from Home
- 3 Installation Secrets to Out-Smart Your High-Tech Car Seat
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Heather is the Chief Encouragement Officer here at MightyMoms.club and has been writing and encouraging parents online since 2007. She’s a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach, has been a featured parenting expert writer on blogs like DaveRamsey.com, SimpleKids.net, Cafe Mom, and others. If it’s 2am and you’re desperate to read SOMETHING, check out her deepest darkest secrets, including why she really shouldn’t be allowed to blog.