Taking care of a newborn is a daunting task, but traveling and going on a road trip with one is a whole new set of challenges. When should I hit the road? How often should I make a pit stop? What happens if my baby throws a tantrum? Don’t worry, this article will give you 10 tips for traveling with your baby, some baby car safety tips, and a packing list for traveling with your baby. We hope this blog post will help keep your baby safe and sound while taking a road trip with your loved ones!
Tips for a Road Trip with Your Baby
1. Plan and pack ahead of time
When you’re traveling with a baby, you will have to plan your road trips more carefully. For instance, your baby may need to stop every hour or so to get their diapers changed, to get fed, or to simply stretch out and get out of the car for a bit. Prior to kicking off your road trip, make sure you know where you can find pit stops along the road. Another trick to help you manage the stress of going on a road trip with your baby is to pack the day or night before you kick off your trip. This way, you’ll be well-rested before you start the journey off and can rest assured that all the items that need to be packed have been packed.
2. Pack must-have items separately for pit stops
We have included a checklist on what to bring with you when you take a road trip with your baby, but make sure you pack the daily essentials (i.e. diapers, wipes, change of clothing) separately from items that might only be used at night (e.g. smart baby monitor). Since you’ll most likely be changing your baby’s diaper every hour or so, you want to keep those handy. Other items to keep nearby include pre-portioned bottles of formula or breast milk in a small cooler bag, some small toys, infant Tylenol or ibuprofen, a baby forehead thermometer, and an extra blanket.
3. Kick off the road trip at night
Another tip that will help you kick off the road trip smoothly is to begin your journey at night. Yes, you might be a little more tired in the beginning of the trip, but starting your trip at night means your baby will be asleep more, and you’ll be able to stop less on the road! To do so, make sure you’re well-rested the night before and the day of your road trip.
4. Choose a route that has frequent pit stops
While choosing a scenic route is often half of the fun in road tripping, when you’re traveling with a baby, not having regular pit stops, gas stations, and restaurants to stop by in between your drive is impractical and stressful. As such, make sure to pick a route that can allow you and your baby to get out of the car for some nappy changes and some leg stretches. You can even include a few parks in your route to bring your baby to for some extra fun time!
5. Tag-team with your significant other
Taking turns to drive and taking care of your baby in the backseat will help alleviate stress for both you and your significant other. Having one of the parents in the back seat to keep an eye on the baby is not only safe, but also fun for the baby. Taking turns to keep the baby entertained has another benefit—if the baby is asleep, whoever is in the backseat can take a nap and rest a little as well!
6. Include frequent breaks
While you and your significant others may not need to stop every hour to have a bathroom break, your baby may need some stretch time or get her diapers changed every hour or so. Make sure not to plan your trip too tightly and always plan for pit stops along your journey.
7. Keep baby’s comfort items close by
When you’re keeping your baby entertained in the backseat, make sure your baby’s comfort items are close by. When babies are traveling and are not necessarily in a familiar environment, they are more prone to throw tantrums. However, the comfort items will help your baby feel safe and secure.
8. Take your time and don’t overplan
We get that you may want to see all the scenic spots on your road trip or want to get to the destination as soon as possible, but not over planning when you’re traveling with a baby is crucial. Since you’re not sure when your baby may need a pitstop and how many stops you may need to make, don’t over plan and don’t underestimate the time that it might take for you to get to your destination.
9. Create a playlist for baby
Music can do magic for both you and your baby on a road trip! Of course, you don’t need to create a soothing playlist that puts you to sleep when you’re driving, but having a variety of music for when the baby is awake and asleep will help the baby stay calm and even entertained during the ride.
10. Manage expectations (and plan for accidents)
Apart from managing your expectations regarding when you will arrive at your destination, you should also be prepared for the worst-case scenario. For instance, you should always be prepared for your car to break down at any point in the ride. Make sure you have all the tools you need or know where to go to get your car fixed while making sure the baby stays as comfortable as possible.
Road Trip Car Safety Must-Knows
In addition to the tips we’ve provided you to make road tripping with a baby as enjoyable as possible, it is crucial to keep your baby’s safety in mind. Below are some things to watch out for when you’re traveling with a baby in the car.
1. Use a rear-facing car safety seat
Your baby should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat for as long as possible. Don’t switch your baby or toddler to a front-facing car seat until they’ve surpassed the weight or height limit described by the car-seat manufacturer. If your baby outgrows the infant-only car seat, switch to a rear-facing convertible seat. Make sure to keep your babies and toddlers rear-facing for as long as possible.
2. Put your baby in the back seat
Refrain from placing your baby in the front seat as the airbag could seriously injure your child’s head, causing a serious or fatal injury, should the airbag inflate. If your car only has one row of seat (e.g. a pickup truck), make sure to deactivate the front airbag to prevent airbag deployment during a crash.
If you only have one car seat in the back seat and your back seat is flat enough, install it in the center of the seat. This will minimize the risk of injury during a crash.
3. Buckle your baby up correctly
The shoulder straps must be at or below your baby’s shoulders and the chest clip should be at your baby’s armpit level. You can adjust the harness as your baby grows as most child safety seats have several pairs of harness slots.
The harness must be tight enough and should not have any room to pinch a fold in the harness material. The straps should lie flat in a straight line without sagging or twisting.
4. Avoid blankets and heavy outerwear
Make sure to remove any heavy outerwear and refrain from covering your baby with a blanket before you buckle your baby up. Bulky outerwear and blankets can prevent harness straps from snugly securing your child. If you want to keep your baby warm, buckle the harness, and then place a coat or blanket over the harness.
Apart from these four tips, always make sure you read the baby car seat’s manufacturer instructions carefully when you’re installing and using your baby car seat.
Checklist for a Road Trip with Baby
To help you organize your travel, here’s a list of traveling items you should pack when you go on a road trip with your baby. Click here to download a printable checklist!
General Hygiene Items
- Diapers: Have one for each hour of transit, plus extras
- Wipes for diaper changes and mess
- Diaper cream
- Washable changing pad
- Plastic bags for wet or dirty clothes and diapers
- Burp cloths
- Nursing cover
- Baby shampoo/wash
- Baby toothbrush and toothpaste
- Baby comb, brush and hair ties
- Baby nail clippers
Clothing, Covers, and Cleanser
- Change of clothes for your baby (especially for spit-ups and spills)
- Pajamas and sleep sacks
- Baby laundry detergent
- Special toy or lovey
- Canned or jarred baby food
- Small cooler with ice packs
- Bottles or sippy cups
- Spill-proof snack cups
- Breast pump, if you use one
- First-aid kit
- Travel crib
- A window sun shade
- Baby monitor for overnight stays
- Baby thermometer
- Sunscreen and sunhat
- Baby sunglasses
- Outlet plugs, door knob covers, toilet locks and other safety devices
- Infant medications
- Nasal aspirator and saline solution
- Backpack carrier
- Umbrella stroller and/or full-size stroller
Traveling with your baby is one of the best ways to create beautiful memories that will last a lifetime. While road tripping with an extra member in the back seat may be stressful and inconvenient at times, as long as you have the right expectations and are well-prepared, your baby will bring more joy to your family trip! Just like everything else in life, the more experience you have traveling with a baby, the better prepared you will be for the next one. So don’t worry—take this blog post and a travel-friendly baby monitor with you and go have a blast!