Road tripping with pint-sized passengers for the first time is a real adventure, not knowing if our young travellers will enjoy their extended car ride. Even if baby is a breeze in the car, a more extended trip may test their limits (and yours).
So we asked the mums in our Baby Groups what they do to keep their babies calm and happy on long car trips, and they came up with some brilliant ideas. Some are simple, others require a little more pre-planning, but if you’re hitting the open road any time soon, they’re all worth keeping in mind.
Here are 16 tips for surviving long car trips with a baby on board.
1. Leave at nap time
Leaving at just the right time could mean the difference between a smooth start to your road trip, and tears of frustration. Time your departure for when bub would generally be having a nap. Do a feed, pop on a fresh nappy and fingers crossed for a long snooze session!
2. Leave at wake up time
Some babies prefer to journey when they’re alert and can soak in their surroundings. So if you’re finding that nap time departures don’t work, try leaving when bub has just woken from a nap, is fed and well-rested.
3. New things to play with
Babies tend to have their favourite toys but keeping a couple of ‘new’ playthings aside might work as a distraction in the car. Our mums have tried using things like empty bottles and glasses cases as distraction ‘toys’ in the car. They’re something new that bub hasn’t been allowed to play with before, so may give you a more extended period of peace.
4. White noise
Babies are creatures of habit, and being asked to sleep in a car with lots of distractions and new sounds is sometimes asking a lot of them. Try playing some white noise in the car to create an ambience of calmness. If you don’t already use white noise for naps at home, try introducing it a couple of weeks before your big trip to help your tiny traveller get used to associating it with sleep.
A few of our mums say singing along to the radio or nursery rhymes help calm their travelling tots in the car. It’s a worth a try – if nothing else you’ll get your frustrations out!
6. The sound of silence
Other mums have found turning off the music in the car seems to help their babies stay soothed in the car – almost like the road noise is white noise.
7. Chat away
Your voice is often all that’s needed to bring bub back from the brink of a meltdown. Turn off the music and speak in soothing tones.
8. Put on a podcast
Alternatively, sometimes it’s other people’s voices that do the trick, so play a podcast on a reasonably quiet volume and see if that helps.
9. Make it warmer/cooler
Have a play with the temperature in the car. Try turning the heater up or the airconditioning down; bub may be a little too hot or cold.
10. Sit with them
This one isn’t always possible, but if you can have someone sit next to bub for a bit of distraction and comfort. If you have other kids sitting next to your little one, get them to swap positions to a different side of the baby and see if that does the trick.
11. Check the car seat
Run your hands along the inside of the car seat, to make sure nothing sharp or annoying has fallen down the side and is annoying your little passenger.
12. Put the window down
For some reason, this simple tip has worked wonders for lots of the mums in our groups. Perhaps it’s the sound or even the fresh air – but it’s worth a try.
13. Photo fun
This bright tip from one of our mums has been a sanity-saver. Just add some family photos to baby’s mirror or the headrest and watch their face light up!
14. Loosen the nappy
We tend to make sure nappies are super snug at home, but it can get a little uncomfortable for babies sitting in a car seat for long periods. Just give a bit of extra room when popping on their nappy before heading off.
15. Comfy clothes
No-one likes to be in tight, restrictive clothes on long car trips, and that goes for babies. Pop them in PJs or a comfy onesie for a road trip.
16. Go on long walks
One of our smart-cookie mums said she took her baby for increasingly longer walks in the weeks leading up to a big road trip. This helped her child get used to sleeping somewhere other than a car, and also the movement and bumps.
Read next …
Want more handy tips for travelling with a baby? These next articles are full of useful ideas and information:
- 19 tips for babies who cry in the car
- 14 best travel prams to take on holiday
- 18 clever car accessories