How to survive those long hours in the car.
*We partnered with Skip Hop to help you survive your first long haul with baby.
You’ve finally gotten into a baby groove. You’ve got all the gear in the right corners of your home, you’ve got your stroll down to a science, you’ve even got some leads on getting a good night’s sleep. But then it’s time to head to Grandma’s. Or your BFF’s house in that beautiful suburb she swore was justrightoutside the city. Now you’ve got to take your baby show out on the road.
Baby’s first road trip is unlike any other travel you’ve done; there’s no cuddling or babywearing allowed, meals will be few and far-between, and there’s (generally) no TV to save you. Crying -- and possibly wailing -- will happen. And while we can’t promise baby’s first road trip will ever be pleasurable (warning: you may need marriage counseling when you arrive), we do have a few tricks and tips to make it tolerable.
Check out the 10 things you need to know before you hit the road, then scroll down for a for a chance to win all the Skip Hop baby travel gear & accessories you see in the pics below!
1. Plan before you pack. Start a few days before you leave. Make a list of everything you’ll be doing while away and plan for every contingency. You may even want to run through a typical day with your baby with a notebook in hand, and jot down all those items you just can’t seem to live without. If you start early enough, you’ll also ensure that particular blue and green striped T-shirt you just love baby in so much isn’t in the wash.
2. Distract your kiddos while you’re packing. The best time to pack isn’t actually while baby naps since everything you need to pack for her is in her room. Instead, let baby spend some quality time on a cool baby activity gym, where she can have some plush playtime while you have some serious packing time.
3. Avoid packing while your toddler’s around. That game of “Can I fit in the suitcase?” is only cute in pictures.
4. Prep your tech before you leave. Stock your phone or iPad with your child’s favorite shows and tunes, and pick a few new things that will feel like treats. Spotify offers free children’s stories, which could be a nice break from Old MacDonald. Again. And don’t guilt yourself over using screen time as a distraction -- just let your kiddo know that “what happens on the road trip stays on the road trip,” and regular rules commence once you climb out of the car.
5. Map your trip. Gone are the days when you can power through a 4 (or even 2!)-hour drive. Pick your driving breaks strategically, and use each one as an opportunity to get some kid-friendly action in. Pinpoint parks, obscure museums, even a mall. The most mundane spot can be new and exciting to your little one, and provide some room for you all to stretch your legs.
6. Snack smart. Finding a healthy, child-friendly option can be tough on the fly, so make sure you’re prepared with plenty to eat during the drive. Consider nutritional value, of course, but messiness counts for something as well -- no sticky fingers on mama’s car please! For a baby, pack teethers and pacifiers to satiate that desire to suck, especially since bottle and boob are off-limits mid-drive.
7. Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize. Your car, that is. A back seat mirror will help you keep an eye on your rear-facing babe right from your rearview mirror. A backseat organizer will offer plenty of options to tempt your toddler, and can be a convenient spot to set up his screen. You can even place a car storage box filled with toys, snacks and other fun stuff beside his car seat to empower him to choose his own road trip distraction. And don’t overlook the window shade -- many a tears have been caused by a little sun in the eyes!
8. Plan some activities for the ride. Bring along a few individually packed activities to offer throughout the trip, like a coloring book and crayons, or a bag of cereal to string into a “candy” necklace. Snap on a travel activity tray to your toddler’s car seat, and he’s got his own little workspace to (hopefully) keep himself busy for, well, at least the next 4 minutes.
9. Time your drive with naptime, or bedtime. “They” say a moving car can help lull baby to sleep, but why not give your little one a nudge by hitting the road when he’s actually tired?
10. Bring extras of everything! There’s no time like a road trip for baby to have her first mega-blowout, or lose a sock, pacifier or that other thing you just can’t live without at the gas station. Double up on everything in your diaper bag, then throw in one more of each for good luck. And remember to keep it all at arm’s length, rather than packed deep in your suitcase.
Photography by Jonica Moore Studio for Well Rounded NY.
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