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The toddler is screaming, she ate her last snack, her toys are lost somewhere under the seat and you are out of coffee. Sound familiar? While many of us cringe when thinking of taking a trip with our children, there are ways to help make it easier on us. There are many tips and tricks for children of all ages but I’m going to focus on newborn to one year old because that’s what I have experience with, thus far. We recently took a trip back to Maryland to see our family and friends and celebrate my daughter’s first birthday. I can’t say our road trips went perfectly but I am glad I had certain things with me, along the way. I’ll include snacks, toys, books, and gadgets to make the drive easier on moms and dads.
I organize our vehicle to help us have easy access to my daughter’s essentials. Now, when we took our first road trip as a family, my daughter was two weeks old and it was a PCS move. I bottle-fed my daughter, formula, so if you are breastfeeding, you won’t have to worry about this. If you are bottle-feeding, I recommend taking a bag or a plastic tub with a lid (easier to carry in and out of hotels) with your box of formula along with clean bottles. Because our journey was longer and included hotel stops, I also had the bottle drying rack in the plastic box. You could pre-dispense the formula (without the water) into the bottles so it’s ready to go when you need it (just add water). I used the OXO Formula dispenser, but any dispenser will do. I kept empty Ziploc bags for the bottle brush and dirty bottles and any time we stopped, I would rinse out the bottles and put them away to be cleaned at our hotel (don’t forget travel-sized dish soap). Feeding a baby on a road trip is not fun! Now if you aren’t traveling with pets, I urge you to stop and get out of the car and find a comfortable place to feed your child. Because we had our two dogs with us, we couldn’t leave them inside the car by themselves, I often fed my daughter on my lap in the car (insert exhausted sigh). If there was ever an outside place to stretch our legs or a picnic table, I would get out and feed her there and we would let the pups get a break from the vehicle. If your child is eating purees at this stage, I recommend getting the pouch kind of purees to make your life easier. My favorite pouch purees are Plum Organics.
Most recently, because my daughter is eating table food, the feeding situation looked a bit different. I kept a large lunchbox (with an ice pack) stocked with bottled water, cold food such as cut up cheese, bread, lunchmeat, as well as food for my husband and I. We do stop and get food along the way but it’s usually not the healthiest so I like having a back up to make sure that at least my daughter is eating decent. Since she was drinking whole milk at this point, we would just get it along the trip, as needed. I haven’t come across the perfect sippy cup yet, but these are pretty close! I love the Munchkin Miracle 360 sippy cups! A big perk is that there aren’t as many parts to clean, which is a huge bonus for me! It’s also important to have quick snacks that don’t need refrigerated. Again, there are so many varieties to choose from but Maddie’s current favorites are plain Cheerios, Happy Baby Organic Teethers, Gerber Graduates cereal bars, freeze-dried yogurt bites, Gerber Organic Veggie crisps and Go Go Squeez (applesauce-like purees). I love the snacks that have fruits and veggies hidden in them because lately, my daughter will only eat them with cheese on it (just like her father). Any time you stop for food, whether you are on a road trip or not, you MUST get disposable placemats! They are a game changer!!!! There are many kinds to choose from but the Tidy Tyke disposable placemats have served us well. They protect your child from yucky germs and it’s easy clean up. I never go anywhere without a few of them tucked in the diaper bag! Don’t forget some hand wipes (Wet Ones Sensitive Skin) and antibacterial hand sanitizer (Babyganics foam hand sanitizer).
For any age, I recommend keeping a travel diaper clutch in the car, at all times, even when you’re not on a trip. I used the Skip Hop portable changing station and it has held up well! Always pack more diapers than you need and don’t forget the wipes and diaper cream! I got this one to keep in the car and it was a life-saver. As you know or will soon come to realize as a mom, public bathrooms, especially gas station ones, are disgusting. Whenever it came to changing my daughter, I would get out the travel diaper clutch (that included a changing pad) and I changed her on the seat of the car. Don’t forget the diaper bag dispensers! We use the Munchkin Arm and Hammer dispensers. I keep these clipped on my diaper bag and they are awesome for when you need to get rid of a stinky diaper. I keep the diaper clutch in the seat pocket behind my daughter’s car seat, for easy access.
If your baby is a little older and requires some more distraction than a newborn, I suggest bringing some toys and books along for the ride. Along with some favorite toys, I would also bring a few new items to keep their attention longer.
Sleeping & What To Wear
Now, some hotels will usually have a pack n play or crib for you to use but I highly recommend bringing your pack n play. When my daughter was a newborn, we brought our Rock n’ Play with us, for her to sleep in and it worked very well. I highly suggest investing in a portable white noise machine to help your little one snooze. We tried many cheaper versions of a portable white noise machine and they ended up breaking so I recommend the (Marpac Hushh for Baby). I also love it because you can use your phone charger to charge it at night or even in your car (how convenient)! Also, don’t forget your baby monitor! While we didn’t need this in the hotel because we were right next to her, it did come in handy once we got to our destination.
Now, I won’t cover what all to pack for your child on a road trip (maybe another time) but do make sure they are in comfortable clothing. I dressed my girl in pajamas every time we traveled, it’s just easier! Also, be sure to pack extras and have them handy by the diapers in case you get a lovely blow out!
Whew, that was a long list but I hope it will help you on any upcoming road trips with your little! I’m not promising your child won’t scream the whole way but at least you will be organized and a little less frazzled. Also for moms and dads, keep snacks, good music, and bring a book (for the passenger) on the rare occasion you’re not stuck in the back seat entertaining your little one. Now, my husband likes to do all the driving (fine by me) but take turns if you can and take lots of stops. Be open-minded about your destination arrival time because there will most likely be traffic! A good attitude goes a long way on a road trip! Good luck and let me know how your road trip goes! Do you have any other tips for surviving a road trip with littles?