Traveling is an essential part of human existence; we travel to acquire knowledge, to gain new experiences, to broaden our horizon, to sightsee or just to appreciate nature. We may also travel with our loved ones for a quiet retreat the purpose of which is to rekindle the love, to make new memories or to escape from our busy lives.
While this is a very laudable and sweet sentiment, it can be daunting to think of traveling with a baby in a car. They don’t function with an adult’s concept of time and place and they surely won’t understand when you tell them to settle down because you just don’t feel like dealing with them!
Thankfully though, there are methods you can employ to make traveling with a baby in a car as hitch-free as possible while making it fun-filled and memorable for all involved, including the little ones.
1. There is no such thing as too much planning
As is the norm with any journey we undertake, surprises are bound to happen. Now add the drama of your little baby and a toddler and you have the surprise index quadrupled! Therefore, to make a road trip memorable (in a painless) way, all necessary arrangements must be made such as
- Servicing the car.
- Putting in extra pillows in the car for the maximum comfort of cranky kids.
- Ensuring that all mirrors are well-positioned for the journey.
- Check your GPS system
- Ensure you have a good car seat for the baby!
2. Get someone to help in case things get crazy!
Making the trip purely family is important and lovely but to ensure a trip is hassle-free, an extra helping hand is unavoidable. Getting an experienced babysitter or a relative or a close friend to help with the kids during the trip always comes in handy.
The assistance should most preferably come from someone already familiar with the child to ease the adjustment. It would also make the toddler more comfortable and happy and you know that a happy child makes for a happy trip!
3. Technological gadgets are your new best friends!
Thank God for our gadgets! On-road trips, it is very easy to get bored and zone out of any conversation no matter how engaging, that’s where our gadgets come in. Get a kid’s tablet with preinstalled games such as the Matrixpad for kids. You can also scroll through the internet and download multitudes of children’s friendly videos, songs, applications, and games.
Your trip will go a lot more smoothly if each toddler, including the baby, has his or her own plaything which will keep them distracted from bugging each other and by extension bugging you while you drive.
Whatever is given to the children must be educative and fun to keep their attention glued to it. It must also be something you will take part in regularly to remind the child you are still there.
4. Take two of everything!
Yes, I mean it, take two of everything. You know those crucial moments in a trip where you just need to make it to the hotel where you’re lodging at before everyone can get off but the baby is bawling his head off because he lost his pacifier? Well, you will have those, lots of them.
You need to have extras of everything that keep your baby away from distracting you as you drive. When the baby loses his toy, you should be able to reach in your bag immediately and grab him another one before he throws a fit. If the data runs out in your toddler’s smart gadget, you should be prepared to open your WiFi to enable them to get back to their nursery rhymes.
5. Take kid’s drawing stencils, coloring books or doodling pad on which the child can scribble away
For children four and five years old who are still babies, kid’s drawing stencils, colouring books, or magnetic drawing board could do the trick. Packing a set of crayons and pencils which the children could use to paint various pictures would keep them engaged, amused and happy.
Children enjoy practicing whatever little writing skills they may possess and are infinitely curious about everything at that age. A doodle pad and a colouring book allow them to explore that curiosity.
6. Be Creative
The importance of a creative atmosphere cannot be overemphasized. This is because no matter how well engaged the baby or child is, the trip still involves you. You must sing songs at intervals to grab your kid’s attention and encourage them to sing along. You may engage them in discussion or ask them questions like, ‘the colour of the car that just passed by is...?’ and the kid calls out the colour or ‘how many fingers do I have in one hand?’. Also reading some simple poems and nursery rhymes contributes to a smooth ride.
7. Take well planned out rest and stops.
We all get tired, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It will serve you well to plan out your stops and places the kids can get off and stretch their legs. It will also give you an opportunity to change the baby’s diapers. For this, you need to have your diaper changing pad ready to make the job easier. It should be a place where the baby can be a baby and have some fun too.
8. Keep an easy meal close and a ready snack closer!
As the kids are settled in their games or nursery rhymes or singing along to a song with you, it is important to have a ready snack at their fingertips. It keeps their glucose levels up and acts as an adequate supplement until such time as you can get off the vehicle and have a proper meal.
You could even add it to the road trip experience to stop at a suitable location as you travel and have a short picnic. For young children, this will be exciting and fun and for babies, it would serve as an opportunity to leave the confines of a car and breathe in some fresh air. Some quick snacks you can have along the way include:
- A glass of milk
- Some pastries; a doughnut, a little cupcake, a bagel.
9. Stay hydrated!
It may seem mundane and unimportant but it is vital to drink lots of water during the day especially as you travel, to keep your electrolytes up. Prepare water bottles for the children and encourage young toddlers to drink at intervals. You also ensure that your baby drinks some water too as you drive along.
If you must, take a break from driving, pick up the baby and help him drink the water. It helps communicate to the child you are still there and also gives you an opportunity to see whether the baby needs a diaper change or just a change of clothes as the day heats up or cools down.
10. Stay safe
As the trip progresses, take cues from the sound of the vehicle, the feel as you drive and even the weather. When the vehicle feels funny, you must find help immediately to ensure the safety of you and your children. Keep in touch with weather forecasts as you drive, tune in to the news, if there is a storm or a rainfall coming in then you must find a safe place to stay until the rain stops. Driving in bad weather contributes to a lot of the road mishaps we have seen over the years. Remember, safety first.
Traveling with a baby in a car can be fun!
Thus, with the application of some of these steps, you can enjoy and have fun traveling with a baby in a car. Most times, people get tuned off from having fun at their retreat because they had a crappy trip. These tips will ensure that you are not one of those and that you still have a blast during your getaway.