Let me begin by stating, I have taken exactly three road trips with a baby all of which have been less than six hours. I am not an expert on this subject. But apparently, neither are the other people on Pinterest who promised great advice and offered very little.
We first drove Henry to Detroit from Indianapolis when he was just over two months old and boy, did we learn a lot. There were some huge wins and a few major fails. But since then, we've only gotten better. Hopefully this will offer some service to another new mom or dad out there that I wasn't able to find when we embarked on our first road trip...a few thoughts on what you should know before hitting the open road with a baby.
- Make a list. I'm one of those people who lives by lists. If you're not...make one anyway. I recommend the app Wunderlist because it makes a super-satisfying "ding" when you check things off. And you can share it with your partner who can contribute as well. As soon as we know we're going on I trip, I start list. There wasn't a thing I'd wish I had with us on our first road trip other than his swing and that's because it wouldn't fit in the car. We tried it.
- Leave after you feed. I slowly pack the car throughout the day and then have Daniel load all the rest of the stuff in just before we leave. After that, all I have to do is feed Henry and buckle him in to the car. Clean diaper + full belly = happy baby.
- Sit in the back. Assuming you're not traveling solo (God help you if you are doing a road trip with an infant alone) it's imperative one person sit in the backseat with with baby to give a bottle, replace pacifiers, entertain in moments of distress, smell dirty diapers and so on.
- Use a seat protector. One of the times I felt I got parenting right was when it occurred to me to use one of those seat protectors hanging off the driver's seat. In it, I stored my phone, an extra pacifier, a burp cloth, my snacks, and some wipes for easy access.
- Invest in weatherproof liners. When my Dad bought me Weathertech floor liners for my car in my late 20s I was sad that being an adult meant you get gifts like that. Now? I can't think of a better gift. Why do we not put these on every baby registry? Why? Because approximately two sips into my McDonald's Coke on our very first road trip, I promptly kicked the entire thing all over the floor. Thanks, Dad!
- Rotate toys. Baby getting bored with one? On to the next! Preferably one he or she hasn't seen in a while anyway.
- Use your phone as a last resort. Generally speaking, I'm anti-screen time for babies but there are two things that have been super handy on road trips. The first being the shh Baby shh app for white noise. The second is baby videos on YouTube. The very last leg of several jaunts home, we've avoided total nuclear meltdowns by playing Baby Sensory Videos. Sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
Our road trips are hardly over and I'm sure plenty will change as Henry gets older. What are your tips? Please comment so I can add them to our arsenal!