When my son was three weeks old, we packed him up in the car and drove 2 and a half hours to stay with my in laws over the weekend for my sister-in-laws wedding! And he did awesome!! But I definently learned how to and how to NOT travel with a newborn.
First of all, I was totally scatter brained. I had worked all day trying to pack and clean while my husband was at work and could barely get anything done. So as soon as he got home (when we wanted to leave) I handed him the baby so I could finish packing everything up. Since this was my first time packing for the baby, too I was terrified I was going to forget something. I packed practically his entire wardrobe and a whole box of diapers! Haha!! What really helped, though is my in laws have a pack n play and tons of baby stuff I can use when I come. So if I forgot something it would not be terrible, so I definitely overpacked!
By the time I had finally finished packing, getting ready and loading the car it was a lot later then we had wanted to leave. But my son was sleeping so we put him in the car seat and we were on our way. We literally hopped on the freeway and made it one exit! That’s it! He started crying because he was hungry (I had fed him before we had wanted to leave… But by the time we actually DID leave it had been about 2 hours) So we pulled over at a Steak N Shake to give him a bottle. (and got stuck 45 minutes in the drive through, but that’s another story)
We finally did make it and Reed did awesome in his car seat! He also was in his car seat several times a day from going back and forth from the wedding location to set up. Through this first experience having a newborn in the car for long periods of time I’ve developed some tips to make it easier!
- Always, always feed them right before you put them in the car seat. Even if they ate only an hour ago, give them the chance to eat again. This prevents crankiness and pulling of at the first exit.
- Have someone sit in the back. My husband had work he had to do on his laptop so I drove and he sat in the back with the baby. This provides incredible peace of mind for you and comfort for the baby!
- Make sure everything you need is within reach. Yes, sounds simple. But I totally messed this up. At the time my son was breastfeeding, formula feeding AND drinking expressed breast milk. So when I was trying to mix him up a bottle it turns out I had packed it in a suitcase in the trunk instead of in the diaper bag with the formula. Whoops!!
- Have a pacifier on hand. Although at the time he didn’t have one (they recommend not giving a baby a pacifier unless breastfeeding is well established) since he has gotten older it’s a lifesaver in the car seat. It really helps them hold on if they are hungry and you are in the last leg of your journey!
- This might not work for every baby, but I kept the radio playing. It really helped distract and soothe him because he loves music! So turn on the radio (at an acceptable volume of course 😊) and see if that helps.
- Because our drive was 2-3 hours, we were trying to make it all the way through without stopping. But if it is a longer car ride definently schedule some stops! Even just to get them out and hold them for a little bit, it helps calm them a lot!!
- If your baby is a little older, I recommend taking a toy from their play mat and clipping it on the car seat visor. When my son wakes up in the car he LOVES seeing the toy especially because it moves while you are driving. And it’s with in reach so he can play with it. Just make sure you rotate out the toys so they don’t get bored. 🙂 It looks like this: