On The Road: 12 Tips For Traveling With Baby

Just thinking about long drives with your baby can be overwhelming when a simple trip to the grocery store leaves you feeling as if you’ve just completed a marathon! But with some smart planning, allowing for both your needs and your baby’s, you can make it go as smoothly as possible.

1.  Map hypothetical stops along the way.  Break up your trip into small segments, with places you can stop at in each one. Regardless if you actually stop at that particular location, you will want to know safe options just in case you need to. Make the segments small, just in case something that you’ll want to take care of quickly comes up, like a diaper blowout.

2. Schedule out baby’s feeding times.  You’ll want to maintain some semblance of your usual routine. Many babies tend to sleep longer when lulled by a moving vehicle, which can throw everything out of sync. Pushing through just because baby is asleep can end in disaster at your destination, for both your breasts and a very ravenous baby.  

IMPORTANT: Don’t feed your baby in while in their car seat (with a bottle OR your breast!) And the side of the road is not a safe place to feed your baby.  Pull over into a safe place for a feeding.  Never feed a baby in a moving vehicle.  I know the crying breaks your heart! But don’t do it!

3. Consider spending the night in a motel if your trip requires an overnight drive.  As I mentioned above, keeping your routine on your trip as much as possible helps you acclimate back once you return home and keeps baby feeling secure. Have a “mini” bag packed so you don’t have to drag your entire set of luggage in.

4. Have your car seat installation officially checked by a car seat safety technician.  Find one near you here. This will give you peace of mind that your baby is as safe as possible.

5. Pack light.  Contrary to popular demand, you CAN get by without all the baby gear!  Clothes, blankets, and burp cloths can be washed. Breastmilk is available on demand, in the right amount, and at the right temperature. If you have one piece of portable gear, such as a portable bouncer or swing that baby likes, then throw that in.

6. Don’t forget your breast pump if it is needed.  I also recommend having a manual breast pump with you whether you are pumping regularly or not.  If you need to pump on the way, have some bottled water and paper towels to rinse your gear after pumping.  Pumped breastmilk will stay good in an insulated cooler with ice packs for up to 24 hours.

7. Bring plenty of drinking water and protein snacks.  Moms, we tend to forget to stay hydrated on trips.  So DO carry along your gigantic water bottle and keep it filled!

8. Talk to family or friends ahead of time about your needs and the importance to try to keep some routine with feeding.  In particular, mention that baby may need to eat immediately upon arrival at your destination.

9. Create a “stationary” changing station in the car.  I have found that a blanket with a waterproof pad on the second row floorboard on the side the baby seat is on worked well for me, but do whatever works in your vehicle.  Stock a small bag with wipes, a couple of changes of comfortable clothes for the baby, a bag for soiled diapers, and hand sanitizer.  An over-the-seat organizer might be a great idea for this!

10. Dress yourself and baby in comfortable, easy-access clothes. There’s nothing like fighting your clothes and a potentially cranky baby when trying to nurse, or messing with baby’s clothes in a tight space when changing a diaper.

11. Tank up baby right before leaving to give you a great start BECAUSE you are already on top of things by leaving early, preparing yourself, and planning out your route.

and finally:

12. KEEP. IT. SIMPLE.  “Yeah, right, Misti.  Easier said than done.”  Well, it can take some practice.  Your trip will happen, or you may get 30 miles down the road and decide, ummm, nope.  And you know what? That’s ok.  But you probably won’t.  There will probably be crying in the car seat.  And poop.  Plan for it.  But you’ll get there.  You’ll enjoy it.  You’ll get back home.  Your routine will be off, but it won’t be a surprise because you will have planned for it.

You’ve got this. I know you do.