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To Grandmother’s house we go! And you’ll be in the car for five whole hours—how can you make the trip enjoyable with a baby along?
There’s no question: Marathon car trips with a baby on board take a good amount of planning and organization. But it can be done—and yes, it can even be fun!
Planning the trip
In the hustle that precedes a trip, it can be easy to let things happen, instead of make things happen. Be proactive in making your trip decisions. Contemplating these questions, and coming up with the right answers, can help make your trip more successful:
Does your baby sleep well in the car? If yes, plan your travel time to coincide with a nap or bedtime so your baby can sleep through part of the journey. If not, plan to leave immediately after a nap or upon waking in the morning. Don’t fool yourself into thinking your baby will behave differently than usual in the car just because it’s a special occasion.
Is it necessary to make the trip all at once, or can you break it up with stops along the way? The longer your baby is strapped in the car seat, the more likely he’ll become fussy. Planning a few breaks can keep everyone in a better frame of mind.
When estimating an arrival time, have you factored in plenty of extra time for unplanned surprises? A diaper explosion that requires a complete change of clothes or a baby whose inconsolable crying requires an unexpected 20-minute stop are just two of the things that can easily happen.
Do you have everything you need to make the trip pleasant? Items like:
- Window shades to protect your baby from the sun and create a darker, nap-inducing atmosphere.
- A cooler for cold drinks; a bottle warmer if needed.
- Plenty of toys that are new or forgotten favorites saved just for the trip.
- Baby-friendly music on tape or CD.
- A rear-view baby mirror to keep one eye on baby (unless a second person will be sitting with your little one).
- Books to read to your baby.