Once you have your first baby, you will soon realize that life will never be the same, and road trips are no exception. Having the necessities on hand when traveling in the car with your toddler or baby will simply make life easier for everyone in the family. Here are some must-have items to bring along on your next trip to keep you prepared and ensure that your baby is happy and comfortable throughout the entire ride.
How to Prepare for Car Travel with a Baby or Toddler
- Baby wipes
Obviously, diapers and wipes are a given, but baby wipes are great to have on hand for more reasons than you may think. You never know when you will have to clean up spilled food, a runny nose, or spit up. Having wet wipes to quickly clean up messes without making extra pit stops will help you get to your destination sooner.
Kid-friendly headphones will help keep toddlers calm and content. Headphones are especially convenient when traveling with multiple children to keep everyone quiet and avoid arguing over what to listen to.
3. Baby carrier
A baby carrier can make pit stops a lot easier, especially if you have a young baby with you or are traveling with multiple young children. A baby carrier can allow you to walk around a store or park with your baby, safely strapped to you, and it gives you hands-free mobility. If you have an older child with you as well, you can wear your baby in the carrier and push the toddler in the stroller.
4. Travel cup or water bottle
Keeping your toddler hydrated is important, so having a travel sippy cup or water bottle for them is a necessity. Some kids view their favorite sippy cup as a comfort item and it might help remind them of home — keeping them calm while on the road.
5. Toddler-friendly snacks
Handing your toddler snacks is a great way to keep them calm and happy while traveling by car — who doesn’t love munchies?! Be sure to pack some minimally messy snacks for your toddler like granola bars, healthy chips, and string cheese, or cut up berries, peas, and baby food pouches for younger babies. Bringing a cooler or insulated lunch box can give you the freedom to bring more than just packaged food as well.
6. Blankets and comfort items
Being away from home can be scary for babies and toddlers so be sure to pack their favorite blanket and comfort items such as binkies and stuffed animals. A nice blanket can even serve as a picnic blanket or play mat when stopped at a park or pit stop. It is good to have this option for babies who aren’t walking yet so you can have a way to take them out of the car seat to stretch and crawl around when stopped.
7. Burp cloths and bibs
Burp cloths and bibs will help keep kids clean on the road and prevent additional pit stops. Having burp cloths within reach will allow you to quickly clean up milk spills and messes. Placing a bib on your toddler during snacks and meals will keep them clean and prevent additional stops for outfit changes.
8. Diaper changing mat
A diaper changing mat is an important tool to have at your disposal because it can allow you to change your kids diaper anywhere. Gas station bathrooms don’t always have changing tables and even when they do, they aren’t always the cleanest. With a portable changing mat, you will always have a guaranteed diaper changing area that is clean and safe. Most changing mats also come with carrying cases that have storage pockets for diapers and wipes, allowing you to have all diaper changing necessities in one place.
9. Travel stroller
A lightweight, foldable travel stroller will make pit stops along the way a bit easier. Kids can start to get antsy in the car so stopping at a nice outside area to walk around can help everyone stay calm along the way. With a small stroller on hand you can keep your toddler safe and nearby when walking through parks and stores.
10. Practical diaper bag
So now you’re probably wondering, where am I supposed to put all of this stuff!? Having a nice, spacious diaper bag can help you keep all of your toddler’s travel necessities in one place.
Additional Safety Tips for Keeping Your Baby Calm and Safe in the Car
Having the right items on hand for your baby is extremely important, but there are some other steps you can take to keep your family safe and comfortable when you’ve got a long trip in the car planned.
- Climb in the backseat with your toddler to give them some attention if they start to get fussy. Sometimes, they just want some company! You can sing to your baby or play peek-a-boo to help keep them entertained.
- Start small. You don’t have to embark on a cross-country road trip if it’s your first time traveling with a baby. Opt for a shorter distance to get an idea first of how your baby tolerates travel. You can always ease into a longer distance later on.
- Keep family safety in mind by ensuring that your vehicle is up-to-date on maintenance and oil changes before hitting the road.
- Carry an emergency first-aid kit in your car with bandaids, a flashlight, medications, and any other important items to make sure that you’ll have what you need in case there is an emergency along the way.
- Secure loose bags and suitcases in the trunk to protect your family from projectile injuries that could occur in the event of an accident.
- Plan to embark on your road trip around nap time or even at night. Most babies will eventually fall asleep in the car and stay asleep for a long stretch of time. By planning this during a typical sleep time, you can avoid throwing off their usual sleep pattern and fussiness.
It might feel like traveling requires a lot more thought now that you’ve got a baby on board. You don’t have to let this seemingly-daunting task hang over your head. Just take the necessary steps, plan ahead, and you’ll be revelling in the family fun before you know it!