As I’ve said before throughout this blog, I am an organized, routine-loving control freak… I love making lists, checking off boxes, making plans, etc. Since we’ve had such a terrible summer here in Central Oregon my husband and I decided we needed to take a weekend trip to the Oregon Coast. We decided to stay in Florence Oregon because it is only about 4 hours from us. (You can see how our trip went on this previous blog post)
I’d never road tripped with a baby before, but road tripping is one of my favorite things to do. In fact, for our honeymoon, we stayed in Sedona, AZ and we took a one-day road trip to the Grand Canyon. But with a baby who doesn’t like to be in the car… I wasn’t sure if my love of road trips would survive.
A few things to note before I share my tips for a successful road trip. 1) we are EBF (exclusively breastfed) 2) M hates the car 3) I never let M cry, when I hear him cry it gives me the worst anxiety. I wanted to share these 3 things so you know that these road trip tips do work. Keeping these three things in mind helped me think of ways to make the trip a success.
- Plan your stops beforehand: These stops should include a time for you to change and feed baby but also include a chance for baby to stretch out and not be in the car seat. These stops are also great times to feed the adults as well.
- Since our trip was only 4 hours we planned a stop after an hour and a half. The first stop I fed and changed M. My husband and I went to the bathroom, and we walked around holding M for about 20 minutes. We were stopped for 45 minutes. But it was the perfect timing, M was awake and looking out the window for 30 minutes then asleep for 30 minutes, then awake for 30 minutes before we got there. Our routine at home is to feed when he wakes up, so he lasted about 15 minutes before I had to give him a bottle, which brings me to tip 2. (We made one other stop after another hour, we did all of the above but my husband and I also stopped for a bite to eat)
- Pack Pre-Made Bottles: It doesn’t matter if you formula feed, breastfeed, or supplement with formula, pack pre-made bottles. Having pre-made bottles will save the trip and keep you on schedule.
- I had 2 pre-pumped bottles ready to go before we left. I filled up a hydro flask with hot water and brought along a coffee thermos that the bottle would fit in and we were ready to go. When M got a little fussy before our first stop, we had about 20 minutes left to get there, I just put the hot water in the thermos let the bottle heat for 3 minutes, and gave it to him. Since he isn’t the best with taking a bottle we only had to give it to him for 10ish minutes then we were at the rest stop and I topped him off. But it kept him from screaming for that last 20 minutes before we got to our first stop. This is one of the best tips!
- Pack essentials in easily accessed spots: This is very important. Your pacifiers, pre-made bottles, books, music, etc. should be easily accessed to keep baby happy.
- Could you imagine if I had to dig through all my stuff to find the bottles, hydro flask, thermos, etc? It would have taken me 20 minutes to find and get everything ready, in the meantime, M would probably have lost his mind from hunger and been screaming up a storm while my husband and I both lost our minds. Sounds horrible!
- Have an adult ride in the back with the baby: I know what you’re thinking, this doesn’t sound like a fun road trip. You don’t have to have the adult ride in the back the whole time, just while baby is awake. This person will be the entertainment, pacifier put back-inner, the bottle feeder, and anything else that is needed. This person can also climb back into the front seat when baby is asleep.
- I was the adult who rode in the back while my husband drove. I would climb back there when M woke up and we would sing songs, look at a book, put his pacifier back in, or sometimes just sit in silence while he watched out the window. I am not sure about all babies, but M gets lonely in the back of the car which really causes him cry. Having me sit in the back was a little bit of comfort and helped him fall asleep. I was also able to make sure all his needs were met while we were in the car.
- Have patience: Some babies love the car and other’s hate the car. For most babies, road tripping is a new experience and they are not sure how to handle it. Having patience and understanding that this is something new for your baby will help you to keep your cool if none of the tips above help. Babies don’t have the reasoning skills that you have, thinking “only a few more hours and we will be on vacation.” All babies know is “I’m hungry, have a dirty diaper, tired, or just don’t want to be in this car seat anymore.” As an early childhood educator for 11 years, I have what some people tell me is an abundant amount of patience, but even I need a break sometimes. Some ideas for getting a break on your road trip: 1) you could switch drivers. 2) When you come to a pre-planned stop, take a few minutes to walk around and take some deep breaths before tending to the baby. 3) Take a deep breath and remember this too shall pass and you will get through it.
Our road trip ended up being a super success. I was so proud of all of us, but especially M. He napped, didn’t cry much, and was generally just a happy baby. In fact, I had to run into town yesterday and he was a good baby in the car the whole time. Maybe we trained him to be a car baby…I will knock on wood and cross my fingers, just in case. What are some tips you have for taking a baby on a road trip? Do you have a success or horror story about a road trip you’ve taken? I’d love to hear it.
Products you might be interested in for your next road trip: