Car Journeys With Baby
They might sound daunting, but long car journeys with baby CAN be made, with relatively little stress!
Use these simple tips and enjoy driving with your precious passenger!
Keeping baby safe
- A good car seat is, of course, essential. Make sure the seat is the correct model for your baby’s age-group and weight and ensure that all straps are securely fastened.
- Always place baby’s seat in the rear of the car and NEVER in the front seat where the passenger air-bag is located.
- Always operate the child locking system for the car doors – a curious baby on a long journey will find the door handle very tempting!
- Attach removeable window shades to your car’s window – your baby will become very hot and uncomfortable if not protected from the sun on a long journey.
- Dress baby in light layers of clothing – temperatures may fluctuate, so it’s important to be able to easily adjust his clothing and keep him cool and comfortable.
- DO NOT GIVE YOUR BABY FINGER FOODS IN THE CAR UNLESS AN ADULT IS SITTING BESIDE HIM – this is to avoid the risk of choking.
- Always carry a
baby first aid kit in your car.
Sun protection products – including car seat shades.
When to travel – day or night?
For long car journeys with baby, travelling at night is often the best option, as he is more likely to sleep until you’ve arrived! Some babies, though, seem to spring into action the moment the engine stops – if your baby is one of them, you could find yourself trying to persuade him to go back to sleep in the middle of the night … when you’re worn out from the journey!
The other consideration with night-time driving is that it may not always suit the driver, particularly after a day at work. For safety’s sake, anyone considering driving overnight should get plenty of rest beforehand.
If you choose to drive during the day –
- Try to time part of your journey to coincide with your baby’s nap time.
- Try to avoid travelling during rush hours.
- For long car journeys with baby, stop every 2-3 hours. This gives you a chance to re-vitalise and gives baby some time out of the car seat. Although a very young baby may sleep for much of the journey, an active older baby can’t really be expected to spend longer than this in the car without a break.
- Travel with another adult if possible – it can be difficult to drive long distances alone with your baby. If you have room, it’s a good idea for one adult to sit beside baby in the rear of the car – he’ll be much happier with some adult company and attention!
Feeding your baby
The good thing about car journeys with baby is that you have the freedom to take a break to feed your baby whenever you like. See our main travelling with baby page for tips on storing and heating your baby’s milk and homemade baby food during your journey.
Use disposable bibs when travelling with baby – alternatively, use a wipe-clean plastic bib. These often have a convenient “lip” at the bottom for catching spills – great for keeping baby’s clothes as clean as possible throughout the trip.
Always bring your baby’s bowl and feeding utensils. Many restaurants do not have the appropriate feeding equipment for babies and will offer you standard crockery for your child – not ideal if your little one is going through the plate-hurling phase! A travel high chair can also be useful and gives you the freedom to comfortably feed your baby wherever you are.
If you do choose to eat in a restaurant, many will warm your baby’s food or milk for you – but be very careful to check the temperature before serving, as it may be far too hot.
One of the biggest problems we’ve encountered when eating in restaurants with our babies is thoughtless staff members placing knives, glasses or hot plates and drinks within reach of our children. Be alert to this hazard and ensure that your baby can’t get his hands on anything dangerous.
Consider a visit to the park …
A good alternative to stopping at a restaurant is to pack a picnic blanket in the car and stop off at a park. After being confined in the car, both you and your baby will appreciate the fresh air. Plus it gives an older baby the opportunity to crawl about and burn off some of that energy!
Finger foods, such as rice cakes, puffed rice, or pre-toasted bread fingers or bagels can be great for car journeys with baby as they help keep him occupied. But ONLY give your baby finger foods in the car if an adult is sitting beside him – he will need careful supervision due to the risk of choking.
Keeping baby entertained
Bring a bag of toys for him to play with – a baby-safe mirror is ideal and may keep an inquisitive baby happy for some time! Avoid giving him his usual toys – different items to play with will entertain him for longer. Strangely enough, simple household items often seem to provide greater entertainment value than actual “toys” – rattling a shiny, scrunchy unopened bag of crisps/chips would keep our babies content for ages! (Only give him items that are safe for him, of course – avoid items that could break or be unsafe if chewed.)
Try playing a music CD or tape that your baby enjoys – a small baby probably won’t appreciate a story tape, but music specifically designed for babies really does capture their attention.