Are you looking to have your baby join the bandwagon? And oh, we mean that literally. Here's how to cart your baby along on a road trip of a lifetime with minimal stress, of course!
#1: PLAN AHEAD
Every successful trip begins with planning. So pull out a map or get an online tool to map out your routes. You need to know how long the entire journey will take. This way, you can factor in a couple of stops on the way, so you don't have to travel for too long in a single day. When thinking of stops along the way, include a few parks or playgrounds and public restrooms on your route. You and your baby can have some time to stretch your legs, relax and refresh yourselves.
You need to be COVID-19 conscious; check to find out how clean these restrooms are and if they have any protocols for COVID-19 like a no-mask no-entry rule. Some APPs are very resourceful for doing this kind of background check when planning your road trip.
You might also want to listen to the weather forecast and plan your trip accordingly. It's advisable to travel on days the weather shows up as good.
At this stage, begin to psyche yourself for any eventuality. Babies are unpredictable; they will be irritable at the slightest thing - wanting to be fed, diaper-changed or let out of their car seat to loiter about. Just brace yourself for anything out of the blue – especially stopping several times while on your trip.
Plan to start the trip at the right time. For babies who sleep well in a car, setting off at a time around their naptime or bedtime is best because you know they will fall asleep right through the beginning of the journey. This will give you a good start. If your baby does not like sleeping in the car, then set off right after he or she has woken up, been diaper-changed and fed. Usually, the general rule is to travel at night.
A few days before travelling, take the car to the mechanic for a thorough checkup.
#2: PACK UP
Make a checklist of what to pack; divide this list into two categories. First, the items you need to have handy or within reach (the essentials) and second, the items to be kept in the car's trunk. Get a roomy bag or an organizer for essentials like burp cloths, bibs, teeth crackers, pacifiers, toys, bottles, clothing (depending on the weather), hand wipes, sanitizing gel, face mask (for you and not your baby) and a ready-packed first aid kit (or put together your own). This checklist will help you know what you must have in this kit. Keep items like your suitcases and baby stroller or crib in the trunk (you'll not need these until you make a stop or get to your destination).
It is also advisable to pack up a diaper bag with all you need to diaper-change your baby. This should contain a portable changing pad, diapers, diaper cream, wipes, trash bags and some change of clothing in case your baby makes a mess. Pack up enough snacks in a cooler for you and your baby. If your baby is eating solids, have a healthy and nutritious variety of baby food they can eat-on-the-go or when you make a stop. Remember to pack up all items you will need for nursing or feeding. If you're breastfeeding, pack up a nursing pillow, breast pump and bottles. If you are bottle-feeding, pack up enough sterilized bottles and a good quality thermos you can use to warm your baby milk. You can also splurge to get a battery-operated bottle warmer.
Think emergency - have some supplies like flares, a spare tire, jumper cables, a jack, a snow shovel, a brush and a car toolkit handy. Also, make sure you have a power bank or some device to power up your phone in case your battery runs out - you may need to make an emergency call.
- Pack the night before.
- Create some space in the trunk of your car to use as a diaper-changing area. It should be spacy enough to fit in your changing pad (works if your vehicle is an SUV with a trunk with the right size and height) or you can diaper-change in the backseat if you don't have an SUV.
- Create a place to throw your trash. Some cars have in-built trash bins, but if yours doesn't, just get a big trash bag and put it at a vantage point.
#3: PERK UP BABY'S SLEEPING AREA
A sleeping baby means a happy, stress-free road trip. You need to make your baby's sleeping area as comfy as possible so they can catch some good Zs on the way. Put some extra blankets in their car seat, make sure there are some pacifiers or toys handy and play some white noise from an app like TMSoft White Noise on your laptop or tablet to lull them to sleep. Do also put some blinds or shades on the windows to keep out the sun.
#4: PUT IN SOME PLAYTIME AND MOMENTS TO CONNECT
Incorporate some playtime into your trip to keep your baby entertained or occupied. That way, you wouldn't have to deal with a fussy baby. Pack up as many toys as possible that are right for their age – flashcards, baby board books, animal toys, bubble blowers or rattles.
During playtime, make moments to connect with him or her. If you are with your partner or spouse, take turns driving so both of you can free up some time to bond with your baby. For instance, you can use this time to smile at them, hold their hands or make faces at them to get them to laugh. You can also give them a massage, read to them or play peekaboo. Do this as often as possible during the entire journey and swap up, so your baby gets a different playmate every now and then.
#5: PLAY SOME MUSIC
Make a playlist of songs your baby will love to listen to using Spotify or any other audio streaming platform. You can also download some songs from YouTube onto your phone, laptop or tablet and connect it to your car's speakers. Have fun singing along as you play the songs.
#6: PITSTOP REGULARLY
Make as many brief stops on the way for food, gas or rest. You would have incorporated some stops along the way when planning your trip, so this should not be difficult. It's also advisable that, when you stop by parks, playgrounds, interstate rest areas and other public places, you observe all COVID-19 protocols like social distancing, using a hand sanitizer or masking up. Be extra cautious of gas stations, ATMs and public restrooms.
#7: PAIR UP
Ideally, it is safer if you travel with your partner, spouse or friend. With a baby in tow, an extra hand can be a lifesaver. If your trip is a long one, driving for many hours can be exhausting and dangerous. Pairing up with someone means you can share the load by taking turns to drive and watch your baby.
Armed with this guide, we know you and your baby will have a fun road trip. God speed!
By Nana Ama Afoa Osae I Writer I GreatWonderful Team
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