Your bags are packed and you're ready to go: it's time for a long drive with your baby. Travelling anywhere with your baby in the back of the car can be fun and exciting... but there may also be tears, tantrums and plenty of toys being thrown across the car.
However, with a little preparation, you can make car journeys together much easier. Here are our top tips on keeping baby comfy (and you calm) on long car journeys.
how to entertain a baby on a long car journey
Nobody likes a backseat driver and baby is likely to be your toughest passenger yet. Making sure they’re well entertained can keep them quiet for a while so you can focus on the road.
There are plenty of car toys out there that strap to the back of the car seat and hang in front of your little one (what's more, baby can't use them to play any throwing games!). It's a wise idea to keep a small collection of toys up front with you, so there's no reason for you to reach around and grab teddy after it's been dropped for the 10th time. Hint: this tip works with dummies, too.
Clear your throat because there's plenty of singing to be had on car journeys with baby. Downloading some nursery rhymes or children songs can provide a distraction for your little one - who doesn't like We are the Dinosaurs on repeat? While calming music might help to soothe them but just try not to get too caught up with it too. Audiobooks are a great idea if you’re trying to get them to nod off.
make sure you plan ahead
With baby along for the ride, a little extra preparation goes a long way. Make sure you factor in a few regular breaks along the way and double check where the service stations are. This means that, if your little one starts having a tantrum, you'll know how far it is to the next stop where you can calm them down.
Driving during nap times is a good idea for both you and baby. Try feeding, winding and rocking them until they're struggling to keep their eyes open before tucking them into their car seat.
Your newborn should only be in a car seat for 30 minutes at a time. If they're a little bit older and strong enough to support their head, they still shouldn't be in their car seat for longer than two hours - so planning ahead is vital.
comfort is key
When baby is comfy, you're much more likely to be comfy too. Dress them in soft cotton clothes with a cardigan if it's cold, but don't worry about bundling them up too much. Have snacks on hand, or, if you're still breastfeeding, factor in places to stop around their regular feeding times.
When buying baby's first car seat, it’s worth going in store and talking to a professional about which one is right for them. Remember to ask about installation and be confident that you know how the seat works before preparing for a long journey. Now that you have a little passenger, you might want to invest in a baby car mirror so you can keep an eye on them while you drive.
dealing with tears and tantrums
If baby cries, try to take it easy, especially if it is just the two of you in the car. They're probably just getting a little restless back there. Focus on driving carefully and stop when it is safe to do so - don't stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway or dual carriageway, not even for a minute. Drive to the next junction and pull off to find somewhere safe to stop. If possible, travel with your partner or another passenger. Having someone who can sit in the back seat and calm your wailing little one is a helpful addition to those first few car journeys.