How To Survive a Long Car Journey With a Baby

Road trips or travelling with a baby can be an extremely daunting task.

It’s something we really struggled with, with our first daughter (less so with our second, thank goodness), so I understand the dread and anxiety driving with a baby can cause.

Trips would often be compromised to accommodate our daughter, who didn’t get along with long car drives. But babies should fit in with your lives, not the other way around. And we figured out a few ways we could survive a long car drive with our baby.

Here are some tips on how you can do the same:

Don’t Set Your Expectations Too High

One of the biggest tips I can give when it comes to road trips with children is to expect the unexpected.

I’m not going to beat around the bush here; your long car journey probably isn’t going to go to plan. There’s bound to be hiccups (as with everything in life) so not setting your expectations too high is beneficial.

Plan Pit Stops

Once you’ve planned your route, it’s worth planning pit stops. Service stops are great for babies and children as they contain everything a small person could possibly need.

There’s eateries, toilets, shops and even entertainment. I’d aim for a service stop every 100 miles or so.

However, while it’s handy making a plan of certain service stops, it’s also beneficial to drive with a ‘go with the flow’ attitude. We can’t control when our babies will need a nappy change or when they'll be napping, so whilst it’s worth making a note of service stops, it’s wise to go ‘off plan’ sometimes.

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Set Off At The Right Time… If You Can

If you can start your long car journey just before your baby’s nap time then there’s a (hopefully high) chance they’ll fall asleep for the first leg of the journey.

Being able to make a dent in the journey before needing to stop will not only be a positive for other passengers, but it’ll mean your baby’s well rested and hopefully will enjoy the rest of the journey.

Pack The Car Like A Pro

Think of all the necessary things your baby needs in their day-to-day lives, and pack extra of these for your road trip. Also, these items need to be as accessible as possible in your car.

The last thing you want when dealing with a leaky nappy is having to drag the entire contents of your car out just to reach your changing bag.

I’d recommend a specific bag which is packed in the footwell of where your baby’s sitting that is full of all the essentials. It sounds simple, but this one can really ease any unnecessary stress.

Also, be sure to pack a first aid kit incase you need it - you never know what's going to happen!

Be Strategic With Feeds

No matter how you feed your baby, it’s important to be a little bit strategic when it comes to feeds.

Breastfeeding mamas, you need to be as comfortable as possible, whether that’s feeding in a service stop cafe while drinking a hot latte or you’re parked in the comfort of your car at the side of the road overlooking a scenic view.

If you’re formula feeding, water temperature should be regulated via thermos before adding to the milk. Premixed bottles, although expensive, can be really handy for long trips.

Tag Team

Assuming there’s two adults in the car, tag-teaming is important when times get tough. One drives, and the other sits in the back with the baby.

Sometimes all the baby needs is someone there to play goo-goo with. Just think, rear-facing babies haven’t got a particularly interesting view to look at.

It’s not hard to understand why your wee ones might become a little bored. If there’s a person on hand in the back, it can also be easier for feeding and soothing back to sleep too.

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Skip the Scenic Route

When travelling with a baby, I think it’s important to skip the scenic route. I’m one of those, let’s get there as quickly and as easily as possible, type of drivers, especially when my kids are in the car.

There’s no dilly-dallying to be had when doing a long car journey with a baby. You just need to get to your desired location. No frills!

Pack Lots of Snacks

When you think you’ve packed enough snacks, pack some more!

Assuming your babies are of weaning age, snacks are crucial! The same goes for if you have other children in the back of the car too.

I’m of the opinion that you can never pack too many snacks! A variety of baby-friendly snacks, such as wafers or pre-cut fruit would be beneficial.

Keep your baby entertained

Entertainment is key for small humans. They need to feel stimulated, and that goes for long car journeys. Give them toys and books to play with. You could even hang a mobile (depending on age and the car seat type) to try and entertain them throughout the journey.

If all else fails, get yourself in the back and start blowing raspberries. They never fail!

Be Prepared For the Worst to Happen

Finally, it’s important to be prepared for the worst to happen. Without being a negative nelly, let’s say you’re out on your long car journey, and the car breaks down. Firstly, don’t come for me if that actually happens, but secondly, how are you going to soothe your baby if the worst happens?

Aside from all the necessary car tools and breakdown insurance, it’s handy having a ‘just in case the worst happens’ box.

Whether it’s a long car journey or not, I’d recommend having a box in the boot full of breakdown essentials. Blankets, water, snacks, and things to entertain the kids. Those types of things.

Dealing with a car breakdown can be really stressful, but add kids into the mix. You need to be prepared.

Sure, long car journeys with babies can be a ‘surviving, rather than thriving’ type of situation, but with these handy hints, hopefully, your journey runs that little bit smoother.

In the words of the hunger games, ‘may the odds ever be in your favour’.

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