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Tips for Driving With Baby
A Collection of Tips From StorkNet Members

From ann&girls: I have used an activity center that attaches to the car seat and that was a wonderful investment for about $10 at Wal-Mart. Be sure you have cheerios and water or juice.

From Lenore: ** Sunscreen ** -- the sun can burn through the window. Some sort of shade on the windows, too. And if you can time your travel, include the direction of the sun in your considerations.

A new toy for each way! Plus a selection of "old favorites".

Lullaby tapes.

Cheerios or equivalent (if your little one is up to finger food). Also appropriate liquids.

We rode with one person in the back, which helped.

A map of rest stops on the way (you can get that off Travelocity), and a blanket so we could let him crawl a bit when we stopped. I used a plastic tablecloth turned flannel-side up.

A cooler for adult drinks/snacks to minimize stopping while the baby slept!

JMO... don't plan on driving more than about 6 hours a day -- unless you're able to drive through the night while baby sleeps. (We couldn't -- just not good night drivers.)

From mom2jazzygirl: When driving, I highly recommend stopping at rest areas every couple stops. Sure, my toddler loves to run, but the baby enjoys the breaks too. Stop and sit to eat your meals too. And try to not do more than about 6-8 hours in one day.

From HeatherR: More diapers and wipes than you think you'll need. Extra time budgeted. A couple of extra outfits for baby, and a couple of extra shirts for you.

From birchtree: I rode in the backseat with Isabella to entertain her and help settle her when she got restless. Plan on stopping every 2 hours or so to let baby stretch and/or eat.

Soothing CD's.

I didn't take anything big except the swing because she takes a daily nap in it; got by without a stroller or pack n' play (co-sleepers).

"Smell good" individual baggies for disposal of diapers (100 for a $1 at Dollar Tree)

From JamieMarie: We had a 4 hour trip to the beach. We stopped 1/2 way there to visit a good friend but also because we knew he would be ready to eat then too. When we travel, we use a larger diaper bag. I used a Clinique "free gift" plastic zipper make-up bag for his Tylenol, Mylicon, comb, nail clippers, etc. That way it was easy to find in the big bag. I also bought those scented blue bags from Wal-Mart to put dirty diapers in which was nice. This way if you can't get to a trash can right away it won't offend anyone. We also have a bottle warmer that plugs in the dash but somehow forgot to bring it. I made sure the boppy was in the back seat with me. When we pulled over I nursed, Camden comfortably in the back seat until DH could get some hot water to warm the bottle (we supplement).

We brought a few blankets, a few burp clothes, sleepers, warm weather clothes, some chilly weather clothes, his bassinet, his bouncer chair, his stroller, and clothes. We also brought the changing table pad which was nice. We put in on the dresser in the rental house and he loved looking at himself in the mirror when we changed his diaper.

Since we supplement with formula and I hate beach water, we bought ready made formula, which was really nice. While in the car we stored the bottles in a cooler in the front seat so they were easy to get to. We both took turns in the back seat with Camden so he had someone to talk to in case he decided not to sleep.

From Joisybabe: I barely thought of taking ANYTHING for the infant (the toddler was another story). She truly slept for the whole ride with a few 'top offs' in the car seat feedings that just served to put her back to sleep.

One thing I did need to have was Emily dressed in a long, string closing jammy set so that the diaper area had easy accessibility. Of course, bottles and diapers, a blanket, and some infant Tylenol too. Other than that, we just zipped along for the five hours without a second thought to our littlest family member!

OH, and for feedings, because she doesn't take 8 oz, I dislike ready to feed. There is always the question of what to do with the other half of it. The easiest thing for me is to have formula in a container and water in each bottle feeding. That way there is no worry of having anything too cold or too warm at feeding time (because water can stay at room temp) and no need to carry a cooler/warmer.

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From ErinFiat: We took a car trip when DD was 6 weeks old. I'm going to repeat a couple ideas others have had, only because I think they are important.
  1. Clothing- Cotton. DD is always cooler in cotton than knit. Choose easy on, easy off clothes and remember a spare or two. Remember, car seats can and do get pretty toasty. I also found removing the head bolster from DD's car seat made her more comfortable (of course I found this after the trip).

  2. Diapers/wipes- pack more than you think you will need. It's not a bad idea to just take a whole container of wipes with you. Wipes have many other uses. A large changing pad is also a good idea. We found a lot of rest stops didn't have changing areas (I had to use a filthy picnic table). We also take Ziploc bags for used diapers (something we also do when visiting friends/family without children).

  3. Leave room in the back seat for you or DH and make sure it is shaded enough so there is no direct sun on baby (they can still burn in the car).

  4. Check the map for convenient places (i.e. rest areas) to pull off. We desperately pulled off at weird exits only to later get back on the freeway and find a rest area was only 2 more miles. A little advance prep can save a lot of frustration.

  5. Keeping Tylenol/clippers/lotion in one spot is a great idea. I used a Ziploc for her stuff, then one for our stuff and kept it all together. We had medication that had to be kept cold, so we used the cold packs that came in the freebie diaper bags from the hospital (I liked the Similac freebie the best).

  6. Time- I can't emphasize enough to take your time, don't be in a big hurry. Being in a hurry will only mean you need to stop more (Murphy's Law). Plan to stop at least every 2 hours- little ones get restless. I expected DD to sleep most of the way--that's what she usually does when I run errands--wrong.

  7. I overpacked clothes for her. I didn't need to pack her entire wardrobe. After all, it was my Mom's house and I could have done a load of laundry. I was silly and thought, "Oh but this is so cute, Mom needs to see this" with so many of the clothes I packed. Really, 1 outfit per day with a few spares is enough.

  8. Comfort items. At the time, the bouncy seat and swing were her favorites. The bouncy seat folds flat, so we took it.

Our thanks to Jennifer Thompson for compiling these tips

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