19 Helpful Tips For A Cry Free Road Trip With Baby
Have a cry free road trip with your baby by following these 19 infant travel tips so that you can experience a more enjoyable vacation from the start.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
Have you been thinking about going on vacation with your baby but you’re afraid of how your baby might do on a long road trip? All you want is a cry free trip – a trip that is relaxing and enjoyable so that you can arrive to your destination without having regrets. It is possible. I’ve done it with 4 different babies of my own and traveled more than 3 times a year with each baby and these tips have helped me every time. With these 19 helpful tips you and your baby can go on a road trip, short or long, without the fuss or the tears. Keep reading to learn how.
Traveling With Baby In The Car
I have been going on road trips with my babies for over the past 6 years. The youngest I ever took one of my babies on a road trip was with a 2 month old baby. When my second daughter was only 2 months old, we drove 7 hours to NYC to go see the Christmas Tree during the holiday season. I still can’t believe I did that, but looking back now, I am so glad I did.
I prefer to travel with my kids in the car instead of the airplane because I like to pack all the baby essentials that I need without feeling restricted from the airline’s rules and packing weight restrictions.
If you are planning a road trip with your baby, this list of tips will help you have a smoother ride while your baby sits back and relaxes!
Before The Trip
1. Plan Out Your Driving Schedule
Plan for multiple stops and long rest breaks. I like to add in 2 hours of extra travel time to the actually drive time that’s expected. This allows for gas stops, restroom breaks, diaper changes, nursing breaks, dining options, etc.
Also, plan out your packing list. This leads to our next tip.
2. Have A Packing List
Create a packing list 2 weeks in advance with all your baby essentials. Check off the items as you pack so that you don’t miss an item on the list.
Have three separate bags for your baby.
One bag will have everything your baby needs for the length of time you will be away (largest bag).
The second bag (medium bag) will have all the items you need for the car ride. This way it’s easy to get to your baby essentials while you’re on the road. This is not necessarily your diaper bag.
You may want your diaper bag, which is the smallest, to be available for when you need to run into a rest stop for a quick diaper change or for a quick bite to eat.
In the medium carry on bag, or the bag that will be next to your baby’s car seat you will need the following:
- Diaper Wipes
- Diaper rash cream
- Wet Ones
- Burp cloths
- 2 changes of clothes
- Extra layer of clothes, like a sweater
- Baby toys
- Baby books
- Other entertaining baby items
- Breast pump
- Battery attachment for pump
- Pump accessories
- Teething toys
- Baby carrier/wrap
- Baby shoes
- Baby thermometer
- Infant Tylenol
3. Check Car Seat
Double check your baby’s car seat to make sure it’s installed correctly and it’s sized appropriately.
You may want to do this one week in advance to make sure your baby is fitting properly in the car seat. Especially check the straps for adjustment.
The Day Of The Trip
4. Check Off Your Last Minute Packing List:
There are always some items that you can’t pack until the last minute. Right before you head out the door, check off these items as your pack them into the car.
- Don’t forget the:
- Baby monitor
- Sound machine
- Baby bottles
- Favorite blanket
5. Dress Baby In Comfortable Clothes
Don’t over dress your baby so that your baby is hot during the car ride. One layer is all your baby should need. If your baby gets chilly just put a blanket over top of her. Make sure the air vent is not directed right over your baby but preferably off to the side. I also like to dress my baby in clothes that can get dirty. Your baby might have a blow out during the ride or messy snacks might make for some unwanted stains during the trip. I usually don’t put shoes on my baby while traveling – only socks. Comfortable is best.
6. Feed Baby Right Before Leaving
Make sure to have a good feeding right before leaving on your trip so that your baby has a full belly and can last as long as possible in the car ride.
7. Put A Clean Diaper On Baby
Double check your baby’s diaper and make sure it’s dry right before placing your baby in the car seat. This way hopefully you don’t have to stop for a while before the next diaper change.
8. Sit In Back Of Car With Baby
Sitting in the back of the car with your baby is the best way to travel because it makes it easier to feed your baby and entertain your baby while your spouse is doing the driving. Your baby will enjoy your company.
9. Have Baby Bag Near By
Have your baby’s medium sized carry on bag close by for easy access if you need to grab a new toy or a snack. This bag should also have a spare change in clothes, just in case you might need a new outfit for emergency changes. This helps you to avoid digging in the trunk to find one burried beneath a pile of luggage.
10. Have Music Options Ready For Baby
I like to have a variety of music ready for my baby during times of fussiness. I like to have a mix of classical music, christian music and various kids nursery rhyme songs that my baby likes to dance to. Whatever music you think your baby is in the mood for, have it ready to go. I also like to have the “white noise” app available for when my baby needs to take a nap. Having a variety of music depending on your baby’s mood is important for calming your baby.
11. Pump and Bottle Feed On The Go
If your baby is used to taking a bottle, then great! Pump while your spouse is driving and then feed your baby a bottle while your keep heading towards your destination. There’s no need to stop (unless your baby has a blow out of course!).
If your baby is exclusively breastfed, then of course you need to stop and pull over to feed your baby. Never nurse your baby while driving.
12. Have A Variety Of Snacks Available
If your baby is of age to eat snacks, finger foods, or baby food, have it available. Feed your baby while you are sitting in the back with him. Babies should always be attended to while eating in order to reduce the risk of chocking.
Some of my favorite choices for road trips are:
- Baby Puffs
- Mum mums
- Organic cheese puffs from Aldies
- Ritz wheat crackers or any other favorite cracker of choice
- Yogurt bites
- Veggie Straws
- Cut up grapes
- Bananas slices
- Steamed carrots
- Cooked peas
- Fruit and Vegetable pouches
13. Pick New Toys Your Baby Will Enjoy (or like-new!)
You may have a stash of toys that your baby hasn’t played with in a while. Take those toys along for the ride. Your baby will be excited to see them again.
Pick a variety of toys with different noises, lights, colors, textures and sizes. The bigger the lights and the louder the sounds, the better. It can get rather noisy in the car ride, so you want to make sure your toys can be loud enough for your baby to hear. Lights are always fun to have while driving in the dark. You’re baby will love it.
14. Have A Puppet Show
Baby’s absolutely love puppet shows, especially in the car. It’s a great time for the puppets to play peekaboo, do silly tricks, disappear and reappear and tickle your little baby.
15. Pack Books That Catch Your Baby’s Attention
Pack some books you know your baby will read for longer periods of time. Some books have flaps, holes, textures and other interesting features to it. Pack those books. Pack books that are more familiar to your baby. Books with baby faces in them are always a huge hit. My favorite books to pack are books with sound and lights. These are the most entertaining to babies and can really distract them from getting close to a meltdown.
I also love the Hello books by Highlights that are washable, bendable and very entertaining for babies. They are super thin and easy to pack and travel with.
16. Give Your Baby Odd Objects As Toys (baby safe of course)
Surprising your baby with a new item will keep your baby occupied for a really long time. Babies are naturally curious, so what better way to stir their curiosity then with something completely new.
My favorite is a half used plastic water bottle. It’s loud, the water is visible through the plastic and the baby can hold it in different ways.
Another odd object could be granola bar that is unopened. Babies love the feeling of plastic and squishing the bar inside the package
Finding oddly shaped, packaged items that make noises are great for babies. Just be careful it can’t be opened and pose a choke hazard.
17. Get Your Baby To Fall Asleep
Get your baby to nap during the car ride and life is golden!
If you know your baby likes a certain song in order to fall asleep, try singing that song over and over until your baby dozes off. Or myabe your baby likes the sound machine. Use the white noise app to get your baby to fall asleep.
Maybe you just need to sit in the front of the car. Sometimes babies are over stimulated by toys, noise and by looking at you for attention. It might be best to keep things calm and quiet while you sit up front. Your baby may naturally put himself to sleep.
If you know your baby is getting fussy and is ready for a nap, try to stock up on gas ahead of time so that you can take advantage of the nap. I like to make nap time a quiet time where my husband and I listen to soft music and sit quietly. Maximizing the length of time our baby napped made the trip so much more tolerable
18. Consider Driving During The Night
The biggest tip I have for you is my recommendation to drive at night. If you have the ability to stay awake at night and trade off between you and your spouse driving, then I would recommend it.
Driving at night while your baby sleeps thorugh the night (if that is your baby’s normal sleep pattern) in my opinion is so much better because you are able to get through most of the drive without changing diapers, doing multiple feedings, and there are less chances of running into traffic and other construction delays. At night, the roads are clear and driving goes so much smoother.
I recommended going to bed early and waking up around 1 or 2 in the morning to get an early head start. That gives you about 4 or 5 hours of night driving under your belt.
19. Lower Your Expectations
This is really important. For any mom with a baby, your expectations should be lowered when traveling with a little one.
The trip is going to take longer, there are going to be more stops, there’s definitely going to be some “uh ohs” and “oh no’s”. But, in the end, it’s worth it. You’ll feel so proud of yourself after it’s all said and done, and you will make great memories along the way. Trust me, it’s worth it!
Time To Travel
Now that you have 19 helpful travel tips for babies, it’s time to hit the road. Comment below and let me know where you’re headed and how many hours you expect to be driving. The longest I have ever driven with a baby was 15 hours to Disney World (from Pennsylvania) and like I said earlier, the memories are so worth the trip.
If you are looking for more tips on how to have a cry free day with your baby, you’ll enjoy reading 17 Expert Tips For Cry Free Shopping With Kids.
Dr. Jena Bradley, DPT
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
About Dr. Jena Bradley
Jena is a mom of 4 darling little girls, a physical therapist and founder of Live Core Strong, a blog focusing on motivating moms to live a life that incorporates fitness and fun throughout their motherhood journey. She aims to be the friend you always wanted to have who could guide you through the “fog” when faced with an “I don’t know what to do” mommy moment. At the most inconvenient time of her life, she embarked on a journey of sharing her story and expertise to inspire the next generation of healthy moms. You can learn more about Jena by visitng her ABOUT page.