Here are some of my tips for traveling by car with babies. Of course, make sure the carseat is properly installed and that the baby is secure in the seat. Also note the expiration date on the carseat, these things are not built to last forever. And never buy a used carseat or buy a seat from Craigslist. You cannot be sure the seat was never in an accident. A carseat is not something you want to cheap out on buying.
•Fill up the gas tank when the baby is awake. Know how much gas you will need. Fill up if the baby is awake but your gas tank is not yet empty but you will need more gas eventually.
•Make sure the baby is well feed before you hit the road. The chaos of Grandpop’s birthday caused me to forget to feed Orion his sweet potato puree. I think this added to his subsequent breakdown a half hour from home.
•A clean diaper is a happy diaper. At home I use cloth diapers and change his diaper every 1 ½-2 hours. On the road, I use disposable diapers (we like Pampers) so I won’t have to stop as often to change dirty diapers. I also think he is more comfortable in a disposable diaper for long car trips as they are less bulky.
•Have some baby friendly music on hand. Sometimes we listen to the classical station but there are a few lullaby albums that we love as a family. Mumford & Sons Inspired Lullabies by Lullapalooza has worked like magic on many occasions. Rockabye Baby Lullaby Rendition of The Cure is also a standard. I want their Nirvana, Tool, and Radiohead albums for myself. I also downloaded 50 Greatest Baby Lullabies by Lullabye Baby Ensemble which has a nice variety and you can play guess what song this is.
•Have a favorite toy for baby to amuse themselves with. I get motion sickness very easily and cannot sit in the backseat. I have tried to sit in the backseat and soothe the baby when he is freaking out but that has only work 5% of the time. When baby wants to be held and fed, nothing else will do.
•If baby is awake, talk, sing, laugh, and be silly. When we had our 4 hour drive up to PA when Orion was 6 weeks old, I talked so much I thought my head would explode.
•Keep baby comfortable, not too cold and not too hot. Also protect them from direct sunlight.
•If you have to stop, pull over where it is safe and well lit. Ideally that would be a rest stop or gas station.
•Stay calm. If the baby cries, it won’t kill him. I did not learn this lesson until Orion was 6 months old and we left him with my mother-in-law while Patrick and I had dinner down the street with friends. When we came back Orion was happy so I assumed that everything had gone well. Then I was informed he cried for close to an hour after we had left. But he survived and still loved me and would not be scarred for life and end up on intervention because I left him for 90 minutes.
Traveling with babies is not an easy task so try to simplify as much as possible. If you forget something, chances are you will be able to pick it up when you reach your destination or you may forget that it was even forgotten.