How to travel with a baby by car – It’s not always fun but doable

First of all: My wife and I were glad and proud to become parents of a little sweet baby-girl a bit more than a year ago. We also managed several short-trips and one pretty long one by car (a rather small one) within the first months.

The “pretty long one” was a trip to the Ligurian coast in Italy what is about 11 hours drive and more than 1.000 kilometers (or more than 620 miles) from our home. So it is absolutely do-able! That’s good news, isn’t it? 😉

If you ask yourself the question how to travel with a baby by car such a long distance: In the following article we want to share with you some things that we consider to be important when you want to do so.

Take your time and plan enough stops – That will help you and your baby

Although we were used to driving long distances (for example during our vacations in Australia) we quickly found out that we couldn’t do the same with a baby anymore.

Certainly not every baby is the same, some sleep more and rest more while driving by car but our rule of thumb is the following: We wouldn’t recommend to drive more than 4 to an absolute maximum of 5 hours a day. Plan at least one stop (better two) on that time span.

If you have to travel a longer distance divide it accordingly. Don’t put too much extra stress on you. That may enhance the likelihood of a car accident, for example. And if you travel, you should have the chance to arrive at your final destination at least a bit relaxed.

When you plan your stops (that is certainly not always possible as you do not know exactly when your baby will wake up and start to cry – but with time you will get a pretty good feeling for that) chose stops where you can prepare a meal for your baby (if you do not breast-feed).

When stopping take your little one out of the car seat so that it can move (in your arms) and look around a bit. Sitting in the car seat for a too long time is not good for your baby. Don’t forget to provide enough liquidity to your baby.

Do not save on the infant car seat if you can afford – Safety first!

The car seat should provide the maximum of safety and comfort to your baby. Therefore, saving on that might not be the best idea.

We would not have bought a used one for example, as you never know if the seat was already involved in a (small) accident already. Even a moderate crash may cause small damages to the baby seat leaving small (hardly noticeable) micro cracks that may (severely) reduce the safety of the car seat in a potential subsequent accident.

The best choice in our point of view is using a complete system with a stay-in-car base. That doesn’t only improve the safety but it is also more comfortable for you as you can fix the car seat faster.

Where ever you fix the car seat in your car: Pay attention to the position of the airbags and follow the instructions in the safety guide (of your car and the one of the car seat manufacturer). What we have learned is that the safest thing to use a rear-facing car seat.

What we also found very useful is a baby car mirror so that you can see and have eye contact with your baby. They are also available for rear facing backseats. It is also advisable to use a soother chain. Believe us: It can be very annoying to search for the soother from the front seat all the time 😉

As this article is about how to travel with a baby by car and not a toddler we will not go into details regarding car seats for older children.

When traveling alone with a baby – It’s not ideal but sometimes there is no other way

Be prepared that the journey may become extra exhaustive. Do not let you distract from driving. If your baby is crying still concentrate on your driving and stop at the next SAFE location.

And here comes the most important tip: Start your journey when the baby gets tired and not when it just woke up. That increases your chance dramatically that you can drive a bit without stopping every few minutes 😉

One other useful tip is to drive at daytime and not in the night. If the baby can look out of the window and there is something to see it may not get bored that easily.

As already mentioned in the section above it is even more practical when you are traveling alone to have a baby car mirror and a soother chain!

Other useful tips – What else you may want to consider

We usually always carry a changing pad, additional diapers as well as all other things you need to change diapers in a diaper bag with us when traveling by car.

It is – if possible – also advisable to have the possibility for someone to sit at the backseat next to the baby car seat (if you do not need the extra space for storing luggage or stuff and if you are not traveling alone of course!). Sometimes babies need some extra-entertainment – or they cry. If you have a baby you will certainly already know that!

Store all your luggage safely so that in case of a sudden braking the baby won’t be injured by lose stuff flying around in the car.

Make sure your baby is wearing comfortable and adequate clothes so that it doesn’t feel to hot or to cold. That will certainly help you to have a more comfortable journey as well!

Be advised that the stuff of your baby needs EXTRA storage room in your car. If you carry a buggy or stroller with you by car you will soon notice that this alone will occupy almost the entire trunk of your car (at least if you have a small one). Consider this fact if you buy a buggy or stroller! Therefore, pack reasonably and in a space-saving manner. Consider buying a rooftop carrier if you do not have enough space in your car.

Just start traveling with your baby – You have no other choice! And you will get used to it

We – like many others – have done a lot of traveling by car with our little princess. In most cases it went pretty well – in a few it was a bit more stressful.

If you follow the tips mentioned above (like plan enough breaks, do not drive too long on one day, give your baby enough to drink and eat, use a good baby car seat and additional equipment like a baby car mirror, take your baby out of the seat when having a break, try to start your journey when the baby is tired so that it can sleep from the beginning, dress your baby comfortable and adequate, store your luggage safely so that it cannot hit your baby, etc.) and try to make the car ride as comfortable for your baby (and therefore for you as well) you should be fine – we think!

Should you have any questions with regard to this topic, want to share your experience or in case you have other useful tips you want to share with us we would be more than happy if you dropped a comment below. Thank you! 🙂

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