Hi Lovelies, we have now taken two 6-8 hour car trips (both ways) with little Miss Sugar Bear- one when she was 3.5 months old and another when she was 6.5 months. Also, we spent almost two months commuting- with a baby 3 hours a day!! So, we've logged some good car time. Per your requests, here are some tips that we've learned.
Both trips were very different. The first one was tough because I was exclusively breast feeding, and I was still totally sleep deprived. The second one was tough because she was so much more alert and active, but it was much easier to provide her bottles of formula.
First and foremost, YOU must pack the car successfully!! This includes having everything at your finger tips in the backseat. And when I say YOU- who ever is going to manage the baby needs to know where everything is in the back seat. There is nothing worse than having a screaming baby and yelling at your significant other as they drive because you can not find a nipple to feed your baby a bottle!! Trust me!! This means:
- a full diaper bag with 5-6 diapers
- LOTS of wipes- remember you need wipes handy for the way down, while you are there AND for the trip home.
- stuff for diaper rash (they may not have diaper rash when you leave the house, but it can easily develop along the way)
- spit up cloths
- three changes of clothes (possible reasons to change your baby: blow outs, weather changes, spit up, sleep time, and/or a fresh change of clothes for when you arrive at your destination!)
- pumping gear (hand pumping or a plug for your electric pump) if you are still breast feeding
- some sort of hootie hider to pump on the go
- formula and bottled water. Bonus if the formula is already measured out in this to go container.
- at least 4 clean bottles and nipples (or enough bottles to get to your destination without having to clean them)
- anything that helps the baby sleep- aka a lovey, an app with white noise, a blanket to throw over the car seat to block out the sun, etc.
- and lots and lots of toys or things for your baby to interact with along the way. And YES this does include having a device handy with YouTube. When all else fails- YouTube Elmo Videos!! Also, don't forget that you often lose service on road trips- so make sure you have at least something that doesn't need a connection on your phone already.
- Finally, you need food and water for yourself and your diver!! You don't want either of you getting cranky on the drive because you are hungry, thirsty or in need of caffeine and you can't find any place to stop!
Pumping in the car is the same as pumping everywhere else. You need to be hydrated and relaxed, so make sure that you have something to cover yourself up!! And possibly throw on some good tunes to get yourself in the mind set. I swear the things we do for our little ones!! I don't even want to think about all the people I have flashed while pumping the car- oh well- I will never see them again!
When your little one wakes up- take an opportunity to stop- go the bathroom, get some snacks for yourself, get gas, etc. When you stop- always get the baby out of the seat (even if it is for five minutes), refresh their diaper (I find that changing the baby in the front passenger seat is easiest and better than a public restroom changing thing), and see if they need a change in clothes.
After that- get right back on the road. But this time, sit in the back seat. Start the process of feeding and entertaining your little one for the next 60 to 90 minutes- rotate toys in and out of their reach, sing, have some easy to clean food on hand if they are old enough to eat, etc. Another reason we liked going right in the morning- Sugar Bear is usually only awake for at most 2 hours before her next nap.
If you find yourself in the back seat while your little one is sleeping make sure that you have something to keep yourself entertained- phone, book, pumping gear- and make sure your partner knows to keep quite. Even if you have a great sleeper- the last thing you want to do is to wake a sleeping baby- aka have a cranky baby on your hands!
More little things to remember:
Getting there is only half the battle- you have to pre-plan the trip home too and repack everything in the car!! The first trip we found ourselves with a huge diaper blow out at a rest stop without any more wipes!! YIKES. The second trip- we did in the afternoon when Sugar Bear has the shortest nap and is usually the most active- this we hard.
PLUS, always check the traffic. On our last trip- getting home took an extra 2.5hours- again this added to our anxiety!
Hopefully, with these tips you find yourself getting to your destination successfully. Let me know if you have any questions OR any other great tips that I don't know about!?!?