Are you planning a “staycation” with baby? The first long car trip can seem like a daunting experience but with some planning and preparation it doesn’t have to be as stressful as you might think. Here are 5 top tips:
1.Prepare in advance and keep essentials close
The more preparation you do before you set off the better. Consider packing the car the night before you go. This can save some stress on the morning and will help you get off to the best start.
When packing, plan out what you will need for each stage of the journey and pack the car wisely. Have everything that you won’t need until you arrive in one or two bags together and pack these at the back of the car boot. At the front of the boot have everything you might need for stopovers, like the changing bag. Keep the necessities like food, drinks, baby wipes, emergency toys, books or electronics within reach of the passenger.
Make sure the petrol tank is full and that you’ve checked your windscreen washer and oil in advance – the last thing you need is an avoidable stop when baby has just fallen asleep (You will have enough stops as it is!).
Top tip: Don’t give baby all of their toys at once – they are likely to end up under the front seat and out of reach! Keep a supply with whoever is in the passenger seat so that they can hand them back as needed and avoid a tantrum. The same goes for soothers if your baby uses one. If you’re travelling alone with baby then wait until one of your stops to replenish the toy supply.
2.Plan for easy feeding
Feeding baby is one of the main things you will need to consider on your car journey.
If you are breastfeeding:
The good news is that you won’t have to pack anything extra. Try to stop and feed baby a little ahead of their usual schedule as you don’t want them to get too hungry as you will have to wait until you can find a suitable place to safely stop the car to take them out of their seat to feed.
If you are bottlefeeding:
Consider using ready to feed formula for your trip. This is the safest and most convenient option when travelling. The milk in these 200ml bottles is sterile and it’s not necessary to keep them in the fridge before they are opened. You can simply pour the milk from the bottle into a sterile feeding bottle and feed your baby. Find out more about Aptamil Follow On milk here.
If you decide to use powdered formula and your car journey will be less than 2 hours, you can pre make bottles as per guidelines on pack, cool these down quickly under a cold running tap, store them in the fridge (for up to 24 hours) and then transfer what you need to a cooler bag – but you must discard them if not used within 2 hours of removing from the fridge. If your journey is longer than 2 hours it is best to stop and make up feeds as necessary according to the pack instructions. For further information on preparing formula while on the go check out this booklet from Safefood.
If your baby is weaning:
Pack some suitable on the go snacks. You can plan their main meals for when you are stopped but it doesn’t hurt to have some smaller bits to hand. If they are taking finger foods consider bringing a lunchbox with some chopped pieces of fruit and vegetables. Other options would be rice cakes, breadsticks, sliced pitta bread, crackers etc. For more information on suitable finger foods for each stage have a look here.
One really handy puree for making on the go is a Banana and Avocado mash – you can simply have your banana and avocado in your changing bag and when you stop at a service station or restaurant just ask for a knife, fork and bowl and you can prepare it with no cooking involved.
Don’t forget snacks for yourself and the driver!
And finally on the subject of feeding – don’t forget snacks for yourself and the driver! The last thing you want is to find yourself starving just as baby has nodded off and you don’t want to stop. And remember to have plenty of bottled water so that you don’t get dehydrated.
3.Get ready for plenty of stops
As mentioned above you will have plenty of stops. You will need to stop regularly for feeding, changing and just to give baby a break from their car seat. You also will probably need to make a few unscheduled stops. Accept this and embrace it! There is no point trying to power through if baby is just not happy to continue. This will only stress out baby, you and the other passengers. Take a deep breath and just stop at the next available place to do so. Allow yourself plenty of time to get where you are going so that there is no need to stress about how long it will take.
4.Have entertainment at hand
Think about how you can keep baby amused if they are very alert during the journey. As mentioned above, pack plenty of toys and keep some with you to maintain the supply. Another thing to consider is music – although it might not be your favourite thing to listen to, a CD or playlist of nursery rhymes can be a lifesaver. You could also think about sticking something brightly coloured or fun to the seat where baby is facing so that they have something interesting to look at in front of them.
Don’t forget to have fun! You can prepare as much as possible but remember things may not go according to plan and that’s ok. Take each moment as it comes and try not to stress about the little things. Going on your first trip with baby is a special moment for the whole family so remember to make plenty of memories along the way!
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Aptamil Follow On milk should only be used as part of a mixed diet from 6 months. It is not a breastmilk substitute. Talk to your healthcare professional.