A Parents Guide To Driving Long Distances With Your Baby

Your first trip away driving a long distance with your baby is very new and exciting! It’s a big step and a wonderful new adventure for your family. That being said, a long journey for a baby isn’t always super easy, so it’s probably a good idea to do a few things beforehand to make the journey go as smoothly as possible.

With some preparation and a few tricks up your sleeve, you can turn a potentially stressful journey into a smooth ride for both you and your baby. Here’s our guide to help.

Plan Ahead

Consider planning your trip around your baby’s schedule. Travel at nap times or bedtime to maximise your chances of a smooth ride!

Take a look at the route and make a note of suitable places to stop. Babies shouldn’t be in a car seat for too long so you’ll need to plan to stop every 1-2 hours. The Lullaby Trust has some great advice on this. As well as giving your little one time out of the car seat, you’ll need to stop for feeds and nappy changes. Stopping frequently can also limit the chance of your baby suffering from travel sickness.

Packing For Car Journeys with Children

Pack a bag of essentials that include plenty of nappies and wipes. There’s nothing worse than running out without a shop in sight! Make sure you have plenty of spare clothes too, in case of any nappy accidents or travel sickness. Take a potty if your child is toilet training. This is also handy for slightly older children to use if there are no toilets around when you stop.

It will also help to bring snacks and drinks for both you and your little one. Don’t rely on being able to purchase snacks on the way. Often your baby will dictate when you need to stop, which could be on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere! Easy-to-eat, mess-free snacks are best.

Comfort For Your Baby When Long-Distance Driving

Dress your baby in comfortable clothing for your long-distance driving. If the weather is cold, make sure you have a coat to hand to put on your little one when you stop for a break. Never put your baby in a car seat with a coat or pram suit on as they could overheat. Thinner layers work best. If your baby appears unsettled when you set off, you might need to stop and check how warm they feel and take a layer off if necessary.

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Check that your baby’s car seat is correctly installed and comfortable, and adjust their harness appropriately. The harness should be snug, but not overly tight.

Use sunshades or window tints to shield your baby from direct sunlight. If the sun still bothers your baby even with these measures, try travelling at night or in the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest.

Avoid making the temperature in your car too warm, even on cold days. It’s better to have proper ventilation and the car is at a comfortable temperature for everyone. 

Entertainment And Distractions

Car journeys with children can be made more enjoyable by bringing along a few toys and books. Consider toys or board books that you can attach to your baby’s car seat. Bring along their favourite interactive toys and sit in the back with your little one to keep him/her entertained.

Long journeys can make babies and young children irritable. Playing calm music or audiobooks can soothe your baby and distract him/her. Familiar songs or nursery rhymes can boost your baby’s mood!

Perfect Products And Services For Long Journeys

Car Seat Organisers

Seat Organisers attach to the back of the front seat and can store your baby’s essentials and toys.

Travel Coolers/Warmers

Portable coolers or warmers are ideal for storing formula, breast milk, or snacks. Some can be plugged into your car to keep them at the right temperature.

Portable Breast Pumps

If you feed your baby expressed milk, you might need to pump while on a long journey. Non-electric hand pumps are compact and don’t require electricity. Cordless pumps that fit directly into your bra, such as the Elvie, can make expressing on the go a breeze! Make sure the unit is charged up before you set off.

Car Seat Mirrors

When your baby is rear-facing, a car seat mirror attached to the back seat will enable you to keep an eye on your little one while you’re on the go. 

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Drive-thru Services

Stopping at a drive-thru service for food will make a lunch stop quicker. You may still need to park up in the car park though if your baby is ready for a break. Plus, if you’re driving, it’s safer to stop and eat.

Emergency Roadside Assistance

This is an essential service no matter who is travelling in the car. If you do break down, tell the operator that you have a young baby with you, as they might prioritise your case over others.

How To Keep Calm On Long Journeys

It can be hard to stay patient when driving a long distance with a baby. But your little one can sense your mood, so by making sure you’re looking after yourself and your mental health in your car journey, you’re also looking after theirs too. 

If you are travelling with another adult, consider sharing the driving. This not only gives you a rest from driving, but it also allows you to take it in turns to tend to your baby. If you are travelling alone with your baby and you start to feel stressed, find a safe place to stop and take a breather.

With some planning and a positive attitude, you should be able to reach your location without too many mishaps. 

Embrace the adventure, stay flexible, and cherish the moments on the road with your little one. Safe travels!

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Helen Holding

Helen Holding

Happity's Growth Marketing Assistant. Helen works hard to get more classes around the UK onto Happity, connecting more parents with activity providers every week. Mum of one beautiful daughter, Lyra. When she's not working she is usually enjoying toddler classes with Lyra. Their current favourites are toddler gymnastics and Forest School!