When we took our first family holiday with my daughter when she was just 10 weeks old, many people claimed we were mad. How would we manage the long journey? What about all the STUFF we would need?! What if she cried? How would we cope without our home comforts?
We took the plunge and decided to go anyway and I can honestly say it was the best thing we ever did – a great way to kickstart our life as a family of three. In hindsight, having now done our fair share of road travel, travelling with a newborn in some ways is easier than with an older child! If you are planning a trip with your newborn baby, here are some tips to make it as smooth and stress free as possible!
Time travel around nap times – The more of the journey that your baby can be asleep for, the easier it will be for you as parents. If your baby is sleeping through the night or has a routine with big solid chunks of sleep, you may want to time when you leave around these intervals. We opted to leave in the early hours of the morning about half an hour after her mid night feed and found that she would nod off again pretty quickly once we were on the move. You may also find that the motion of the car is a good aid for helping them get back to sleep.
Factor in regular rest breaks and allow extra time – Let’s be realistic here, you can’t expect to get anywhere quickly when you have a baby in tow. Factor in rest breaks for unexpected nappy changes, feeding breaks or even just irritability that just means sometimes you need to take an unexpected stop at the services. It is recommended that you stop for at least 15 mins every two hours or so to allow your baby to stretch out and not be confined to their car seat for too long – so even if your baby is sleeping, I would plan to stop at least twice in a long journey.
Distractions – Keeping your baby calm, content and stimulated is key. Pack their favourite toy, rattle, sensory book in the back seat with them so they have something to play with or even sing along to nursery rhymes or familiar tunes to keep them engaged and happy.
Consider sitting in the back seat – or using a mirror so that you can see your baby’s face if they are rearward facing. Sitting in the backseat next to them can not only keep them calmer and more engaged, but can provide reassurance to you as Mom too, allowing you to easily see when they are sleeping, upset or starting to show signs of hunger. Chances are you’ll be able to smell the dirty diapers from there too (lucky you!)
Have change of clothes easily accessible – For easy access and stress free stop offs, have a bag to hand with entire outfit changes all packed together in one bag. This means when you you can quickly change diapers and get your baby refreshed and ready for the next leg of the journey without having to rummage through changing bags to find everything you need.
Pack the baby carrier – For easier and more efficient rest breaks, make sure you pack the baby carrier, which will be far more effective than attempting to get the stroller out the trunk of your car! Not only that, after a prolonged amount of time in the car seat, that close contact with their parent and a quick cuddle will help keep them calm and reassured.
Layers – Try not to wrap baby up too warm (as heat can be difficult to predict when travelling). Instead, make the most of layers and blankets, so you can easily add or remove layers as required whilst on the go.
Sun Shields – If you are travelling in summer, you may want to invest in some sun shields for the back of the car, without which your child may be woken prematurely from their slumber by glare or light reflecting right into their face. Do not cover your child’s car seat with a blanket, as this can actually be incredibly dangerous unless they are made specifically for UV protection.
Try and relax – It will take as long as it takes, but when you get to your destination and see your baby paddling his feet in the sea for the very first time – trust me it will all be worth it!