ROADTRIP TIPS: TRAVELING WITH AN INFANT
Tess was 2 ½ months old when we went on our first road trip. It wasn’t a small little trip – it was 13 hours in the car for family vacation with my in-laws. These trips are planned 2 years in advance sooo it wasn’t like we could back out after we found out we were expecting.
It was a little bit overwhelming to even think about for a while. Especially since I was still recovering from a C-section that I hadn’t planned on having. But, we just took it in stride and tried to be as flexible as possible. Actually, in my experience, travelling with a baby who is still young enough to fall sound asleep quickly it the way to go!
What to Pack
I read a couple blog posts and talked to some Mamas about what I should bring with me on the road trip. Honestly, just be over-prepared because there will never be a time when you’ll regret that. Especially with a little one. Just remember, you can never be too prepared with a baby. Some of the things I packed that were LIFESAVERS:
- Gallon Ziplock Bags – for when the inevitable blowout happens and you’re stuck hauling around poopy clothes for the next 8+ hours in the car. You’ll want to at least have something to seal the smell. This also helps to protect your diaper bag and other clothes from getting messy.
- Small Spray Bottle & Cleaner – These go hand-in-hand with the ziplock bags. Bring whatever cleaner you like to use to get the stains out of your baby’s clothes in a bottle that’s small enough to be tucked into your diaper bag. I use Simple Green or Thieves Cleaner and it was soooo nice to have a little bottle with us on the road!
- Bibs – When Tess was about 2 – 3 months old her teeth started to really bother her. I’m not sure if they were just shifting and moving in her mouth or what, but she would chew on everything! Which made her drool on everything. Little babies don’t have control over their salivary glands at all yet! So, poor little one would be soaked, and quick! This is where the bibs came in to play. They would at least soak up the drool and I could swap out the bib instead of changing her whole outfit. Especially since Tess was not a huge fan of having her clothes changed. I found these when she was little – they are perfect. Inexpensive, cute, snap clasp and not too big on such a small baby!
- Baby Tent – If you’re traveling to a beach location like we did I highly recommend a tent for the beach. The first day or two we didn’t use it, we just propped up an umbrella for her to block the wind and keep her out of the sun. This worked fine actually – but when it came time for me to nurse her, I would haul her back in to the house. This is where the baby tent came in clutch. This one was perfect because it was mesh at the top and I felt like she could get a good breeze, but just be aware that means there’s no UV protection. We just tucked ours under the umbrella. It was big enough that I could duck inside and nurse her discretely, then put her back down to nap. Saved me a trip up to the house and allowed me to feed her immediately when she started showing signs of hunger cues. Definitely worth it!!
- Wagon – OK, so I never thought I would be one of “those Moms” who completely camp out at the beach. But when you’ve got a kid, there is really no other choice but to bring extras of everything. Unless you want to walk back and forth from the beach to the house/condo/hotel all day. No one wants to waste their vacay time like that. So, I’d recommend a wagon. If you’re hauling all your stuff through the sand, just invest in a nice one. I mean, honestly, you’re only going to use it more and more once you have more kids. Plus my husband uses this one at home for yard work and to haul wood/mulch/gravel and whatever else around the yard! Win, win.
- Portable White Noise Machine – We have the Dohm by Marpac Classic White Noise Machine for our bedroom to put Tess to sleep. But I didn’t want to haul that thing the whole way down, so I started looking around to see what type of portable sound machines were out there. I found the Hushh by Marpac – it was less than $25 so I figured what have I got to lose. I would HIGHLY recommend it. It turned out that our room was right off the kitchen and main living area in the house, which was fine. But it meant there was a lot more noise than I had anticipated. I used the Hushh sound machine every single night, during naps and even while I was nursing sometimes just to get little Miss’s attention. Then I even used it in the car! It has an attachment ring that I used to hook to her car seat to drown out the chatter and keep a consistent noise when we were stuck in traffic. Gamechanger. Seriously.
- Car Seat Attachment Toys – I don’t have these hanging from her car seat all the time but for the long trip, they were definitely a way to redirect her attention during those fussy periods. Especially anything that crinkled or squeaked. Tess is a kid who just loves to make noise. If it’s not coming out of her own mouth, she wants whatever she’s holding, shaking, squeezing or throwing to be making noise. These are a few that she really likes that aren’t super obnoxious. Call me a millennial Mama (my Dad does) but I don’t think that every toy needs to be light-up, battery-operated, singing, or obnoxiously colorful.
Breastfeeding On the Road
Tess wasn’t a huge fan of her car seat – she’s still not – she hates to be confined by anything. But we were able to work it out, as long as the car kept moving, she stayed pretty content! I’ve exclusively breastfed Tess from day one, riding in a truck with my father and mother-in-law made this a little bit tricky. On the way down to Alabama I nursed her every time we would stop, approximately every 1.5-2 hours. Which, makes for a longer trip but it’s totally worth having a happy baby with a full tummy in order to get the most out of her naps while driving. But on the way back to Indiana, I used a battery powered portable pump, to pump bottles for her so that when we stopped Jared could feed her while I ran to the bathroom or if we stopped to eat. This was actually super helpful because Tess had trouble latching around this so a bottle ensured a) that she was getting enough to eat and b) feedings were less stressful for her. The pump I used was the Bellema Mango pump, it was quiet and compact. Super ideal for traveling since you can power it with 4AA batteries. Plus there is a charge cord so that when you are able to plug it in, you don’t have to wear the batteries.
Don’t forget to pack extra clothes in the diaper bag and the purse for yourself too. Because you’re basically just a human burp cloth/wipe/whatever now. Just remember to relax as much as possible and not to sweat the little things. If your two month old cries in the car the whole way, she won’t remember it! It’s really just you who gets stressed – so try to take it easy and give yourself some grace.