10 tips for road tripping with a baby or toddler
By Emma Castle
With summer upon us, many people are packing their cars and filling up their petrol tanks in preparation for a family visit or holiday.
But what to do when you’ve got a little one who is not accustomed to long drives? A baby who will not be placated with a foot tickle? A toddler who wants to stop at every McDonald’s playground?
Here are a few tips to make road-tripping happier for everyone.
1. Be sun-savvy
Apply baby sunscreen to the delicate complexion of your bub before you leave home so that you’re covered for changes in sunlight direction, walks to the loo or playground stops. Invest in some sheer car window shades to reduce the risk of your child getting overheated while still being able to see out.
2. Pack pre-made bottles
While you may be lucky and find a parent’s room along the way, it’s still a whole lot easier to have at least one bottle of baby formula or expressed milk ready to go if you bub starts screaming when you’re on the freeway with nowhere to stop.
3. Be prepared with fun snacks
Any type of baby or toddler food that’s easy to eat, not too messy and a bit of a novelty is a hit. Semi-frozen squeezy packs of yoghurt, ziplock bags filled with mini-cucumbers and cheese or diced fruit and berries will keep your little one momentarily entertained.
4. Plan activity stops
If you’re not in a major hurry, why not explore some local attractions? Look up the best playgrounds, wildlife parks, water play areas (just make sure you pack swimmer nappies) and farm gates for an extended pit stop.
5. Make a playlist
Most kids have a couple of songs that they are crazy about so make sure you have them downloaded to your phone before you leave home. This way, if things get intense you can always bust out the Batman theme tune The Wiggles for a welcome distraction.
6. Remember their favourite books
The average toddler is fixated on at least two or three stories such as The Hungry Caterpillar or anything involving cars, trains or animals. Bringing them along provides a level of comfort and distraction when the going gets tough.
7. Pack some surprise toys
Wrap up some age-appropriate toys, such as Matchbox cars, Monster trucks or pieces of Duplo, and let your toddler enjoy unwrapping something new. You can even wrap up old toys in layers of wrapping paper, or hidden inside boxes, as a welcome diversion.
8. Keep a change of clothes handy
You may have a suitcase full of clean clothes in the boot, but if there’s a wee incident, an ice-cream topple, or a Number Two blow out, it’s much easier to manage if you have an outfit within arm’s reach.
9. Prepare a wet cloth
Sometimes baby wipes just don’t cut it. Keep a wet face cloth in a ziplock bag (or beeswax wrap – whatever you prefer) for cooling down a hot face and feet, wiping up major drink spills and using it as a makeshift towel.
10. Try some stress remedies
If your toddler is finding the whole road-trip experience especially stressful, you may want to try Bach Flower Remedy Pastilles or alcohol-free Rescue Remedy, made from Australian bush flowers. The pastilles are gummy lollies and the alcohol-free Rescue Remedy can be administered under the tongue using the dropper. Follow the directions on the bottle but the good news is that you can’t overdose them on Rescue Remedy.