We just got back from a road trip to visit good friends in Asheville, North Carolina and it was a ton of fun! However, I have to admit that I was a little nervous leading up to it because I didn’t know if we’d be able to survive an 8 hour road trip with a baby who really doesn’t like the car. She will do alright for short trips but quickly gets frustrated with being in her seat. So, I did a lot of planning and gathering of supplies and we did it! We survived the 8 hour trip to AND from Asheville with a baby who doesn’t like the car! So, I’m sharing some of my tips and advice to make your next road trip with your little one a little easier on everyone!
Distractions (Lots of them)
Before leaving, gather anything your baby or toddler likes doing that you think could occupy them for a decent amount of time. Simple is good! You might even consider stopping by the dollar store or the Dollar Spot at Target before you go to stock up on cheap knick knacks that you can surprise them with when you go. Some examples of things we brought and that my daughter enjoyed include:
- stickers (she was supervised so they wouldn’t end up everywhere!)
- an empty snack container with fabric leaves to put in and take out
- lots of board books
- this mess free drawing board
- finger puppets
- plastic links
- play instruments like these rattles
Another thing that was a lifesaver was a tablet. Do we ever let our daughter play with a tablet at home? No. Will using it on one (or even a couple) car trips ruin her or impact her development? No. So, we decided we would be ok with her watching short videos through a toddler app if it helped keep her happy in her seat. Obviously this is a personal choice for each family, but we knew that with her not being a fan of car rides we were going to have to be a little flexible with our expectations. I don’t regret letting her use it a little bit every once and a while on the trip.
Comfort is Key!
Something that was super important for Easton’s ability to tolerate the road trip was making sure she was comfortable. Thanks to the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat, she was! This seat is amazing! We were lucky enough to be sent one from Graco in order to check it out and see what we thought and we were instantly in love with it! There are so many things to love about this convertible car seat, but here are just a few of the reasons we are so impressed by it:
- This seat will last you child from birth though 10 years or 120 pounds. It can literally be your child’s only car seat! Ever!
- Super easy to install with the Latch system.
- Adjusting the height can be done easily with one hand, so no re-threading of the harness straps as your child grows! Score!
- It can recline to 6 different positions (3 for rear facing and 3 for forward facing) to make for a more comfy ride for your little one.
- There are two cup holders (they do run a bit small but not a big deal.)
- The harness is easy to adjust to make sure your baby is strapped in safely.
- Sleek and stylish!
- It is seriously safe! It has been side-impact tested in addition to meeting or exceeding all applicable US safety standards. This gives us peace of mind!
Easton might not be a big fan of car rides but she does love her car seat! Even before we got the chance to install it in our car, she climbed right into it and loved sitting in it right away. We could tell she was super comfortable and it made me wish I had one my size!
We knew before we even left that we would need to make plenty of stops to let Easton get out of the car to run around and stretch her legs and just take a break from the car. Going in with this expectation kept us from being irritated when we couldn’t get to our destination as fast as we normally would have prior to having a baby. This helped a lot! You can even plan on places to stop before you leave that have cool attractions or things to do. Knowing that you will need to stop a lot will keep everyone from getting irritated that it is taking a little longer to get where you are going.
Also, consider sitting in the back with your baby as much as possible! I spent the majority of the ride in the back with our daughter because it made her happy to see and interact with me. Although some people might not want to create a “habit” I am personally of the mindset that babies do not get upset to manipulate their parents and if she is upset about being in the back by herself, then I will be with her to comfort her when I can be.
It may be daunting, but you can survive a road trip with a baby who doesn’t like the car! We did it and I’m so glad I didn’t let the fact that Easton isn’t a fan of the car keep us from visiting friends and having a great trip. It can be easy to get worried about how stressful it might be, but a lot of planning beforehand and not having unrealistic expectations will make things easier on everyone!
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