Car trips with babies or toddlers
When travelling long distances by car, it helps to plan your journey well. If it is a route you have not travelled before, make sure you have checked directions and/or maps to avoid unnecessary backtracking later on. If it is a route you have travelled before, make sure you allow plenty of extra time to complete the trip, as you will most likely be making plenty of stops along the way.
In the hot summer months, it is important to keep hydrated, and the same goes for your children. Also, it is possible to get sunburnt even when you are inside the car, so put sunscreen on your children, and top it up when you make stops.
It is also important to check that your car is safe to travel, and that your children all have approved child restraints. Some mechanics offer special pre-travel safety checks, especially around Christmas time.
Few children like being strapped into a car seat for a long period of time, and one of the advantages of travelling by car is that you can stop to let your toddler run around on the grass, or feed and change your baby.
A few toys might help to keep a toddler calm on a long car journey, perhaps put a few little things into a backpack and hang it over the headrest of the front seat. That way your child can reach the backpack from his/her car seat, and enjoy digging around in it for 'treasure'.
It also helps to keep a supply of food on hand. Think portable finger foods that are non-messy - do you really want jam smeared all over the upholstery? Crackers, dried fruit and muffins are nice and easy.
When travelling with a young baby, try to stick to his/her routine where possible. When planning in advance, think about where you will be able to find facilities to change baby and heat bottles/food if necessary. It may be possible to change baby on the back seat of the car if necessary, and carrying a thermos of hot water means that you are able to heat bottles and food if you can't find somewhere to stop.
Some parents find that it helps to travel at night where possible, so that their children sleep most of the way. If you are planning on travelling at night, it might help to maintain your child's bedtime routine prior to getting in the car. For example, bath, pyjamas, story and bottle, and then into the car. This offers a sense of familiarity and might help him/her to settle more quickly.