Depending on the nature of your baby, travelling by car is either a blessing or a curse. Some babies do well during holiday travel and others do not. The key to successful Christmas travel with your baby is to plan ahead.
Assessing Baby’s Travel Needs
Does a car ride lull your baby to sleep or does it increase irritability? Plan to bring along comforting and entertaining items to both keep your baby busy and get them to sleep. You will likely need to make frequent stops along the way for feeding and changing, and perhaps just to get out and walk around. For toddlers, be prepared to interact and entertain.
Planning the Trip for Baby’s Sleep Schedule
Planning around your baby’s sleep schedule is a must. For babies who don’t travel well, you may want to start your journey before a long sleep period. You also want to take care not to let babies who are easily lulled to oversleep on the journey, lest their sleep routines are thrown off. It may seem like a blessing if baby sleeps the entire way, but you may pay later when baby wants to be awake when you need to sleep.
Addressing Baby Comfort During Travel
Again, take frequent breaks along the way for feeding, changing and attention. One parent may want to travel in the back seat with baby during waking periods to keep him or her entertained. If you have older children travelling as well, they may be able to keep baby entertained while you focus on directions, driving and the trip itself.
Dress your baby for the car’s interior climate. The back seat gets less access to heat than the front, and your baby will likely need to be dressed slightly more heavily because of that. Avoid the urge to roll down windows, as the airflow may be too much for your baby to handle. Layer your baby so that you can add or subtract blankets as the car warms. Don’t forget the baby window shades to keep the sun out of their eyes!
Entertaining Baby During Christmas Travel
It’s not always easy to keep your baby entertained during holiday travel. It’s a small space and they are confined to their car seat whilst on the road. Keep a bag of toys handy and take them out one at a time, letting baby play with each until bored. Make sure you are playing baby-friendly music or talking to your baby during awake times. Let them also enjoy the scenery quietly for a while if it interests them.
You can also tape bright pictures on the back of the seat your baby is facing or hang lightweight toys from the ceiling of the car with safety pins. Make sure baby cannot pull them down and tear the upholstery and get a hold of the pin.
If you suspect the car ride will be more than your baby can handle comfortably, think about booking a flight. While flying has its own baby issues, the journey is a fraction of the travel time required on the road.