How to Conquer Long Car Rides with Your Baby

long car rides with baby

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With the holidays coming up, you might be preparing for long car rides with your baby. If you are like me, then the holidays have nothing to do with it; you have family that lives far away and long car rides will be a frequent thing for you!

Either way, I have prepared a great list of 10 tips on how to conquer long car rides with your baby! These all come from a learning experience of mine so no judgement! Sure, you can laugh at me – but don’t judge me! Most of these were learned during my first long car ride with a 3-week-old baby!

Just know that no matter what happens, you got this mama! Here are my top 10 tips on how to conquer long car rides with your baby!

1. Keep the diaper bag WITH you

You might be thinking this is a no-brainer…. good for you! For my first road trip with baby, I packed *all* the essentials into the car and we went. I had food and toys and diapers and wipes and.. you name it – I had it! Except when my little one lost her mind and we pulled over to breastfeed in a busy McDonald’s parking lot and my cover was nowhere to be found.

Keep in mind, I am a fairly modest person, so I think that is all my business – not mom-shaming here – more power to you, I just am really uncomfortable with that. But, baby had to eat, so I grabbed her lovey and tried to block us from the man sitting in his car next to us. For more on mom comfort zones, check out this post on Why it’s okay to stay in your mom comfort zone.

Another time I left my Hakkaa in the diaper bag on accident and had to maneuver the backseat to come down while sitting back there and the baby was screaming her head off. (I was planning on expressing some milk and making the last 20 minutes of the drive with a bottle).

Just make sure the diaper bag is in with you. You never know when you will make an impromptu stop and need something you didn’t think of!

If you’re looking for a great diaper bag or want to know what should be in your diaper bag, check out my post on The Best Diaper Bag and How to Pack it!

2. Bring a Noise Machine or Singing Toy

Have a sound machine or singing toy for long car rides with baby

My husband is a big music person (opposed to me who is big into movies). So when we go on drives he likes to have his music playing – having a sound machine or singing toy (like the one pictured above) it gives baby a sense of familiarity. You can find a link for this toy in my post called Best Toys for Babies 0-3 months!

On our drives from Santa Barbara to Temecula, she would cuddle with this and fall asleep to the music! Now, she loves to jam out to dad’s music and sometimes mom takes the aux cord and plays some Disney music! Which brings me to my next point…

3. Have a Baby Friendly Playlist

Depending on the age of your baby, this playlist might look a little different. Maybe you prepare a playlist for baby to fall asleep to, that way you don’t need a sound machine. Maybe you gear up all of your favorite Disney songs, or even a playlist for the songs from their favorite movie!

Right now, our baby playlist is songs that she will recognize from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Doc McStuffins. We only really use this playlist when she is losing her mind and we are trying to find a good place to stop and take a break!

4. Have a Car Mirror

For the first few long car rides, we didn’t have a car mirror, but it didn’t matter because I was riding in the back with her. Let me tell you, there were a few times I just wanted to be a normal adult in the passenger seat but we didn’t have a car mirror.

Head over to my post on Toys You Should Buy Now and Let Them Grow Into to find my favorite car mirror along with other great toys that last longer than one or two developmental stages!

5. Have a Hakkaa or Pump in reach

Like I mentioned earlier, one time I needed the Hakkaa and ended up leaving it in the diaper bag in the trunk. Depending on the age of your baby and the length of your drive – you may want to keep some sort of pump in reach!

When my baby was in her first few months and we were going on long car rides, I would use the hakkaa inconspicuously has my husband drove. Breast milk would express itself and I would be able to pour a small bottle to last the final 20 minutes of the drive!

If you are looking for supply boosting recipes or want to know more about my experience with the hakkaa, head to my post about the Best Tasting Supply Boosting Recipes!

6. Don’t Forget the Snacks!

This is a huge one! Once you start feeding your little one solid foods, you can move into snacks! For some great on-the-go snacks check out my post on the Best “on-the-go” Snacks for Babies 5-10 months!

7. Of course – Bring Toys!

Entertainment is a must for long car rides with a baby! If you’ve read my post on The Best Diaper Bag and How to Pack it – then you know you should keep a few toys in there!

But, it’s always a good idea to bring a few more toys on long car rides. The chances are, you are headed somewhere for at least one over night stay so you’ll want to have a few toys anyways. Make sure to bring a few IN the cab of the car with you so baby doesn’t get bored and cause too many avoidable stops!

If you are a new mama and don’t know what toys you should get for your newly little one, check out my post on the Best Toys for Babies 0-3 months!

8. Have a sun-visor

Here is another purchase I didn’t make soon enough and I want to help you avoid the same! For the most part, when we were headed to the doctor’s or the beach or anywhere close I wouldn’t mind holding up my hand or covering the carseat with a blanket. Those long car rides was where I was wishing I would have bought a sun visor much sooner.

This sun visor by Munchkin is my absolute favorite! It rolls up and has a heat alert!

9. Dress Appropriately!

This is something that I think all mama’s are pretty cautious of. When you are in the hospital, they tell you a thousand times that your baby is whatever you are. If you are hot then the chances are, your baby is hot too – same thing with cold!

Here is where the *pro-tip comes in: always dress down and keep blankets handy! If your baby is cold it’s easy to fix, being too hot is a different story! You can have the A/C blasting but what if it can’t make it through all of their layers – now you have to pull over and undress AND comfort a sad baby.

10. Download a movie (or four)

If you are tech friendly, then be sure to download a few shows or a movie onto your device. If you are headed out of town leading up to Halloween – check out my post on 31 Halloween Movies for Kids that the Family Will Love!

*Pro-tip: MAKE SURE THE MOVIES WORK WHILE OFFLINE! Simply put your device on airplane mode and try to run the program.

I have the Disney+ app downloaded on my phone for 6 hour trips down to my in-laws. It is just for that last 20 minute stretch where she is restless and we are almost there. I can always count on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Doc McStuffins to get her there in one piece!

Screens are an absolute last resort for me, so if you see my kiddo with a screen, just know that I have tried everything else – she isn’t dependent on them – they are just such a treat that it always captivates her attention!

Meet Sara

Hiya – I’m Sara! I created SAHMable as a way to help moms navigate motherhood and everything that it entails. From pregnancy, to cooking, to parenting tips, and more I hope you find what you’re looking for. Don’t forget to stop my Freebies page for some helpful and FREE tools to help you on your motherhood journey! 

10 Responses

  1. Amen to all of this. The noisemaker has been a lifesaver for all three of my children. As they have gotten older the snacks have become their best friends on long trips. These are great, practical ideas! Thanks for sharing.

    1. I happened to get lucky that her favorite toy at a few weeks old was the singing seahorse! Or else I probably wouldn’t have had it in the car and who KNOWS WHAT THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN LIKE! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

    1. My little one is GREAT in the car as well, but sometimes we have those trips where naptime wasn’t planned out properly or even baby needs some mama time. The worst car rides are after a long weekend of her being passed around and hanging out with other kids that she doesn’t enjoy mommy time like normal. So, once it is just us in the car she is SCREAMING to be held skin to skin or even just breastfed WHILE AWAKE! Haha!

    1. How fun! So were we! We went to a wedding where she was the life of the party and had so much fun with all the other kiddos, but man did she miss her mama time!

    1. I always loved long car rides (still do) but I get car sick! So I have to sit in the front seat, and when you have a little one that needs attention, lovin’, and playtime – this mama can’t do it 🙁 So daddy plays and cuddles while mommy is stuck driving!

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