Planning a family holiday this weekend?
It’s natural to find the prospect of a long car journey more than a little daunting.
From being bombarded with ‘are we there yet’ cries to navigating tantrums triggered by car sickness, road trips can be a bit of a nightmare.
To help make things a touch less stressful, parenting expert Sophie Pickles has teamed up with baby brand Munchkin to share top tips for travelling with babies and children.
‘Babies require routine, and car journeys, whether a short trip or hours stuck in traffic, can be quite disruptive and straining for both baby and parents,’ Sophie says.
‘They will be much more prone to fits of crying and meltdowns, because they’re now in an unfamiliar environment. New places, new settings and new people can even affect tiny little babies.
‘There is a lot of sensory stimulation, which can be incredibly over-stimulating and parents can end up with babies they cannot calm down.’
Here are Sophie’s top hacks:
Get some bubbles
‘To occupy babies, holding a bubble wand to the central air vent in the car to create bubbles can be a great way of passing some time,’ suggests Sophie. ‘Make sure this is done through the vent in the car that blows directly into the passengers in the back, not towards the driver.’
Schedule your travel for nap time
If possible, line up your journey so it coincides with your child’s usual nap time. This will help to avoid sleep disruption (meaning they won’t be up all night) and grouchiness.
For babies that are over one years old, it can be helpful to travel overnight, meaning they will hopefully sleep and the car journey will be less stressful.
And mirror their sleep environment
‘It’s important to replicate what you do at home, as much as possible – while travelling and while on holiday,’ Sophie suggests. ‘Babies might sleep for two hours at home in the cot, but this might change to only 40 minutes in the car.’
Make the car cosy and conducive to sleep by having a car blind to keep the sun out, getting a white noise machine, and bringing along any of your child’s usual blankets or sleepwear.
Create a treasure bag
Sophie says: ‘This is great for babies six months+ but also toddlers and young children too.
‘Create a bag full of toys that the children have never seen before to create interest and intrigue.
‘It won’t work if you use the same old toys, however if the toys are new, it’s a good idea to pull these out of the bag every half hour and give them to children so they can explore the textures, feels and smells of the toy – it will be a great distraction.’
Sort mess-free snacks and drinks
‘If you’re heading off on a relatively long journey, then it’s important to think about snacks,’ Sophie notes. ‘For babies over six months, feed them foods which won’t create too much mess such as dried cheerios, raisins or bananas.
‘It’s also worth thinking about liquids and investing in a spill proof cup.’
Take regular breaks
A baby shouldn’t be stuck in a car seat for more than two hours at a time, so if you’re on a long journey, make sure to take regular breaks to take your sprog out of their seat and lay them flat so they can stretch their legs and play.
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