Hi Mammas and MTB,
After a love affair summer spent in New England we are hitching up and heading south for the winter. Our goal is to be in Florida by Christmas. Ideally, we only travel 3.5 hours between each destination so this is a realistic goal. With that said, our first big stop will hopefully be Washington, D.C. which is about a 12 hour drive. We’re planning to split it up over two days with an overnight parked at a friendly Walmart Supercenter.
Having done two cross country flights with Evelyn and now clocking more hours than I can count of road trips as we travel the country I’ve learned some tips and tricks of how to keep a baby/toddler occupied while locked in a car seat. It’s never easy and most things keep her occupied for a max of 5 minutes so it’s a constant rotation. To any mommas planning to embark on their first long trip with a little one I hope these travel hacks help!
Coloring – I’m just starting to introduce drawing to Evelyn. Mostly, she still just wants to eat the crayons/markers/pens, but she’s slowly grasping drawing on paper. For her birthday, her aunt got her a mess-free marker coloring set. It comes with a hard plastic box that holds the paper and markers and doubles as a lap table for car/plane rides. The markers only work on the “special” drawing paper it comes with so you don’t have to worry about the crayons getting on anything else. I’ll trace mine and Evelyn’s hand and she thinks that’s super fun. I couldn’t find the exact one we have on amazon but this looks very similar. There are a ton of variations to this so take a look at similar items to see which one your little one might like best.
“Wrap” toys in aluminum foil – Buy a roll of aluminum foil from the dollar store and “wrap” small toys your baby/toddler already has in them (or buy some new ones at the dollar store). Give to baby/toddler to unwrap (just watch that they don’t eat the foil…). Evelyn loves this and I’ll just re-wrap on the spot and keep re-handing to her.
Which hand has the cheerio? Put a cheerio in one of your hands, make a fist and have her guess which hand has the cheerio (or whatever snack you want to use). She gets to eat it once she finds it!
Amazon Music – You can download albums from the Amazon Music App that you can play at any time whether you have cell service or not. They have a Beatles for Kids album which we love – fun for her and isn’t miserable for mom & dad to listen to over and over. The album download’s free if you have Amazon Prime. Also, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Patty Cake & Wheels on the Bus with hand motions are always a crowd pleaser but you can only do that for so long before you start losing your mind…
Books – Bring some of baby’s favorites. My mom bought this book for Evelyn a few months back and we read it to her almost daily. She now knows all these body parts! We also read this sign-language book which she’s able to mimic now as well.
Electronics – I try to exhaust all other forms of entertainment first – books, toys, coloring. But once none of those will soothe her it’s time to move to Code Red A+ Parenting.
Step 1) Bring chargers for all electronics (cell phone, iPad) so they don’t die on you. In the event that may happen you’ll just want to assume the fetal position and cry loudly with your baby/toddler. Don’t make this epic parenting mistake.
Netflix – You can download for free certain movies and shows that will stay on your device for a certain number of days. This is a must because you may not have cell service/data/wifi during a code red moment. BE PREPARED MAMAS AND DOWNLOAD SOME ENTERTAINMENT. Download the Netflix app, open the app, hit search, at the top of the list will be “Available for Download,” select Kids’ TV and pick a few options.
YouTube – My favorites for her development are Baby Einstein and Daniel Tiger. However, sometimes you have to up the ante. If I’m desperate she loves this channel. The videos are educational, usually focusing on teaching colors, but the baby and narration seem weird to me and I feel like there’s secret subliminal messaging but she loves it so a mama’s got to do what a mama’s got to do. We’re also working on “head, shoulders, knees and toes,” and she likes this channel that again is a little weird but she’s into it.
Piano App for Babies & Toddlers – A friend just recommended this and Evelyn loves it. There’s a paid version but I just X out of the pop up and we just keep playing it for free.
Snacks on Snacks – My favorite easy car snacks at the moment are – Baby Ella snack bars, Aldi blueberry puffs, Cherrios, and Freeze dried fruit.
Lastly, consider nap times. We find it easiest to try to travel during her afternoon nap time as that buys us 1.5 hours of peace on the road. You can also feed lunch or dinner (just be really careful of choking) which keeps baby occupied for 15 – 30 minutes then nap time. Bring a comfort animal or blanket to help soothe baby in the car seat. Also, using a bottle for soothing as well.
I hope this helps all the mamas that will be traveling with their bebe’s. If you have any tips or tricks let me know in the comments below!