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December 30, 2007

How to Travel with an Infant

Traveling Every holiday season my husband and I drive to my parents’ house, from California to Missouri. We usually drive straight through, only stopping for quick breaks, food, and gas. But this year, our son (born on Thanksgiving) came with us. The logistics of traveling with an infant make the trip a lot more complicated than normal, especially since this is an extended trip. The following tips can make your trip a little smoother.

Make sure you have the basics on hand inside your vehicle. Keep diapers, wipes, burp cloths, blankets, and extra clothes close at hand. When the baby’s crying you don’t want to search through suitcases or a packed trunk to find the essentials. We frequently stopped for gas and changed diapers right in the cab. A fully-stocked diaper bag (including a changing pad) helped tremendously.

If you’re going on a longer trip (more than a week), don’t forget your bigger essentials: a crib or travel crib, even more clothes and blankets, and a stroller. Other items you may need include a baby swing or bouncy, bottles, and even baby’s personal care items. Fortunately, any smaller items can just be bought locally, so we concentrated more on remembering the big items.

Don’t forget an infant safety seat that fits your vehicle and is safe for a small baby. Our son was two-weeks old when we left, so we carefully followed the manufacturer instructions for our rear-facing seat. Our dual-cab truck has a LATCH system, which made installation a bit easier. We can install on the driver’s or passenger’s side, but not in the middle, even though the LATCH anchors are reachable from the middle seat. Check your vehicle’s owners manual to see if your car or truck can accommodate a safety seat in the center position (which is the safest place for a child).

Don’t be in a hurry. You’ll need to make frequent stops to change and feed the baby. Never try to feed your baby in a moving vehicle. If you are involved in an accident, it would be difficult to hold the baby and keep him/ her safe. And there’s a bigger risk of injuries if you’re sitting in front of an airbag holding a baby.

Fortunately a small infant sleeps a lot, making travel easier for us. But we still had to stop every two to four hours. It provided breaks where we could eat, get something to drink, or just stretch our legs. When we drive, we take turns napping while the other person drives. We also stop anytime we’re tired. It’s not worth the risk to drive while sleepy just to save a few hours.

So, make sure you have your essentials, but don’t forget the bigger items that you don’t want to purchase again. Safely install your safety seat. And take your time! Ensure a safe and happy holiday season for you and your family.

Have questions about travel with an infant? We’re happy to answer them in future columns. Want to submit your own tips for future installments? Feel free to leave a comment!

Photo courtesy of Katielips.

Becky_headshot_5 By Becky Scott
Contributing Editor

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