My wife and I are looking at going to Monterey, CA, USA over a week long furlough from my job in early January. It is approximately a nine hour drive from our home in Phoenix, AZ, USA to my aunt's home in Visalia, CA, then another three hours to Monterey. Our son will be approximately three months old by that point.

What are some things we can do to keep our baby happy and us sane over the long trip?

asked 24 Nov '09, 15:34

Matthew%20Jones's gravatar image

Matthew Jones
accept rate: 18%

We've done a few long drives with our baby. The drive to visit my family used to be a 5 hour drive. The first few times we took our new baby to visit my family, it took us 8 or 9 hours. Over the past few months I have found the following have helped to shorten the journey:

  • Pack the car the night before while the baby is sleeping. It always takes longer than expected to pack up the car when you are managing your little one's needs at the same time.

  • Time your departure to coincide with nap time. My son likes to nurse and nap about an hour after he gets up in the morning. So, I plan to leave right after nursing him in the morning.

  • Plan ahead of time where the breaks for Mommy and Daddy will be. We usually pick two rest stops for coffee/washrooms/food. Try to feed/change/play with the baby during the scheduled stop.

  • Bring a blanket that you don't mind putting on the floor or ground and some toys so that the baby can play for a few minutes while you are out of the car. He needs to stretch his legs too!

  • If the baby needs to stop at a time other than the scheduled stop, pull off the highway and feed/change the baby in the car. I get in the backseat and nurse him. And I put a change mat on the backseat if he needs his diaper changed. Trying to find a 'good' place to stop always adds an hour to our trip. Now, I just stop somewhere that is safe.

  • Bring a book or toys for the backseat. Most of time our little guy sleeps when the car is moving, but sometimes he wants to play. So, either my husband or I will move the backseat and read to him, sing to him or offer him different toys to play with. When I do the trip alone, I hang toys from the handle that is above the window. The baby likes to look at them and swing for them.

  • Finally, expect the trip to take longer than it did before you had a baby. :)

Since I started doing these things, our formally 5 hour trip now takes about 6.5 hours, which is much better than 8 or 9 hours!


answered 24 Nov '09, 18:53

cat_g's gravatar image

accept rate: 25%

We found travelling on long car trips much more difficult than we thought with babies that small because of the need for much more frequent stops for feedings. You will need to factor in that extra time. It might be a 9 hour drive with a couple stops when you are just a couple - it can easily turn into an 11-12 hour drive with a baby that small.

What we do a lot (New Orleans-Orlando) is find a place in the middle. We leave the evening before and drive about 5 hours to the midpoint. Kids eat on the way and go straight to bed (bring our own pack and play for the hotel). Then we get up fairly early and we're at the destination by midday. It really almost feels like you don't lose the travel day at all.


answered 24 Nov '09, 16:10

Cade%20Roux's gravatar image

Cade Roux
accept rate: 0%


+1 for splitting the journey in two. We still do that for drives over 8 hours with our 5 year old. Its more pleasant all around unless we are limited for time, in which case we fly and then rent a car.

(24 Nov '09, 16:52) Emi

We find that mornings are the best/happiest time to drive (aside from sleeping) for infants. It's light enough for them to watch the world outside, and they are just in a nice state of mind, requiring less care than other times of the day.

(24 Nov '09, 19:01) Adam Davis

When our daughter was 3 weeks old we drove from Wisconsin to Central Arkansas for my grandfather's funeral. Normally a 10 hour trip, it took us over 12 hours to make it. Partly because we had to add some extra stops just to hold our daughter. If we left her in the car seat for too long she got fussy and wanted to be held and cuddled. Otherwise she slept for most of the trip. Since I was nursing, I kept my breast pump available and prepped a bottle when it was coming up on feeding time.

This past spring we drove from Wisconsin to Georgia with our (then) 8 month old son. I sat in the back seat with him and had plenty of teething type snacks to give him. Since I was no longer nursing him, I was able to prep formula bottles and feed him in the car seat. For our daughter (3 at the time of the trip) we planned in stopping at rest areas and fast food places with slides so that she could run around. We also stopped part way and spent the night with my other grandfather in Tennessee. We also got up when our son woke for his early morning feeding and started out then (about 3:30 am) and that way the kids got a little more sleep in the car than they otherwise would have.


answered 24 Nov '09, 17:44

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accept rate: 8%

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Asked: 24 Nov '09, 15:34

Seen: 15,170 times

Last updated: 24 Nov '09, 18:53