Traveling with an infant has always been a challenge. In 2020, concerns about COVID-19 have kept most families at home, ranging not much farther than their own backyards. Hopping in the family car for a day’s drive out to a state park, botanic garden, or other outside area with plenty of fresh air and space is one way to combat COVID cabin fever. When the baby comes along, these tips for parents taking a road trip with an infant still apply to shorter journeys.
Leave Extra Time
A drive that would be a straight four-hour run with only adults in the car will extend an extra hour or so to attend to an infant’s needs. Expect extra stops for changes and feedings, and to stretch your legs and enjoy a park or rest area, well away from others. This will give you a chance to get the baby out of the car seat for some fresh air, cuddles, and play.
Use a combination car seat cover and nursing cover to protect the baby from glaring sunlight through the car windows and to cover yourself when you stop to nurse. If you know you’ll be out on the open road, use a window shield to block the sun even more.
Pack Snacks and One Sits in Back
Although it won’t work without two adults in the car, the “shift change” method works well for a road trip with an infant. One adult drives, while the other sits in back with the baby and the snacks. The adult in the back can pass snacks and water from the cooler up to the driver while also monitoring the baby. The back-seat adult should also have a small pack of wipes, diapers, and toys at the ready for a quick stop or clean up.
Preparation for a road trip with an infant goes beyond diapers and wipes. Depending on your destination, you may need a change of clothes for everyone, a baby sling or strap-on carrier, pacifiers, teething toys, a stroller, and a plan for when each adult will be able to take a bathroom break while the other watches the baby. In case you must touch public surfaces, bring disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer. But don’t leave hand sanitizer in the sun in your car! Hand sanitizer left in hot cars can combust and cause a fire.
Identify rest areas, fast food sources, and gas stations before you leave. Don’t forget phone chargers, tablets for entertainment, and a first-aid kit for both the baby (thermometer, infant fever reducer, etc.) and the adults (ointments for insect bites, bandages, etc.)
Even a day trip with an infant requires preparation and patience. Regard it as an adventure. Take your time, take photos, and create memories as you go.