Wednesday, June 6, 2012

How We Survived a Long Drive With Our Infant

I was excited that the date of departure from our home in Ohio for my parents' house in Upstate New York was nearly upon us, but a part of me was filled with anxiety. We would be driving 500 miles with our six-month-old daughter who hates being relegated to her car seat for long periods of time. In the end, I knew we would eventually get there, but the question was how many stops we'd have to make and how many tears would be shed along the way.

I'm happy to report that the trip actually took only one hour longer than it would have if it were just my husband and myself. We only had to stop twice, and our baby was a pretty happy camper for the majority of the drive. If you're planning to make a long drive with your baby in the near future, here are four tips that might help the trip go a little more smoothly.

Time it right. There is no doubt about it: the best-behaved traveling baby is a sleeping one. We considered leaving at our daughter's bedtime so that she'd sleep for the entire drive and we would only have to make the one stop for gas we were accustomed to. In the end, we scrapped the idea because I was too nervous about driving while we were tired, although I've heard it's worked well for plenty of other folks. Instead, we got up early and were on the road by 5am. Our daughter woke up for a few minutes when we got her out of her crib and put her in the car, but she was able to go back to sleep until her usual wake-up time. She then took short naps after spending an hour or two awake at a time, and in total spent over a third of our trip asleep.

Sit in the back. An excellent way to minimize crying on a long drive is to place an adult or older child in charge of entertaining the baby in the backseat. I sat in the back with our daughter for the duration of the trip so that I could play with, talk to, comfort, and even feed her while we were on the road. I'm sure she missed being able to wiggle and roll, but it ultimately wasn't a much different day for her than sitting on the floor and playing with me between naps. I'm fairly certain that whenever our baby cries in the car, it's largely due to feeling lonely. With company in the back, she only cried a couple of times when she got overtired and just needed to nap.

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