Travel with Your Toddlers and Babies
Some parents approach a long road trip with young children with a sense of dread.
In one sense, that’s understandable. Children can demand lots of attention and energy – something that can be in short supply on a long car journey.
So, here are our 10 tips for helping to make your travel with your toddlers or babies a little easier.
OK, this is rather generic but it’s a fact that some of us don’t put the required thought and preparation in beforehand. We’ve all done it!
That means the drive can become an almost endless series of minor emergencies and stops, many of which could have been avoided with a bit of forethought.
So, take your pre-departure planning seriously.
Take some toys
It sounds obvious but it’s important. If you can, try to make the toys things they haven’t seen before. They’ll keep your child more occupied than older things they’re already familiar with.
Avoid like the plague:
- things that make a lot of noise or play tunes;
- toys that need your constant attention.
Remember those potties/nappies/clothing changes
Self-explanatory apart from perhaps the last one but kids who’ve had an “accident” won’t settle easily if they have wet clothes and underclothes to sit in. This also applies to tip 10 below.
Plan-in some significant breaks in the journey
Exercise is really important in helping to take some of the energy out of your children.
Play some games to pass the time
True, you can only play “I Spy” so many times before you’ll go nuts but there are plenty of things to choose for variation and more importantly, your children will love the attention you’re giving them during the game.
Take some snacks/treats/drinks
Even if you normally don’t encourage snacking between meals, long car drives can be treated as an exception. This is more about distraction and time-filling than hunger.
Avoid anything too sugary (the last thing you’ll want is your kids to have a sudden high energy boost).
Permit some electronic games etc
If you’re fairly strict about limiting your children’s access to electronic toys and gadgets, long road journeys might be worth making another exception for.
They’re great at keeping children occupied, though for your own sanity, again try to avoid those that constantly play a “catchy little tune”.
Sit in the back with them
This is a good idea – assuming your vehicle is large enough and safety laws so permit.
Kids get very bored looking at the back of their parents’ heads for hour after hour. Joining them from time to time can be a pleasing diversion.
Keep your children talking
When they’re not doing other things like games or toys, keep them engaged in conversation.
It really doesn’t matter what the subject is, providing they’re interested and involved.
Children typically don’t find passing scenery very interesting unless there’s something highly unusual. So, they’ll quickly get bored looking out the window and start to seek attention, possibly by playing up. Once children sink into the spiral of “I’m bored so I’ll play up”, it can be difficult to get them out of it.
Better to pre-empt that by talking about school or day-care centre, their friends, what they want to do when they arrive at wherever it is you’re going and so on.
Remember the first aid and general children’s emergency kit
Hopefully, nothing will happen but on the other hand, travelling long distances with children tends to generate the odd mini-crisis however well prepared you are.
- your chosen brand of safe kids’ medicine for things like mild temperatures, coughs and so on;
- plasters and antiseptic for those grazes, cuts, splinters and scratches they’ll pick up immediately you stop for a break;
- sick bags – just in case it’s this journey where your child decides for the first time that he/she gets car sick. Don’t assume you’ll always get much notice;
- plenty of tissues – including heavier duty ones for nosebleeds;
- a needle, thread and some buttons (or clothes change) – for those emergency repairs when they rip their new dress or trousers 5 minutes before getting to Gran’s!