Having a newborn baby means every trip needs to be planned with military precision – no more nipping out to the shops, or round to your mum’s house as each journey, no matter how small, sees you packing enough bags and bottles for a trip across the Great Plains.
The trick is to try and make sure baby’s asleep before you head out so you can carefully remove your delicate and temperamental cargo from its sleeping position and into the car seat – usually only for it to wake up as you shut your door and start up the engine!
And this means you’re going to have to keep baby happy for the journey ahead; here’s how…
There’s often an optimum time, usually not long after waking, when babies are at their most contented and more accommodating of a break in routine, so it could be a good idea to work out when this is and plan your journeys around that.
And make sure you have everything you need packed and loaded in the car before you bundle the baby into the car seat – if baby’s in the car and you’re out of sight while you run in and out packing things up this could distress them.
Make sure the car seat is correctly fitted
This may sound an obvious one from a safety point of view alone, but an uncomfortable baby is an unhappy baby. Make sure the car seat is fitted correctly and tightly and that baby is comfortably and securely strapped in.
Also check they’re not sitting on any toys or the seat is at such an angle that they can’t keep their head up.
Pack a snack
Newborns are ravenous little creatures and will think nothing of shouting the place down if they’re the tiniest bit hungry. So make sure you pack a suitable snack or a bottle full of milk or water to tide them over if the hunger pangs strike.
Newborns are naturally inquisitive and always in need of something to keep their mind occupied – sometimes just looking out of the window at the passing buildings and traffic will be enough, but other times they’ll need something more hands-on. So always keep some baby books and toys in the car, or fit a mobile to the window or their car seat.
Singing is always a good way to keep babies entertained, even if you’re far from pitch-perfect they’ll enjoy the sound of you singing along to nursery rhymes or similar songs. Make sure there’s a CD of nursery rhymes in the car that you can sing to baby – or leave the disc to do the entertaining – even if it drives you around the bend, it’s better than the sound of an unhappy baby.
Make a day out of it
Every waking (and sleeping) moment is a learning experience for a newborn, and that includes time spent in a car seat looking out of the window. So if you’re taking baby out for a day trip in the car make sure it is properly strapped in, at the right angle so its head doesn’t drop, and also ensure the window is clear and free from obstructions.
And why not make the most of having baby in the car by taking it to see the animals up close at a place like Knowsley Safari Park in Liverpool, Merseyside.
Even just taking baby out to the drive-thru car wash will be an adventure for its growing mind.
And if your baby likes being out and about, it could be worth trying some other forms of transport, such as the steam railway at Llangollen, or a ferry ride down the Manchester Ship Canal.
Keep things clean
Make sure you pack enough wet wipes for the journey, especially if you’ve given your newborn some food for the journey – they can quickly make a mess of things back there and might even be sick, all of which can make for an uncomfortable ride.
And pack spare nappies as you never know when nature will call.
How do you keep your newborn occupied on car journeys? And have you ever had to turn back because you were unprepared? Let us know in a comment…