We started traveling after our baby got his first set of immunizations at two months. The most challenging part of traveling with the baby was the preparation, making sure that we have enough of everything we might possibly need. The diaper bag which contained all our necessities was within an arm’s reach. Since I was breast feeding as well as supplementing with formula, we didn’t have to take any breaks when the baby was hungry. I carried several bottles filled with the necessary amount of water and was able to mix the formula as needed. I was also able to pump breast milk while sitting in the car on long rides which saved me time when we got to our destination. We tried to keep the baby cool and comfortable especially in the summer heat to help him sleep easily. Once he was asleep, the trip was smooth sailing for us.
4-6 Months Old: Crawling
As the baby got older to around six months, he was sleeping in shorter spells (1.5-2hrs) and less frequently. Various musical toys which were our best source of entertainment could only occupy him for a limited amount of time. After waking up from his naps, he really wanted to be taken out of the car seat. At this stage most of our drives were limited to his nap time with stops planned beforehand. Having a full stomach and being exposed to fresh air, made the baby ready for another nap as we put him back in the car for the second leg.
6-9 Months Old: Starting to Stand
Once baby started crawling and wanting to stand up, it was quite a task to convince him to stay confined to the car seat when he was awake. Since he was eating solid food by then, it was great being able to offer little snacks as distraction. Our last resort was turning to the iPad as a means of entertainment especially on long drives. Carrying the iPad was equivalent to having a whole bag of toys and a library of books. We had all his nursery rhymes downloaded so we could play it without needing any wifi connection. Though we had vowed to stay away from gadgets we found it be necessary to keep our active little one engaged during demanding travel schedules. These few months where he really wanted to walk and couldn’t yet do so may have been our most trying times of traveling with baby. He kept struggling against the car seat or stroller and wanting to walk though he wasn’t quite able to do so.
9-12 Months Old: Starting to Walk
Around his one year birthday he was walking and running about quite steadily. He was also on a two nap schedule for the day. To make the trips easy on us we made sure to do the bulk of traveling after breakfast to coincide with his longer morning nap. Now that he is able to recognize things in surroundings we have stopped using toys and iPad for entertainment and encourage him to look out the window. Turning the car seat to face front has give n him better view of the road. He loves seeing cars and buses on the road.
We also learned the hard way that eating and drinking while traveling tends to give him motion sickness. We make sure to stop every 2-3 hrs so he can eat and play before getting back in the car again. A mall with a play area is the ideal rest stop for us. A little research helps us narrow down our options while planning the route. It is great to see the changes as our baby evolves into a toddler and look back on how we have handled them as parents.