10 Tips for Road Tripping With an Infant

long car trips with infants

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Road trips with an infant can be stressful, but they don’t have to be, and the truth is a car ride with a baby is often less stressful than getting on a plane. You can stop your own vehicle for an emergency bathroom break or to move around a restless toddler. And if your baby does throw a tantrum, you can focus your attention on their needs instead of worrying about other passengers.

Whether you're hitting the road to visit the grandparents or heading to a vacation destination geared toward families with infants , you may be surprised at some of the simple things you can do to keep your little one calm and quiet during your trip. Whether you’ll be on the road for five hours or five days, these 10 tips will help your vacation go as smoothly as possible.

While one person is driving, have another sit in the back with the baby. Having that caretaker in the back seat can help address issues as they arise—preparing bottles, wiping up, curing boredom with some old-fashioned “peek-a-boo”—which can help minimize stops and avoid total meltdowns.

It's an old bit of wisdom, but "sleep when the baby sleeps" is solid advice during a road trip with kids . When the baby is sleeping, the person in the back should try to rest, too, so they can be refreshed enough to take over driving when the driver gets fatigued.

Manage Expectations

Any number of things can go wrong on a road trip—a flat tire, bad weather, food poisoning—but those hiccups become exponentially more stressful with a young (likely screaming) infant in tow. Accepting that going in and maintaining a sense of humor about the situation can go a long way to help ease the tension. After all, the difference between a fiasco and an adventure can be as simple as your state of mind.

One way to make light of unpleasant situations is to make a game out of them. For example, put together Baby Road Trip BINGO cards where spaces are filled in with any and all potential disasters—think "blow out in the car seat" or tiny victories like "finished a whole podcast." That way, even bad situations turn into wins.  

Drive at Night

It’s a bit uncomfortable for the parents, but then again, so is a screaming child with no exit in sight. Driving at night means your baby will spend more time sleeping and less time awake and hungry, bored, or needing changes. You’ll be able to drive for longer stretches without needing breaks. 

A great way to maximize drive time is to schedule your departure so that it coincides with bedtime. Go through your whole routine (bath, pajamas, bedtime song—whatever your nightly ritual entails), but put the baby down to sleep in the car seat instead of the crib or bassinet. Drive as long as you're comfortable—or for as long as the baby is sleeping—but be sure to switch drivers, caffeinate, and rest when needed to avoid driving drowsy. 

Plan Frequent Breaks

You might be able to go six hours without using the bathroom or needing to eat, but the baby likely can't. Plan for stops every one to three hours during the day and three to six hours at night to change diapers, stretch legs, eat, and change sweaty or spit-up clothes as needed.

To avoid unnecessary stops, make a checklist of items that you go through during every break so you don’t forget anything, such as changing the baby’s diaper or clothes, using the restroom (for those not in diapers), and refreshing essential supplies. 

Skip the Scenic Route

While scenic overlooks and long stretches of the open road might seem like the very things that make a road trip worthwhile, they can also make it difficult to find help or reprieve when you need it. Choose a route in advance that has frequent access to food, 24-hour gas stations, restrooms, and service areas.

Even better, plot out some pit-stops in advance —including some potential hotels if you think you might need a real rest—so you can pull over when necessary.

Keep Supplies Nearby

You might have a giant suitcase with everything you need to survive traveling with an infant for an extended period of time, but that's not what you want to be digging through at 65 mph while a baby is screaming in your ear, or while parked at a dodgy rest stop in the middle of the night.

Keep a kit within easy reach so you don’t have to unbuckle your seat belt to retrieve any critical items, and fill the bag with small amounts of necessities (you can always refill as you go). You could pack all of these items into a medium-sized backpack or tote bag:

  • A portable changing pad with two or three diapers
  • A packet of wipes
  • Pre-portioned bottles of formula or breast milk in a small cooler bag
  • Two or three small but versatile toys
  • Infant Tylenol or ibuprofen
  • A baby forehead thermometer
  • A small portable sound machine
  • An extra blanket

In addition to the baby kit, be sure there's one for the adults, too. That could include mobile chargers for your electronic devices, a tablet or e-reader, high-protein/easy-to-eat snacks, sleep aids, sleep mask, a small pillow, earphones, and earplugs. You might also want to bring along a car sun shade to help your little one nap.

Brush up on Baby Massage Techniques

Babies can get stiff and uncomfortable after sitting for hours in their seats, just like adults. Read up on some infant massage techniques that you can modify to use either while driving (if you’re on backseat duty) and during stops. Gently massaging legs and feet, in particular, can often help calm a fussy baby long enough to get you to a good stopping place where they can stretch out their legs in earnest.

Sing Simple Camp Songs

When it comes to fussy infants stuck in car seats, be prepared with a variety of tools at your disposal. Singing songs can often be more effective than the radio at helping to put a baby to sleep, calming them when they’re fussy, and entertaining them when they’re bored. Try to pick songs with simple melodies, but where verses can be added or improvised as with many nursery rhymes or typical camp songs. Taking turns inventing new lyrics can help break up the monotony for parents, too.

Take Precautions

With or without an infant, standard prep and safety precautions should be followed. Make sure you have a spare tire, car jack, and tire iron that are ready to go, especially if you're driving through sparsely populated areas where the nearest mechanic could be several miles away. It's not fun waiting hours for a tow truck to arrive and even less so when you have a baby on board.

While packing the car, be sure not to obstruct the driver’s view, including in the rearview mirror. And always take steps to pull over to well-lit areas when stopping at night.

Admit Defeat

If you’re tired, if you’re frustrated, if everyone in the car (including and especially your baby) can’t take another second on the road, then stop. It’s okay.

Find a place to rest and give yourself a few minutes or hours to regroup. Most hotels will take bookings any time of day and many provide cribs in the room upon request. Take a nap in a real bed or freshen up with a hot shower and a meal at a sit-down restaurant. Giving yourself and your baby a chance to reset can help make the rest of the ride go more smoothly.  

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Our Sweet Adventures

Tips for Road Tripping with a Baby ( 0 – 12 Months) – A Complete Guide for First-Time Parents

Tips for Road Tripping with a Baby ( 0 – 12 Months) – A Complete Guide for First-Time Parents

Who says you cannot travel with a baby? Yes, it is different, but it is totally doable! One of the best ways to start traveling as a new family is by going on a road trip with a baby.

After one year of road trips with our son, we have learned a lot. From short 2-hour road trips to a 2-week long road trip – we have experienced the best and the worst parts of road tripping with a baby. 

Through personal tried and true experience, I have created this guide of “How to Road Trip with a Baby” to help new parents navigate their way as easily as possible. My guide includes product recommendations, expectations at different months of age, and 12 essential tips for road tripping with a baby.  

Full disclaimer: I am not a children’s practitioner, nurse, or expert. This guide and tips are purely from personal experience and fellow traveling parents. If you have any medical or health concerns, please seek advice from your pediatrician. 

Furthermore, This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on the link you will have the option to purchase a product at no extra cost to you, but I would receive a small commission. I want to thank everyone for following and supporting us on all of “Our Sweet Adventures.” 

Table of Contents

12 Essential Tips for Road Tripping with a Baby

A couple holding their baby at Palo Duro Canyon. A great pit stop when road tripping with a baby.

First and foremost, EVERY BABY IS DIFFERENT!

Yes, I believe my guide can help first-time parents navigate their way to a successful road trip with a baby. However, what has worked for other parents and us, may not always work for you. Some tips may work, some may not – you will not know until you hit the road and go through trial and error.

We have found these 12 essential tips to be the most helpful during our road trips with a baby. Whether you are taking a road trip with a newborn, a 12-month-old, or any age in between – these tips can be helpful for any stage.

The Trifecta Checklist

Of all the tips for road tripping with a baby, this one is KEY! We call it the “trifecta checklist.” So what does that mean? Sleep, diaper, food.

If our son was crying, the first thing that helped us was to check for a diaper, see if he was hungry, and find out the last time he slept.

Nine times out of ten (especially before our son was 6-months-old), he would cry for one of those three reasons. He would immediately stop crying once we figured out if he needed a diaper change, a bottle, or sleep.

Moreover, the “trifecta checklist” is a great tip for traveling with a baby , period.

Plan For Several Stops

This brings me to my next tip – you will need to plan for several stops when road tripping with a baby. This is important and inevitable. Depending on your baby and their stage in life, you may need to plan a stop every 1 -3 hours.

Why? Because you need to give your baby breaks. The best way to take breaks is by incorporating fun activities, tours, or stops at cute little towns. As a family who loves to hike, we plan our stops around hiking places.

You also want to be prepared to carve out a couple of hours on your road trip for diaper changes, breastfeeding, and walks. Honestly, these stops are so healthy because a nice break is beneficial for both the parents and child when the baby gets fussy.

Plan for Itinerary Changes

With that said, you can also expect to change your itinerary. Going on a road trip with a baby is not always easy. You may get behind schedule. That is OKAY!

I recommend setting a goal for Plan A, knowing you most likely will end up with Plan B. This could mean taking an activity (or two) out of the day, going to a drive-thru instead of dining inside, taking the highway instead of a more scenic route, etc.

If planning road trips is daunting for you. Do not worry! There are awesome apps for road tripping planning that can help you.

Find Patience!

I am probably one of the most impatient people in the universe, but I had to find the patience to succeed when road tripping with a baby.

As you may have already gathered from my previous tips, a typical 2-hour road trip may take up to 4 hours. So take deep breaths, and remember it’s about the journey and the memories you create with your family. It is not a race to the finish line or, in this case, the destination.

Once you can find patience, your road trip with a baby will be so much more enjoyable.

Plan Driving Around Naps

If possible, plan the driving around your baby’s sleep schedule. We always try our best to drive 30 minutes before our son’s scheduled nap.

If you do not already keep track of your baby’s sleep schedule, now would be the time to start. Our favorite baby app is Huckleberry because it keeps track of sleep, feedings, medicine, and more.

Road tripping with a baby in his car seat looking up at the patterns on his blanket.

Another tip for road tripping with a baby and their naps – pack a swaddle blanket with patterns and keep it in the car. We use swaddle blankets for three things. Of course, we use it to wrap our son, but we also use it for two road trip tips.

We place the swaddle blanket over the car seat to help provide more shade and a quiet space for our son to sleep while on the road. We also use it to keep our son calm and engaged by looking at the patterns. He would always stare and try to touch the patterns on the swaddle blanket.

Be Prepared to Pack MORE Than Ever!

My goodness, I think we had a full-sized suitcase packed to the top just for our son. From the 2 – 3 clothes per day to diapers, baby wipes, towels, and everything else – our son had more stuff than the two of us combined.

Not to mention, the car seat, the stroller, the pack-n-play… everything will quickly add up. So if you are renting a vehicle for the road trip, I suggest an SUV.

Pack the Car with Easy Access 

What is a road trip without snacks, right? I think this tip works for any road trip – make the snack bag easily accessible. More importantly, when road tripping with a baby, you want to make sure all the essentials are also easily accessible.

Whether that means a cooler with baby bottles, a bag of toys, or a diaper bag, you want to make sure you can easily reach these items.

Pack Extra Batteries

Today, so many of the best ways to keep a baby happy and calm require batteries. Therefore, you do not want to forget to pack extra batteries.

Before your road trip, check all electronics that require batteries and either replace them with new batteries or pack extra batteries for them.

Stretch and Massage Baby

Just like adults, a baby’s body and muscles will get stiff and sore after sitting in a car seat for long periods of time. So it is recommended to massage and stretch your baby when you take breaks or at night in your accommodations.

The benefits of massaging and stretching your baby are significant. It can help calm a fussy baby, ease tummy troubles, boost muscle development, and most importantly, soothe babies to sleep.

Baby Wipes are like Gold 

One of the most important things I have learned as a parent is that baby wipes are gold! We use baby wipes for EVERYTHING!

We use baby wipes to change diapers, clean spills in the car, wipe dirty hands, clean hard surfaces or utensils, and more. With that said, at least two stacks of baby wipes are essential when road tripping with a baby.

New Toys or Rotate Toys

Something we learned from the Montesorri Method is rotating toys. We do this at home and find it useful for road tripping with a baby.

Before a road trip, we will remove a few of our son’s favorite toys. Then when we are on the road trip, we reintroduce the toys (one at a time) so that the toys are “new,” exciting, and engaging. Of course, you can also buy new toys for a road trip.

It is essential to give the baby only one toy to focus on at a time. This way, when they get bored with one toy, there is a new one to play with because, let’s be honest, babies LOVE NEW things!

Music Matters!

Okay, this tip is from personal experience. I am not sure of any scientific research to prove this works, but it does for us – and I hope it does for you too.

During my pregnancy, I listened to this one trance album that I found calming and peaceful while I worked. Adam read that the music I listened to during pregnancy is what the baby would find relaxing after birth. It turns out it worked at least 80% of the time for us.

On our road trips, we would listen to this one trance album on repeat until our son was fast asleep. I swear it made our son calm and fall asleep almost every time.

Now, fast forward to when our son was 9 – 12 months old – things changed. Children’s music that we listened to at home helped our son stay calm during road trips. It was not music to our ears like our favorite trance album, but it kept our son happy, relaxed, and quiet – and that IS music to our ears.

So , music that is familiar with the baby at home will most certainly help put the baby at ease during road trips. You can also use a portable sound machine or play white noise from the car speakers.

How to Feed a Baby on a Road Trip

Whether you breastfeed your baby, bottle feed your baby, or are in the stage of providing snacks/solid foods – here are a few simple tips for feeding a baby on a road trip.

Breastfeeding a Baby on a Road Trip

First and foremost, do not breastfeed your baby in a moving car. This is very dangerous in the event of a car accident. Therefore, allow extra time to stop the vehicle and breastfeed your baby. If possible, utilize this time for restroom breaks, to get gas, food, etc.

If you pump, pack a breast pump car charger , breastmilk storage bags , spare parts, and a cooler to store pumped breastmilk. Moreover, continue to practice good nursing hygiene and habits as if you were at home.

Bottle Feeding a Baby on a Road Trip

Whether it’s breastmilk or formula, you want to pack a cooler to bottle feed your baby on the road.

Make sure you pack enough bottled water and formula powder (if you use formula). To help with space, I recommend pouring a small amount of water into the baby bottles and adding the formula when needed.

Furthermore, a formula dispenser can come in handy in the car. Then store a large container of formula in a suitcase.

Feeding Snacks to a Baby on a Road Trip

Once your baby can eat solid foods and/or pureed food, it can make feeding on the road a lot easier. I recommend packing snacks/food that your baby is familiar with, will enjoy, and is easy to eat on the go.

A few snacks that are easy to eat on the road are the squeezable veggie and fruit pouches , yogurt pouches , and Cheerios.

How to Change a Baby on a Road Trip

Honestly, sometimes there is no easy or right way to change a baby on the road. Through trial and error, find what works best for you!

For us, we have stopped at gas stations, rest stops, and have even needed to pull over on the side of the road to change our son. If a changing table in a bathroom is not available, we utilize our car. Moreover, a travel changing mat has been the key to our success because we can use it on any hard surface.

What to Pack for a Road Trip with a Baby

Believe me when I say you will probably pack your entire nursery when you road trip with a baby. Babies need soooo much! So do not feel like you packed “too much” because you will probably use everything.

Here are a few essential items to pack when road tripping with a baby.

  • A car seat, obviously
  • Pack n Play for sleeping
  • Stroller (if you find you will need/use it)
  • Plenty of diapers (if you run out, you can always buy more at a store)
  • Plenty of baby wipes (again, if you run out, you can always buy more at a store)
  • Portable changing mat
  • First aid kit
  • Baby Tyenol and Benadryl (approved by your pediatrician)
  • 3 sets of clothes per day
  • Swaddle blankets and/or sleep sacks
  • Batteries for any toys
  • Portable white noise machine
  • Baby bottles
  • Travel sterlizing bags for bottles
  • Bottle soap and brushes
  • Travel high chair

How Long Can You Go on a Road Trip with a Baby?

There is no exact number of hours that you can road trip with a baby, but it is highly recommended to give your baby plenty of breaks. Just like adults, our bodies can only take sitting in a car for so long. So imagine how a baby feels.

From personal experience, when our son was 2 – 4 months old, we could only go on 3-hour road trips. From 5 to 12 months old, we have only been able to drive up 8 hours a day. When we would drive 8 hours, the day would get divided into several stops at different cities. So really, it was two, 4-hour drives in one day and even then we had to break that up at times.

To figure out what is best for you and your family, I would practice around your city first, especially if you have been nesting for the first few weeks/months. Start with a short 30 minute to one-hour drive.

Then gradually work towards a 2 – 3 hour day trip. Eventually, you will learn your baby’s road trip habits to plan for a weekend getaway with a 4-5 hour road trip.

Road Trip with a Baby ( 1 – 4 Months)

Road tripping with a baby at 3 months old. Baby boy is strapped inside his car seat with a black and white toy hanging.

The first few months of going on a road trip with a baby are the easiest and the toughest because everyone is still learning their roles. On one hand, a baby sleeps the most at this stage, so driving through naps is easier. On the other hand, this might be the most challenging stage because, as first-time parents, we are all just trying to survive, right?

Moreover, I recommend waiting at least two weeks before going on a road trip with a baby because the first few weeks as a parent are the hardest!

Additionally, I went with my pediatrician’s recommendation and waited for our son to receive his vaccines at 2 months before we traveled outside of our city. I would always consult with your pediatrician and do what is best for you and your family.

After we figured out the amount of time we could drive without stopping, this was the easiest and best time to road trip with a baby. Our son would sleep for the majority of the time. We would engage him with black and white toys and books when he wasn’t sleeping.

Here are a few products that I highly recommend for road tripping with a baby between 1 – 4 months old.

Road Trip with a Baby ( 5 – 8 Months)

Road tripping with a baby at 5 months old - baby boy is in pajamas in his car seat.

At this stage in life, if your baby is becoming mobile, independent, and napping less – road tripping with a baby might become a little more complicated. Mainly because you may need to help entertain your baby.

In our experience, once our son became mobile and napped less, we had to entertain him more on road trips. It would require one person to always sit in the backseat to play with him. It also meant stopping more frequently to keep him active and happy.

Furthermore, rotating toys will become essential during this stage because of the developmental leaps. A baby will want to be constantly engaged and challenged. At 5 months, a baby should also start seeing colors well.

Therefore, I recommend these colorful toys for road tripping with a baby between 5 – 8 months old.

Road Trip with a Baby ( 9 – 12 Months)

Road tripping with a baby at 9 months old - baby boy looking and reaching out at camera while seated in a car seat.

Road tripping with a baby at 9 – 12 months old may or may not be the most challenging time. It could be the hardest if your baby is mobile, enjoys being active, and just doesn’t like car rides – period. If you’ve been road tripping with your baby for several months, it might just go as smoothly as one could hope.

For us, it was hard, but not that bad. Our son had grown used to traveling and taking road trips. So he would be okay for 3 – 4 hours at a time. Granted, we made an epic 2-week road trip through West Texas and New Mexico. Therefore, we had plenty of overnight stays in fun towns such as Fort Davis and San Angelo with fun activities to keep everyone entertained.

The best way to road trip with a baby between 9 – 12 months old is to keep the baby active and entertained by exciting roadside attractions and pit stop destinations. Let your baby be mobile, and your road trip just might be the most enjoyable family vacation you could ever imagine!

We mostly entertained our son with activities at different destinations along our journey, but here are a few products that I also recommend for road tripping with a baby between 9 – 12 months old.

And that’s a wrap! I hope you have found my guide on road tripping with a baby helpful and insightful. Like all parents, I wish I had all the answers, but my knowledge and experience are all I have. I hope it is enough to help you and your family have successful road trips for many years to come!

long car trips with infants

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Friday 15th of December 2023

Mind blowing article! I have a 1+ years old baby boy.So this blog will be very helpful for us and every guide is very important for newly parents. Thanks for sharing.


Tuesday 26th of December 2023

Aww thank you so much for your kind words. I'm glad to hear you found my guide helpful! :)

Katherine Hurt

Sunday 19th of March 2023

Since my baby is 8 months old and we live in San Diego, I appreciate all of your advice. We are preparing to drive to San Francisco so that our baby can meet the family. Many people advised us to travel after the baby has gone to sleep. Then I came across your essay, which has been a huge assistance to us with all of our issues. Many thanks

Aww thank you. I’m glad my post has been helpful to you. I know some say to drive at night when the baby is sleeping, but that never appealed to us. And every baby is different! If you can, I would try a day trip to get some experience. We now have twin babies and the same has applied with them. We drive an hourish before nap and they are out for at least 2 hrs. And have learned that they really can’t do more than 5 hours without getting out of the car for a break. If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Tuesday 7th of June 2022

Thank you for all the tips; my baby is 9 months we live in San Diego and are planning to drive to San Francisco so our baby can meet the family. A lot of people told us drive at night when the baby is sleeping. Then I found your article and help us a lot with all our concerns. Thank you

Wednesday 8th of June 2022

Hi Emma, thank you for your comment. That makes me so happy to hear you found my guide helpful. I hope my tips help you for your family road trip!

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Travel Advice

Road trip with a baby: 10 essential survival tips + packing list.

baby in car seat- road trip tips with a baby

How to plan successful long drives traveling with an infant

The prospect of a long road trip with a baby can fill even the most experienced traveling parents with anxiety. We know; we’ve been there!  There are just so many extra items that are needed for baby car travel and don’t forget those ill-timed diaper blowouts while you’re inconveniently between stops.

We’ve put our own traveling experiences to work for you by compiling ` 10 Tips for Road Tripping with a Baby to help make your journey as stress-free as possible. You’ll also find a helpful list of baby road-tripping gear at the end to make packing a breeze.

This post is part of our family road-tripping and best baby travel advice series

If your child is a little bit older, then pop on over and read all our best toddler road trip travel advice here.

long car trips with infants

10 Tips For Road-Tripping With A Baby

Before we dive into traveling tips for baby’s first road trip, we’d like to emphasize the importance of having a suitable rear-facing car seat for your baby .  Please check to make sure it has not expired, and if you are traveling to another country, it’s best to look up child safety laws for the area you’re driving to. 

1. Get as Much Practice as Possible

You may have heard horror stories of families embarking on a long drive with their baby only to turn around because their little one dissolved into hysterics. We have experienced a fair amount of crying while traveling ourselves, and the best solution we’ve found to this has simply been to get your baby used to being in their car seat. 

We know that getting out and about with your baby is easier said than done, especially if you have more than one child.  Even a few trips to pick up groceries or going to the park will help your little one realize that being in a car seat is not the end of the world. 

Once that is going well, perhaps plan a day trip to a park or location an hour or two away.  By increasing your baby’s time in their car seat incrementally, you’re decreasing the chances of constant crying when you’re committed to a longer trip.

Smiling baby in a car seat

2. Be Reasonable With Your Itinerary

If you thrive on making schedules and sticking to them, you’ll need to adjust your expectations when it comes to baby car travel. As tempting as it is to reach your destination as soon as possible, as new parents, you’ll need to keep your baby’s needs and your own sanity in mind when planning your first family road trip. 

Even the most well-traveled infant can only spend so many hours in a moving car (and you shouldn’t leave a baby in their infant car seat for more than a couple of hours at a time). When taking on long car journeys, build in plenty of pit stops for the whole family.

You also wanted to make sure that you are taking care of yourself and your partner.  Sleepless nights and babies often go hand-in-hand. If you’re already running on fumes, avoid trying to drive for more than five to six hours a day or through the night. Your family’s safety is the most important thing.

We’ve always found it helps to time the long stretches for what would be your baby’s normal nap time – but “normal” doesn’t always apply when traveling with a baby! If you have older children to consider too, you may have multiple napping schedules to consider, and there is no ‘best time.’

3. Bring Pumping Supplies or Extra Formula

Whether you’re a breastfeeding mum or you’re feeding your little one with baby formula , you’ll need to pack extra feeding supplies when on the road with an infant. Bringing along ready-to-feed formula can be a lifesaver during travel, as mixing formula on the go can prove to be a hassle, especially on extended journeys.

In the event that you either aren’t able to pull over and nurse your baby or that they are sleeping soundly in their car seat at feeding time, you’ll probably want to bring a travel breast pump along with you.

This can be one of the bulkiest items to pack, and you’ll need to remember to bring extra batteries or have a charging cord that plugs into your car’s adapter (naturally, this is if you’re the passenger, not the driver!).

I can’t say enough good things about the Spectra breast pump . The latest model even has a rechargeable battery. A car adapter is also available for additional purchase. The Spectra is powerful and easy to clean, both of which are pluses when traveling.

Additional recommended supplies for feeding on the move:

  • Nursing Cover
  • Milk Storage Bags
  • Insulated Bottle Cooler
  • Travel Bottle Warmer
  • Milk Bottles
  • Cleaning Kit

You can find our complete guide to breastfeeding on the go here, as well as our complete guide to bottle feeding on the go .

Spectra - S1 Plus Electric Breast Milk Pump with Tote Bag, Breast Milk Bottles and Cooler for Baby Feeding

4. Car Seat Additions

In some ways, babies are both easier and more difficult to entertain than toddlers .  Your newborn won’t be screaming because you took their tablet away from them, but they may scream because of a dirty diaper, they’re hungry, or they’re tired of being in their car seat.  Yes, taking a baby on the road can be a different animal altogether.

Babies are sometimes easier in the sense that they can be distracted by much simpler items, such as favorite toys that rattle or make noise, or merely seeing their own reflection in a mirror. 

We suggest a toy strip that attaches to the handles of your baby’s car seat.  This ensures they will have a variety of engaging travel toys that can’t be thrown on the floor (A toy tether is also an excellent way to avoid this scenario!).

Some of our favorite baby road trip toys

HILENBO Car Seat Toys, Infant Baby Spiral Activity Hanging Toys for Car Seat Stroller Crib Bassinet Mobile with Music Box BB Squeaker Rattles-Gray Fox

We also recommend having a car seat mirror when you’re on a long trip with your baby so that you can keep tabs on how they’re doing.  It’s always helpful to know when your baby is napping, as this can help determine whether or not you can squeeze in another hour of driving.  A mirror can also alert you to those unfortunate milk spit-ups that will more than likely result in an extra pit stop.

Some babies will go through phases of simply not settling in the back seat. Particularly if they are the only one in the back, a quick way to a happy baby may be simply having another adult or family member sit with your infant to entertain them in their car seat.

5. Pack a Travel Bag

You’ll want to have some of the essentials within arm’s reach in your vehicle, which is why you’ll need an extra travel bag inside the car, aside from your suitcases in the trunk. 

Your regular diaper bag can be perfectly suitable for this, or you can simply pack an extra tote.

Here are some helpful items to stock your car baby bag with:

  • Travel changing pad
  • Extra diapers
  • Diaper Cream
  • Healthy Snacks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Burp cloths
  • Plastic bags (for dirty diapers)
  • A change of clothes (for baby and for you!)
  • Ziploc bags or wash bags (for dirty clothes)
  • Extra pacifiers (if needed)
  • First Aid Kit

We’ve found that it’s always helpful to have a small selection of baby’s favorite toys for when we would have to stop and eat while traveling. 

These could be brought into the restaurant and swapped out, and sanitizing wipes certainly came in handy when those toys inevitably hit the floor. Bibs also became a necessity, as they helped protect our baby’s clothes from spit-ups in the car. 

  • You’ll find our complete baby travel checklist here .

6. Expect a Few Diaper Blowouts

Ah, diaper blowouts.  These are a fact of parenting life, and traveling with a newborn by car practically guarantees that a few will occur between Point A and Point B – we’ve learned the hard way! 

While there’s nothing you can do to prevent blowouts, you can minimize the cleanup, thereby reducing your own stress in these situations.

We absolutely recommend a car seat liner .  Many are universal, but you should also be able to find one that fits your specific car seat.  Car seat liners can be wiped clean and are machine washable, and they prevent anything from soaking into the actual car seat (you’ll use these right through the toilet training stage up to the pre-school years).

Baby car travel also dictates the necessity of packing backup clothing, and onesies are extremely convenient.  We advise packing 2-3 onesies in your travel bag to cover all of your bases – it’ll save you needing to dig them out of suitcases on the side of the road for those emergency diaper changes.

7. Prepare for Frequent Stops

Taking baby on the road goes hand-in-hand with stopping. Frequently.  It’s just a fact of life, and if you accept it at the onset of your road trip, this will probably reduce the chances you’ll be cranky about it later. 

Mum holding a baby on a car bonnet during a road trip

Babies simply require extra handling, whether it be an unanticipated nursing or feeding stop, milk-spit-up-fiasco, or the dreaded diaper blowout.  It’s best just to buck up, pull over, and take care of business.

It’s also a good idea to bring along your stroller .  This really is an essential road-tripping item, as you’ll need to stretch your legs as well as transport your baby to and from your hotel room or take in some trails during a rest stop. 

8. For Mom – Take Care of YOU

This article may be about road trips with a baby, but we’re going to take a moment and focus on you, Mom.  It can be tempting to put your needs last, as it so often seems to be a part of being a mother.  However, your own well-being is directly linked to the health and happiness of your little one, and it’s important to remember this.

For one, don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re exhausted.  Letting your partner or spouse take the wheel while you’re on the road is an excellent way to catch up on any sleep you may have missed the night before.  Even a half-hour of added sleep can do wonders, as we’re sure you know!

If you’re a nursing mom , you’ll also want to make sure that you’re staying hydrated.  You’ve already adopted the mindset that stops will be more frequent, so if that means a few extra trips to the bathroom, so be it.  Don’t sacrifice your own health because it may be temporarily inconvenient for others.

9. Pack A Few Travel Dining Essentials

Car travel with a baby means that you’ll be stopping along the way to eat, which means you’ll need to pack a few travel dining essentials.  If your baby can sit up with support, a travel high chair can make indoor dining much easier.  These fold up when not in use and can easily be stored in the trunk of your vehicle. 

As we’ve mentioned before, it’s best to pack several bibs in your travel bag for easy access while travelling.  We’re big fans of these silicone bibs , as they can be easily wiped clean for repeated use on your journey. Don’t forget surface wipes before sitting at a table and for wiping little hands that will want to touch EVERYTHING before serving up baby food!

Summer Infant Pop 'N Sit Portable Booster Chair, Floor Seat, Indoor/Outdoor Use, Compact Fold, Grey, 6 Mos - 3 Yrs

10. Prepare for Hotel Stays

Staying in a hotel with your baby usually means that you’ll get much less sleep than normal, but we have some tips to make these experiences less tiring for everyone involved.

  • Ask for a corner room.  These are often quieter and farther away from elevators.  Many hotels will work to accommodate families with infants, and you should not be afraid to speak up.  The worst they can tell you is that they don’t have any available. 
  • If financially possible, spring for a suite room.  These generally have a separate space (such as a common living room area) where you can place your baby’s travel cot. 
  • Bring a portable baby travel bassinet , not a bulky pack n’ play.  While useful, pack n’ plays can take up space in your vehicle that you’ll need for other items. Most hotels offer some sort of travel crib, but that doesn’t guarantee that the mattress will be lined or as thick as your baby is used to. A travel bassinet can be placed in the crib and provide all that your baby needs for a restful night’s sleep.

baby sleeping in a car seat - road trip tips for a baby

Baby Road Trip Essentials – Gear You’ll Need

We’ve mentioned several pieces of essential gear to prepare for a successful road trip with your infant or baby. To help you pack, here is a convenient list for your reference (you can also head straight to our Amazon store , where we set out all our favourite baby travel essential items)

  • Travel Breast Pump
  • Car Adapter
  • Toy Teether
  • Silicone Bibs
  • Car Seat Liner
  • Travel diaper change kit
  • Travel High Chair
  • Travel Bassinet

 What about when you arrive at your destination? Download our complete baby packing list when you sign up for our newsletter here – never forget an essential item again traveling with a baby!

Final thoughts on taking baby on the road

Remember, it’s all about setting realistic expectations. Give yourself plenty of time, pack well, rest frequently, and go easy on yourself if things don’t go exactly to plan! Traveling with a newborn may not be your best road trip, but it IS achievable with a little thought and planning. Safe Travels!

More Top Travel Tips With A Baby

Before you leave home with a baby in tow, firstly pop over to our Best Baby Travel Advice homepage. We cover a huge range of baby travel topics here including:

  • How to Handle Baby’s First Flight – from booking the tickets to getting on the plane and surviving mid-air meltdowns, here’s how baby air travel works.
  • Hiking with a Baby – babies can make great travel companions in the early days – here’s how to get yourself set up for a successful baby hike.
  • Essentials Camping with a Baby – undoubtedly, tots do come with a lot of stuff! Here are the essential baby items we always recommend you take on a baby camping trip & hitting the trails.
  • Bringing Baby to the Beach – Top tips for when you’re out in the sun and the surf to keep baby safe and make sure its a fun day for all of you.
  • Baby Travel Essentials – the most important things for baby we never leave home without.

You can find all of our family travel product reviews here

Found this helpful? Bookmark this page or save it to Pinterest for later

tiny newborn baby in a car seat - text overlay road trip with a baby

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I’m also bring my electric breast pump just in case!

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Driving with your baby or toddler long distance: tips for road trips

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Driving with your baby

If you’re taking the car to your holiday destination or heading off on a road trip, here’s how to make your drive go smoothly

Car seats: the important part

Before you go anywhere in a car with your baby, the car seat needs to be fitted correctly. Most shops will make sure your car seat is properly fitted when you buy it. Follow all the safety instructions and make sure it’s right for your child’s height and weight.

Your child’s straps should be pulled tight so you can only fit one finger’s width between the strap and their body. Apart from being safe, this will also ensure your baby is comfortable enough in their car seat (Parents, 2012) .

If you’re hiring a car seat, make sure that it fits all of the same criteria. For full instructions, head to the government’s website (GOV.UK 2018) .

Be prepared…for everything

If your child suffers from travel sickness , talk to your GP or pharmacist about suggestions. You can then make sure you have whatever you need for the journey.

If your baby likes a dummy, keep some spare in the front of the car. You’ll be ready to pass one over every time they (inevitably) drop them on the floor (Baby routes, 2012) .

It can be handy to keep some first aid essentials too. This could include any prescription medicines that your baby might need, plasters or travel sickness pills (Parents, 2012) .

If it’s going to be sunny, bring shades for the window. These window shades can protect from lights at night time as well (Child Development Institute, 2003) .

In case you get stuck in traffic, make sure you’ve got snacks and drinks for yourself (Telegraph 2008; Child Development Institute 2018) .

Should I let my child have snacks in the car?

While having some snacks to chomp on can be a handy distraction for a toddler on a car journey, choking is a concern (Consumer Reports, 2018) . The general advice is to avoid giving your child snacks on a journey for two main reasons. First, the risk of choking and being able to deal with it quickly (Consumer Reports, 2018) . Second, the risk of accidents happening if you’re craning round to offer your child a snack (Consumer Reports, 2018) .

Instead, it’s safer to allow time for snacks before the journey and to pull over if you have to during the journey (Consumer Reports, 2018) .

If you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding, always pull over too. It’s risky to take a child out of their car seat and feed en route (even if you’re sitting in the back seat).

Make the car fun

If they’re having fun, most babies and toddlers will enjoy a car journey. They might be interested enough in a lorry you pass or the child waving from the car in the next lane on the motorway. But toys attached to the overhead bar of the car seat or a book clipped to the seat can also help distract younger babies.

For toddlers, go for sticker books or a child-friendly tablet where they can catch a few episodes of Peppa Pig. Don’t forget music and nursery rhyme CDs on car journeys (Which?, 2018) . You could borrow some books from your library for your child to read or look at during the journey too (Child Development Institute, 2018) .

Having one person in the back seat to comfort or entertain can make journeys easier. Someone singing or playing games can help distract a baby or toddler a little while longer. Babies often prefer face-to-face time with their family than spending playing with their toys (Baby Can Travel, 2017) .

Schedule in breaks and nap times

It’s easiest to accept that with babies or toddlers, your journey is likely to take a lot longer than it would if it were just you (Child Development Institute, 2018) . The best thing to do is schedule your drive around the time that your child would normally sleep.

If it’s a long journey, allow plenty of time for breaks so they can stretch their legs and get a break from the car seat. It’s important not to keep them in their car seat for too long anyway (Baby Routes, 2012; Baby Can Travel, 2017) .

Don’t let your baby sleep too long in their car seat

Experts have warned not to use car seats as a general place for your baby to sleep in  (The Lullaby Trust, 2016, 2021) . It's okay if they do fall asleep for a short time when you're driving, but once you’re home, always move them into their cot, even if it means waking them up (The Lullaby Trust, 2021) .

If you have to travel a long way with your baby, make sure you take regular breaks where you take your baby out of the seat to stretch and move around. Ideally, an adult would travel in the back seat with your baby to keep an eye on them (The Lullaby Trust, 2021) . If that's not possible, keep checking them in your mirror.

For pre-term and young babies, the advice is to avoid travelling long distances. A study found they may be at risk of breathing difficulties if they're sitting in a car seat for too long (The Lullaby Trust, 2021) .

Safety first

Never leave your baby alone in the car, even for a minute (Child Development Institute, 2018) .

We know how a stressful and distracting a crying baby in the car can be. Rather than keep going, take time to stop and calm your baby before continuing with the journey (Child Development Institute, 2018) .

It’s illegal to smoke in the car with anyone under 18 because second-hand smoke in such an enclosed space is dangerous (GOV.UK, 2015) .

This page was last reviewed in May 2019, updated February 2024.

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

You might find attending one of our NCT New Baby courses helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what  NCT activities  are happening nearby.

Parents. (2012) How to travel with baby in the car. Available at: https://www.parents.com/baby/care/american-baby-how-tos/how-to-travel-with-baby-in-the-car/ [Accessed 12th June 2018]

Child Development Institute. (2003) Taking a road trip with your baby. Available at: https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/ages-stages/baby-infant-development-parenting/road-trip-with-babies/#.W9f3ytX7TIU [Accessed 12th June 2018]

Consumer Reports. (2018) Distracted driving: Why kids’ snacks and mom’s driving don’t mix. Available at https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2010/06/distracted-driving-why-kids-snacks-and-mom-s-driving-don-t-mix/index.htm [Accessed 12th June 2018]

Family Off Duty. (2018) Tips for road trip with toddlers and babies. Available at: https://familyoffduty.com/tips-for-road-trip-with-toddlers-and-babies/ [Accessed 12th June 2018]

GOV.UK. (2018) Child car seats: the law. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/child-car-seats-the-rules [Accessed 12th June 2018]

The Lullaby Trust. (2016) The Lullaby Trust's statement regarding new research on car seats. Available at: https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/the-lullaby-trusts-statement-regarding-new-research-on-car-seats/ [Accessed 12th June 2018]

The Lullaby Trust Car seats and SIDS (2021)  https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/car-seats-and-sids/

Which? Top 10 baby and child travel tips. Available at: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/travelling-with-children/article/travelling-with-children/top-10-baby-and-child-travel-tips [Accessed 12th June 2018]

Baby routes. (2012) Ten top tips for long car journeys with babies and young children. Available at: https://babyroutes.co.uk/ten-tips-long-car-journeys-children-babies/ [Accessed 12th June 2018]

Baby can travel. (2017) Road trip with a baby: 7 essential tips. Available at: https://www.babycantravel.com/2015/09/14/road-trip-with-a-baby-7-essential-tips/ [Accessed 12th June 2018]

Telegraph. (2008) Twenty tips: Travelling in a car with children. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/familyholidays/2433320/Twenty-tips-Travelling-in-a-car-with-children.html [Accessed 12th June 2018]

GOV.UK. (2015) Smoking in cars with children banned from today. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/smoking-in-cars-with-children-banned-from-today [Accessed 12th June 2018]

Information you can trust from NCT

When it comes to content, our aim is simple: every parent should have access to information they can trust.

All of our articles have been thoroughly researched and are based on the latest evidence from reputable and robust sources. We create our articles with NCT antenatal teachers, postnatal leaders and breastfeeding counsellors, as well as academics and representatives from relevant organisations and charities.

Read more about our editorial review process .

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Baby on Board: 17 Mum-Approved Tips for Long Car Trips

Embarking on a road trip with your little one for the first time? Buckle up for a true adventure. Even if your baby is typically a joy in the car, the uncertainty of whether your tiny travellers will revel in the extended car ride or turn it into a mini-meltdown might push their patience (and yours) to the limit.

We turned to the wisdom of the Grapeviners from our Mum’s Grapevine Baby Groups and they shared a treasure trove of ideas on how they keep their little ones calm and happy on long car trips. From straightforward tips to those requiring a bit more pre-planning, if you find yourself hitting the open road soon, these nuggets of wisdom are definitely worth keeping in your parental toolkit.

Above all, remember: it’s advised not to have your baby in a car seat for more than two consecutive hours, so plan those pit stops strategically!

Here are 17 tips for surviving long car trips with a baby on board.

1. Leave at nap time

Leaving at just the right time could mean the difference between a smooth start to your road trip, and tears of frustration. Time your departure for when Bub would generally be having a nap. Do a feed, pop on a fresh nappy and fingers crossed for a long snooze session!

  • Tip from Natalie: “I take our car trips when my little one is sleepy which works better.”
  • Tip from Wendy: “Try leaving very early in the morning so that the baby sleeps the first part of the trip.”
  • Tip from Hallie: “We have had 5 children and for us, the best way to travel is at night. Make for a long next day but totally worth it!”

2. Plan breaks

Your bub, much like the rest of us, appreciates a change of scenery. Aim for pit stops that offer baby-friendly amenities – think about clean changing facilities and space for a mini stretch-and-play session. These brief breaks not only provide physical relief but also inject a breath of fresh air into the journey, keeping your little one happily engaged and content.

  • Tip from Meghan: “Plan fun long stops, we stopped at a pool one way and a play centre the other.”
  • Tip from Ashleigh: “We get him out every couple of hours to change him, feed him and play with him. Even if he doesn’t need a change  I’ll take him out of the car just or a change of scenery.”

3. New things to play with

Babies tend to have their favourite toys but keeping a couple of ‘new’ playthings aside might work as a distraction in the car. Our Grapeviners have tried using things like empty bottles and sunglass cases as distraction ‘toys’ in the car. They’re something new that Bub hasn’t been allowed to play with before, so they may give you a more extended period of peace.

  • Tip from Rachel: “I pack a couple of bags of ‘surprises’ with some different toys/books/sensory items/musical instruments etc that she can play with.”
  • Tip from Maddie: “I just made sure I had a bunch of toys within reach so when he threw one out of his seat I could distract him with another.”

4. White noise

Babies are creatures of habit, and being asked to sleep in a car with lots of distractions and new sounds is sometimes asking a lot of them. Try playing some white noise in the car to create an ambience of calmness. If you don’t already use white noise for naps at home, try introducing it a couple of weeks before your big trip to help your tiny traveller get used to associating it with sleep.

This one from ergoPouch ($64.95) is lightweight and compact and even has an impressive 48-hour battery life.

  • Tip from Emma: “I swear by a portable white noise machine for long car trips. It’s like their personal lullaby for on the go”

5. Sing-a-long

Some of the savvy Grapeviner mums shared the brilliant notion of playing a little “Carpool Karaoke”. According to our mums, belting out tunes, be it from the radio or a playlist geared with their favourite nursery rhymes, music can work wonders in soothing their babies. It’s definitely worth a shot – worst-case scenario, you’ll get to vent out any frustrations by belting out a tune or two.

  • Tip from Steph: “Try The Happy Song by Imogene Heap. Used to work for my first – but beware, the song will drive you nuts after about 100 repeats”
  • Tip from Elise: “Music! My little one was cracking it the other day, put on kids music and he was happy for 1.5hrs”

6. The sound of silence

Other mums have found turning off the music in the car seems to help their babies stay soothed in the car – almost like the road noise is the white noise.

  • Tip from Phoebe: “When my baby seems a bit overwhelmed, I turn off the radio and let the soothing silence take the wheel. It’s incredible how a moment of calm, without the background noise, can work like a reset button”

7. Sit with them

This one isn’t always possible, but if you can, have someone sit next to bub for a bit of distraction and comfort. If you have other kids sitting next to your little one, get them to swap positions to a different side of the baby and see if that does the trick.

  • Tip from Ashley: “I found on road trips that sitting in the back with my little one helps. The closeness not only reassures my little one but also turns the backseat into a haven of comfort.”

8. Chat away

Your voice is often all that’s needed to bring bub back from the brink of a meltdown. Turn off the music and speak in soothing tones.

  • Tip from Jennifer: “I like to narrate our journey to my baby. Describing the scenery, the cars passing by, it keeps her interested and calm.”

9. Put on a podcast

Alternatively, sometimes it’s other people’s voices that do the trick, so play a podcast on a reasonably quiet volume and see if that helps.

  • Tip from Olivia: “My baby loves story podcasts during road trips. The variety of voices and tales seem to hold her attention longer than music.”
  • Tip from Megan: “I find that my baby enjoys listening to podcasts with soothing voices, such as nature documentaries or storytelling podcasts. I choose podcasts that are appropriate for her age and interests, and I play them at a low volume so that she can still hear the sounds of the road and her surroundings.

10. Comfy clothes

Dress your baby in layers of comfy, breathable fabrics for the journey. Opt for onesies and pieces that can be put on and removed easily. The beauty of layers? You’re ready to adapt to changing temperatures along the way as well as prepared for any inevitable blowouts and unexpected messes.

Need a hand trying to figure out what your little one should be wearing depending on the weather you’re travelling to? Check out ergoPouch’s handy What To Wear guide to take the guesswork out of choosing the right garment for your baby.

11. Make it warmer/cooler

Have a play with the temperature in the car. Try turning the heater up or the air conditioning down; your little one may be a little too hot or cold.

  • Tip from Feeona: “My baby is most comfortable when the temperature in the car is around 20-22 degrees. I also like to dress her in layers so that I can adjust her clothing as needed. “
  • Tip from Mia: “I keep a cozy blanket in the car. It’s my secret weapon for sudden temperature changes.”

12. Check the car seat

Run your hands along the inside of the car seat, to make sure nothing sharp or annoying has fallen down the side and is annoying your little passenger.

  • Tip from Edith: “Rub inside the car seat. Is there a prickle or something else causing discomfort?”

13. Stretch their legs

Give your baby the freedom to stretch and kick during pit stops. Consider bringing a portable cot for those breaks – it’s not just for napping! One savvy Grapeviner suggested, “I pack a foldable porta cot. It’s like a mini play area for my baby during breaks. It’s a game-changer, and no worries about insects thanks to the cover!”

This one from ergoPouch ($159) packs small and has a cover so no insect bites. Bonus.

14. Put the window down

For some reason, this simple tip has worked wonders for lots of the Grapeviner mums in our groups. Perhaps it’s the sound or even the fresh air – but it’s worth a try.

  • Tip from Aimee: “If my baby is getting fussy on a long car trip, I try putting the window down. The sound of the wind or the fresh air often calms her down. I also like to sing or talk to her in a soothing voice. “

15. Loosen the nappy

We tend to make sure nappies are super snug at home, but it can get a little uncomfortable for babies sitting in a car seat for these long road trips. Try to give a little bit of extra wiggle room during that final change of their nappy before heading off.

  • Tip from Kelly: “When I’m putting my baby’s nappy on before a long car trip, I make sure to loosen it a bit more than I usually would. This is because babies can get uncomfortable sitting in a car seat for long periods of time, and a tight nappy can make things worse. “

16. Photo fun

This bright tip from one of our mums has been a sanity-saver. Just add some family photos to the baby’s mirror or the headrest and watch their face light up!

  • Tip from Kaitlin: “We printed a heap of family photos and photos of my little and put them in a cheap plastic photo album and it was a great ‘screen-free’ distractor for a while. My little can go about 30mins solid just flicking through the photos, looking at himself and talking.”

17. Keep the sun out

Ensure your baby’s car seat isn’t directly exposed to prolonged sunlight. Not only could it cause discomfort or overheating for your little one, but prolonged sun exposure might not be the healthiest choice. Using a window shield is a great way to shield them from excessive sunlight during the drive.

  • Tip from Amy: “I always make sure to note every once in a while where the sun is and if it’s on the side where bub’s car seat is and we make adjustments accordingly. Sometimes an irritable baby could simply be from the constant flickering and changes of light from the sunshine.”

From mastering the art of roadside nappy changes to creating a serene ambience with white noise magic, these insights from Grapeviners who’ve done it all before aim to turn your road trip into a delightful memory-making experience.

Buckle up for the adventure, savour the moments, and enjoy the road with your precious cargo.

Safe travels!

The award-winning ergoPouch makes natural fibre, premium, ergonomically designed sleepwear and sleep solutions for babies and kids that are TOG-rated for warmth. Their collection includes premium quality baby swaddles, sleeping bags and sleep suits available from birth to 6 years of age sizing.


This article is sponsored by ergoPouch

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11 Smart Tips For A Road Trip With A Baby

Tips and Hacks for a Road Trip with a Baby or Toddler

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Tips and Hacks for a Road Trip with a Baby or Toddler

Planning to take a road trip with your baby or toddler in tow? You can do it! Learn all the best tips and hacks  for surviving a long drive with your young child from our parenting experts.

Over the river and through the woods, to Grandma’s house we go!

Only problem is: Grandma’s house is an 8-hour car ride away, and you’ve got a baby or toddler, plus maybe a few big kids, to cart along with you. But don’t let that stop you from embarking on that road trip – with some smart planning and preparation, you can make it to your destination relatively unscathed.

We’ve teamed up with our friends at Stonyfield, to bring you the absolute best tips and advice to make it through a marathon car journey with your baby. So buckle up and read on to learn how to make some road trip memories that will last a lifetime.

PIN for when you’re planning your next road trip:

long car trips with infants


First things first, it’s critical to not set your expectations too high. Remember that babies and toddlers don’t have the patience that you do (or that you might hope!). With this in mind, don’t expect to drive straight to your destination without stopping…multiple times.

Depending on the age of your child, you may have to stop every hour or two to feed, change, or give them a break from their car seat. If you go into the trip with this in mind, you’ll have a much better, less-stress experience.


Keeping #1 in mind, plan your trip so you avoid driving too far in a single day. Map out your journey with the help of an online tool so you can get a sense of how long the trip will take. An app like  Waze  will even take into consideration what day and time you’ll be leaving and factor in the consistent travel patterns like rush hour.

long car trips with infants

Plan a few potential pit stops along your route so if baby is getting fussy, you’ll already have done your research. Depending on your child’s age and stage, you may want to find a park or playground for them to explore, or somewhere to go for a short walk to stretch your own legs. Pack some bubbles and a ball for some fun, interactive play during your stop.

Inevitably you’ll need to find a clean bathroom at some point, so we suggest downloading the  SitOrSquat app  before you leave so you can view public restrooms based on your current location. It also includes an interactive map with how long it will take to reach each stall, can filter those with baby changing tables and even gives a cleanliness rating. Major high five to that!


The most successful road trips are timed right.

If your baby sleeps well in the car, plan your trip to coincide with a time where you know your baby will sleep – either over naptime, or at bedtime. This way you’ll be able to get in a good chunk of quiet, peaceful driving that can recharge everyone’s batteries.

If your baby isn’t a great car sleeper, plan to leave shortly after they wake up in the morning, or right after a nap. Then at least you’ll start the journey with a well-rested, happy baby.

Either way, make sure that baby has a full tummy and a clean diaper before you leave!


We suggest packing your car the day/night before you leave, and while you pack, really think about what you’ll need to keep at arm’s reach vs. what you can stow away.

Keep your suitcases and large baby items like a travel crib at the back of your trunk, as you likely won’t need to access these until you reach your destination. Pack a separate “necessity bag” with all of the essentials you’ll want en route like toys, pacifiers, burp clothes, and bottles.

We like to pack a separate “Changing Station” that includes a changing pad, plenty of diapers, wipes, diaper cream, small trash baggies and an extra set of clothes for any spit-ups, spills or worse! Stick everything into a plastic zipper bag, or buy one of  these handy dandy organizers . You could even just grab the pre-stocked caddy you use in your home.

long car trips with infants

If you can, leave a free space in the back of your car for a make-shift Changing Table (especially if you have an SUV where the trunk is flat and the perfect height for diaper changing). This makes it super easy for quick changes during pit stops, and you don’t have to worry about finding a clean gas station bathroom.

Create an easy place to throw your trash – we love  this amazing car trash bin , but a trash bag around the front seat headrest can work just as well.

These back-of-the-seat organizers  are also great for keeping toys, books and other necessities close at hand.


Your baby will need to eat during your travels, and whether nursing or formula feeding, make sure you have all of your supplies close at hand. If nursing, a comfy pillow for feeds in the car while filling up with gas can make a huge difference. For bottle fed babes, pack a thermos 1/3 full with hot water so you’ll have room to place your bottle inside to warm it up. Do this just before you arrive at your next pit stop, so the bottle will be ready and your baby won’t have to wait.

We know several mamas who nurse but also bring a pump and bottle so that they can pump while their partner drives, and feed with a bottle from the backseat if need be.


For babies who are eating solids, make sure to bring a cooler stocked with healthy, nutritious options for pit-stops or eating on-the-go.

long car trips with infants

To save room in the cooler, we love to use  Stonyfield Organic Whole Milk Yogurt Pouches  as ice packs. Simply stash a few in your freezer 24 hours+ before you depart, and then line your cooler with the pouches. Not only will they keep your food and drinks icy cold, but once they thaw, they can turn into a great snack for the whole family. We especially love that they contain real fruits and veggies and have 35% less sugar than the leading kids’ yogurt.

We also like to travel with our favorite  Stonyfield YoBaby yogurt  so we have plenty of them for meal time and snack time once we arrive at our destination. If your baby is at least six months old, YoBaby is a great choice as it’s made with only Certified Organic ingredients and supports digestive health with its blend of live and active cultures and the probiotic BB-12. We love that the  YoBaby Veggie  and  YoBaby Plain  have no added sweeteners, and they’re thicker than other baby yogurts which makes it much easier for them to eat. That being said, remember to bring pack some napkins/wipes, spoons and a bib.

And although it’s important that you pack foods that baby will enjoy, don’t forget about yourself! Even if you plan to stop along the way for your meals, if your baby is content or asleep, you may want to keep driving. So throw a few healthy snacks in the cooler for yourself as well.


As we mentioned earlier, having your baby sleep for a portion of your trip is essential for everyone’s happiness. So do whatever it takes to recreate their ideal sleeping environment: bring any comfort items like a blanket, lovey or pacifier and if they’re used to white noise, download an app to play on your phone/iPad or use a  portable white noise machine .  These window shades  can also help protect your baby from the sun and create a darker, nap-inducing environment.


After baby has awoken from their nap, they’ll be ready to play, so be sure to bring a vast selection of age-appropriate toys for them to explore. We find that new toys often hold their attention for the longest spans. Pick up a few new ones at your local discount store, or plan a toy-swap with a friend. You could even stash away a selection of toys a week or two before your trip so they will be forgotten and feel new.

Or try your hand at these DIY ideas to keep baby engaged:

Make your own “baby garland” by taping a piece of string across the back of the seat where they sit, and attach photos of other babies or family members to it. Babies are fascinating by studying people’s faces, so this can keep them surprisingly occupied.

Alternatively, fill an empty tissue box with long scraps of fabric or smaller mouthing-friendly toys – baby will love reaching in and pulling out each new surprise.


If you are traveling with another adult, it helps if one of you can ride in the backseat next to your baby for at least a portion of the trip. Think of it as free time to bond with your baby – read them books (interactive ones with lift-the-flaps or things to touch/feel are extra engaging), sing nursery rhymes and play peekaboo. Switch off with your travel partner every half hour so baby gets a new face and fresh entertainment!


Listening to music both you and your kids will enjoy can make your road trip so much more fun for everyone. If you’re able to sync your phone or device to your car’s speakers, make a playlist of your family’s favorite songs. If it’s just you and your baby, listening to podcasts or books on tape can make the time go quickly, and the sound of voices often helps a baby relax.

You can even try listening to music in another language – exposing your kids to new sounds and cultures.


Although we hope with fingers tightly crossed that your road trip will be a smooth one, with no unforeseen circumstances, we always suggest to be prepared for the worse!

We’ve learned the hard way, that it’s always helpful to have a bucket (or small garbage pail) and towel within an arm’s reach. You may learn that your baby (or even yourself) gets car sick, or comes down with a sudden stomach bug.

Having a First Aid kit with band-aids, bug spray, sunblock, prescriptions, and over-the-counter drugs like Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen, could stop your trip from taking a disastrous turn.

And make sure that your vehicle has emergency supplies like jumper cables, flares, a spare tire and jack, and if applicable to your location, a small snow shovel and brush.

Believe it or not, traveling with a baby can actually be a pleasant experience. After all, they aren’t old enough to ask “are we there yet?” over and over again!

Plan carefully and use our tips and you’ll be at Grandma’s house in no time. Safe travels!

Thank you to our sponsor, Stonyfield, for making delicious yogurts that are better for our children, families, and our planet. We’re grateful for their dedication to this mission.



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8 Ways to Keep Your Baby Calm and Content on a Road Trip

By Amy Marturana Winderl, C.P.T.

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Any road trip comes with challenges, but a road trip with a baby is its own special sort of tough. While some little ones conk out as soon as the engine starts, others have a difficult time being in the car for hours—or any time at all. If you and your family are hitting the road for the holidays, keeping your baby calm, safe, and content throughout the trip is important for everyone involved. Before you strap in for a long car ride with your baby, first be sure to read through the travel recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics . They advise creating a travelers’ kit that includes child-safe hand wipes, diaper rash ointment, and water. You’ll also want to read through their car seat safety guide to make sure your little one is safe and secure. 

As for tips on how to keep your baby happy and (relatively) chill, we asked other parents who have been there, done that for their advice. Here’s what might help:

1. Invest in sun shades.

If you can, Elizabeth C., 30, recommends buying—and remembering to use—high-quality sun shades for your backseat windows and rear windshield. They’ll prevent sunburns on long rides and also keep the light from getting in your baby’s eyes. Plus, it makes the car more conducive for sleep.

2. Drive during their sleep time.

Every parent we spoke to said something similar: Planning long car rides around your baby’s sleep schedule is a great way to avoid fussiness. Corinne N., 31, started a 12-hour road trip after her 11-month-old went to sleep. “She did a normal feeding and bedtime routine, but instead of being placed in the crib, she was placed into the car seat,” Corinne explains. “She slept the whole way while we drove throughout the night. She was well-rested when we returned home.” (Quick note here: Drowsy driving is really dangerous. If you’re not used to being up for long stretches into the wee hours of the morning, this may not be the safest tactic for you.)

3. Drop-proof all of the things.

Caitlyn S., 34, puts a lot of toys in a basket next to her son so he can play with them as he pleases. But the key is that she also creates a barrier—using something as simple as a towel—between the car seat and the door “so if he does drop the toys, they won’t fall past where he can reach.”

4. Be prepared for when hunger strikes.

When her twins were babies, Lindsey H., 35, says she swore by taking Mixie bottles on long car rides. “It’s a bottle that allows you to keep the water and the formula separated until you are ready to use it,” she explains. Then, just push a button to release the powder formula into the water and shake to mix. “Totally a lifesaver in the car when our twins would get restless,” Lindsey says.

5. Get out of the car.

“Some kids and babies just need a leg stretch or car break to make it the rest of the trip,” says Lauren. If traveling for more than two to three hours, Lindsey says she stops every couple of hours to get out, walk around, and let the babies out of their car seats.  “When we stop to use the restroom, we make sure to find a nearby park or field so he can run around,” says Caitlyn.

6. Play music.

Look for songs, playlists, or even toys that play music that your baby gravitates toward, Lauren suggests. Ideally, you’ll find something you can stand listening to as well. Disney film soundtracks, Raffi , and Caspar Babypants are good options. Or you can download this calming playlist developed by a musical therapist for Montefiore Medical Center. Even if the music grates on your nerves, if it keeps your baby calm and content, it might be worth grinning and bearing it. 

7. Travel with a portable sound machine.

Elizabeth always brings a portable white noise machine when planning a road trip around her baby’s sleep time. “Our sound machine has a good battery life, so we play it along the way and plug it in when we get there.” If you don’t have a sound machine, Caitlyn suggests playing white noise over the car speakers—just find a playlist on your music streaming app of choice. You’ll want to be careful of the volume if you use this strategy. The American Academy of Pediatrics says babies shouldn’t be around sustained noises louder than 50 decibels. Download a decibel-measuring app like Sound Meter to test the volumes on your machine at home before using it in your car. 

8. Keep them busy.

Any interactive toys that keep your baby engaged and occupied can help. Of course, the specific toys you use will depend on the baby’s age, but try a few things and see what sticks. If all else fails, try putting one adult in the backseat next to the baby to keep them entertained throughout the drive. In some cases, just having someone back there with them can be calming on its own.

This article is presented by Volvo. Related :

  • 9 Road Trip Survival Tips From Parents Who Have Been There
  • 5 Road Safety Tips Even the Most Experienced Drivers Sometimes Forget
  • 21 Smart Ways Parents Are Finding Alone Time Right Now

long car trips with infants

SELF does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

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Traveling With A Newborn By Car: Tips For Baby’s First Road Trip

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When you welcome your bundle of joy, life completely changes. Talk of the sleepless nights, crying babies, and endless joy, you name it. And after a while, it is natural to feel burnt out.

A family vacation comes as a relief for many new parents – or obligations interstate may see you needing to prepare for a long journey by road (especially if you’re not quite feeling ready for airplane travel with a baby!)

But we’ll bet there’s a constant worry whether traveling with a newborn by car is safe; and will you be able to survive a longer trip by car with your newborn?

Chances are that your newborn probably arrived home by car after delivery, meaning there are no restrictions on family road trips . Provided you and your baby get out of the car every couple of hours to take a stretch and avoid restlessness, there’s no reason you can’t undertake a successful road trip with a newborn.

Car travel with an infant is good for you and the family, and here are some reasons why:

  • It helps you build confidence as a parent
  • You get to share new experiences with your little one
  • You get to enjoy some quality family time
  • Traveling with your little one helps in their brain development

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How Soon Can a Newborn Travel Long Distance By Car?

How soon can a newborn travel long distances by car? This is an overwhelming query that lingers in every parent’s mind. It is very understandable, given the delicate, tender, and fragile nature of your little one, making you want only the best for their safety.

While no laws or safety implications have been put in to determine the right age for your infant, some safety tips ensure that your little one is safe as you travel.

The American Academy of Pediatrics maintains that there is no specific child age to travel, but it gives safety tips for traveling with infants and young children. Meanwhile, the NCT (UK ), recommends that if you are traveling with an infant that is less than four weeks , you should ensure that they do not sit in their car seats for more than thirty minutes .

a newborn baby strapped into a car seat

For an older baby , they should not stay in the car seat for more than two hours before you take a break.

Always Use An Infant Car Seat!

It should go without saying that you are ALWAYS to use an infant car seat anywhere you drive with your newborn, be it a short trip around the block or across the country. Never, ever hold your infant in your arms whilst the vehicle is moving, no matter how distressed your baby might seem, in their car seat is the safest place.

The most important thing to remember is that the car seat should always be in a rear-facing position when road-tripping with a baby and correctly installed in the back seat.

As your infant grows, you should also familiarize yourself with the car seat laws of the state(s) and countries where you will be traveling. This is because while some states/countries do not specify the type of car seat to be used at a particular age, or car seat position, some are clear about these in the laws; if car seat rules are violated, they can attract hefty fines.

Medical Issues and Concerns

If you have any concerns at all before setting out, please raise them with your pediatrician or health care worker. They are sure to put your mind at ease that a healthy baby is fine to undertake a road trip.

When you decide to go on a long road trip with a baby , and you are an American citizen, ensure that they (infants) have their medical insurance. Ensuring that you have the proper insurance for your baby is essential before you travel. You should also double-check to ensure your baby is registered under your medical plan.

If you are from another country, then be sure your child has their insurance health card and that you have it with you as you travel, just as important as their baby passport.

Tips For Road Tripping With A Newborn

Your car travel with a newborn might seem daunting at first, but it can be a rewarding and memorable experience if done right. And yes, your baby can also have a great time on the road!

First, you must adjust your attitude, carry some handy must-haves, and a few simple tricks to ensure you are all happy and comfortable on the road. Sure, there may be some tears (yours and your baby’s!), but let’s try and minimize these by going in to your car trip well prepared.

Buckle up and read on to learn how to ensure that your long journey comes with memories that will last a lifetime.

Get Your Car Checked Before Leaving For Your Car Travel With A Newborn

Before heading out, ensure that your vehicle is mechanically ready to hit the road . Check for tire replacement, whether you need an oil change or your car’s air conditioner is working. Trust us, an auto repair shop is the last place you want to find yourself in on your long car ride with a baby!

Having a technician ensures that your baby’s car seat is installed correctly according to the car seat manufacturers specifications before taking off is also a great idea if you’re feeling unsure.

Plan Your Route Wisely

Prior and proper planning beforehand will ensure that you avoid driving too far in a single day. You should therefore plan for several stops when road-tripping with a baby, as this is important, and inevitable. Always allow yourself extra time!

Traveling With a Newborn By Car - Plan Wisely

Depending on the age of your little one, you should plan for stops every one to three hours. Why, might you ask? This is because your little one needs frequent breaks from their car seat and regular feeds and changes. You can incorporate fun activities during the breaks.

These breaks will also be times for feeding, diaper changes, and walks for you and the baby to get the much-needed stretching and fresh air.

Time The Long Distance, Right

The right timing during your long car ride is when your little one has their nap times or bedtime. By so doing, you will have a good chunk of quiet, peaceful driving that you need.

But if your baby is not a great car sleeper, then the best time would be shortly after they awake in the morning or immediately after their nap and feed. This will ensure that you have a well-rested and happy baby.

All said and done on planning, ensure that before you leave, your baby has a clean diaper and a full tummy – these are likely be their largest causes for complaint once you’re on the move.

Entertain Your Baby

For newborn babies, remember you are still their favorite toy. As you travel, being as present as possible will be essential. How you might wonder:

Traveling With a Newborn By Car - Entertain Your Baby

  • Sing : yes, your baby loves your voice though you think otherwise. The sound of your voice soothes them, and it goes a long way when you incorporate hand actions and sound effects to capture their attention completely.
  • Give leg massages : just like you, your baby will feel relieved when given leg massages. So, if you are two (a driver and you), you can rub the feet and legs to help them reduce the tension.
  • Sit with your baby : if you have someone to help with driving, you or a family member should sit in the back seat. This is comforting for your little one and will help them remain calm.

If you are traveling alone, you may want to look at getting a baby monitor for the car to give you peace of mind what is happening behind you.

Pack Your Car Like A Pro

Packing your car the day or night before you leave is best, and while packing, you need to categorize. This is where you know what you will need to keep at arm’s length versus what you can stow away.

The suitcases and large newborn baby items like the travel crib can go at the back of the trunk, or in a roof top cargo box , as you will likely only need to access these once you reach your destination. Then you can have a necessary bag with all you need en route.

FRT Traveling With a Newborn By Car - Packing like a pro

You can also have a separate changing station in a travel bag that includes diapers, baby wipes, diaper creams, changing pad, small trash baggies, and extra clothes for you and your baby for spit-ups, spills, or worse!

You may want a nursing cover handy too, if you are not comfortable feeding in public or your baby prefers to feed without distraction.

If you don’t have older children or other passengers in the car, keep a back seat free ready to do quick diaper changes. This will save you needing to hunt out proper change room facilities at every rest stop.

Take Regular Rest Stops

During your car travel with an infant, you will need to take frequent breaks for several reasons.

One of the reasons is that the much-needed break will give your baby a change of scenery and give you a chance to feed and cuddle your little one. This way, your baby might be a little less grumpy as they will have a chance to get out of the rear-facing car seat and interact.

As a general rule, you should take a 15-minute break after every two hours with young babies on a long road trip. The reason behind the 2-hour rule is concerns of restricted breathing in a car seat after more than a couple of hours.

This is also an opportunity to adjust how many layers your baby is wearing as the day heats up. Overheating can be another common cause of newborn discomfort, even after they’ve been fed and diaper changed.

Bring A Cooler With Bottles, Snacks or Meals

Whilst you may be breastfeeding full-time at home, while you’re on the move you may find it more convenient to pump and transport your breastmilk ready for feeds in the car or roadside stops.

If you’re taking the pumping and pre-prepared bottle route, or prefer to formula feed your infant, you will want a good cooler for the car .

FRT Traveling With a Newborn By Car - Road trip cooler with snacks

If your baby hates taking their milk cold, a wise investment for your road trip will be a portable bottle warmer to quickly prepare their baby bottles on the move. Their are many fabulous models made for use on-the-go that work on a thermos system or plug into your car with a USB cord.

Remember YOURSELF, too. Throw a few healthy snacks in the cooler for yourself as well, in an easy to grab picnic bag or cooler as you may want to eat on the move if your baby is peacefully sleeping through and you’re not due a rest stop – some easy to grab granola bars are an excellent choice.

Recreate Your Baby’s Sleeping Environment

Having your little one sleep for a portion of your trip is essential for everyone’s happiness. So, do everything it takes to recreate your baby’s ideal sleeping environment.

You can bring their comfort blankets, lovey, or pacifiers. And if your baby is used to the white sound, you can download it to play on your phone or iPad or use a portable white noise machine.

You can also use a window shade to ensure your baby sleeps peacefully and is protected from the sun. A window shade is also great for creating a slightly darker nap-inducing environment.

Remember Baby’s Favorite Things

Having the things that your baby finds entertaining or comforting with you during your road trip with your newborn will be beneficial. When the baby has awoken from their nap, they will be ready to play and interact – which is difficult when you’re sat up front.

A young baby in a car seat holding a teddy

A newborn is likely unable to differentiate between old and new travel toys, so you’re a long way off needing to wrap them little surprised or anything like that, yet! (for older bubs, head over to our toddler road-tripping tips for further entertainment ideas).

For a young infant, you will need a few simple and engaging baby toys for the car , that they can squeeze, suck and cuddle as comfort items.

Make A Playlist

Making a playlist that you and your baby will enjoy will make your road trip soo much fun. If you can sync your phone or device to the car speakers, make a playlist of your family’s favorite songs.

The great thing is, your newborn is a long way from complaining how old and embarrassing your favorite hits are, and won’t be requesting Baby Shark on repeat, either!

You can also listen to podcasts or audiobooks . Maybe skip the thrillers genre, but something light and chatty can not only help the time move more quickly for the grown ups in the car, the sound of voices in the car can be relaxing for your baby, too.

Dress Your Baby In Everyday Clothes And A Blanket

You never know whether your little one will be too cold or too hot as you travel. Whatever the case, it is best to be prepared. Clothing your little one in everyday clothes will allow you to regulate their temperature more effectively and prevent overheating.

Ensure that they are not clothed in anything too padded, like a pram suit, as this might make their car seat ineffective in case of a collision. If they seem cold, use an additional blanket over their car seat – we have more tips for keeping your baby warm in their car seat here.

Conversely, you don’t want your baby overheating in their seat either when its hot outside, we share all top tips for keeping infants cool in their car seat over here.

Remember Your Camera

Road trip with newborn calls for lots of pictures! You will be lost without your camera.

Ensure that you capture all those magical moments of your newborn first road trip. And who knows, once you have exhausted everything to entertain your baby, they might find it attractive to look at your pictures and themselves!

Traveling With a Newborn By Car - Capture moments

Be Prepared For Everything And Anything

All we hope for when traveling is to arrive safely at our destination. But it is only sometimes smooth, and some unforeseen circumstances might arise. Always have a bucket or a small garbage pail and old towel or muslin c l oth within arm’s reach.

Have a first aid kit with sunblock, band-aids, over-the-counter drugs, prescriptions, and bug spray, just in case. Also, ensure that your vehicle has emergency supplies like jumper cables, a spare tire jack, and, if applicable to your location, a small snow shovel and a brush.

We share our complete list of road trip essentials over here.

Best of luck with your new baby adventure! Sure, they’re not going to remember their early years on the road but you’ll undoubtedly be creating memories of a lifetime , and well on your way to becoming a family of adventurers !

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© Family Road Trip 2024

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Everything You Need To Keep Kids Entertained During Long Car Rides

Senior Staff Writer, HuffPost

long car trips with infants

Summer road trip season is upon us, and with it, the whines and wails of children who have been cooped up in the backseat of a car for far too long. Whether you’re traveling with babies , toddlers , school-aged children or teens, keeping kids happy and occupied is a vital component of stress-free travel.

Screen time is helpful, but it’s not the only option — especially for small children who can get easily overstimulated. And although nothing beats getting lost in a good old-fashioned book, it’s not an option for those of us who get carsick the second we step into a moving vehicle.

Luckily, there are tons of options for parents looking to keep kids entertained during long car rides, from audiobooks to magnetic board games and more.

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long car trips with infants

Before You Go

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15 Things You Need To Keep Your Kid Entertained During Quarantine

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5 tips for long road trips with an infant.

long car trips with infants

Does parenting require flexibility? Of course. Do babies need lots of attention? You might count yourself lucky if yours don’t. These aspects of raising an infant can make long bouts of travel seem very daunting.

Whether or not your next road trip with a baby is to reach an exciting destination, you’re here because you’d like some advice for the journey. Without further ado, here are five tips for long road trips with an infant.

1. Take turns driving

This is a great tip for all car rides if you can help it. However, this is especially helpful when the demands of an infant threaten to prolong your trip for one reason or another. As parents, you can be each other’s greatest support, assuming you both have your license!

2. Drive longer stretches at night

A baby sleeping equals longer drive-times, which can equal great progress. You may want to put some extra time into planning your route with the assumption that you’ll drive mostly at night. You can still make choices that can conveniently incorporate rest stops and baby-friendly amenities along the way. Just plan your more frequent breaks for feeding, changing and stretching when the baby will most likely be awake.

3. Be sure to take breaks frequently

Sometimes nature calls more often than not. With a baby, that could threaten the momentum of a long car ride or offer an opportunity for a rest stop. Unfortunately, frequent breaks may be necessary at some point in your journey — why not embrace it?

4. Keep supplies handy

Having the supplies handy can shorten the length of stops or make them less frequent. Changing supplies, food, first aid (or even just wet wipes) and toys are most useful on a long car ride when they’re highly accessible. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Bring enough diapers, wipes and a changing pad for the journey.
  • Pack extra clothing, bibs and blankets in case of spills or accidents.
  • Ensure you have enough formula or breast milk for the trip.

5. Playing music can keep them calm

Music’s a common relaxation tool for infants and may even put them to sleep. If the soft whooshing of the wind outside isn’t soothing enough, playing music can get and keep babies calm in the car. You can even consider bringing along a way to play white noise if your baby is accustomed to it.

Remember that each baby is unique, so it may take some trial and error to figure out what works best for your child during long car rides. Always prioritize safety and comfort, and plan ahead to minimize stress for both you and your infant. Expect unexpected stops and be flexible with your schedule. Stay calm and patient if your baby becomes fussy, and be prepared to take additional breaks as needed.

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Road Trip with Baby: Essential Travel Packing List & Tips

Written by Becca

Updated on April 30th, 2024

A list of baby items laid out on a marble table.

How do you take a road trip with a baby for the first time? Check out my essential travel packing list for everything your infant needs during a trip.

This article may contain affiliate links. We earn a small commissions when you purchase via those links — and it's free for you. It's only us (Becca & Dan) working on this website, so we value your support! Read our privacy policy and learn more about us .

Table of contents

  • Feeding & Nursing
  • Clothes & accessories
  • Grooming & medicine
  • Transport: strollering, driving, car seat and carrying
  • Learn more about road trips for babies!

Traveling with an infant is incredibly daunting when you first decide to take a short trip with your baby. How will you set up a safe place for sleeping? How will you pack enough to cover every possible situation? How many bottles is enough?

We took three trips between our baby being three and six months, and having a standard packing list gave us peace of mind. We borrowed suggestions from friends and family, and put together the best of all the recommendations.

In this packing list, you’re welcome to switch around the quantities of all items based on how long your trip is. Also, note that this list was for three road trips and not for flying. Nothing we brought was specific to TSA-approved sizes and our luggage wasn’t optimized for a flight.

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  • UPPAbaby Minu travel stroller Check Availability
  • Eufy Baby Monitor Check Availability
  • BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light Check Availability
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  • Baby Tula Lite Baby Carrier (with fanny pack) Check Availability

Here’s the list of road trip items we took, many of which are the best baby products for travel .

The below list is based on a three-day two-night trip during which I’m nursing and giving a few bottles here and there. Of course, you have your own methods of feeding your infant during the trip , and no two parents nor babies are alike in this regard. For all the clothing recommendations (along with sleep sacks, bibs, etc.), I liberally pack an extra in case there are “accidents.”

Ready for our road trip baby packing list? Here it goes.

If you are flying with your infant, check out this list of crucial tips for taking a flight with your baby!

Feeding & Nursing

Whether you’re nursing or exclusively bottle feeding, there are some essentials to consider.

  • Bottles : We like Comotomo and Lansinoh .
  • Bottle brush & stand : This OXO stand has been great.
  • Pacifiers (2) : Check out Avent and the Avent + animal !
  • Burp cloths (3-4) : We like aden & anais .
  • Bibs (3-4) : aden & anais make great bibs as well.
  • Vitamin D drops : We have these .
  • + flanges (6)
  • + duckbill valves (6)
  • + tubing (2)
  • + backflow protectors (2)
  • 6 Spectra milk bottles and tops : Check them out .
  • Milk cooler with ice pack : We have this one , and it fits most standard 5oz bottles.
  • Frozen milk (1 bag) : We use the Lansinoh storage bags . I bring frozen milk on our way when we leave home, so that it survives the car ride in the cooler.

long car trips with infants

Our strategy for bottles is to have enough for feeding, storage and a few extra. When they are empty, we clean them right away and cycle through them like that. We also put Vitamin D drops in each bottle for feeding, so we’ll always have a few storage bottles ready to dish out.

A white container with a green toothbrush and a green brush.

Also the bottle supplies that I mention are optimized for 5oz bottles. You might need slightly different supplies for the bigger 8oz bottles.

Three baby bottles on a marble surface.

For babies eating solids

  • Jars or pouches of baby food (however many your child consumes)
  • High chair : Take a look at this clip-on high chair . A foldable travel high chair also works!
  • Booster seat : Try this one from OXO .
  • Spoons/utensils : We’ve had the best luck with these spoons .
  • Silicone bibs : Check these out and pick from lots of different colors.
  • More wipes !: We like these water wipes .

We make our own baby food, and our baby eats whatever we have in the house! For convenience, I can see how the pouches could be a quick and easy solution to have food on the go. You can put out only as much as you need and use your own spoon, then save the rest for minimal clean up.

long car trips with infants

Sometimes at home, we keep our daughter sitting up right and hold her to give her some food. So the clip-on high chairs and booster seats are only necessary when independent solid eating is more of a thing.

long car trips with infants

More diapers are better than fewer, especially if you’ll be in a remote location like we were when we went up to the northwestern Catskills to stay in a country house. There wasn’t a Walmart for MILES! Luckily, I learned from our trip the month before that I should pack diapers like they’re going out of style, and we survived plenty fine.

I had already corrected all my former mistakes when we went away to Litchfield County, CT , when our daughter was 7 months, and came home with a heap of diapers to spare.

One thing I like to have on hand is little plastic throw-away baggies for diapers when disposing of them in a hotel or Airbnb. I save the ones we use as produce bags at the supermarket and then load up my diaper bag with those. They are so handy. If you’re looking for something more compact for storing (or already have a dog) these dog #2 storage bags might also work.

  • Diapers : Find your brand and size on Amazon . For a three-day trip, I took 30 diapers.
  • Wipes : We use these water wipes .
  • Diaper balm : We like diaper balm with a lid , to prevent accidental spills.
  • Little garbage bags for diapers
  • Changing pad : This one is great for most babies.

For the diapers, it’s best if you leave them in the original packaging to help save on space. We found that bringing loose diapers takes up more room in our already cramped bags.

Our diaper bag has a changing pad that never leaves our bag. When we travel, we change our daughter with the pad on the floor. This is a good practice in case there’s an accident. We are not prepared to scrub any carpets while away!

It’s also likely that you may have these items in your diaper bag. It would be a good idea to make sure you have extra / a spare set for a makeshift changing station at your accommodation.

long car trips with infants

Clothes & accessories

When we went upstate to Livingston Manor for three days, I almost laughed: we came home with exactly one diaper left in the diaper bag and our daughter’s luggage combined. ONE!

This was because we went through quite a few changes of clothes, if you know what I mean. And if there are overnight accidents, you may have a soiled sleep sack or swaddle.

A white t - shirt and a white hoodie on a marble floor.

In addition to the extra outfits I leave in the diaper bag, I was happy with the number of backup clothes and pajamas I had packed, as we almost went through everything. In my guide to how to visit NYC with a baby , I discuss the importance of bringing clothing layers for changes in weather.

  • Zippy pajamas (3-4) : We’ve had good luck with Carters brand PJs .
  • Outdoor blankets (1) : For colder months, try this type of blanket .
  • Daytime outfits (with spares) : These Carter onsies and pants are great staples!
  • Booties or socks : You can never have too many socks .
  • Sun hat : Hats work great for keeping the sun out of your baby’s eyes.
  • Headbands or hair bow clips : So cute !

We’ve liked bringing plenty of headbands and hair bows for times when we’ve wanted our daughter to look cute in a photo.

A set of baby headbands on a marble table.

Grooming & medicine

For babies with hair, you might want to consider packing a comb or brush. For us, we do a quick hair combing at bedtime as part of the routine.

For all other medicine and health products, it’s up to you. We haven’t had to use any of the medicines while away from home, but you truly never know what can happen and what you’ll want to have in your back pocket if your child is soon to be teething, comes down with some congestion or is having bouts with gas pains.

  • Frida nail file & clipper : The Frida Baby Grooming Kit has everything you need.
  • Hair comb or brush : We like this comb because it has an extra fine side.
  • Medicine for unexpected scenarios : ( Acetominaphen , gas drops , Snotsucker )
  • Thermometer : We got this digital one .
  • Rattle toys, teether toys : Our baby LOVES these teethers .

A set of toothbrushes and brushes on a marble countertop.

A tip from my cousin, an expert mom of two, is to bring along “identifying docs” for your child, even when your baby doesn’t have an official ID or baby passport yet, like an immunization report or other medical record (even a physical photocopy of baby’s birth certificate would be a “better-safe-than-sorry” thing to have!).

Transport: strollering, driving, car seat and carrying

We have become UPPAbaby people and we are super happy with the choice to buy into the UPPAbaby ecosystem of strollers and car seats. We picked up the Minu stroller for traveling purposes and it has saved a ton of trunk space when compared to the larger and sturdier UPPAbaby Vista stroller we keep at home.

long car trips with infants

For unexpected weather or bugginess in summer locations, opt for bringing both the rain cover and the insect net covers for your car seat or rumble seat.

  • UPPAbaby Minu travel stroller : We’re happy with ours and it saves trunk space. Check it out or read our UPPAbaby Minu review here!
  • UPPAbaby Mesa car seat : Check prices on Amazon for this sturdy car seat.
  • UPPAbaby stroller parent console : Ours lives on our stroller, even when folded. Check it out .
  • UPPAbaby Mesa rain cover and bug screen cover : The rain shield and bug screen have been helpful!
  • UPPAbaby car window shields : Help keep the sun out of your baby’s eyes. Check it out .
  • Baby Safety Car Mirror : We have one of these in our car at home, and if you will be renting a car at your destination, be sure to bring along your own baby car mirror .
  • A baby carrier you love : If you have car space to spare, opt for a strong baby carrier like the Baby Tula Explore Carrier . If you’re short on space, go the route of an ultralightweight carrier like Baby Tula Carrier Lite ; for more ideas, see my list of the best baby carriers for travel .
  • *A hiking carrier : For adventurous parents, as well as for toddlers and larger kids who like being carried, consider a hiking carrier. We like ours, which you can read about that the Deuter Kid Comfort Venture review .

The baby tula lite carrier fully closed with everything packed away.

While our daughter doesn’t exactly love the Pack ‘n Play, it’s a fact of life when you leave home for travel. The first trip we took with her when she was 13 weeks was when we used the bassinet from our UPPAbaby Vista stroller ! That way, she wasn’t sleeping in a foreign environment.

With the Pack ‘n Play, we make sure the mattress cover is clean before we leave home, and we bring a backup sheet in case it gets soiled. Another hack has been the blackout cover, which simulates darkness for the baby if you’re in a place with lots of windows or no dark curtains. It also gives the baby their own sense of space if you’re all in one hotel room, like we say in our guide to staying in a hotel with your baby .

  • BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light : This travel crib is so easy to set up and take apart, and it’s tons lighter than a Graco Pack ‘n Play. Check it out or read our review .
  • Pack ‘n Play sheet with spare sheet : This one should work great!
  • Pack ‘n Play blackout cover : We have this one .
  • SlumberPod : This is a blackout tent to use during travel! It goes over an entire travel crib and parents swear by it.
  • Baby monitor : We’ve been happy with our monitor . You don’t need Wi-Fi, so it’s easy to set up anywhere.
  • Audio baby monitor : If you want as a backup, or alternative to video, you can check out the audio-only options.
  • HALO & Nested Bean sleep sacks (2) : We love our HALO , and we’ve been using the Nested Bean as a backup.
  • Hatch Rest+ sound machine : We like the Rest+ because it has an easy charging base.
  • Amazon Basics portable suction cup blackout curtains : These curtains help to darken a room so your little one sleeps longer!

We feel a little silly bringing the Hatch because it’s such a big sound machine. The backup battery has actually been a huge help because we once lost power and we’re glad we still had some white noise going. Something like this might be a better option.

Plus, we use a portable travel sound machine (you can also get it on Amazon ) on our stroller or with our a travel-friendly baby carrier while taking walks, to help create some familiar and consistent white noise It works out great, whether on the road or at home.

long car trips with infants

Learn more about road trips for babies!

From our experience, here are some of the things that we’ve learned that have been helpful in making everyone happy during the adventure.

And as a heads up, you can check our the rest of our articles on traveling with a baby to learn everything you can, as well as our list of the best essential road trip accessories for everyone in the car.

What to expect on your first trip with a baby

I actually kind of expected the worst, in traveling with a baby. How would naps work? Would we have to stop for feeding? How would our child sleep at night, the first time away from home?

This all felt kind of crazy, but we knew we had to take the plunge if we ever wanted to introduce our daughter into our world of travel.

Our first trip with her was at 13 weeks. I was largely doing okay, three-ish months postpartum, and we were finally comfortable with the world of being parents. Also, I don’t want to sugarcoat this at all: our baby was far from sleeping through the night, and as my best friend put it, “If you’re going to be sleep deprived and doing night feeds, why not at least be away from home on a vacation?”

While New Hampshire at the end of winter is far from tropical and didn’t involve any skiing or snowy sports for us, it’s where my extended family gets together every year in mid-March. I didn’t want to be left out, so we took our tiny newborn along (easier said than done).

Here’s a few tips for what to expect and how things really went, that time, and the two times we went up to the Catskills when our child was 5 months and then 6 months. While both trips were very different from each other, we decided to risk it (again!) by going up to Litchfield County, CT , when she was 7 months old as well!

Naps and sleeping tips for road trips

On the way up to New Hampshire and down from New Hampshire, our baby took some of her best naps of the month in the car. Her naps were a total grab bag and we never know what to expect, especially if we were going to be in the car for more than two hours. We were graced with some two-hour naps during the five-hour drive, and when we stopped for bathrooms, I fed her in the rest area or in the front seat of the car.

When we went to Nova Scotia, we planned a day trip excursions from Halifax and timed our planning with the baby’s three-nap schedule.

Keeping your baby entertained during the car ride

When she wasn’t napping, one of us sat in the back and tried to entertain her with toys and a book. It’s hard to say if it worked. During our road trips with her two and three months later, we both sat up front and if she needed consoling, I’d reach my arm back to hold a pacifier in her mouth. We had her teether beads and a fruit teether attached by a pacifier clip in her car seat.

I recommend having some toys or teethers, depending on your baby’s age, attached to the car seat straps so they don’t get lost or dropped during the ride.

Feeding during car rides

Most babies eat every 1.5-2 hours in the first few months of life, and ours certainly did. Even at five and six months, she likes to eat every two hours if she can. Some babies are on an every-three-hours feeding schedule by this point, but that’s not something that worked for us. Much of this experience inspired me to write about how to feed a baby during travels .

If a baby is hungry during a car ride, you’ll know. It’ll be chaos. If our child cried, we turned up the music, held a pacifier in her mouth and sang her favorite lullaby on repeat. Being a parent is far from glamorous!

During some stops, we gave her a full feed, depending on when she had last eaten. I did this in rest area cafeteria booths, the front seat of our car in a Trader Joe’s parking lot In Connecticut and in a Panera off the highway, most recently. I think a good tip is to get comfortable feeding your baby at the right time, and the place is less important.

The importance of the diaper bag

Just like when you go out for the day, having a robust diaper bag is crucial during a road trip. And I mean “two spare outfits” level of robust. We have been using Nike’s diaper backpack and it’s good for travel. Check out more photos at my Nike Diaper Bag review .

On our most recent trip with our baby when she was six months, there was a diaper blowout just as we hit our first stop, and I wound up doing an entire outfit and diaper change on a picnic table in a covered pavilion as it began to rain. Good thing we had weather-appropriate attire in a packing cube in the diaper bag, along with enough wipes and diapers and of course, hand sanitizer.

Other things I keep in the diaper bag are my new nursing cover, a small Hakka pump, a disassembled Medela hand pump, spare Medela milk vials, a changing pad and a spare light blanket for miscellaneous use. I suggest keeping your diaper bag contents constant so that if something is missing, you can figure it out.

I use the same diaper bag contents on a regular trip to the supermarket, as well as a trip up to the countryside.

As a secondary diaper bag for when I’m just getting out of the car at a rest area, or going somewhere with only the carrier and not a full stroller setup, I’m into the Kibou fanny pack diaper bag .

It’s also crucial for a diaper change on a plane , for the next time you fly.

For a limited time: Join the list for 15% off your first order + get free shipping on orders $75+!

Shop the deal

This cute belt bag is the most minimalist (and chic) diaper bag. I review the Kibou to talk about all the features.

long car trips with infants

It has a fold-out changing pad, and in the main compartment I can fit diapers, diaper cream, a pacifier, my phone and a slim wallet. Plus, it has a waterproof zippered wipes pocket on the inner side, which is so handy and cool.

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long car trips with infants

How to keep kids happy on long car journeys: 8 great activities to keep children entertained on road trips

From traditional games to sightseeing detours, these are our top tips on how to stop your younger passengers from getting bored on the road

It's summer holiday time which, for millions of families means it's time to pack up and head off for a week or two away from home.

Many will be jetting off in search of sun , but millions more will be packing up the car and heading to destinations around the UK or across the Channel .

While that brings freedom and the chance to discover new places it also, inevitably, involves long periods in the car and the time-honoured cries of "are we there yet?" from younger passengers.

Especially as traffic experts predict major congestion on key roads , it's important to have ways to keep children entertained during long car journeys and stop them getting bored and argumentative, so we've rounded up some of the best ways to keep kids happy, from old-school family games to high-tech gadgets.

Sometimes the old methods are the best and one of the easiest ways to while away the time on a long trip is to get everyone involved in a simple game.

Classics like I Spy are simple and can be adapted for any age group by using colours or shapes in place of first letters. Car counting is another simple and free game that is also great for encouraging numeracy - pick a colour, make or model each and tally up how many you spot. Or think of a famous person each and play 20 questions to guess each other’s choices, only allowing yes or no answers.

Road trip bingo needs a little preparation beforehand but creating a few cards with things you might see - a digger, traffic lights, a special landmark, for example - can help distract young passengers and get them interested in their surroundings rather than staring at a screen.

Or try playing the neverending story, where someone gives the first sentence of a story and everyone then takes turns to add another to create an utterly unique tale.

Alternatively, you could invest in travel versions of classic board games like Guess Who or Battleships.

Activity books

Activity books are another good way to keep children’s minds active. For maximum entertainment choose one with a variety of games, puzzles and challenges. For younger children sticker books are another way to keep them busy for a while, and older kids can be distracted with comics or story books.


In truth, this could go either way depending on your family’s musical tastes. If you’re all into similar music, line up a favourite album or playlist and belt out some tunes or have a sing-off to decide who has the best voice. However, if there’s a Frozen/Fear Factory clash it might be best to either alternate choices or find some neutral ground.

If things turn into a music battleground, try an audiobook or podcast instead. Services like Audible offer a huge catalogue of family friendly books to engage listeners of all ages and no matter your age or interest there’s bound to be a free podcast out there to entertain.

Find an interesting detour

Check out your route beforehand and see if there’s somewhere along the way that you kids will find interesting - whether it’s a play park, museum, ruined castle or swimming pool - factor in a stop. Not only is it a welcome break on a long journey but it’s also something to look forward to ahead of your final destination.

Interactive steering wheel

A great way to keep the youngest petrolheads happy, there are a variety of toy steering wheels that can be attached to child car seats or the seat back of the front seats. With steering action, lights, sounds and buttons to press, young backseat drivers can while away the journey imitating the grown-ups up front.

Tablet/DVD player/games console

It might feel like admitting defeat but sometimes, especially on long journeys, a little bit of screen time can help settle frayed tempers and take young passengers’ minds off how long they’ve spent stuck in one place. Pack a portable DVD player and a few favourite movies or download a selection of shows or films from your streaming service of choice to a tablet or smartphone. A tablet loaded with games or a portable console like the Nintendo Switch is another high-tech solution, just make sure it doesn’t lead to old-fashioned car sickness or fights over whose turn it is.

This is more about keeping young passengers happy than entertained but it’s important to keep energy levels and hydration up when travelling. Pack some healthy snacks such as fresh fruit or vegetables that can be stored in small individual helpings and take plenty of water. A small sweet treat is fine but avoid too many sugary foods and try to steer clear of fatty junk food and fizzy juice that can lead to feelings of car sickness.

Get them involved

Before you head off, you can get your kids to help plan your route, including any stops or points of interest, then encourage them to look out for key waypoints once you're on the road. You could even let them track your progress on a navigation app like Google Maps to give them an idea of how close to the destination you are, heading off the inevitable question of “how much further?”.

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Car Seat Stroller

Best Overall Portable Infant Car Seat

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Best Portable Travel System for Babies

Nuna pipa urbn + trvl stroller.

Aside from requiring a lot more gear, traveling with kids can be quite stressful, and in between packing your luggage and investing in a travel stroller , there's little mental energy for anything else. Fortunately, our experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute Parenting Lab have been testing car seats for decades, including the best convertible car seats , rotating car seats and the best booster seats . We test based on safety features, functionality, ease of use and value. Our picks are based on tests done in-Lab by our experts, evaluations from our consumer testers and extensive research.

Head to the end of this guide to find more information on how we test, whether or not you should use a car seat on a plane, what to look for when shopping for the best portable car seats and more. Looking for more to make traveling with kids as easy as possible? Check out our favorite outdoor-ready stroller wagons , the best lightweight strollers and top-rated double strollers .

The Doona car seat is our pick for the best overall car seat and stroller combo and it's one of our past Parenting Award winners. A dedicated fan following backs it up; see its more than 13,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. The Doona makes it easy to switch between car seat and stroller mode in seconds even with your baby strapped inside. In short, you don't need a separate infant car seat and a stroller, because this is both.

"It's the easiest stroller to maneuver through airport security and around an airport terminal," says one tester who's a mom of two young kids. It goes into a rideshare vehicle using the seat belt (no stroller to put in the trunk!). It's also FAA-approved for use in an airplane cabin and fits on most economy airplane seats, which are often about 17 inches wide.

Rachel Rothman , the Good Housekeeping Institute's former Chief Technologist and a mom of three, is a fan of this for travel. But it's important to note that, as well as being pricey, the Doona is only for rear-facing use and for toddlers up to 35 pounds. Toddlers outgrow it typically at age 2. But if you'll travel a lot in those first two years — even if it's just catching Ubers around town — you'll be grateful for the Doona.

Big kids need a bit of help ensuring that the seatbelt is hitting their body just right, so this backless booster gives them that extra height. It's also exceptionally small, lightweight and easy to travel with; you might even keep several in your car's trunk for when you're carpooling other kids.

Because it's backless, it doesn't offer as much support as a highback booster (for that, see the Peg Perego on this list). It is okayed for ages 4 and up as long as they weigh at least 40 pounds and could be great for a quick trip when you don't want to lug something large. This fits into a tote bag!

With its two hideaway cupholders, machine-washable seat cushions and padded armrests, this tucks a lot of features into a (really!) affordable seat. It's no surprise that it has more than 20,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. While it isn't airline approved — all booster seats require a shoulder belt, which you won't find on an airplane — its compact size makes it incredibly simple to slide into your overhead bin to later use in taxis, Ubers or other vehicles once you get to your destination.

For a little more money there's a TurboBooster LX version that works with LATCH; nice if you'll be keeping this in one car for a length of time.

Got enough to carry already? At 10 pounds, this is the best lightweight convertible car seat for traveling and it won't break the bank. Five harness heights and three buckle locations help customize the seat to your baby or toddler's size, though it's the kind of harness you have to rethread each time you need to change it.

The Scenera can be installed rear-facing for babies and toddlers and forward-facing for preschoolers up to 40 pounds but lacks the cushioning and other comforts, like a recline mechanism, we've come to enjoy in an everyday toddler car seat . Still, with its deep bucket seat, this will keep your tiny passenger comfy enough and car seat compliant when you're traveling and in and out of other people's vehicles. It's especially great as a rear-facing travel option for 2- and 3-year-olds who have outgrown an infant car seat.

You can remove both the cupholder and seat pad for washing. The seat pad can even go in the dryer. The brand claims that three of these seats fit across a back seat and our tests were able to validate that in certain vehicles. It can be installed with the LATCH system or a seatbelt. It's approved for airplane seats and like our best overall pick it fits on most economy seats.

Kids who are at least age 4 and who weigh 40 pounds or more will appreciate the comfort of this belt-positioning booster seat just as much as parents will appreciate its ability to fold down to a fraction of its size.

The Flex 120 has an exceptionally large weight range, functioning for kids up to — you guessed it — 120 pounds. While it's a bit pricier than some other booster options, its ability to compact down makes it perfect for folding up and storing in a bag that you can then gate-check, or even fit into the overhead bin while in-flight. Note that no belt-positioning booster is certified for use in an airplane cabin because they're meant to be used with a car's shoulder belt, not an airplane lap belt. The big kids who fit this are good to use the airplane belt anyway! This is perfect for use in a rideshare, taxi or a far-off relative's vehicle when you land.

Customize this booster to your child by adjusting the headrest, upper backrest, side wings and seat. In addition to being an easy portable car seat, this is another great choice for grandparents or other caregivers who only occasionally drive big kids around because it so easily fits into a car's trunk when not in use.

This is larger and heavier than any of our other choices. However, this is the most portable all-in-one car seat that grows with your little one from a rear-facing infant car seat to a backless booster, from 4 to 120 pounds .

Its versatility means that it may be the only car seat you ever have to buy, and if you travel infrequently, you could manage to tote this on a few trips and avoid buying something separate just for travel. It is certified to work on an airplane seat with the harness (so, up to 65 pounds), but it's about 3 inches wider than many economy airplane seats so the fit isn't great; one Reddit user said they put it in the window seat and then just accepted squeezing themselves into the middle-seat position.

While testing, we appreciated how easy this car seat was to install and use, making it pretty difficult to mess up due to user error. We also love how highly adjustable it is, with a six-position recline and a no-rethread harness with 10 possible heights. The easy-to-remove washable seat pads make it simple to clean up after your little one. If you're taking it with you into a rideshare and can't use the LATCH installation system, there's an integrated belt lock off on the back of the seat that helps make seat belt installation as simple as possible.

This is a pricey option that has a fan following with frequent travelers who travel with a preschooler. It folds down into its own carrying case, which can be worn as a backpack, so you can easily get it through the airport and store it in a hotel. It's got a five-point harness and is meant for kids up to 50 pounds. The brand says it's for kids as young as 2 but because rear-facing is safest and this only faces forward, we would not recommend using it for a child until they are at least age 3, preferably 4.

The Pico does not have side-impact protection and other safety features we want on an everyday car seat, but for travel we agree that this has portability appeal. It also gets knocked in reviews for not being comfortable for long car rides if your child likes to nap, but again, we're putting it on this list for on-the-go families who are in "something is better than nothing" mode, even for short train, bus or van rides.

Our experts appreciate how lightweight this seat is (8 pounds), and that it easily fits even on the smallest economy airplane seat (it's FAA-approved). The seat can either be installed using the LATCH system or the seatbelt in a car or airplane.

If you're a city family that doesn't even own a car, there's a big reason to love the PIPA portable infant car seat: It's built to be installed without a base and is exceptionally easy to move between vehicles, including rideshares like Uber.

It's got a built-in rigid LATCH system or alternatively you can use the back seat seatbelt. Plus, the PIPA urbn only weighs 7 pounds, making it one of the lightest infant car seats we know of and an easy one to carry from place to place. The stroller, too, is lightweight at just under 14 pounds and can be folded down using just one hand. The car seat is built to ride on top of the stroller, to get them both through an airport, and we named it our favorite lightweight travel system .

The infant car seat does not have a high weight limit, however. Your baby will outgrow it when they hit 22 pounds or are 29 inches tall, whichever comes first. For some that can mean by their first birthday. But the stroller will stay useful through the preschool years since it has a weight limit of 50 pounds. The car seat is airline-approved and will fit on most economy cabin seats.

How we test the best portable car seats

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The Good Housekeeping Institute's engineering and parenting pros have reviewed dozens of car seats over the past five years, including portable car seats . Our Lab experts work with parents to test these car seats on a variety of vehicles of different brands and sizes to ensure that you can find the right car seat for your family.

Each car seat we consider has passed Federal Safety Standards. We perform tests both in the Lab and at home to evaluate each product's safety, ease of installation, stability, ease of adjustments, stroller compatibility and portability. To accomplish this, we set up each car seat in a variety of vehicles and strollers. We evaluate how easy it is to secure the harness as well as how difficult it is to install the car seats. For portable car seats we pay special attention to whether they can be installed without a LATCH system and if they are approved for use in an airplane cabin.

What to look for when shopping for a portable car seat


Whether you're going on a trip or often take your child places in a rideshare vehicle, if you need a portable car seat you should consider these things:

✔️ Height and weight limits : All car seats come with minimum and maximum height and weight specifications. To ensure proper seatbelt placement and optimal security, make sure your child fits within those ranges. Once they meet the maximum in either height or weight, it's time to switch. If you have an adjustable car seat that transitions to a booster look at the labels on the car seat, check the user manual or contact the manufacturer so you know when it's time to switch modes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) can help you determine the right kind of car seat for your child based on their age, weight and height. That will help you figure out if you can use an infant car seat or if you need a convertible car seat and if you're ready to move on to a booster car seat for travel.

✔️ Weight : The lightest car seats are often the most portable. We get especially excited when we find any that are less than 15 pounds, though a few on our list are heavier than that.

✔️ Easy cleaning : Regardless of age, spills happen. Luckily, like many other car seats, most portable seats offer removable machine-washable seat covers and padding.

✔️ Design : Traditional car seats have a ton of padding, robust side-impact protection and extra features that are important for every day but might be overkill for short trips. The best design for a portable car seat is a slim, streamlined one.

✔️ Ease of installation : Since you will be re-installing the car seat each time you put it in a new car or aircraft, it's important to find a car seat that is so easy to install it won't take more than a few minutes. The easiest car seats for traveling can be installed without a car seat base.

✔️ State laws : Before you bring your car seat across state lines, check state laws to be sure you'll be compliant. Often children through age 7 must be in a child-restraint seat. But if you're heading to Florida for Disney World, the laws there only apply to children through age 5.

Should you bring a car seat on the plane?


While it is not mandatory to strap your little one into a car seat on an airplane, many parents opt to do so since it can be both a safer and more comfortable for everyone . It's recommended to do so for children under age 2 by the FAA and AAP. Note: For your child to ride in a car seat, you'll need to buy them their own plane ticket so they're guaranteed to have the space. If your baby under age 2 is flying as a free "lap baby" you are not guaranteed space for your car seat.

Before you bring a car seat onboard, check that it has an FAA-approved sticker. It's also a good idea to bring along your car seat manual to help ensure that you're properly installing the seat on the aircraft. There are helpful videos on YouTube, too, that show how to buckle a car seat in with a lap belt. (This one from the FAA shows how to install a forward-facing car seat on a plane .) Watch some before your trip!

The average airline seat is about 17 inches wide and measures 30 inches from the back of the seat to the seat in front of you — but size can vary depending on which airline you are flying. Because of this, it's best to pick a narrow, compact car seat. Infant car seats fit better than most convertible car seats, though we find that the Cosco choice on our list generally fits well.

For those who are traveling with a car seat who don't plan to use it while on the plane, many airlines will check the car seat or booster seat for free at the check-in desk or at the gate. It might be a good idea to purchase a travel bag to fit it in, to help avoid damage.

Why trust Good Housekeeping?

Lab pros and journalists at the Good Housekeeping Institute provide expert reviews and advice on everything a parent needs, including portable car seats.

This article was overseen by Rachel Rothman , former Chief Technologist & Director of Engineering at the Institute, who was trained in mechanical engineering and applied mathematics. As a mom to three kids, she personally used many of our recommended products.

In her former role as Parenting & Pets Reviews Analyst, Jamie Spain brought years of experience to the Institute and wrote the first iteration of this story. It has since been updated by contributing writer Jessica Hartshorn who has followed the car-seat market for 25 years, previously for Parents magazine and American Baby magazine. She's also a mom of two.

Headshot of Jamie Spain

Jamie (she/her) is a parenting and pets reviews analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute , where she spends her time testing, researching and writing about pet and family products. Prior to starting at GH in 2021, she worked at BuzzFeed and People , covering a combination of product reviews and lifestyle content. She's a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and psychology and a master’s degree in journalism.

Headshot of Jessica Hartshorn

Jessica (she/her) is a freelance writer with several decades of experience writing lifestyle content and evaluating home and parenting products. A mom of two teens and two cats, her previous work can be seen in American Baby and Parents .

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Travel chaos at major UK airport as passengers forced to queue for hours

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Birmingham Airport queues

Families trying to get away for half-term breaks are reportedly stuck in hours-long queues at Birmingham Airport.

Passengers said delays at security were causing long waits in high heat to get to departure gates.

Staff were said to have been seen pulling people out of queues and taking them to the front to save them from missing their flights.

Snaking queues stretched all the way from the security hall to an outdoor area in front of the departures lobby, forcing passengers to wait in the sun.

Birmingham Airport queues

Hannah Wright, a mother from Peterborough, told The Mirror: ‘We’ve been waiting an hour to fly to Majorca. Our son is claustrophobic so it’s hard for him.

‘It’s put a dampener on the start of our holiday. There is nothing in place for children who might struggle in situations like this.’

The airport is currently carrying out work to finish a ‘state-of-the-art’ upgrade to the security hall.

Birmingham Airport queues

Reports suggest wait times have been consistently higher than usual while the works are under way.

The upgrade will allow customers to carry liquids up to a certain volume inside their baggage without having to remove them for X-ray scanning.

The limit is currently still set at 100ml but plans are in place to increase it to 2 litres.

Families returning from half-term getaways via Heathrow Airport are in for further chaos due to planned strike action.

Birmingham Airport queues

Border force staff at terminals 2, 3, 4, and 5 will walk out from Friday, May 31 to Sunday, June 2.

Monday’s delays followed travel chaos in several parts of the country over the bank holiday weekend.

Attempts to steal signalling cables on the West Coast Main Line forced cancellations and long delays on trains from five different operators on Friday.

Meanwhile, fans driving to the FA Cup final at Wembley were held up by traffic jams caused by a major incident on the M1.

One fan posted a picture on X of people standing outside their cars on the M1, writing: ‘Little warning to those heading down to Wembley on the M1. Been stuck at Leicester for 30 minutes. Looks like a major incident. 

‘Nothing coming northbound, either. Huge queues. City and United fans out of their cars trying to figure out what’s going on.’

This is a developing news story, more to follow soon… Check back shortly for further updates.

Got a story? Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected] . Or you can submit your videos and pictures here .

For more stories like this, check our  news page .

Follow Metro.co.uk on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news updates. You can now also get Metro.co.uk articles sent straight to your device. Sign up for our daily push alerts here .

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3 warnings and 4 advisories in effect for 16 regions in the area

Dozens of united airlines passengers headed to houston fall ill after international cruise, “thirty minutes before we land, we get told that they’ve been exposed to an unknown virus.”.

Gage Goulding , News Reporter , Houston, TX

Michael Lemons , Photojournalist

Ahmed Humble , Digital Content Producer

HOUSTON – More than two dozen people on a United Airlines flight to Houston on Friday became ill while the plane was traveling from Canada.

RELATED: United Airlines says it has regained some privileges that were suspended after problem flights

United Airlines flight 1528 was flying from Vancouver, British Columbia to Houston. During the flight, 25 people became sick.

According to the Houston Fire Department , the sick passengers reported symptoms of nausea.

“About an hour and a half before we hit Houston, they ask for if you’ve been on this cruise ship, could you raise your hand,” James Snell recounts from his flight.

All of the ill passengers were previously on a cruise. A total of 75 passengers flying on the plane were on that cruise.

🤒 More than two dozen passengers aboard a @united flight to @iah on Friday became sick. @HoustonFire says the passengers just got done with an international cruise. @KPRC2 is also learning that the @CDCgov is also involved in the investigation. pic.twitter.com/y9Bdmx2Nbr — Gage Goulding - KPRC 2 (@GageGoulding) June 1, 2024

Firefighters and paramedics met the passengers as they landed at George Bush Intercontinental Airport following the five-hour flight from Vancouver, British Columbia.

“Then all of a sudden, the flight attendant, she put on a mask, and the guy next to me is like, ‘What do you think’s going on?’ And I’m like, ‘Bro, I don’t know. You know? I mean, COVID, we’re all going to die.’ You know what I mean,” said Snell.

Three people were “evacuated” from the airplane, but no one was taken to the hospital.


According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) the plane landed around 6:30 p.m.

“Then firetrucks and ambulances started pulling up,” Snell said. “They didn’t hold us very long, maybe 45 minutes-ish.”

Passengers aboard the airplane say that the pilot and flight attendants alerted them that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating the illness.

“This is where it got weird,” Snell said. “He [the pilot] got over the speaker, but he came out to us and he said, ‘Hey, in my 25 years of flying, I’ve never seen anything like this. We have been quarantined by the CDC. Nobody can exit the plane until the CDC lets us off.’”

After being let off the plane passengers were screened by paramedics from the Houston Fire Department.

“As soon as you got off, you got mobbed, wanting to know if you had any symptoms and did you want to be triaged,” Snell said. “But then they let us off and I thought, man, you’re letting us off in Houston airport. Like we’re going everywhere in the world. This is how it started the last time.”

The last time refers to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s what he and other passengers thought they could be dealing with.

“We’re all trapped in this tube, and we’ve all lived through Corona. And I was just like, ‘oh, come on. Not again,’” Snell said.

KPRC2 asked the FAA, CDC, Houston Fire Department and United Airlines for information about which cruise ship the passengers who got sick were on and for the illness, but none of the organizations would provide further information.

According to information from the CDC, there have been seven outbreaks of illness on cruise ships this year.

The most recent is a norovirus outbreak on the Celebrity Summit cruise ship.

Norovirus is commonly known as the “stomach bug” and can lead to nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It’s a highly contagious virus, but is typically not a severe illness and passes in a few days, the CDC reports.

According to Celebrity Cruises’ website , the Celebrity Summit ship is currently sailing between Seward, Alaska and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Vancouver is where the United Airlines flight full of sick passengers took off.

KPRC 2 asked Celebrity Cruises for more information about their outbreak and if it’s connected to the sick passengers that landed in Houston. We’re still waiting for an answer.

Meanwhile, United Airlines tells KPRC 2′s Gage Goulding that the plane is being pulled from rotation until it can be deep cleaned.


“Several passengers who had been on the same cruise and did not feel well were on United Flight 1528 from Vancouver to Houston tonight. United Airlines is actively coordinating with health authorities to address the situation. As a precautionary measure, the aircraft will be removed from service and go through a deep cleaning before returning to service. Ensuring the health and safety of our passengers and crew remains our top priority.”

CDC Statement

“CDC is aware of a flight from Vancouver, British Columbia, that arrived at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Friday, May 31.

Public health officers from CDC’s Houston Port Health Station worked with EMS to evaluate ill passengers on board. Most of the ill passengers reported mild GI symptoms. No passengers were noted to have a fever during the flight or upon public health assessment at landing. No passengers met CDC criteria for further public health follow-up. Passengers from the flight continued with their travel plans.”

Copyright 2024 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.

About the Authors

Gage goulding.

Gage Goulding is an award-winning TV news reporter and anchor. A native of Pittsburgh, PA, he comes to Texas from Fort Myers, FL, where he covered some of the areas most important stories, including Hurricane Ian.

Ahmed Humble

Historian, educator, writer, expert on "The Simpsons," amateur photographer, essayist, film & tv reviewer and race/religious identity scholar. Joined KPRC 2 in Spring 2024 but has been featured in various online newspapers and in the Journal of South Texas' Fall 2019 issue.

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    The most important thing to remember is that the car seat should always be in a rear-facing position when road-tripping with a baby and correctly installed in the back seat. As your infant grows, you should also familiarize yourself with the car seat laws of the state (s) and countries where you will be traveling.

  19. 13 Genius Ways To Keep Kids Entertained During Long Car Rides

    A travel journal. Created especially for kids ages 6 to 9, Rob Taylor's "The Ultimate Travel Journal for Kids" is packed with journaling prompts, activities, crossword puzzles, scavenger hunts and much more. Best of all, it can be used for up to four different trips. Get it from Amazon for $7.50. 12.

  20. 35+ Absolutely Best Road Trip Activities Kids Will Love!

    Photo credit: iStock by Getty via PicMonkey. 35+ Awesome Road Trip Activities For Kids: Toddlers to Teens. Our road trip packing list has always included road trip games and activities. But it is true that these activities really vary depending on whether you are traveling with toddlers, school-aged kids, or teens.. So, I have segmented this list to include road activities and games for kids ...

  21. 5 Tips for long road trips with an infant

    Here are some steps you can take: Bring enough diapers, wipes and a changing pad for the journey. Pack extra clothing, bibs and blankets in case of spills or accidents. Ensure you have enough formula or breast milk for the trip. 5. Playing music can keep them calm. Music's a common relaxation tool for infants and may even put them to sleep.

  22. Road Trip with Baby: Essential Travel Packing List & Tips

    Eufy Baby Monitor Check Availability. BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light Check Availability. Blackout Cover for Pack 'n Play Check Availability. Baby Tula Lite Baby Carrier (with fanny pack) Check Availability. Here's the list of road trip items we took, many of which are the best baby products for travel. The below list is based on a three-day two ...

  23. 35+ Family Road Trip Essentials and Printable

    The garbage bags are also great for storing wet swimsuits and clothing. 2. Wet wipes and hand sanitizer. Chances are the kids are going to want to eat snacks on a long drive, so having wet wipes available to clean up before and after (and any messes in between) is essential to any road trip. Bring along the hand sanitizer for anytime wipes aren ...

  24. 4 strategies to keep kids occupied on long car trips

    Parents can utilize these four strategies to keep kids occupied on long car trips. 1. Take out the tablet. Unlike their own parents, modern moms and dads have a reliable ally in the fight against backseat boredom. Tablets can be loaded with all sorts of entertainment, from ebooks to movies to interactive activities to school lessons ...

  25. How to keep kids happy on long car journeys: 8 great activities ...

    How to keep kids happy on long car journeys: 8 great activities to keep children entertained on road trips. 10mo. From traditional games to sightseeing detours, these are our top tips on how to ...

  26. 7 Best Portable Car Seats 2024, Tested & Reviewed by Experts

    Safest portable car seats for travel with babies, 2-year-old toddlers or big kids traveling by airplane and Uber. Also great extra car seats for grandparents!

  27. Birmingham Airport sees Bank Holiday travel chaos with queues ...

    The delays cap off a weekend of travel-related chaos around the UK (Picture: X/@isabellaboneham) Border force staff at terminals 2, 3, 4, and 5 will walk out from Friday, May 31 to Sunday, June 2.

  28. When Do You Need Travel Insurance?

    Travel insurance is crucial if you're investing in a once-in-a-lifetime trip or your travel plans include high-cost, non-refundable elements like tours, cruises, or multiple connecting flights.

  29. Gunman wearing clown mask kills person sitting in car on Gulf Fwy

    HOUSTON - The search is on for a gunman who wore a clown mask to kill a person sitting in their car on Gulf Fwy overnight Monday.. SEE ALSO: 2 shot, 1 killed outside Cosmos Nite Club in ...

  30. Dozens of United Airlines passengers headed to Houston fall ill after

    According to Houston firefighters, at least 25 people on the flight reported feeling sick due to a cruise they were on.