Road trips with kids can be a lot of fun. If you are traveling with a toddler, a little bit of pre-planning can go a long way into making your experience a positive one. The key to a successful car trip is keeping the child busy.
The following are 10 tips for stress-free car outings that will keep your toddler happy and safe.
1. Safety First
Ensuring proper car seat installation is paramount to your child’s safety when you are on the road. Also, consider the comfort level of the seat you buy if you plan to travel frequently, as a well-cushioned seat will provide a higher comfort level for your child than the less expensive, thinly padded seats.
2. Capitalize On Naptime
If you plan to travel on long distances, timing the start of your trip with naptime will help your child transition nicely from your home to your vehicle. Try to replicate your child’s sleeping environment by bringing his favorite blanket and lovey so he feels comfortable enough to sleep peacefully.
3. Make Regular Stops
Just as adults have to take breaks to stretch out and walk around, toddlers also need to be able to move about and spend some energy. Think of all the running around your child does in one day; being strapped in the car for long periods can considerably reduce your toddler’s active time so leave yourself plenty of time to allow for small breaks.
4. Never Leave Your Child Unattended
As tempting as it may be sometimes, you should never leave your child alone in the car. Not even for a minute to run into a store. Not only is this not safe, but it can be extremely dangerous (even fatal in some cases) depending on the conditions under which you do so.
5. Bring Plenty Of Snacks
Toddlers love to munch on finger foods; it keeps them busy and from getting frustrated because of an empty tummy. The best choice of food is dried and easy to grab items; your toddler will then be able to feed himself safely without making a mess.
6. Bring Enough Toys
From car games to solo play items, be sure to bring enough toys to keep your toddler entertained for the duration of the trip.
7. Minimize Loose Items
Try to minimize the amount of loose items you place in the car. Leave bulky and heavy toys at home and bring softer and smaller toys instead. Anything that is left loose in the car could potentially turn into a dangerous weapon in case of a collision.
8. Buy Something New
Kids love toys, especially new ones. If you are going on a relatively long car trip, buy a few new toys ahead of time so you have a backup plan when all the usual toys fail to keep your toddler happy.
9. Give Your Toddler A Camera
Toddlers generally love to play with tech devices so if you have an old camera (or disposable one) lying around, bring it along and ask your toddler to take pictures of things he finds interesting along the way. This should keep him busy for a while and you will both have lots of fun going through the pictures afterwards.
10. Dress Your Toddler Appropriately
Car seats can get stuffy so make sure your child is dressed accordingly in order to stay in a good mood and be comfortable for the ride. Ideally, dress your child lightly and bring a blanket, which he can use in case the air gets chilly.