Let me predict your future.
If I’m right, you have to read the rest of this article.
If I’m wrong, I will change 10 up-the-back-into-the-hair dirty diapers for you. *
*You will have to arrange my transportation to your home, but I’ll bring the wipes!
Here’s the bet:
At some point you’re going to take your baby on a road trip.
How’d I do? Ready to keep reading? Or should I start packing?
When you take said “baby road trip”, it won’t matter if it’s an hour or eleven hours: you’re going to wish you had read this article.
After all, what would you rather listen to?
- An eleven hour soundtrack of Howling Howie or Wailing Wendy?
- Or eleven hours of giggles, gurgles, and the occasional productive grunt?
Today I’m going to unload all the suggestions I can think of (or find online) to keep Joy behind your baby’s brain control panel.
Did you choose to fly instead? Read this: What Every Parent Should Know About Flying With a Baby
Baby Road Trip Stop #1
Our first stop on this Tour de Family has got to be Safetyville.
This is the quaint little village that helps ensure you all stumble back from vacation exhausted, but living.
As you’re planning and getting ready to go, keep these important tips in mind.
- Make sure you have your car seat installed correctly. Click here to find where to go in your town to have your baby’s car seat inspected for free.
- If you have a really long trip ahead of you, I would encourage you to make sure your baby’s car seat is not only safe, but comfortable. Sitting on a hard board for 8 hours will make anyone cranky. See my convertible car seat reviews here.
- The AAP recommends that all children under age 2 ride in a backward-facing car seat. They aren’t trying to make your life annoying, there’s real evidence that it makes a big difference in fatalites. (75% less likely isn’t chump change!)
- Consider projectiles. Hard items can cause serious damage when flying around the inside of a car.
- Since your baby will (hopefully) be sitting in a rear-facing car seat, you’ll need a way to keep an eye on that mouth of his. This is the baby mirror you’ll be glad you’ll have. (Hint: It’s the sturdiest adjustable mirror I’ve ever come across.)
Baby Road Trip Stop #2
The Plains of Playdom
Our next pit stop on this baby road trip, once we’ve passed through Safetyville, is the great Plains of Playdom.
These consist of a plateau of playful toys, apps, music, and activities to keep his attention occupied.
Warning! Don’t pull out all of these at once!
These are meant to be trickled out one at a time, so you always have something else to use in your back pocket.
If you’re planning on taking a really long roadtrip, I would consider purchasing some of these new. After all, nothing quite entertains a child like something new and unexplored.
#1: Sunny Arch ~ Attaches onto the car seat and is filled with exciting things to play with and look at!
#2: Spiral Activity Bar ~ Easy to move from the car seat to the stroller. Older babies will enjoy the spring-y action, even when they’ve outgrown the newborn carrier.
#3: Captain Calamari ~ How can you not love something with such a cute title? Also has a hidden mirror on the underside, which is exactly the part your newborn will be gazing at. A good distractor from birth on.
#4: Wrist Rattles ~ What’s the first thing your baby does when you put something on his hands and feet? Yup. Tries to take it off. Guaranteed time-filler toy!
#5: Butterfly Arch ~ Exactly like #1, only feminized.
Want More Developmental Toy Ideas?
If you’re looking for other brain-boosting toy ideas to travel with, browse through my toy gift guides for some award-winners:
#1: Educational (yet still fun) Game Apps
- Baby Piano ~ It’s exactly what you’d think. Baby pushes a key, it makes a sound. Excellent for teaching cause-and-effect. Plus it’s free on the iPhone.
- Wheels on the Bus ~ It’s an interactive version of the song. Kids can touch the screen to make the wheels turn, wipers swish, etc. Available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices.
- Bubbles ~ Popping bubbles over and over again – without the slimy sticky mess. #winwin Available for iPhone and iPad.
- Peekaboo Barn ~ Farm animals pop out and surprise your baby, getting lots of giggles. Also helps baby learn the names and sounds of various animals in up to 12 languages. Find it for iPhone, iPad and Android platforms.
#2: Musical Collections
- I grew up listening to Peter, Paul, and Mommy and love that I can introduce my kids to the same folk songs (Marvelous Toy, Puff the Magic Dragon, etc.) on Amazon or iTunes
- Mickey and Minnie sing childhood classics in this collection on Amazon or iTunes.
- Beethoven’s wiiiiig is very biiiig. See why my girls LOVE these. They are clever and hilarious takes on the tunes you’ll want your kids to recognize. Amazon or iTunes.
#3: Smartphone Holder ~ Comes in several cute designs!
#1: Take Along Activity Box ~ A five-sided activity box with mirrors, gears, blocks, a even a maze. A great time waster for babies who like to move but are restrained in a car seat!
#2: Flip & Play Turtle ~ This wooden toy clacks and folds in on itself. Not only great for motor skill development, wonderful for matching skills as well.
#3: Little Red Riding Finger Puppets ~ A fun bonding activity for baby and older siblings!
#4: Twist and Smile Crocodile ~ The body twists in three directions, rewarding baby with clicking noises and chimes.
Other Great Activity Sources
There are a few other blogs out there that have some great hands-on games and activities worth mentioning. Heads up, though, most of these suggestions are for toddlers and preschoolers!
- While He Was Napping ~ there are some great inexpensive ideas in here – from reusing Daddy’s old wallet with homemade “credit cards” to take in and out, to using glow-in-the-dark stars in the car ceiling.
- Wild Rumpus SchoolHouse ~ Wonderful suggestions for a one-year-old here, including looking ahead for parks you can stop at to burn off some energy.
- Playing to Learn ~ My favorite ideas from this blog were Playdough in a balloon (genius!) and the DIY magnet face maker with a cookie tray and magnets. Definitely check this site out.
- File Folder Fun ~ This website is really for toddlers and older, but it’s so cool I had to include it. “File Folder Games” are free interactive games you print, cut, and glue into a…wait for it…file folder. Utterly simple, but sophisticatedly brilliant.
Where to Next?
In the next post for this tear-free series, we…
- narrowly avoid Clutter Cliff (a.k.a. how to keep the car clean and organized)
- appreciate the tummy-rumbling vista of Munch Mountain (a.k.a. on-the-go snack ideas for chubby little fingers!)
For the moment, I’d like to hear how things went on your last road trip with baby.
How did you keep him busy and occupied? Is she a good traveler?
Tell me about your last road trip in the comments!
Meet Heather Taylor
Heather is the Chief Encouragement Officer here at Incredible Infant and has been writing and encouraging parents online since 2007. She's certified in baby sleep coaching (yes, that's a real thing), has served as an Expert Parenting Panelist for numerous events, and has been a featured writer on blogs like DaveRamsey.com, SimpleKids.net, My Kid's Adventures, Cafe Mom, and others. If it's 2am and you're desperate to read SOMETHING, click here for all her darkest secrets, including why she really shouldn't be allowed to blog.
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