It’s sometimes bad enough going down the road with a baby in the car, so how would you fancy a nice long 15 hour drive with one? No? Thought you might say that.
Let me tell you, it’s easier than you think. After recently getting back from the annual skiing holiday, I can honestly say I was relieved that the car journey was over, because I was the one who was most uncomfortable. With a sleepy eyed partner for a passenger, and a sleeping baby in the back, I think I was the only one bothered about getting home quickly; those two couldn’t have been more.. asleep.
We didn’t really have a choice when it came to our choice of travelling. It was either “pay £600+ per person for a 1 hour 10 minute flight” or ”get in the car and drive it” – bloody half term prices.
The best thing you can do is try and stick with your baby’s routine. We left quite late in the afternoon so that we’d only have to stop for one last bottle before “bed time”; that way we hoped he might sleep for the biggest part of the journey, which he did after only waking up a couple of times. Luckily, with only an hour difference in France, it was easy to get him on French time, then back to English time.
Keep a stock of bottles to hand. We prepped all of ours in advance as we normally would and just dispensed the formula into the water as and when he was normally due a feed. Keep a handful of dummies in the front with you. You don’t want to be unplugging your seatbelt for half of the journey to go on a hunt for a dummy in baby Narnia (aka – the carseat). I mean, how many places can one dummy go?
Make sure your baby is comfortable. Don’t smother them with blankets, because your car will get warm quickly. We dressed Toby in a vest and baby grow for the journey, I certainly wouldn’t bother with cute chinos and a top. But if like us, you’re going somewhere cold, make sure you keep a coat (or something equally as warm) unpacked in the car with a hat so, when you eventually get out, they’re not freezing! We also put the wedge back in our car seat so that Toby was in a more horizontal position, rather than being crunched in two, which genuinely helped massively when it was time for sleeping!
Get a rear seat mirror and kill two birds with one stone. Babies are fascinated with faces, and what better way to keep them entertained than looking at their own. Secondly, it offers you the chance to keep an eye on your baby while you’re driving. Just attach it to the headrest in the back where their car seat is and adjust your rear view.
You don’t need to take a million and one toys like other websites say you do. We attached some flexi rings to the car seat, a colourful crinkly book, Sophie the giraffe and his taggy blanket. We did however, pack some other toys for when we were in the apartment for him to play with, as well as his Jumperoo.
A change of scenery does wonders for your baby as well as you. A long drive can be boring, and after looking at tarmac for 15 hours, you just need to look at something else. We made a few stops on the way there at some service stations. A stretch of the legs and hot chocolate for you, and a bum change, bottle and stretch for your baby.
I’m pretty sure if we do it again next year, it won’t be so easy with an almost 18 month old!
What are your best tips for a long car journey?
Stress, fear and worry can be classic signs of anxiety, and I have to say, I have experienced every one of these since having Toby.
I suffered a lot when he was first born for at least the first 5 weeks. I’d be fine all day, and then it’d get to about 5.30pm and the feeling, that soon became familiar, came washing over me. I felt sick, I’d cry and I’d have the most irrational thoughts about what would happen to my baby. People told me that I got the feeling because it was coming up to bed time and that I was subconsciously thinking about how fractured my sleep would be. Wrong. If anything, bed time for me came as a relief, especially when I got between the sheets, because Toby was safe in his moses basket, next to me, where I could hear everything and do what I needed to do throughout the night.
Thankfully, the feelings passed and have been laid to rest. However, they recently cropped up again in another form; separation anxiety. This firstly happened when we were practically forced to move Toby into his own room since he was far too big for his moses basket, and our bedroom would have been too cramped with his cot in there. So at 11 weeks old, we bit the bullet. My other half would’ve been more than happy for him to go into his own room right away, but as a first time, breastfeeding mum, I wanted to be comfortable and not have to be up and down 10 times a night!
Recently, I had to be admitted to hospital and the best option for Toby (now 4 and a half months) was to stay at Nanny and Grandad’s house. Would they do a good job? Of course they would, but you always think that nobody knows your baby like you do, and that nobody can do as good a job as you would. Alas, the anxiety kicked in again. What if something happened to him? What if he wouldn’t stop crying and they didn’t know what to do? What if he just wanted his mum? What if, what if, what bloody if…???
No chance, he hardly noticed I’d gone. Typical. And the next day, when I got to see him, I realised it’s all much ado about nothing! Despite all of my own fears, he was, of course, absolutely fine.
How did you feel when your baby came home? What about their first night away from you?