I used to find travelling with my son, Freddie, a little stressful to say the least…however now I see a road trip or even a trip to the mall as an opportunity for us to grow closer with one on one time. The key to a happy car journey is a little preparation. Whilst, of course, at the forefront of our minds must always be the concept of SAFETY – driving does require our full attention – there are ways and means to ensure the trip is a continuum of developing babies skill set whilst interacting with one another. Of the utmost importance, both from a safety perspective and ensuring baby is comfortable, is the essential starting point that car baby seat must be correctly fitted and appropriate to baby’s age and size; if not then you are immediately asking for trouble.
Firstly, it’s vital that you make life, at the outset, as easy for yourself as possible – let’s get rid of the slightest need for increasing anxiety levels! I purchased a shoe holder (see picture) which I then filled with those essential child items. Nappies (regular and swimming), first aid box, cuddly toy, books, baby wipes, musical instrument, children’s story and music CDs, snacks, a bottle of water, spare set of clothes, spare hat, baby sunglasses and sun cream. As you can see, I attached this to the car’s head restraint (best to attach to the seat furthest away from baby!!).
So what can your child have to hand whilst you are driving?
First of all, I have some ‘sound’ toys with a handy clip that enables the toy to be attached to the back of the front seat passenger chair so that baby has for example ‘teething toys’ to fiddle with throughout the journey.
Secondly, what is it about book page tags that babies love so much? I have a selected number of books, which are permanently kept in the car, that have tags on the pages. This is a brilliant way to keep a restless baby occupied! Choose one with lovely pictures and lots of fiddly bits to provide hours of fun (we even bought a tag book that is personalised with our family photos)!
Thirdly, why do most babies like to stare at themselves in a mirror (or is this just Freddie!!). We bought a mirror that fixes onto the seat in front of baby so he can admire his reflection. He LOVES this!!! For those that are lucky enough to travel to the US, Baby Einstein have a Move and Go Music Mirror – not only can your little one check out their reflection it plays music (it has a mummy remote so you can lower that volume if needed).
Now for children’s car CDs. I’m afraid I am one of those mums who can only take a few hours of a nursery rhyme CD being played constantly in the car. Don’t get me wrong, ‘Row Row’ is a brilliant hit but on constant replay for a long journey…? No thank you. As a child, I would listen to Roahl Dahl to send me into a deep sleep, this has now rubbed off onto how much I adore these stories as an adult – the ‘Twits’ being my favourite. Thankfully Freddie seems to relax and calm down when listening to the voices in these short stories; you do need quite a collection so you can mix it up a little. Some of the stories are a little un-PC, but even as an adult they have a way of making you chuckle as well as chilling out your little one.
One of the most stressful times for parents is when their baby has a ‘paddy’ (my slang for full blown screaming fit) in the car whilst driving. Not only does this stress us out but it can be dangerous. Our mind may be more on the grumpy baby instead of on the road! Remember, never take your baby out of the car seat in this situation – it is not only extremely dangerous, it will only make the child to expect such treatment every time you get into the car. I find snacks, opening the window or car roof, or/and a good noisy CD tends to do the trick; preferably which you can sing along to!
The biggest piece of advice I can give you ladies is Stay Calm. Don’t panic. Everyone has a child who cries in the car at some point. Be prepared and invest in some distraction and comfort toys.