red car driving on going to the sun road with mountains in the background glacier

How to Road Trip With a Newborn Baby: 10 Easy Tips!

Okay, so you’re planning to take your newborn baby on a road trip! This can be overwhelming the first time, but with these 10 tips you’ll be an expert in no time. Once you get the hang of it, it can actually be easier to road trip with a baby compared to a toddler because they sleep so much. In my opinion, the first year or two of life is a great time to road trip with your baby!

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1. Plan to Leave Right After Feeding and Diaper Change

Of course, this can be difficult to coordinate if you are already trying to time the start of your road trip with your toddler’s nap like we currently are. However, this is your best chance to get some miles on before having to make a stop. The best possible scenario is to get them a full belly so they can have a solid 2-3 hours of sleep (ideally while your other kids are still chillin’) before you have to make your first stop.

2. Set up a Mirror on the Back Seat

This is a very helpful step so you can check on them without making a stop. I was always slightly paranoid about having those tiny little babies in their car seats for a longer period of time so being able to see them breathing can make a huge difference for your peace of mind. It also helps you to be able to see if they lost their binky or kicked off their blanket. We still used a mirror until our toddler turned to facing forward so we could keep tabs on him while we drive. Link to the mirror we use here!

3. Plan Ahead for Frequent Stops

You can always just stop at random gas stations or travel stops, but this is an awesome opportunity to stop some cool places that you would normally drive right by! I like to plan stops at several points along our route so that when it does come time to stop you’ll be able to stop somewhere kind of fun. Sometimes you never know how far you’ll be able to make it, so I would recommend planning out stops at least every hour. Of course, it may still happen that you have to pull over on the side of the road on occasion.

4. Check the Car Seat Expiration and Make Sure it is Secure Before Leaving

Checking the car seat’s expiration date and security is important to make sure your baby is safe. Most car seats have a 6 year expiration date, so if you just bought a car seat for your baby it shouldn’t be a problem. If you’re not sure you can check on the bottom of the car seat to see the expiration date. If you have multiple adults in the car, have two different people check the car seat straps before taking off. Or if it’s just you, double check that the straps are tightened appropriately and the seat is clipped into the base. This website has good tips for making sure your car seat is secure.

Wondering what you need to pack for taking a road trip with baby? Here is our full packing list for a road trip with a baby!

5. Put a Sun Protection Cover Over the Window

One thing that woke our kid up more than anything was the sun shining in his eyes and on his face. There are great window covers that you can use to block the sun, or you can cover the car seat with a light cover on one side of the car seat, as long as it doesn’t fall or get too hot in the seat. The sun cover on the window will also help prevent a sunburn. Our first kid has very fair skin, and he actually got his arm sunburned through the window during our Hawaii road trip. Link to the window covers here!

6. Expect Your Trip to Take Longer

Make sure you plan accordingly, and add at least an hour to your expected drive time when taking a road trip with a newborn baby. There will for sure be added stopping time to feed, change diapers, and stretch legs. So if you are meeting other groups at your destination, try to overestimate the amount of time it is going to take you to get from point A to point B. It never hurts to add in some flexibility to your itinerary, especially on day 1.

7. Make a Playlist to Relax Baby

It may help if you have a fussy baby, to have a lullaby playlist to soothe him or her back to sleep. It also helped us at time to sing some songs, and help the baby be comforted by your voice. Singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is not my ideal road trip activity, but it beats listening to a screaming or crying baby!

8. Have Someone Sit in the Backseat

Having an adult sit in the backseat for at least part of the trip can be helpful, especially if the baby is only a few weeks old. There is nothing worse than having the baby lose their binky and start crying as you’re driving down the freeway and can’t reach them to get it back in their mouth. It also may help ease your anxiety if you’re worried about your newborn in the car seat!

9. Set Your Expectations Appropriately

As with anything related to traveling with kids, don’t expect everything to go smoothly every time. It’s likely that you’ll have some mishaps and have to listen to some crying along the drive. So as long as you set your expectations appropriately and don’t expect everything to go perfectly, you’ll be fine! For us, the first day and night whenever we are traveling is usually the hardest. After that, the trip usually goes a lot smoother. Before long, you’ll be an expert at taking a road trip with a newborn baby. And wherever you decide to go it will be so worth it.

family in front of teton mountain range

10. Don’t Overdo it!

While you might be eager to get out and explore with your little one like I was (I didn’t travel much while pregnant because I felt sick!), it’s important to start slow. We have found that the max amount of time we can road trip with a newborn baby in a day without going a little crazy is 3-4 hours. Of course you can do more than that, but it does become quite a bit of time for the little one in their car seat. We usually run into more crying once we get past that 3-4 hour mark, especially because we also have a toddler. But every baby is different, so do what works well for you and your family. Or split up the trip and stay overnight halfway if you are doing a longer trip.

Okay, you’re ready to hit the road! Now that you’re an expert at taking your baby on a road trip, check out our travel guides to get your started on planning your trips.

If you like travel checklists (they can be incredibly helpful when traveling with kids), use our packing lists and checklists to make sure you don’t forget anything important.

Happy travels!

family with baby in front of hidden falls grand teton national park

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