Does the idea of a road trip with kids stress you out? Me too. But there are ways to make it (a little) easier! Let me help eliminate some stress and give you peace of mind and confidence that your kids are safe in the seat, whether you’re driving up the block or hitting the road for a few hundred miles. If you’re hitting the road sometime soon, stop, drop, and roll through these reminders. You got this!
Road Trips Done Right
1. Vehicle check
Be sure your vehicle is up-to-date on all services, check your tire pressure, and ensure everything is in tip-top shape when it comes to your car and what’s happening under the hood. Schedule routine maintenance a week or two before you hit the road so you have one less thing to handle as the big day gets closer!
2. Car seat check
Double-check your child’s car seat install. Tight is right. Hone in on the beltpath to be sure there’s no wiggle room – your child’s life depends on it. Triple-check those insert limits and harness height settings, too. If anything needs to be adjusted, there’s no better time than now. Your kids will be comfier in their seats when everything is perfectly fitted, too!
Freshen up on those car seat skills by taking a course with us. The Infant Course is designed to take you from confused to confident during your baby’s first year of car seat safety. The Convertible Car Seat Course will take you from confused to confident in the convertible car seat stage.
3. Caution: this vehicle makes frequent stops
Rather than stressing yourself out about frequent stops, build them into your road trip itinerary. Kids shouldn’t be in their car seats for more than two hours at a time. Make frequent pit stops for food, bathroom breaks, diaper changes, and to get the blood flowing. It’s great for all passengers to stretch their legs often. Think of this journey as a series of short sprints rather than a nonstop marathon. In case you’re wondering, the two-hour rule applies at night, too. In general, night driving is far more dangerous. It’s different than staying up late. Operating a vehicle with your most precious cargo on dark and silent highways may seem tempting, but daylight illuminates a clear, safe path.
4. Snore-fest 2023
When your kid falls asleep in their car seat it is likely to feel like a dose of pure bliss. Switch out of your kid-friendly playlist and savor it! But remember, car seats are designed to provide crash protection, not to be a prolonged sleep space. If your baby nods off, don’t add anything to position their baby’s head. Your role in this journey is to be sure they are properly harnessed and that the car seat is installed at the correct angle. Then, let the car seat do its job – no add-ons necessary. If your kiddo has reached the milestone of sitting independently — meaning they have full neck control! — and you’ve got the harness and install correct, fear not, if their body tells them that they need to move because they’re uncomfortable, then they can and they will! Yes, my neck hurts sometimes just looking at the wonky positions they get themselves into when asleep, but their young bodies can tolerate a lot more than ours can. Oh, to be young again!
It’s inevitable, and sometimes hoped for, that naps will happen in the car! Let’s ensure your kiddos, from newborns to big kids, sleep safely in their seats. Neck control versus no neck control makes a major difference in whether your child’s sleep position is safe or not! Learn the ABCDs of safe sleep to keep your child breathing comfortably without dangerous added after-market products in our YouTube video. Click here to watch and share!
5. Clear the decks and baton down the hatches
Projectiles are those everyday items in your car that can go flying in a crash and cause serious injury to passengers. On a road trip, these items can easily pile up. Find safe storage solutions so nothing inside the car can unintentionally harm your precious cargo. And choose your kids’ road trip entertainment carefully, because yes, those toys or tablets are projectiles too! Opt for car toys that are small, lightweight, and soft. Speaking of which…
6. Are we there yet?
Dealing with boredom on road trips is something you should plan and prepare for! As you’re packing up, pick entertainment options that are safe in the car. Keeping a small stash of toys that only come out for long days in the car can help little ones stay entertained with the novelty of something they don’t see very often. With a little prep and a lot of fun ideas for road trip entertainment for any age, the hours will fly right on by.
7. Get in my belly!
I’m not going to tell you to never feed your child in their car seat, but consider five things before you open your vehicle as a rolling food and beverage cart.
- Any time a child eats, they are at risk of choking.
- In a car, you won’t be available to come to their immediate aid if something goes down the wrong pipe. There’s no safe way to help a choking child in a moving car.
- Have you ever tried to eat or drink laying down? It’s not awesome. Consider the recline level of your child’s car seat, their muscular and developmental abilities, and then make a parental best-judgment call knowing eating and drinking in the car is never 100% safe.
- For kids under two, my best advice is no food in the car. Don’t risk it. Pull over for feedings. And please, no breastfeeding in the car – it’s soooooo dangerous for mom and baby.
- Avoid risky snacks and be intentional about the food you choose. Skip the lollypops and gummies! Choose foods that come with a low choking risk (and, bonus, easy clean-up!).
These days, where there is oh-so-much uncertainty, we can get car seat safety right. Step aside uncertainty, we’re taking the driver’s seat because car seat safety is something we CAN be certain about.
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