Ideas for Todders to Stay Happy for a Long Car Ride

Updated on July 29, 2009
K.W. asks from Tipp City, OH
10 answers

help with keeping toddler happy on road trip

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Cleveland on

My daughter at that age was an only child and did not play by herself. She had an open top tote next to her in the car with some "quiet" battery operated toys (like pretend phones), stuffed animal and stuff that played music. Otherwise- I talked with her, we sang songs (music is her thing) and she slept or napped. For the long long trips- I def. have heard that leaving with the kids so they sleep in the car- is the best way to go. Your child may surprise you and enjoy looking out the window. We use to get her to look at the moon, sang songs about the moon and tell her it was following us home.



answers from Columbus on

We haven't tried this yet, but I got the following advice.
Go to the dollar store and buy some inexpensive toys, wrap them and give them to your child every hour or half hour. It is something that they can look forward to, give them something to distract them for a while and it will give them a sense of how much longer they have to go (2 more presents until we stop for lunch).
We are trying it on the plane at the end of the month with my 23 month old.
Good luck to you guys.



answers from Indianapolis on

Keep in mind I say this while believing that kids shouldn't watch much (if any) TV, my kids NEVER watch any TV at home. We regularly take 3 and 4 hour trips to see family. Books, toys, and snacks are usually enough to keep their interest.
That said, when we drive any farther, we take the portable DVD player and things like Baby Einstine, Elmo, and my husband's OSU football DVDs. My 2.5-year-old LOVES watching football.
Good Luck:)


answers from Columbus on


My suggestion is more for you and keeping your sanity: No Rules On Car Trips. The rulebook goes out the window. Okay, you can have one cookie. Okay, you can play your Leapster. Yes, you can have that ridiculously nitrate-ridden hot dog. Yes, yes, yes.

Then, when you get to your destination, rules are back in order.

I'll be reading the other responses to get some other hints. We're going in two weeks and I need some ideas, too.

Good luck, and have fun!



answers from Muncie on

I'm going to keep an eye on this one. We have a 13 hour drive coming up and our precious one is just about to turn 3.

Our plan, lots of interactive books, toys and starting out at midnight the night before to hopefully take advantage of her being asleep most of the way.



answers from Cleveland on

We just had a 12 hour car ride last week plus another 2hrs of stopping and eating. We went to Myrtle Beach. For the ride down, we split the ride in half. We left at 5:30. Ate the dinner in the car. I bought these trays from It worked wonders! I have a 4-yr old and 2 yr old. The 4-yr old loves to color. So she was able to color on the tray and even eat. I brought a portable DVD player. My kids took turns picking the movie out. I also brought toys on the trip and snacks. Don't let them drink too much or you will have to stop for bathroom breaks way too much. We stopped driving around midnight and stayed in a hotel for 1 night. Then we left right after breakfast. It was painless. The ride home (which I would not recommend), we drove straight thru leaving at 9am. Have a fun trip!! The Portable DVD Player was definitely worth the money!



answers from Toledo on

if you dont already have one buy a dvd player.take alot of movies (dapending on how long trip is)that should keep them busy.



answers from Cleveland on

Though the other mom said start at midnight I would start about 30-45 min before normal bedtime. That way they will sleep most of the way in the car. A portable DVD player is helpful. FYI if you bring crayons make sure you take them out when you arrive or at least put/keep them in a container or they will melt on the cars interior!!!



answers from Dayton on

We just drove 11 hours with 3 year old twins and an 11 month old. Lots of snacks and activities. Our neighbor, for the boys' birthdays, had packed an activity box for each twin which had stickers, paper, crayons, flashcards, books, a blow up beach ball (great for when you stop), stencils, and all sorts of other things.

Another piece of advice we were given right before we left was when you stop for a meal, let the kids run around and you eat. Don't pressure them to eat and just feed them in the car. I thought this was a great idea although our boys wanted to eat too.

We will be making the trip back next Tuesday so hopefully it is as uneventful as the first one. Good luck to you!



answers from Columbus on

We are doing the same thing and I'm just as concerned as you are! We have a 16 hour drive to Orlando and then 13 hours to NC and then 14 hours back home to Ohio al in a 2 week period!

We are leaving at 11pm the night before and I have lots planned for the car! I also bought a tabletop tray for the carseat and matchbox cars and new coloring books! Lots of snacks and books and fun noisy toys that he loves at home on a regular day! We are also looking into purchasing a DVD player before we head out! Most of our driving will be in the evening so we are hoping that he sleeps the majority of the time. Just remember to do fun things that will wear the kids out before getting in the car...helps to increas the likelihood they will nap. Plan to picnic at a rest stop for about an hour to run and play some too, helped last year when we drove 13 hours to Iowa!

Hope that helps some, and may we all have fun and safe family vacations this year!

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