Long Car Ride

Updated on May 24, 2010
R.M. asks from Colorado Springs, CO
8 answers

We're driving to a family reunion in a couple of weeks about 10 hours from here. How on earth can I entertain my 14 month-old, who's not a big car sleeper, in the car? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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So What Happened?

Thank you for all of your tips. The ride went pretty well. The drive there was hard. My son cried & cried himself to sleep, slept about 20 minutes, then was okay for a while. He did that about 3 times. When he was a awake, we used "surprise bags" (paper bags with various toys & snacks) and that did the trick, but I think I had too many things to eat. He just didn't want anything in his mouth, no matter how tasty it was, since he was full. The best surprises were a roll of toilet paper, fruit snacks, sticks for dipping in cheese, and a home-made glitter bottle. The way back was a breeze because both of our kids were soooo tired they slept at least half of the way.

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answers from Denver on

Kids usually do amazingly well on road trips. We traveled 120,000 miles in the car, leaving when baby #1 had just turned 3, baby #2 was 15 days, and we added another one on the way. I don't miss that job so much. :)

We did special toys for in the car -- Magna Doodles, DVDs with a portable player, Leapster or Leap Pad, etc. Crayons and lots of coloring books, or magnet books go a long way. One time when we were desperate, we gave our son a napkin to shred. That entertained him for a long time. It also took a long time to clean up. :)

Healthy snacks do well. We also would try to eat in the car when possible. Chicken nuggets worked well for that. You can also do fruit that way.

Since it's not a long trip, and could be done in one shot, driving through the night is a great option. We did that many times. The kids sleep well most of the time, as long as you keep moving.

If you do it during the day, you need to plan on about a 14 hours of driving time for a 10 hour drive. You'll need breaks for the little one to get out and run. We tried as much as possible to combine stops. Everyone goes to the bathroom/gets a diaper, gets new toys, old toys that have been dropped get cleaned up, get new snacks, get a few minutes to get out and run, get gas. It makes for a long stop, but overall we seemed to save time by not having to stop so often.

You will need to change diapers more often than you would at home as diapers don't absorb as much when the baby is sitting on them in the same position the whole time. The back of the diaper doesn't get used other than for dirty diapers. If you double wrap dirty diapers, you can leave them in the trash cans without making the trash stink. I love piddle pads, because when there is a leak, the car seat doesn't get dirty. Babies 'R Us has some really nice ones for about $7, I think, or you can get disposable ones. The disposable ones don't work as well as they move around a lot, so you really have to use two at a time.

I would recommend taking a favorite blanket or lovey of some kind, and of course favorite toys that wouldn't be too annoying. Books and a ball to chase at breaks are good, too.

I hope you have a great time, and baby does well. Even with all the preparation, it doesn't always work. Our last road trip should have been 15 hours, but took 21 instead, but coming back was an easy 15. Who knows why it works sometimes and not others. Kids do seem to figure out the plan, though, and do quite well on long trips, even when short ones are a pain. GL!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We always drive at night while they sleep.



answers from St. Louis on

Some of the best entertainment comes from kitchen drawers and cabinets! Slotted spoons, spaghetti servers, wooden spoons, tupperware containers with lids, etc. They are great fun! Just pull one out every time he gets fussy, and it should help. I also really enjoy travel Magna Doodles. Your little one can write or draw all they like, and it's also fun to erase. Some of the more creative people I know have used baking sheets and large magnets to entertain their little ones, but my kids just drop them and it gets too frustrating for me and them.

Besides that, food is fun. Cubed cheese, raisins, granola bars, etc.

Also, singing and stories on CD/tape. I know some people use DVDs, but our car is not equipped for that. My husband and I will also just talk to or sing with our boys, talking about what we see outside the windows, singing random silly songs, etc. It doesn't always work, but it helps. We'll also just tell the stories that my kids know. (We've read the books often enough that they're memorized!) That really helps our boys calm down if they are pretty upset.



answers from New York on

Kid's CDs (Just Me Music makes CDs with your child's name in it and my kids just LOVE that - the Veggie Tales Silly Songs Cd is really adorable and the high pitched voices really seem to get their attention), new books to flip through (maybe ones we texture to touch or flaps to lift - you can even go to the library and stock up), healthy snacks/treats, favorite toys/stuffed animals, and a couple of new items to play with.

We are travelling with my 17-month old this weekend for 9 hours and we're planning to turn his car seat around right before we go. That should amuse him for at least a little while!



answers from Washington DC on

DVD player for sure, books, snacks, water, sing songs together, take an iPod full of Raffi or something and plug it in to the car or give her the headphones (people think I'm crazy because my 2yo has an iPod shuffle, but he ADORES music and he'll sit absolutely still to listen to it for hours!) Don't be afraid to crawl in the back seat with her to keep her entertained from time to time. Leave yourself lots of extra time and stop every hour at a rest stop to stretch legs and let her run around for a few minutes. Sit with her and talk to her about the trees going by or anything you can engage her attention in. This might sound weird, but take a big, light blanket and play with making a fort with her in the back seat. You don't have to take her out of the car seat to do this, and you shouldn't, which I'm sure you already know. Just drape the blanket over both of you. Flip on a flashlight and read some books or have a snack under the blanket. Also, make sure she's comfy. Don't make her travel in jeans or a scratchy dress or anything like that. I always allow my kids to travel in their pajamas at that age in fact. My older son now travels in sweats or warm-ups and a comfy t-shirt with flip flops that he can kick off. Nothing binding, nothing twisting, easy to move in and easy to find a comfy position in. Make sure her window has a good sun-shade to keep her cool and keep the sun out of her eyes. While you're back there with her, draw and color with her (make sure you have paper and crayons in your car, I never take these items OUT of my car!) When you're ready for her to sleep make sure you stay back there with her, hold her hand, lay your head next to hers, stroke her cheek etc.. until she falls asleep. Personally, I'm an expert at nursing while in a seat belt and baby is in a car seat, front OR rear facing. This is a useful skill if you're nursing, since it'll help her fall asleep in the car seat, then you don't have to transfer her and risk waking her up.

I hope some of this helped. Good luck!



answers from Kansas City on

I suggest a DVD player with his fav movies.



answers from Dallas on

I know some people are anti-DVD player, but I highly suggest it. We just got home from a 10 hour road trip and the DVD player saved all our sanity. We don't have one built into our car so I borrowed a portable one from my MIL. It strapped onto the head rests so it hung right in front of my 17 month old. He was so into it that we drove the first 5 hours without stopping!!! We bought a Sid the Science Kid and Clifford DVD at target for pretty cheap. And took along a couple movies. We also left in the late afternoon so that the second half of the trip would be during normal bedtime.

Have fun!!!



answers from Chicago on

My daughter hated her car seat from the time she was born to now 2 1/2 years. Our trips/vacations always ranged from 4 - 10 hours. The things that saved us were a DVD player, kids music (silly songs & you have to sing along), I bought one of those lap boards for her to have for snacks/coloring/whatever it attaches to her car seat. Crayons, Crayola markers that only mark on special paper (I can't think of the name) snacks, lollipops, apple slices, traveling Aquadodles, manga doddle, we have a bag of goodies that is used only for trips, so everything is new to her. Since I've come up with this technique we rarely have to stop. The key is to not let her see everything in the bag and only give her the new stuff when she's at her (or my) wits end. The lollipops were the lifesaver since she never gets those. Good Luck and safe travels for your family!!

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