Babies are often easier car passengers than older children – they sleep more and demand less in the way of entertainment and treats to keep them occupied. Even so, planning a long car journey with a young baby can be a daunting prospect, especially for inexperienced parents.
Safety is the most important consideration, covering everything from car insurance to baby seats. As babies need to eat or drink little and often, finding a safe way of feeding them in the car is equally important.
Take your time
Accepting at the outset that a car journey with a baby on board is bound to take longer than usual, should help to reduce driver-stress. You will need to make regular stops for feeding and changing – possibly every two to three hours – and it makes sense to factor these in at the journey-planning stage.
Breastfeeding is the most convenient way to feed a baby when the family is travelling, as little is needed in the way of equipment. Whether she is driving or a passenger, mum must make sure the car is safely parked before joining baby in the back of the car and taking him out of his baby seat.
If you use formula, it’s still relatively easy to feed a hungry baby in the car. Travel-size packs of ready-made formula are widely available in most supermarkets. Alternatively, you can prepare bottles in advance, or even take along boiled water, formula powder, and sterilised bottles and teats to make up a feed when it is needed.
If you travel a lot, you might like to invest in a travel bottle steriliser, or buy pre-sterilised bottle liners, to simplify the task of bottle feeding on your trip.
Formula can be warmed up, if necessary, by keeping a bottle warmer or a wide-necked flask of hot water in the car.
You can give baby a break from the confines of his seat by lifting him out to give him his bottle, once you are safely parked.
Older babies who have reached the solid foods stage are well-catered for by manufacturers, who produce a range of ready-meals in sizes and packaging convenient for travelling families.
Some of these might be more palatable if warmed up, making a flask of hot water a useful car accessory. If you’d rather serve your baby fresh food, you might consider packing produce that can be quickly and easily prepared, such as bananas or avocados.
Finger foods such as rice cakes and breadsticks can be useful stand-bys, especially for teething toddlers. If you are giving your baby finger foods in the car you will want to keep a close eye on him to avoid the risk of choking, just as you would at home. As with breastfeeding and bottle feeding, you can take maximum care by sitting close enough to supervise at feeding times.
Planning what, when and how to feed your baby on a long journey can help to make the whole experience hassle-free. But make sure you also have effective breakdown and insurance cover so that your family is properly protected during your trip.
Janet Chapman is a freelance writer on a range of topics including lifestyle and family matters. Her interests include cooking, the countryside and trying to train her Rhodesian Ridgeback dog.
This is a guest post for Money Matters