Road trips used to be easy. I mean seriously easy compared to what they are now. Even a half hour drive can turn into a huge ordeal. Honestly I blame it all on car seats. They are quickly becoming my least favorite piece of baby equipment. I always heard a lot of talk that car seats are great tools; babies love the motion of moving in the car. Oh and there’s this concept called Freeway Parenting, where Dad’s help mom’s out by driving their baby around if their colicky, or particularly fussy.
Does this work for Calla? Nope. Calla, since before she was born, exhibited her free spirit tendencies from the very beginning. She refused to come out until the very last minute (future procrastinator?) when I was 41 weeks and 5 days – the day before I was scheduled for an induction. She has always been very aggressive at the breast. Kicks a blanket, or socks, or anything put on her feet, off immediately. And best of all, she hates to be strapped into anything. Car seat would probably be at the very top of her hate list. Sure she does eventually fall asleep, but only after a long struggle. Sometimes I really miss riding in the front seat next to David. I miss having real, and fluid conversations that don’t involve me frequently asking what because his mouth is not at a good audible angle.
I’ve come to the conclusion that car seats can be pretty dangerous, more in an indirect way than anything. Especially in the case of babies like Calla who really struggle in her car seat. Since Calla won’t take a pacifier, when she’s screaming in the backseat and I can’t reach her to comfort her, I’m in the car alone doing anything but strictly paying attention to driving trying to calm her down. This puts us both in danger. I’ve heard about some families switching to convertible car seats and have found this to help sometimes, but until then, I’m condemned to a life of backseat co-riding with baby.
Aside from discovering our limits traveling with an infant the trip was great. We kept it intentionally pretty short, leaving on a Monday and coming back Wednesday evening. Calla was great the whole trip: sleeping on our hike up to Hanging Lake, through our wonderful dinner that night, and perfectly calm through Grand Mesa and Colorado National Monument.
Second night, second lesson learned. Here’s a list of key things to do in your preparation for a road trip with an infant:
- Take stored milk with you. If you are EBF, it is so helpful to be able to bottle feed in the backseat while driving. Sometimes you just can’t stop on the side of the road to nurse. I have been very lucky that Calla transitions very well back and forth between bottle (we use Dr. Brown’s bottles with the standard nipple) and breast without any issues. We started bottle feeding after the 3rd week. If you’re doing formula, take a big jug of whatever kind of water you use and a couple canister’s of formula to prepare on demand.
- Bring a hand pump just in case you run out if you’re already pumping. We did bring a hand pump, but because we assumed I’d be able to produce enough on demand, we did not bring any stored milk with us. On the 2nd night Calla woke us up ravenous and she either wasn’t getting enough from my breast, or just didn’t want to take it. So I pumped, and filled a bottle and gave it to David to feed, while I continued to pump, and over and over again we did this cycle until she finally fell asleep. It was probably only a half hour but it seemed like several hours. Not fun folks. I’m sure the hotel occupants in the rooms surrounding ours were not happy that evening.
- Stop frequently just to let your baby stretch, and to get some cuddle time in.
- Bring a co-sleeper or Pack and Play with you for your baby to sleep in. This is pretty self-explanatory.
- If you’re going to be eating out, eat early to avoid wait times and crowds. We didn’t do this, and therefore we didn’t get to eat where we wanted to because you can’t just afford to wait to sit down for a 1/2 hour, on top of eating ,with an infant.
We will definitely be more prepared for our next road trip, which will hopefully be South Dakota sometime in August/September. Happy travels!