How to Move or Travel by Car With a Baby or Toddler

Keep Baby Happy When Driving a Long Distance

Happy adorable baby girl in car
Ippei Naoi / Getty Images

Moving with a baby can be challenging, especially if you have a long distance to move and travel to get to your new home. Like the rest of the family, even though your baby is too young to fully understand what's going on, they'll pick up the stresses or calms of your moving household. Keeping your move organized, and relatively stress-free, will help calm infants before you even leave for your new home.

Before You Move

As moving day approaches, make sure you line-up a babysitter, preferably someone that your baby knows well and who can take them to their own home away from the chaos of yours.

Plan your route to your destination, including emergency hospitals or clinics, just in case your child needs attention during your travels.

Be prepared to make frequent stops. If you're traveling by car, allow time for breaks. You can even map out your route with this in mind, checking for parks and playgrounds along the way.

Record your baby's favorite sounds. Make a tape or CD of sounds that soothe your baby, such as the dripping tap, the vacuum cleaner, your singing, the fan, the dishwasher or your baby's favorite music, such as Mozart or Vivaldi. Take a variety of sounds with you to try to calm a fussy child.

Find a pediatrician in your new city/town and contact them before you arrive. Have your doctor transfer files/records and keep medical information with you, just in case.

Have your baby checked by your physician before you leave to make sure s/he are in good health and are okay to travel. Make sure his/her vaccinations are up to date.

What to Take On Your Trip

  • Diapers: make sure you pack twice as many as you think you need.
  • Changing mat/towel
  • Baby wipes
  • Powder
  • Bottles
  • Baby Food/drinks/water
  • Clothing for changing weather
  • Mild laundry soap: in case you need to wash/rinse clothing
  • Plastic bags: to store dirty diapers/clothing
  • Hat and sunscreen
  • Stroller
  • Toys, lots and lots of toys!
  • First Aid Kit: include medicines, diaper-rash cream, antihistamine for children, etc...
  • Sounds your baby loves (see above)
  • Safety-approved car seat

How to Keep Your Baby Happy

As mentioned before, one of the best ways to soothe your baby is to play comforting sounds. One mother I knew used to place her crying infant next to the washing machine, while another played an ocean waves' CD whenever she put her child down for a nap. If your baby has particular sounds s/he finds comforting, tape it and take it with you on the road.

According to Dr. Sears, one of the best ways to soothe your baby is to perform the "Neck Nestle". Dr. Sears instructs: Place the baby in the snuggle position and lift him/her up a bit until his/her head nestles into your neck and your neck and chin drape over baby's head. Babies hear not only through their ears but also through the vibration of their skull bones. By placing baby's head against your voice box, in the front of your neck, and humming and singing to your baby, the vibrations will often lull baby to sleep. If you're driving, only do this when the vehicle has stopped. Never keep baby on your lap when the car is in motion. Your baby should always be in a safety-approved car seat.

Make sure you take toys with you that move, that you can dangle in front of baby and toys that make noise to distract. Mirrors are often a great tool to distract fussy babies.

And as mentioned earlier, take lots of breaks. Getting fresh air, taking a walk and seeing a change of scenery not only helps the baby but also gives you a chance to stretch your legs. Try not to be in a hurry. Enjoy the journey.