Children usually love the idea of going somewhere with you, but depending on their age, do not always settle well in the car. Short trips to the store or long road trips both need to be organized in ways that help your child remain safe and happy. This will make driving easier and safer as you are free of distractions. Below are a few easy steps to take before loading the children in the car.
1. Safety first. We always must focus on what is safe for our child, not what is easiest. Keep your children in the back seat and make sure they are secured in a restraint that is age and size appropriate. Do not allow your child to ride in the front. The passenger seat is often referred to as the “death seat” where small children are concerned. Once tragedy has occurred, there is no going back. Prevention is the key. Enable child safety locks on the car doors and keep the windows closed. Teach your children not to throw objects out the windows and keep their heads and arms inside the car.
2. The next important thing to consider is the comfort of your child. Children become restless in the car if they are uncomfortable. Make sure they are dressed appropriately, and bring extra clothes for changing in case of spills or accidents. Loose, comfortable clothing that will not bunch up is ideal and a good rule of thumb is a change of clothes for every couple of hours of road travel.
3. Take advantage of opportunities to use the bathroom. This will help prevent accidents, discomfort, and unnecessary delays.
4. If your baby is traveling with you by plane, avoid feeding until the plane is taking off. Swallowing can help to alleviate uncomfortable pressure in the ears as the plane increases in altitude, and will help them settle for the trip.
5. Easy to handle comfort food can help to keep small children busy on long trips. Just make sure it is not messy or likely to spill. Avoid foods that need to be refrigerated, and include foods that will keep well for the duration of your trip. Juices, cookies, fruits, and water in appropriate containers work well. Remember to bring napkins and wet wipes to clean sticky fingers and spills.
6. Bring a bag of favorite toys and activities. Include one or two new items to attract and hold their interest. Favorite toys are a distraction, but also a comfort on long trips.
7. Ensure that no heavy or sharp objects are loose in the car. Consider that anything that is not secured will become a projectile in an accident and can be dangerous or even fatal if you have to stop suddenly. Avoid lollipops and any food on a stick to avoid injury.
8. Bring along favorite blankets and pillows for comfort and to support sleeping heads and necks. Install blinds or tint on windows to avoid heat build up and bright light from becoming uncomfortable for your child.
Following these simple guidelines will help to make your road trip safe and pleasant for all involved.