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We drove cross country in a U-haul with a 5 week old. We stopped every two hours to nurse and stretch our legs. It wasn't bad :) He slept the entire time and nursed when we stopped (obviously if he acted hungry before then we stopped!)
Maybe someone else can provide a link, or you can google this (I don't have time now, sorry), but a baby should not spend more than 2 or maximum 3 hours at a time in a bucket car seat. It has to do with their position and how that somehow deprives them of proper oxygen intake. So you should definitely stop every couple hours and take a break. With a baby that small I would also ride in the back seat just to check on breathing and head position.
ETA: Be sure to calculate all the stops you'll be making. So, a trip that usually takes 14 hours, if you stop every 2-3 hours for 15 minutes, say, with maybe one or two longer stops to eat, would take around 17 hours. We recently did a drive with our 11 month old that usually takes 3 hours, and it took 4.
^^After rereading that I just thought "Why don't you fly?!".....that's an awfully long road trip!! What with the high cost of gas it may even be cheaper on a budget airline. I hear newborns are very easy to fly with actually. If I were you that's what I would do at least.
I was going to say the same thing about extended amounts of time in a car seat - I also don't have a link, but I've heard along the way that being slouched down can impede their breathing and lower their oxygen saturation. But if you're stopping frequently (which you'll have to do anyway, to feed!), and staying in the back seat, you're probably okay. I would expect the trip to take much, much longer than it would with adults only. My family lives 2.5 hours away, and it is usually close to 4 hours to make the trip with my 5 month old (he hates the car seat and we have to stop at LEAST twice).
I also second the suggestion to consider flying! We flew with Felix at 10 weeks, and it was surprisingly easy. He either nursed or slept the entire time. I had him wrapped up in the Moby (had to take it off through security, but it wasn't too bad), and all went super smoothly.
Anyway, good luck!
fwiw when we took our LO of that age on a trip that long we took Amtrak. We got a sleeper car and it was actually very pleasant!
Fly if you can but if you have to drive break it up.
I flew with DD at 5 weeks and it was a breeze.
We drove 12 hours when she was 10 weeks. We did the drive in 2 days. Left very early in the morning the first day right after her 4am feeding. I fed her and she went in the car seat and we drove for about 2 hours, stopped and had breakfast, changed and nursed again. Total stop about 1.5 hours. Drove another 2.5 hours, stopped and took DD for a walk around an area river park, saw some sights, nursed, picked up some food for DH and I to eat in the car, diaper change, back in the seat. Total stop: close to 2 hours. Back in the car for another 2.5 hours or so, stopped again, DH got coffee walked around a bookstore, I nursed and changed DD, total stop about 1.5 hours. Drove another 2 hours and ended our day. The drive the next day was shorter so we slept in longer before leaving after breakfast but we took longer stops during the drive the second day. It's a lot more work to drive, IME.
The drive home 3 weeks later was similar although DD was a lot more restless in the car seat since she was getting older.
Any change you can get your family to come to you?
We drove a 16 hour trip in 2 days when DD was 3 weeks old (it obviously ended up being much longer than 16 hours when we stopped). I honestly thought it was rough because I was still struggling to breastfeed. We did stop every 2-3 hours and I sat in the back with her the whole time. She seemed to get dehydrated (very dry lips) even though I let her nurse frequently. Definitely break up your trip or you'll be miserable! We drove back home when she was 5 weeks and did it in one day but that was very rough. I also have recently flown with her at 4.5 months old with just the two of us and she did just fine. As long as I sat near the back of the plane I could nurse her easily without people looking at me.
Good luck, bring plenty of water for yourself and lots of snacks to keep yourself feeling in top shape. I personally always feel ill when I only eat gas station food on a road trip so bringing my own food helped.
We drove a 18 hours (all the way thru) when DD was 3 weeks old. We stopped multiple times for feedings but it was so easy with her at that age. We traveled from TX to WA in Dec so we took the long way up CA and she was 4 months then. That one we broke up into 3 days because anymore then 12 hours in the car and she wasn't having it anymore. Just prepare to make lots of stops. I wasn't worried to much about DD being in the infant seat but I was also always checking on her too.
Thanks for all the info. Sounds like we'll be stopping a lot and I should do some Googling about time spent in car seats!
For what it's worth, flying isn't an option, due to cost. And we are lucky enough to have friends who live in between start and stop, so it will really be 9 hours and 5 hours, so that is much more manageable. Wish us luck! Will report back after our trip!
We had to do a lot of driving with our son when he was tiny, including a 5-day trek from Oregon to Iowa when he was 4 months old. Car travel was much easier for us when he was younger, because he slept so much. It is also MUCH easier IMO than flying. Lugging all the stuff, following all their rules, nursing a baby in a cramped airplane seat, not getting fresh air or much leg-stretching, not being able to get up if they say it's not time ...
But yes, do stop at least every 2 hours. And before you leave, maybe check with your local fire department to be sure that the car seat is installed properly.
Our long drives were made much easier with a cotton diaper, wool diaper cover, and cotton behind his back in the car seat (we just put a burp rag down the center of the car seat, behind his back and head). Temperature control is a big issue. If you don't want to deal with cloth, you could even put Flip or Gdiaper disposable inserts inside a wool cover (two Imse Vimse machine washable wool covers got us through the whole trip).
We also had a great baby-changing situation: I put all the diapering stuff (we did the whole 5 day trip with cloth, no sposies) in a laundry basket on one side of the car, and put a cotton bath mat or towels on top of the diapers. It was just the right size for a secure, comfy, quick diaper change.
Maybe your families can come to you if they want to see the baby.... I think there is a lot of pressure for new parents to make rounds that can be really stressful. I'd let them come to you. If they can't understand that, they must not remember what life with a tiny baby is like.
Thank you all for your advice! I have been taking DD out everyday this week on short car trips and she is doing better in the car every time we go. I think she's getting used to the car seat and she does enjoy looking out the window or at herself in our big mirror when she's not sleeping. I'm not as worried about the trip; DH and I keep talking about having LOW expectations and taking our sweet time.
And just so it's out there, DH's mom has severe MS and is home-bound. They can not travel at all. So, we are going to them.
We did a 16 hour trip over 2 days when DS1 was ~14 weeks old. It went pretty decently, I think. We're planning the same trip again this summer when DS2 will be 9 weeks. We're planning to take our time & split it over 2 days. We stop lots for breaks (also have a 3 yo who needs time to run) and don't stress about it too much. It helps too that we have grandparents & 2 aunts traveling with us who will be lots of help with the boys.
We did a 14 hour trip with our 3 week old. The way there went great, but towards the end both kids were not happy (like last 2 hours) and we were unable to pull over because of where we were. So the way back we broke the trip up and stayed in a hotel halfway. It is totally doable. My kids are both great travellers. We just pull over every few hours to nurse and change and get back on the road. My advice, if possible stay in a motel and break it up. Even though my kids can handle a long trip, it is just easier on everyone (except daddy who just wants to marathon it :P).