We are about to embark on a journey to mother-in-law's for the holiday. She is a six hour drive (without stopping!). Any tips on making this as comfortable of a trip as possible for our seven month old?
We've done it a few times -- 4 i think -- and ds is not 12 months. first time was at 4 months, before we planned to travle with him, but Grandma was sick (mine).
some people will tell you to go at night, or evening, and let baby sleep the whole way. this works great form some, but for others -- like us -- it is the worst possible decision ever (and I have heard other moms say the same). We tried that the first trip and he screamed and screamed and 7 hours beacme 13 and we had to just push through with teh screaming. hell on all 3 of us.
We get our butts up and go first thing int eh am -- like int eh car by 6 (normal wake up time for ds is 7 or 7:15 then nurse for 30 minutes). worked a lot better for us, last two trips were only about 8 or 8.5 hours and no screaming.
the bad thing you can't know if sc is a pm or am travler without tryig one!! so whatever works for you and dh -- give it a try.
We do all the normal stuff -- classical music, toys he only sees in the car, warm car so he doesn't have to wear coat in the seat.
we also found that the dome light on at night helps a lot -- or did -- he is fainlly getting over that at 12 monhts. we drove with the backseat lights on a lot -- even when he was asleep.
we just did a 7 hour trip with my 8 1/2 month old 3 weeks ago. I spent most of the time leaned over her car seat nursing. The best advice I can give is to try and schedule the driving time for times when your babe would normally be sleeping. My dd took a long nap on the way back so that was good. Maybe get a new toy. If they have something new to play with it may keep them occupied for a little bit.
I've done several long car trips with DD who is now six months.
This is what has worked for us:
Leave lots of extra time. Lots. Like three hours.
Know all the neat places to stop along the way (state parks, we stop at Catholic shrines, a particularly cool shop or restaurant)
Make a few long stops to nurse and walk around and play and use a sling to give the baby some close time
Use a mirror--at that age the baby can see in it and you can monitor her better.
If you are still using an infant bucket-type carseat think of switching up to a convertible. A lot of babies find those more comfortable. Mine does.
If you are a paci using family bring several and keep them in the front seat since they constantly get lost and you will not always be able to stop immediately if she gets fussy--easy to reach over with a paci. (we started using them specifiaclly for the car, we spend so much time on the road.)
Clip ot tie some toys to the carseat so they can't get lost as easily.
Be cognizant of things like the temp throughout the car and the direction of the sun. Sometimes DD would be so unhappy in the car before we realized that the sun was in her eyes or that it was warm enough/cool enough in the front seat but not in the back.
We routinely make 6-10 hour drives with both kiddos (DD is 4, DS is 6 months). Both kiddos have made the trip fairly routinely since birth (DD's first road trip was at 8 weeks, DS's was at 3 weeks).
I'd suggest the mirror, lots of talking to your babe, convertible carseat if they can do it (still rear facing, of course). I also found it helpful to bring lovey and paci for "naptime" as well as some small toys, rattles, teething rings, etc. for "playtime". When DD was small, I kept her lovey in my shirt when she wasn't using it so that when she did, she'd have fresh mommy smell.
Also, I'd suggest simply alloting extra time. We've found that a typical 5 hour drive takes us 6-7 and a typical 8 1/2 hour drive takes us 10. If you are willing to live with the stops and not get too worked up about it, things tend to go a lot smoother. We simply stop when the babes need to stop, hang out as long as they need to hang out, and drive when we can. For the most part this works well. I get high-strung on drives like this, but I have to remind myself to be zen about it all. . .
It's been said, but if possible have mom in the backseat ready to lean over and nurse in the carseat! I couldn't imagine how to do this until one day when it became absolutely necessary and now it's a useful part of our repertoire...
We've done lots of long tips with our dd as well. Nursing her in her car seat is sometimes the only way to keep us going. Try to bring a pillow or something so you can do this as comfortably as possible. Give yourself lots of extra time. Bring some exciting things to look at and play with, sing songs, make goofy noises. Dd does not like being in a dark car when she is awake, so we brought along a flashlight to play with for when we had to drive at night to prevent having to drive with the interior light on constantly.