Life in the Baby Lane: Chapter Six

On the Road Again

I’ve heard mixed things about long car trips with a baby. Some people said it would be terrible. Others said they took their baby on weekend trips from just about day one and it wasn’t a problem. After having done it myself, I’ve come to the same conclusion I’ve been hearing since I learned I was pregnant: Every baby is different!

Those who had no problems taking their child on roadtrips as an infant clearly had an easy-going, content baby. That child will probably grow up to be a phlegmatic, easy-going adult. Those who consider car trips with a baby to be the closest thing to hell on this earth had independent, active children, who will probably grow up to be a choleric (or at least sanguine), independent adult.

Little Miss is closer to the latter.

Two weeks ago we had the opportunity to take my sister to “the big-big city” to catch a flight to Europe.   This was no small thing – it’s normally a 4-hour drive.  Of course we wanted to take her, so without thinking twice we said yes. As the date drew nearer, we began to realize what this meant, exactly.

Traveling with a baby isn’t just taking a small person along for the ride. It also means tripling your luggage volume. Not only do you have a small duffle bag for you and your spouse, but you also have the following:

  • Diaper bag, packed with about a dozen diapers for the trip, along with all the regular stuff.
  • Bag for baby, packed with even more diapers, several changes of clothes, extra wipes, a hat (just in case), the safety kit (nail clippers, aspirator, thermometer, medicine dropper, etc.), pjs, extra pjs, baby shampoo, a bib, an extra bib, and a few toys.
  • Stroller
  • Pack N’ Play (so baby has somewhere safe to sleep)

Suddenly, the back of your SUV doesn’t seem so large and spacious. So instead of carting out your usual one bag and then the baby, you’ve got an additional hundred pounds or so of gear – just for baby!!! Add to that two giant suitcases belonging to someone traveling overseas for 7 months, and…so long, great gas mileage!

Once you’re finally on the road, you are presented with the challenge of entertaining baby. Toys that make noise are the best – rattles, “pull-to-play-music” toys, “push-button-to-make-sounds” toys, you know the type. Unfortunately, these toys also work best at annoying everyone else in the car. (There are only so many times you can listen to “Fur Elise” without going insane.)

And just because you’re in the car that doesn’t mean you don’t change diapers. On our trip to “the big-big city” we discovered that cars actually make babies poop more than usual. Perhaps it’s the vibrations of the car on the freeway that shake it out of them? Someone told me you should plan on one diaper an hour while traveling. I’d say that might be a bit conservative.

Then there’s eating. On a typical trip to “the big-big city” Husband and I would most likely stop at Subway at the halfway point, grab some sandwiches, drinks, and candy bars, and hit the road again. Not so easy with a baby. Yeah, sandwiches, drinks, and candy is still easily acquired, but what about baby? She has to eat, too. And if you’re breastfeeding (as I am), you’ll either need to feed her at a stop, or pump on the road. I opted for the former.

Unfortunately, Little Miss is a slow eater. My friend’s daughter spends about 10 minutes eating and she’s full. And it’s not because she doesn’t eat much;  “Bug” is over 15 pounds at 3 months! She’s just a fast eater. Little Miss, on the other hand, takes her time. She takes about 40 minutes to eat, on average. This means that a typical 10-minute lunch stop for sandwiches takes almost an hour by the time you get stopped, find a good parking spot (not in the flow of foot traffic, since you won’t exactly be decent), get set up, change baby’s diaper, feed her, get her back in the car seat, go to the bathroom, and get going again.

All of these things put together made a 4-hour trip to “the big-big city” take over seven hours.

And we ran out of baby wipes.

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