Hitting the road with your newborn to visit friends, family, and favorite vacation spots can be an exciting and memorable time for everyone involved.
But how soon can a newborn travel long distance by car? Is an 8-hour car trip with a newborn a good idea? And what can parents do to make their road trips as pleasant as possible for their baby?
We’ll answer all of these questions (plus, give you a few key tips and tricks for traveling with newborns) in this guide to short trips and long-distance vacations for parents with infants.
When Can You Travel with a Newborn by Car?
So, how soon can a newborn travel long distance by car? Quick trips around town; like to the doctor’s office, are safe from the time you leave the hospital with your newborn.
Experts recommend limiting travel time to 30-minutes during the first few months of life to allow for frequent feeding, changing, and stretching opportunities for newborns.
How Soon Can a Newborn Travel Long Distances by car?
But what if you want to go to the beach? Or visit Grandma Jones out in Montana? How soon can your newborn safely –– and comfortably –– make the trip?
Experts say to wait two to three months minimum before traveling long distances by car with your newborn, for two major reasons.
First, prolonged time in car seats can lead to developmental issues and exacerbate growing pains for newborns. Secondly, newborns’ immune systems are still rapidly developing during the first few weeks of life. Before the two to three-month mark, your baby may not have the immunity needed to safely travel outside your local area.
Once your newborn hits the three-month mark, you can safely travel three to four hours at a time with 15-minute breaks scheduled every two hours for changing, feeding, and stretching.
How Can I Choose the Best Newborn Car Seat?
Choosing a car seat for newborns is one of the most important decisions new parents make for the safety of their baby, and doubly so for parents considering long road trips. Picking the wrong car seat for newborns could lead to issues like delayed motor control, flat spots on the head, and tightness in the neck.
To choose the best newborn car seat:
- Check the safety score - all car seats for newborns come with a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash test and safety rating. This can help you compare car seats to find the safest option for your baby.
- Double-check sizes - Ensure straps fit snugly, your newborn fits comfortably into the padding and cushions, and your baby’s weight and height align with NHTSA recommendations before buying a car seat.
- Test the car seat in your car - If possible, it always helps to get a clear image of what your loading and unloading process will look like with a new car seat. You’ll be taking your baby in and out of their car seat multiple times during a trip, so easy access will be a serious benefit.
How Long Can a Baby Be in a Car Seat on a Road Trip?
Babies should only be in their car seats for three to four hours at a time (so no 8-hour car trips with your newborn to the beach quite yet!) To exercise the most caution, limit your itinerary to a single three to four hour “long-haul” per day.
This helps prevent your newborn from developing sores, painful muscle or joint stiffness, and issues like Container Baby Syndrome.
How can I make my car seat more comfortable for a long trip?
The most important step to enhancing your newborn’s comfort on a long trip is properly securing their five-point harness. The harness should be snug but not tight and allow your newborn to sit up without slouching or falling to the side.
Blankets, pillows, and car seat inserts can also be used to make your baby more comfortable on longer trips.
How Can I Get My Baby to Sleep in the Car?
As every parent quickly learns, getting your newborn to sleep can be a challenge. And sleeping in the car during a road trip presents a whole new host of challenges and distractions that can keep your baby awake.
Sleep suits can be extremely useful for restless babies in the car. Quick-transition swaddles and sleep suits soothe and calm your baby to help them fall asleep and stay asleep longer.
If a sleep suit isn’t cutting it, road-tripping parents can turn to devices like the Soothe Massager to give their newborn a gentle, fingertip-style massage that relieves gas, discomfort, and fussiness in no time.
How can you safely store formula on road trips?
Safely storing and accurately mixing formula can be a struggle on the road. Rather than attempting to make bottles on-the-go, we recommend making bottles ahead of your trip and storing them in your diaper bag for convenient travel feeding.
The easiest –– and most accurate –– way to make bottles ahead of your road trip is with the Formula Pro Advanced Baby Formula Dispenser. The Formula Pro Advanced makes perfectly blended bottles at the ideal consistency for your newborn with just the push of a button.
How Can You Safely Store Breast Milk on Road Trips?
If Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, or any other caretaker is looking to hit the road with a breastfed baby (sans mom) they’ll need to safely and securely store breast milk for the trip.
This can be easily accomplished with a well-stocked cooler or diaper bag and access to warm water for reheating the stored breastmilk. While traveling, keep your cooler or diaper bag at or below 40℉, then warm stored breast milk to 99℉ before feeding.
How Should You Store Homemade Baby Food on Road Trips?
Steaming, blending, and mixing fresh vegetables and fruits into ultra-healthy homemade meals can seriously simplify feeding time and help you save money on the road. Be sure your newborn’s food is securely stored at or below 40℉ to ensure freshness and prevent bacterial growth.
If you’re new to making homemade baby food, you may want to start by using Baby Brezza’s One Step Homemade Baby Food Maker. The device will allow you to quickly blend your baby’s favorite fruits and vegetables into your own homemade baby food, which you can either serve right away or store for future meals! Then, if you’re looking to travel pack or bring the baby food with you on the go, consider using our reusable baby food pouches. These high-quality baby food pouches are super easy to fill, dishwasher-safe, and can be thrown in the freezer for prolonged storage.
What Else Do I Need To Take on a Roadtrip with a Baby?
Traveling with a baby can feel like a point of stress for you both –– so making sure to bring all essentials necessary is, indeed, both necessary and essential!
First, always make sure to bring more diapers and clothes than you think are needed. This will guarantee that changing never becomes an issue. Then, find a reliable diaper bag like the classic Dante Diaper Bag? Another must-have for the road ahead, this bag has insulated side pockets and a super travel-friendly changing station that folds right out of the bag.
One of the worst things that can happen on any trip is for your baby to experience diaper rash. It’s especially important to proactively protect against diaper rash on long trips, so make sure to always apply diaper cream with hygienic Finger Shields while traveling.
Bringing these extras will ensure everyone gets where they’re going more comfortably. Good luck, and safe travels!