Long car rides are tougher with babies, but they're often unavoidable. Just make sure to travel safely, pack the night before to make travel day less stressful, and be prepared for the trip to take longer than it would otherwise.
Follow manufacturer's manual to install seat and buckle up correctly
Go rear-facing for as long as possible
Dress in light layers; no bulky layers under harness
Pull the car over to nurse or bottle feed
Time the drive with child's longest nap, or bedtime if you're okay driving in the dark
If traffic isn't stop-and-go, the movement usually helps them fall and stay asleep
Safety experts say to stop every 2 hours, as prolonged time in car seat strains developing bones and muscles
Use your judgement; if baby is asleep or there's no good place to stop, you may want to keep going a bit longer
If you have a co-pilot, it can be helpful to sit back with your baby to play with them when they get bored & fussy
Bring a few special or new toys or books and hand them to your child one by one as they get bored, lose them, or after a rest stop. Safety experts recommend soft toys as they're safer in an accident.
Retractable window shade to block out strong light
Light blanket to layer on top of harnessed baby
A lovey they associate with naptime
Pacifier, if your baby uses one (with a clip so it doesn't keep falling to the ground!)
Sound machine if it helps your baby fall and stay asleep
Eating in a moving car increases the risk of choking in the event of a sudden stop or accident
If you do bring snacks, be extra cautious to avoid choking hazards and ideally an adult is in the back with the child if they're eating
Silicone spill-proof snack containers can help reduce the mess
Have a spill-proof water cup within reach too.
It's common for older babies & toddlers to get car sick
Be prepared with plastic bags, paper towels, and an extra set of clothes
Be prepared with all you might need in easy reach so you don't have to go digging through a suitcase at 70mph with a screaming baby
Include all the above + bottles with milk/formula, diapers & wipes