Just taking your toddler to the grocery store can be a daunting task. So it’s no surprise that many parents cringe at the thought of going on a long car trip with their small child. Kids tend to get grumbly and impatient when they are in the car for a long time. But with some preparation, you can keep your toddler (and yourself) comfortable and happy when going out of town or on vacation. Here are some ideas.
* Bring along some drawing supplies. Kids love to get creative when they are riding. If you’re worried about having artwork on your toddler’s clothing or the seats of your car, there are plenty of no-mess art options available. There are markers that only draw on special paper, magnetic drawing boards, and Etch-a-Sketches, for example.
* Bring some favorite toys, but make sure they are easy to grab if dropped. There’s nothing worse than riding down the road peacefully, then all of a sudden hearing wails of discontent because your toddler has dropped his favorite toy. Larger toys are easier for someone else in the car to grab, and if you have to stop you won’t have to hunt for them in every nook and cranny.
* Don’t forget to bring snacks. Toddlers inevitably get hungry during trips, and it doesn’t always happen at mealtime. Healthy snacks such as Cheerios or raisins fit nicely into snack baggies and allow your child to help himself. You could fill a sippy cup or two with juice to bring along in a cooler as well.
* Pillows are essential if you are going to be traveling more than a couple of hours. Your toddler will get sleepy at some point on trips longer than that, and sleepy often equals cranky. Keeping your toddler comfortable will help ensure that he doesn’t wake up cranky as well.
* Get something new to give your toddler when departing. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive. Just a new book or coloring book should generate enough excitement to keep your child occupied for many miles.
* Plan a realistic number of rest stops. If you will be in the car for several hours, you will probably need to stop at least every two hours. If your child is potty trained you may have to alter your rest stop schedule a bit. But making sure to stop every so often and let your toddler stretch his legs will help ward off crankiness.
* Bring some of your toddler’s favorite music and have a sing along. This has the potential to keep your toddler occupied for hours on end, and it gives you something that you can do together while riding.
Road trips with your toddler can be enjoyable for all involved. Bringing along enough supplies to keep him occupied and his stomach full will help ensure his happiness. And a happy toddler is the key to a pleasant ride.