If you can avoid it I would recommend not traveling with a newborn. Stay home and cuddle. Watch trashy tv and eat lots of food that does not have to be prepared. However, with a large family and three babies we have no choice. We are lucky that J’s family lives 20 minutes from our house. Before our big move they lived 1.5 hours away. My family lives 5 hrs away and before the move we were 2.5 hours away. So, even though we moved closer to one side of the family the amount of time spent in the car visitng relatives has not been cut back. We try to visit my family at least once every two months. Sometimes that means we visit twice in one month. Other times we don’t see my family for two months because we are waiting to visit for an important event. This weekend we went and visited family because my sister in law was having her baby shower. I definitely was not going to miss this, which meant I would have to travel with a four week old. After much preparation we sucked it up and made the trip.
Call us crazy but we visited family this past weekend and we made a 5 hour trip with a newborn and two preschoolers. Honestly, the trip was not as bad as I had envisioned. I had prepared for a stop at least once an hour and for us to be parked for about an hour each time. I knew that this 5 hour trip could take us longer than we had planned. I was prepared, I had a nursing pillow, plenty of diapers, and lots of snacks and water.
Here are the three tips I would recommend for traveling with a newborn (because sometimes you have to do things you are scared to do, like drive with a newborn):
Tip 1: Try and keep the baby up and playing for a good hour before you get in the car. Baby G is ok with the car seat. The longest trip we had previously taken was a half hour away and she didn’t love it but we did survive. Keeping her awake before a 5 hour car trip was important because it guaranteed us at least a stretch of an hour before she began to get uncomfortable. This was a great idea because what I had thought would be an hour turned into 2 hours and we made it to a fast food place where we parked, nursed, and grabbed something to eat before the next part of the drive.
Tip 2: If the older sibling is helpful put that helpfulness to good use. Big D loved Baby G and is super helpful. He loves to bring me her paci if she is fussy. He will sit and sing to her while she is in the swing and I am cooking. I knew his helpfulness would be put to good use on this trip so I intentionally sat him next to Baby G in the car. During the trip this saved our sanity. He was able to tell us if she was hot and he was able to soothe her by talking to her and giving her the paci. It was amazing how helpful he was and how patient he was. I felt so much better about the drive because he was able to tell me why she was crying.
Tip 3: Remember that you are driving with a newborn so breaks are going to be part of the plan. When we were single driving to see family would not take us long at all. With three kids in tow taking breaks for the bathroom and to eat are part of the trip. With a newborn those breaks become necessary because of the nursing schedule and frequent potty breaks for mom.
Long trips in the car are never a lot of fun but if they end with a long hug from loved ones, I would take them every day. Plus everyone loved seeing and meeting Baby G and the boys were in heaven. Driving home took a bit more patience on my part but we made it and the trip was so worth it.