We are taking our 14-month-old son on a 12-hour road trip. What will keep him content in the car? Are there any special tips that will make the trip smoother for us all?
Norma in Tisdale
Take lots of books, kids' singing tapes, and toys. Be prepared to read to him and play with him. Put the books and toys in a bucket beside his car seat so he can reach them on his own. Also, be prepared to sit beside him for a good portion of the trip.
Bill in Milwaukee
Bring a TV with a tape player connected so you can watch tapes â€¦ or even better, have a DVD player in your car. It's worked for my kids! Have a nice trip.
Heather in Virginia Beach
A seven-hour road trip went by quickly! We used new toys from the dollar store (make sure he doesn't see them ahead of time). Pull each out along the trip, as he gets bored. Use a TV tray for coloring, sing songs, and look out the window for things.
Sandi in Joliet
We have taken road trips with our son since he was 6 months old. Ideas that have worked for us are: traveling in the early morning hours, playing his music, sitting by him and reading. Take breaks, but don't stop if he's sleeping!
Lisa in Bellevue
We used to travel out of state all the time. A good meal and a warm bath ahead of time always did the trick to get us almost all the way there. But have that favorite snack and book or toy ready, just in case.
Shay in Sarasota
I would take some tapes or CDs that your son likes to sing/listen to. It might drive you and hubby a little crazy, but I've found that music helps occupy little ones. The other saving grace â€¦ YOU! Talk to him while you drive.
Bettye M. Caldwell, Ph.D.
(Taken from the article Traveling with Children: Part 1 – Along the Way)
Keeping occupied is your biggest challenge. Let your child choose toys to take on the trip and pack a small basket or box with them. Realize that what you pack to use during the trip should not have so many small pieces that, if one falls on the floor, the toy is no longer appealing (for example, puzzles are a definite no-no).
Toy phones are great, especially if you have two. When the noise level gets too high, suggest talking to one another on the phone. Simple art supplies are excellent travelers, too. Save any computer paper you would otherwise waste, punch holes in it, and make a simple art notebook for your child. A hard-side notebook not only holds paper but also provides a hard surface for coloring and drawing. If your child's creativity lags, feel free to make suggestions: draw a bridge, a cornfield, our van, etc. Then be sure to say, "We're going to show those pictures to Grandma when we get there."
Another way to help keep your children occupied on a trip is to make certain you don't withdraw totally from them. There is something hypnotic about driving along an interstate; you find yourself withdrawing and thinking your own thoughts. Be sure to involve yourself with the children some of the time—sing songs together, play word games, talk about what you will do when you arrive, etc. And take some of their tapes to play on the car tape deck. If you have only one preschool child in the car, you can help keep him or her occupied by riding in the back seat part of the time.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.