Be pre­pared for road trips with your baby.

The Washington Post Sunday - - AUTOMOTIVE -

If you’re a new par­ent, or a soon-tobe new par­ent, you’ve likely been told that hav­ing a baby will turn your life up­side down. From sleep, or a lack of it, to a quick trip to the store, when Baby makes three, he or she also makes life a lit­tle more in­ter­est­ing to nav­i­gate, es­pe­cially once it’s time for a road trip.

What used to be a great way to es­cape for a quick va­ca­tion will sud­denly seem fraught with hur­dles such as nap sched­ules, di­a­per changes and feed­ings. How­ever, it’s pos­si­ble to get out of the house with your new fam­ily for a longer drive than a run to the gro­cery store by fol­low­ing our tips and pack­ing some ex­tra pa­tience for your road trips with lit­tle ones.

Nap­time Equals Drive Time

It seems like ev­ery­one tells new par­ents to sleep when the baby sleeps (as if that re­ally hap­pens), but for road trips what they should say is jump in the car and drive when it’s nap­time. If you’ve got an in­fant who is log­ging two naps a day, count your lucky stars and then plan your road trip to co­in­cide with those naps. Speak­ing of plan­ning, make sure to sched­ule lots of breaks for you and your baby, and also make sure that the driver is well rested. Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night, which can be a tall or­der for new par­ents. How­ever, it’s im­por­tant be­cause 1 in 6 deadly crashes is at­trib­uted to drowsy driv­ing, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Sleep Foun­da­tion.

Pack Some Plas­tic Bags

From gallon-sized zip­pered plas­tic bags to plas­tic gro­cery bags to even a roll of dog bags, it’s im­por­tant to have a stash of them for stor­ing any­thing and ev­ery­thing in your car or on your baby that could be puked, peed or pooped on. Things just got real.

Bring Ex­tra Clothes and Di­a­pers

Once you’ve cleaned up your lit­tle dar­ling’s dis­gust­ing mess, it’s im­por­tant to have a spare set or two of clothes and di­a­pers to cover all the con­tin­gen­cies. One of Cars.com’s staff dads likes to keep his kids’ spare clothes in gallon-sized plas­tic bags, giv­ing him a place to tem­po­rar­ily store the dirt­ied clothes.

Baby Wipes Fix Ev­ery­thing

OK, that’s an over­state­ment, but when it comes to life in the car with a baby, they work some se­ri­ous magic. Not only do they easily tidy up your baby’s del­i­cate skin, but they can also tackle messes on your car’s cloth seats, which can be harder to clean than leather seats. They’re also great for wip­ing noses and clean­ing messy hands as well as any car sur­faces that may have been sneezed on.

As you set out for your first road trip with your baby, re­mem­ber to keep your trip on the shorter side — now is not the time to drive cross-coun­try — and keep your ex­pec­ta­tions in check. If your lit­tle one is let­ting you know that he or she has logged enough time in the car seat, take a longer break to al­low ev­ery­one to re­fuel his or her pa­tience.

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