Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Road Trips Ain't for Babies: The Basics: Part 2

Now . . . where was I? Here are a bunch of things I've learned over the years. I may come back and add to this list but this is what I have off the top of my head.

1. Preparing Bottles
     This is just a pain in the butt no matter how you do it, honestly. At the very least formula smells bad. Regardless, you gotta do what you gotta do. My oldest was on formula for the most part. after she was a few months old (looong story). The easiest, most expensive option is to buy the equivalent concentrated or premixed liquid formula just for the drive. It doesn't have to be refrigerated until after it is open so you can keep it pretty well (obviously you don't want to leave it sitting in a too hot or too cold car, though). Once it's opened you can stick it in a cooler with plenty of ice and aim for fridge temps. The most important thing is to read the label on the formula and follow those directions. The other option is having multiple bottles pre-filled with water (whatever kind of water floats your boat . . . haha haha). Then buy one of these handy dandy little things. I did this once and it worked pretty well but I was pretty keen on her routine and how much she'd want to eat by then too so it wasn't much trouble. I just cleaned the bottles as soon as we got to where we were going. If you wanted to flip that method around you could put the powder into the bottles and add water. It's really up to you. I kept all this junk in it's own bag.

2. Breastfeeding
     THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR BOTTLE AND BOOB FEEDING: Do NOT pull your child out of the car seat to feed them. EVER. It is NEVER safe if the car is moving. Don't. Just don't. This is one of those things you'll want to be prepared for: stopping. A lot. Pull over in a safe area and give them the bottle. Never put a little convenience over everyone's safety. Now, breastfeeding. You have gobs of options. Pump and prepare bottles before leaving, pump fresh for bottles in the car, or offer the tap.  It's up to you. I haven't found a pump that likes me so I just went with the old fashioned way. My younger bumpkin nursed until 17 months and I think she maybe had a bottle in her mouth twice for that entire time. Use a cover if you want. Don't use a cover if you don't want. It's up to you. Just know, you always have fresh, warm milk ready for baby this way which is very, very nice. I've heard mixed reviews on the "lean over the seat" method. I've read suffocation as a risk for doing this but I don't know. I couldn't possibly do that even if I wanted too.  It would be way to uncomfortable. I'd consult the lovely research tool we call google for that one. (This also applies whether you're using boob or bottle: there's always the chance the little bub could choke but I'm not sure how likely or how true that actually is . . . .). I would be extra cautious, do your research, and as always put safety over convenience.

3. Make a list, and another, and another
     If I never get anything else done I can at least be sure I have a list to guide me. (vague, bashful laughter) Yeah, I always manage to get a list out. Then another. Maybe even one more for good, thorough, over-zealous measure. Really though, grab a pen and notebook, scribble on an eraser board, or download a simple app like OneNote and get to it. Some people don't mind dropping in to the store mid-trip for forgotten things but personally I dislike doing that so I try to remember everything. Extra tip: KEEP a copy of the list handy for when you go back home so you can avoid forgetting anything and add any new junk you've procured as well.

4. Choosing between night or day
     I've done both. This matters a lot more if you have a really long drive. If you're passing up the 12 hour mark then breaking up the drive with an overnight hotel stay is probably a reasonable idea. Hubby and I tend to choose to drive overnight and recoup some whenever we arrive. Taking turns is key for this. If you're crazy like me and ever end up taking a long drive (with or without) kids be sure you're not falling asleep on the road if you do drive overnight. Stop to sleep if you need too. Don't overestimate the power of caffeine either. The only downsides I really know for sure about driving during the day are a) possible traffic, b) kids awake and acting crazy, and c) a long trip due to more frequent stops. If you leave right before the kids bedtime it gives them a chance to settle into the car and hopefully sleep a nice long time. If things go just so a quick stop for breakfast and a really good movie or a new learning app will hold them off until you can get to where you're going. Some people don't do well in cars though. Some people can't drive for that long. In some cases, you're just going to have to try it out once to see how things go before you really know (so reassuring, yeah?).

5. Get the trash o-u-t
Don't forget to have at least one, but preferably multiple, trash receptacles in the car at all times. We have one of the cheap office mesh bins from Target in our car. I've seen that some people manage to use one of those tupperware cereal storage things for trash too. A regular, bathroom-sized plastic can might be perfect or maybe just a plastic bag rigged up on of the seats. Bring extra disposable shopping bags and an extra trash bag or two for accidents. Get as much of it out of the car as you can at every stop. You might want to add a car wash and vacuum place near your destination to your pre-plan list of things to map!

6. Really big spills
What's the infamous saying? $#!+ happens? Maybe your toddler's cup decided it didn't like being spill proof anymore. Maybe your cold iced mocha feels compelled to drench the floor. Maybe your cooler springs a leak. Use a clean disposable diaper. Turn it inside out and schlop up all the mess with that creepy gel-filled paper material. It will soak up every last molecule of mess. Keeping some generic cloth diapers handy is a good idea too. They seem to have no end and can be used many more times than a baby wipe. I always take a towel for good measure as well.

7. The Worst of It
If nothing else could go wrong on your trip count on a bout of car sickness or perhaps a cold or stomach bug souvenir to keep your life interesting. If you know your child has a tendency to get car sick (like mine) you can probably temper the touchy tummy with plenty of stops, gentle snacks, and some soothing meds (gripe water works well for stomach upset of any sort, almost all stores carry it in the aisle with the other baby and kid meds). However, the souvenir illness should not be underestimated. Having changes of clothes, empty plastic trash bags and/or grocery bags, a few towels (not nice ones, the nice broken in rags), and even a small bottle of all purpose cleaner (make it yourself easy peasy with just some hot water, white vinegar, a little dawn dish soap, and some tea tree oil for good measure) is a good idea. Keeping the typical meds like tylenol, teething tablets, motrin, and/or a gentle cold remedy) in a first aid kit that stays in the car is a nice safety net to keep everyone more comfortable. In the end, if you end up with oodles of snotty noses or projectile vomit on the way home you'll at least be able to keep it together until your trip is over.

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