My essentials for keeping car trips with toddlers calm and happy, including my favorite car seat and go-to snack container.
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Car trips with toddlers can be tricky. I don’t blame them for not wanting to ride in the car– it’s not always my favorite activity either! So I’ve tried to make car rides as pleasant for my toddler as possible. Most of our car trips are short jaunts around town, but it’s also not uncommon for us to drive much further away on weekends. I’ve invested in a few things to help car rides go as smoothly as possible. Don’t we all love happy passengers?
Give Your Toddler A Comfy Seat
I’m convinced that riding in a comfortable seat makes a difference. I love our Maxi Cosi Pria 85 Car Seat. I’ll write a full review of it soon! I chose the Pria 85 first for its high weight limits and second for its padded seat pad and premium fabric. It easily looked like the most comfortable seat my daughter could safely ride in and we’ve been very happy with it. My child still rides rear facing at 18 months. I intend to keep her rear facing as long as possible. You can read more about that via The Car Seat Lady here.
Provide Your Toddler With Designated Activities Reserved For Car Rides
It has helped us to set aside a few toys that are specifically for car rides. These toys don’t get to come inside the house or on walks with us or anywhere outside of the car, lest they lose their novelty.
My daughter loves to point to the simple illustrations on our Ring Flash Card Set. She also makes the corresponding signs for the pictures when she knows them. She gets really excited about her favorites, which are currently “sun” and “balloon”. Turning the cards on the ring can be a little bit challenging, which is good for keeping busy hands occupied.
Our other novelty item in the car is a set of cute Finger Puppets. A surprise hit for the back seat, finger puppets are cute, portable, and apparently fun to transfer in and out of your built-in cup holder if you’re in that stacking-and-sorting developmental stage. Also fun for making animal noises or for dancing along to the Disney playlists your parents made for you even though you’ve never seen a full-length animated feature. (We’re holding off as long as we can, but we do a lot of singing to The Lion King and Moana!) As with the flash cards, these finger puppets are played with exclusively in the car..
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
I often talk to my toddler while I’m driving. I tell her about where we’re going and who we’re going to see. I love being able to see what she’s doing in her seat while I’m driving. I like being able to determine why she’s crying (it’s usually because the sun is in her eyes, occasionally because she’s run out of puffs in her snack container). At first having this mirror was a little bit distracting, but I feel more at ease driving with it. I really recommend a backseat mirror to anyone who takes regular car trips with toddlers.
Consider Portable Snacks
I think snacks are essential for car trips with toddlers. I love the Ubbi tweat snack container. With its hinged lid and clever snack catch, it does a good job keeping sweet potato blueberry puffs away from my upholstery, while giving my child a fun activity and a treat at the same time. Every time I pull this out in public, parents of slightly older children marvel and tell me that baby gear has drastically improved in the past ten years. Read my full review here.
Don’t Forget Comfort Items
If your child is attached to a particular lovey, blanket, or stuffed animal, bring it along! This has helped us with car rides tremendously. It also makes it more likely that our child will nap during long car rides because having her lovey with her is a sleep cue.
Sing A Happy Song
When all else fails, I just start singing Old McDonald in a happy, upbeat voice and believe it or not, that usually works! What helps your babies and toddlers get through car rides? Does anyone have tips for blocking the sun for those rear-facing passengers? I’d love to hear!
My name is Kate and I live in a California beach town with my husband & baby girl. At High Low Baby, I review baby products at high and low price points.