The last time Calvin was on a long road trip was at Christmas time. He was about 8 months old and slept most of the way. So when we started planning our trip to Manitoba, I wasn’t sure what to expect from him, besides the fact that he wouldn’t just sleep and would need entertainment. Most of what I’ve heard of others who travel in the car with toddlers is to expect to make lots of stops and that your trip will take way longer than it would otherwise. I did not find this to be true for us. Here is how it worked out.
I packed a bag full of snack food like fish crackers, raisins, Cheerios, meat and cheese. I also brought along a bag of toys and books, making sure there was a variety of ones that made sound and ones he could interact with differently.
We started out by just letting him be, then when he started getting complainy, I offered a rotation of snacks and toys. Sometimes he would refuse snacks, but would enjoy a book to look at, and other times he just wanted his water. Most of the time he was easy to satisfy, but there were a couple times when either Tim or I would get into the back seat to play with him to keep him happy. He fell asleep a couple times, for 30-60 minutes. And I also realized that just because he is silent doesn’t mean he is sleeping. He was rear facing on the way there, so I couldn’t tell that he had trance-like moments until I was in the back with him. After 10-15 minutes of complaints that couldn’t be taken care of, he would all of a sudden just go quiet and stare at his toes, or the seat back or something. Almost like he was sleeping with his eyes closed. So I knew that if we couldn’t do anything to make him happy, he eventually would get quiet.
On the way back home, we decided to try him forward facing (and before you say anything, yes, I do know it is recommended to keep them rear facing as long as possible). He met the requirements, so I decided to do a little experimenting. These are my findings:
It doesn’t let him see out the window any better since he is still sitting low, but it lets him see us. It was also way easier to get him snacks and toys. I didn’t have to go in the backseat once! His cranky times were shorter, and he also napped more frequently. Still only 30-60 minutes at a time, but there were more of those moments. It was nice to be able to see his face and what he was up to.
So in conclusion, I will say that it is not necessary to stop when your baby is crying. It’s quite obvious that the more you stop, the more time it will take to get to your destination. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just want to get there, you know? Calvin survived and was mostly happy during the drive. He wasn’t the perfect road tripper, but he did better than I anticipated, and we are looking forward to our next trip in August!