Car Travel Tips
Are car trips a nightmare for you and your little one?
“My little one just screams during car trips” or “car trips are an absolute nightmare for us, I feel anxious and stuck at home as a result”.
I unfortunately hear these comments quite frequently. It is also the reality for many of my clients, before we start working together. I often refer to these unpleasant car trips as a side effect of poor sleep and an inability of your little one to be able to self-settle. Consequently, by us getting on top of problematic sleep issues and teaching little ones the gift of self-settling, my clients will typically report back to me that those dreaded car trips with incessant crying is now a thing of the past.
…by us getting on top of problematic sleep issues and teaching little ones the gift of self-settling, my clients will typically report back to me that those dreaded car trips with incessant crying is now a thing of the past.
CAR TRAVEL WITH LITTLE ONES – TOP TIPS
SKILLS FOR SELF SETTLING
Firstly, I absolutely believe in the positive effects of self-settling especially when it comes to traumatic car trips. If your little one consistently relies on a particular measure, such as the replacement of a dummy or being rocked to settle, this can play havoc when you are unable to do this during a car trip. Giving your little one the skills to settle themselves is a great way to alleviate those distressing car trips, avoiding those lengthy crying episodes. Before implementing any changes, ensure you have a solid, supportive plan to teach your little one to self – settle, should you wish to go down this path of course.
DONT TRAVEL WHEN YOUR LITTLE ONE IS OVERTIRED
Little ones who are over tired tend to be irritable and often babies who are in this state only want to be held…a lot! Therefore, in these instances, car trips tend to be unpleasant for everyone. Good quality sleep plays a crucial role in not only your little one’s physical and developmental wellbeing, but their emotional and mental state also. We all know how much harder it is to cope when surviving on poor sleep – our babies are no different. Focus on offering your little one plenty of opportunity for sleep, try heading out after their naps (where you can) and remember to provide the option for as much sleep as possible at home, in their familiar sleep space.
Good quality sleep plays a crucial role in not only your little one’s physical and developmental wellbeing, but their emotional and mental state also.
THINK ABOUT FEED BEFORE YOU TRAVEL
It is really common to see babies who suffer from reflux having a difficult time in the car. If this is your little one, I would wait at least 20 minutes following their feed (where possible) before heading into the car. This time period may help them digest some of their milk before they get into a position in the car seat that may exacerbate their reflux. With this said, hungry babies may also have a hard time settling in the car too, so keep this in mind. Ideally your little one may travel in the car best after having a good quality, solid sleep, are fed on waking and then have time for their tummy to digest before heading into the car for a trip. I understand this cannot always be achieved. Life goes on, we have work commitments, siblings to consider etc. and this can make it a little difficult.
POSITION AND CAR SEAT COMFORT
I have heard a number of people say that certain car seats played a role in their baby’s discomfort in the car. I am not an expert in car seats, but I do believe it may be worth looking into. Many parents seek professional advice/treatment from the likes of paediatric physiotherapists and chiropractors to assess their child for positional discomfort or other factors that may be playing a role.
Finally, never underestimate the importance of routines for your little ones. If your little one spends most of their day in and out of the car with no pattern as to when their next feed or sleep will be, this could play a huge role in any unsettled behaviours. Even if it is just a very loose pattern, whatever you can manage may help. Routines play a big role in bringing a sense of familiarity and consistency to our babies, from which they thrive off.
The Gentle Sleep Specialist x
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