A road trip with a nearly brand-new baby might not sound like fun, but it can actually be not only safe but fairly painless if you do things right. Planning ahead for emergencies and enforcing safety policies in the car will help you all arrive at your destination no more than a little worse for the wear.
Using the Child Restraint Seat
There's never a good time to take your baby out of his car seat, not even to feed him or comfort him when he's crying. Accidents happen in a split second, and a baby who's not strapped in is a flying missile in the car. If your baby starts to fuss, stop the car before taking him out of his seat. Before heading out on a long trip, double-check your car seat installation; as many as 80 percent of parents don't install or use their car seat properly, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against sleeping in infant seats for long periods; recline the seat as much as possible. The sitting position can occlude a small infant's airway. Keep an eye on your baby at all times when he sleeps in the car seat.
While it seems as if there's a pharmacy on every corner in America, if you're traveling through relatively deserted areas, make sure you pack everything you might need, including plenty of formula if you're not nursing, a few extra pacifiers, a thermometer, infant fever reducers, lots of diapers, diaper rash cream and extra clothing changes. Make a list of emergency numbers or make sure you have your little one's pediatrician's number programmed into your phone. If you'll be traveling for long hours, the sun will inevitably come through the windows and shine on his face at some point. Put sun-blocking shades on your car windows if they're not tinted.
If you're bottle feeding or can pump breast milk, you'll find it easy to feed a 1 month old in the car. Sit in the back seat next to the baby, with your seat belt on, and give him his bottle while you're still securely strapped in place. It's even possible to breast feed in the car without taking either one of you away from your safety restraints, although slightly more challenging. By sitting close to your baby's seat and leaning over, you can usually bring the breast to his mouth. Practice this at home before trying it on the road. You'll also need to stop somewhere to take him out and burp him, or you could end up with a gassy, cranky baby. Pull into the nearest parking lot for this rather than just parking on the side of the road -- it's safer.
Take breaks every few hours when you're traveling with a 1 month old. Breaks give you a chance to take him out of his car seat and hold him in a different position for a bit. They also give you a chance to deal with dirty diapers and clothing changes, if needed. Ride in the back seat next to your baby while someone else drives, so you can attend to his needs without taking off your seat belt or removing him from his seat and keep an eye on him. If you don't have one, invest in a mirror that allows you to keep him in sight at all times.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Misuse Of Child Restraints: Results Of A Workshop To Review Field Data Results
- Pediatrics: SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Expansion of Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment
- YouTube: How to Breastfeed in the Car
- eMed TV: Car Travel with an Infant
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images