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Am thinking of driving her, with my wife in the backseat next to her car seat, to my in laws, who lives 4 hours away by car for July 4th weekend. Obviously we'll be bringing all the essentials: diapers, bottled milk, toys, etc to make her ride as comfortable as possible.

Is it too much for her in your opinion? And if we were to go, is it a good idea to leave round 6:30pm, so that she may start her sleep and keep sleeping in the car thanks to the movements and vibrations, and around around 10:30pm.

  • This is probably primary opinion based and is totally dependent on the child. I personally would set off earlier or as early as you can and make plenty of stops on the way. This is something you can judge whilst your are driving; if your child is sleeping then by all means drive on but if they do wake consider stopping, feeding, changing if needed and just having a stretch. – Bugs May 30 '17 at 14:15
  • I agree -- opinion based -- but many children have done it and survived. Some kids sleep and that makes a night drive easiest for them. Could you do a test drive one evening for an hour? Otherwise if the child is awake, break up the trip with dinner and a playtime (One and a half hours between breaks). As you said, Mum sits in the back with your child and sings, reads, plays... while you drive. Four hours isn't that long, especially if Mum is paying attention to Daughter. – WRX May 30 '17 at 14:28
  • My son and DIL just took their 4.5 month old on a 7 hour car trip; my DIL sat with her and entertained her, etc. The baby was fine both ways; Mom however was exhausted! :) – anongoodnurse May 30 '17 at 22:57
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We asked both our doctor and our midwife about this when our daughter was 3 months old for a 6 hour ride.

They both told us we should regularly take her out to stretch but other than that, it should not be a problem. I remember they said something like every 2 hours.

At the end, we did the same as you did: Depart in the evening, drive while she slept (as long as she slept) and stopped when she woke up to feed, stretch and change diapers. It worked like a charm for both of hour children and, well, we did not wake them after two hours ;).

I would ensure that you are well rested and in my opinion you should not force it. If she cries after the stop, just stop again and give her some time to adjust. Eventually, she should go back to sleep and you can again drive some miles.

Also: remember that everytime you drive (and your wife entertains), you'll get closer to your destination.

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Well, they're not too young, but that doesn't mean it'll be fun or easy. If you can start right before their normal naptime, you may be able to get through it without them even being aware of it, or if you've developed a pattern or a sleep trigger that you can use (we used white noise for both of ours, and we could just crack a window and they'd both be out for hours). If you've been co-sleeping or have some other car unfriendly sleep habit, you're going to have a bad time.

Otherwise, just be ready to stop a lot. If you can have a parent ride with them, that works a bit better: the first time we did a long trip, we didn't have room in the backseat for someone to ride with the baby, and that was miserable. The worst thing you can do is get in that "we have to get there NOW" mentality.

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It should be fine. Some kids will sleep through pretty much the whole thing, if you time it right. Others will wake up and be cheerful - be ready with something to keep the child occupied.

Or there might be fussing and some fits. Keep your expected arrival time open-ended, and maybe do some homework on rest areas or recreational possibilities if your child seems like they might need a mental break/recharge. Really, though, 4 hours is, if you'll excuse me, child's play.

8, 10, 12 hours? That's when the real challenge comes in. I think you should be fine.

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I have done 13 hours driving with a less-than-one-year old. Any long drive can be done simply enough, but you need to recognize that it is a strain on them no matter what you do. These are the things you need to keep in mind on just about any long trip with a young one:

  • You need to be ready to stop, for just about anything. Diaper change, feeding, attention, or just needing a stretch - be ready to take care of the infant first. This is not a trip you can power through (you may get lucky with a good long sleep for four hours, but you need to not count on that). This also means the later you schedule, the less likely you'll have good places to stop.
  • It definitely works better with someone in the back for the kid to interact with. Toys can help, but they'll be overboard before you can blink; scenery and movement doesn't matter much when they're that young. A friendly face does wonders. This will not eliminate the need to stretch, stop, and get any time out of the car.
  • Be ready for the child to pitch a fit on anything - you are completely upending their routine, and they're just getting used to routines in the first place. My child completely refused to eat (at first), simply because the places we stopped were so overwhelming and loud. We clued in quickly and adjusted. Try different ways to accommodate them, and if they're not comfy with one location (try in, out, or in-car) or one parent or one food, try another (good advice in general anyway, just goes double for travel).
  • Be supplied. You cannot overpack on this, because everything still familiar will help your infant cope. Favorite toys, favorite spoons, anything.
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