I am due in ten weeks and have planned a trip to Exmouth from Perth over 2 days, 8 hours one day, 4/5 hours the next. Is this feasible with a 10-week-old baby? Has anyone done trips this long with a 10-week-old before?
We did a 9 hour haul from Germany to Denmark with a 6 weeks old and a one year old. No issues or problems. A few things to consider
- Two adults makes this A LOT easier. You can take turns driving, have a conversation and there are always an available pair of hands for the kids.
- Pack properly: water, food, books, toys, books on tape, diaper, change of cloth, ideally all available while driving
- Make sure the car is in good shape. You do NOT want to deal with car troubles in the middle of nowhere with tricky weather conditions. In our case, it was insanely cold, but in your case it may be hot as heck. Both are not good conditions for getting stranded with a few weeks old kid. Make sure you access to car help service, if you need it.
- Consider doing some night driving or whatever your kid's "prime sleep time" is. Sleeping in car seats is actually quite comfortable for the little ones, so you might as well take advantage of it.
- Plan for extra stops, breaks and rest as needed. Edit: DO NOT breast feed in a driving car. It's not safe and potentially illegal; it's much more relaxing if you do it a nice rest stop.
As an experienced "road tripper", I believe an 8 hour driving day with a 10 week old will be very challenging, I would split that day into two days.
With a child at that age I would be prepared to stop at least once every 2 hours. You will not be able to schedule all your stops because you can not predict the babies schedule at that age. You might stop at a nice lunch spot for an hour, only to have to pull off the road again 20 minutes after resuming because of a change or spit-up, or simply to rock and burp the little one. You will need to find a nice safe place to stop and take care of this, and depending on weather you might need to find shade/shelter etc. The most important thing is to have flexibility in your schedule to accommodate the unexpected.
Also keep in mind that you may be rather under-slept before setting out, simply due to regular baby care at home. My littlest one is around 10 weeks old right now, and although he's a wonderful sleeper overall we still end up with rough nights here and there.
For myself, travelling with our little ones, we plan for 30 to 45 minutes of stoppage time for every 2 hours of drive time. And this is ignoring the needs of any adults or older children on the trip. Additionally, if driving more than 4 hours we plan a long break around the 4 hour mark at a chosen location. A rest stop, park or the like where everyone can get out and relax, eat, get refreshed etc. This usually adds about an hour, not including any extra time needed to drive to/from the resting location.
For the older occupants, the stoppages take a toll, they increase fatigue and and the need for more stops for bathroom breaks and meals etc. Remember that you might find yourself taking care of the littlest one in spots that offer no services for the rest of the group.
All in all, we expect 4 hours of actual driving time to take as much as 6 or 7 hours. This represents a realistic worst case scenario. It's better to plan for the worst case and end up ahead of schedule, rather than end up behind schedule and having to rush to make up time.
Taking all that into account, I would stretch your drive over 3 days rather than 2. Plan for 4 or 5 hours of actual driving time each day, with plenty of stops expected. Make note of several possible overnight/sleep locations in advance for each night, so you can decide where to stop for the night based on each days progress. If your little one sleeps like an angel and needs only one change, you'll make great time and get in early. If they cry non stop and need constant attention, you'll still end up arriving roughly on schedule.
Is this feasable with a 10 week old baby?
It depends on a lot of factors, but this is doable with a 10 week old baby. At 10 weeks, babies don't have much of a schedule, so whatever they do, they can pretty much do in a car. What you will be able to do is another matter.
You need to factor in that you will be tired and sleep deprived. Also, you can't count on eight hours of uninterrupted driving. If you are traveling alone, you'll need to stop to feed, change and burp the baby at least once, most likely twice, possibly more. It will be much easier for you if you have an adult companion to let you sleep when the baby sleeps.
Plan for and around these obstacles and it can be done.
Are you the one driving? Especially at that age you can't expect your kid to fit any kind of schedule. If you're lucky he/she will sleep most of the time. However what are you going to do if your kid is awake (or even crying)?
I've taken 4 hour trips with kids that i think were 4 months old. And the hard part is that it can easily add an hour to your schedule. Just diaper changes, feeding, playing. And that was while my wife was with me. Don't expect to be able to say 'just another half hour, then we'll stop again. Reasoning is not something that works at that age. You'll have to fit your trip around their needs.
If you are trying to do this alone i would strongly recommend against it because a kid is so much of a distraction that you can't drive that long safely, even if your kid if fully cooperating.
I had to drive 1600 km with a less than 2 weeks old baby. We actually done this in 4 days (2 adults, kids of 4, 2 and 0 years of age). I don't remember any problems - if all kids were sleeping, we drove on, if they needed tending, we stopped. My wife sat backseat with the newborn to watch over him. I think the longest continuous stretch was around 3 hours, but usually we had to stop every 90-120 minutes. Breaks usually took around an hour, mostly for the 2 and 4 years old to move. Actually with the newborn it is simple, in my experience they get to sleep about 5 minutes after starting (once I even got him into the car to drive around a block when we couldn't get him to sleep). I believe 8 hours driving in a day is not feasible, make the trip 3 days.
I think you should reconsider this. Does it really have to be done over just 2 days? Can you not stretch it to 4 days?
Having a 10wo baby in a car seat for that length of time is very unfair, potentially unsafe, and just should not be done unless absolutely unavoidable. Even if the SIDS link is unproven, do you really want to test the theory?
Consider how you might feel being strapped into a car seat with no visibility, and no idea what's going on for that length of time. I can't imagine you'd be enjoying it much either.