I am planning for a long road trip (about 17 hours of drive). Is it safe for my one-year old baby to sleep in her car seat for such long hours? How often should I stop to take a rest and how long should each rest be before continuing?

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    The rule of thumb for babies is to stop every 2 hours, although I think as they become toddlers every 3 hours is fairly normal as well. As little ones they have to stop to eat and have a diaper change so frequently.
    – justkt
    Aug 6, 2013 at 12:46
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    NB: The "2 hour rule" isn't a "silly" recommendation, it's to safeguard against respiratory problems that can occur in infants kept too long in that position in the car seat. Aug 8, 2013 at 10:12
  • See also this for infants and this for toddlers. Oct 7, 2013 at 14:02
  • My question was more about the baby. Does the shaking in a car seat while driving a car for 8 hours , cause any damage? We heard about the shaking syndrome.
    – user16705
    Jun 8, 2015 at 18:39

1 Answer 1


The bad news is your baby is going to make you stop whether you want to or not. The good news is that makes it so you don't really have to guess how long is too long. You know how long you go between diaper changes and feedings now. Plan to stop at those intervals at the very least, then double it to get a probable worst case.

As for how long you should stop, your baby will cue you on that too. Whenever you can put her back in the car seat without her immediately starting screaming. We've had babies that you could just change a diaper and put them straight back in, and we've had babies that require 20 minutes of rocking before agreeing to go back.

Our rule of thumb is that traveling with children adds 50% to the time. That means if google maps says 17 hours, we plan 26. Also, our family can't take much more than 12 hours without stopping for the night, but we know families who just take turns sleeping while driving straight through and they do okay.

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    ...except when they don't: driving when sleep-deprived (like the parents of most babies) is considerably more dangerous than driving drunk, so you'd be wise to steer clear from overnight marathon drives. mommyish.com/2013/03/16/sleep-deprivation-2 Aug 6, 2013 at 3:35
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    I agree with @jpatokal, as a veteran of many long road trips both as a child passenger and then a driver, 8 hours in the car is about the limit for a single parent driving with children. A one year old is going to find it very difficult to be in the seat even for that long. Be realistic and plan lots of extra time.
    – GdD
    Aug 6, 2013 at 8:08
  • +1, couldn't have said it better! I've done several 14-hour drives and Karl's advice is a perfect description of we did it. Oct 7, 2013 at 13:57

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