Published February 28, 2008 by
Infants and young children do not tolerate restraint for extended lengths of time, and since a cranky child can distract the driver, it’s wise to stop frequently, get out and stretch. Encourage toddlers to run around in a safe area, to play ball or tag. Place the infant on a flat surface or across your lap so he can kick for a few minutes. On commercial carriers, walk your toddler in the aisle, holding his hand to protect him in case of sudden lurches.
It is also wise to purchase the best commercial travel accommodations you can afford when young children are involved; the increased space provides greater freedom of movement and the service is usually better.
Keeping children content while confined in close-quarters is often a real challenge. Having an adult ride in the backseat of a car alongside a restrained child is a good idea. The child with adult companionship will be happier and less likely to demand a place on the front seat.
Take along your child’s favorite stuffed animal or blanket, a bag of small, soft plastic toys, or cloth books. Crayons and a coloring book, or a pad of paper will help keep an older child occupied. Avoid hard or pointed objects that could become dangerous in a moving vehicle.
Playing games helps to pass the time, for example, look for cows and trucks in magazines or along the side of the road. An occasional snack provides distraction and may alleviate motion sickness. Cookies and crackers may be a little messy, but they are preferable to lollipops, ice-pops, and hard candy gifts, which could prove dangerous.
If your trip is by car, limit your daily mileage to what your child can tolerate. It is always a good idea to end your driving by late afternoon. This prevents undue fatigue, ensures a night’s lodging for a tired and possibly cranky child, and provides the time for him to adjust to new surroundings before bedtime.
Your young child’s safety, comfort, and contentment helps to make any family trip an enriching experience. By using common sense to organize and plan ahead, what might have been a formidable task could be a pleasant interval in your daily routine.