We finally did it. We packed all our of belongings into a U-Haul and hit the road. A decade in the making, we were moving to Vancouver. A week long road trip covering over 4000km! How exciting. There was only one thorn in our side. It was a 2.5 month old infant.
Most people don’t wish to be in our position. Spending an entire day with a baby in the car is probably banned under the Geneva Convention. We had to plan this trip in order to make it work. We drove across the country with a three month old and lived to tell the tale. If you decide to venture out on a road trip with your fresh little infant, you too can survive and have some sanity left. Here is what worked for us.
Sleep train your baby
When preparing for the baby to arrive, nothing mattered to me more than sleep. That baby was going to sleep through the night early. I was ready to make sacrifices for this child but sleep was off the table. Already during my pregnancy we picked out a book for training and began training the baby at five weeks. He slept through the night (12 hours) for the first time at nine weeks, just a week before we set out across the country. We stuck as close as we could to his designated bed time and every night went through bed time routine. The payoff was a 12 hour break from the baby every night and a well rested mommy and daddy every morning. We slowly pushed his bedtime back as we crossed the time zones and he seemed not to notice.
Don’t be scared
You are the adult. You set the rules. Don’t let an infant wrap you around their tiny little finger. If I let my baby set the rules, I would never get out of the house or be able to drive across the country.
Sit in the back with the baby
Babies don’t hold their heads well. It is inevitable that they will crane their necks while sleeping in the car, but I didn’t feel good about that for a 10 hour car ride. I also provided light in-flight entertainment and held the soother in place when he wasn’t in the mood for anything but crying.
Find a third person to drive the truck
We originally planned to drive separately. We got very lucky that Jonathan’s mom volunteered to drive the U-Haul. That allowed me to sit in the backseat of the car with the baby. Having three adults also let us juggle the baby while we inhaled food at restaurants.
Be ready for a lot of crying
There was a lot of crying. I don’t blame him. If you are sitting in a car seat all day, you are bound to get restless. Being in close quarters with a crying infant is tough, but you have to get through it. It isn’t feasible to pick the baby up every time in cries in the car. Just prepare yourself mentally for yelling and tears.
In the end it wasn’t so bad. Yes, the baby was fussy and cried. We had to make lots of stops to feed and to bounce him, but time went by pretty quickly. He got used to napping in the car and afterwards he was pretty unhappy to be back in his crib for his naps. It took about a week to bring back his napping expectations. It might be tougher to do this with an older baby as they sleep less and need more stimulation. Our six hour road trip to Rossland, BC at seven months was manageable. He napped, cried a bit and played with me. We got through it and so can you!