Road Trip: 7 Essentials For Baby In The Car

car ride essentials toddlerSo, riding in the car with baby/toddler is not always the easiest of experiences. Unlike a lot of NYC dwellers, we actually are in the car quite often.  Our recent road trip to Saratoga (a 3+hour ride) made me realize some things that were downright essential!

1) The Perfect Car Seat:  Ok, so there may not be a perfect seat, but some are better than others. For our infant car seat, I went with the Graco Snug Ride. It is safe, lightweight, versatile (fits in the snap and go travel system which is key for travel) and has an adjustable shade (essential). I didn’t like it’s infant insert, and definitely recommend buying one like this to keep baby snug and comfortable. When it was time, we also bought Aria a convertible (front facing) seat. She actually has a couple different ones but by far her favorite is the Britax she has in Oma’s car. It’s extra cushy and she sits higher which allows her to see out the window better.

2) Window shades: I can’t tell you how essential these are to keep the sun out of the baby’s eyes and off baby’s face. UV rays can still filter through window so these shades protect and keep your baby comfortable. I first bought the White Hot Safety Shade by Munchkin, but they totally don’t stick well or cover as much window area as my second (and much better) purchase by Safety1st. 

3) A Mirror (when still rear facing): A mirror allows you to look into your rear view and see you little one’s face. Some argue it can be a distraction, but I think a quick glance is much better than trying to bend behind the seat to check in on baby.

4) Tunes: Baby’s love music. One mom friend gave me a baby’s CD as a gift and said it’s “like crack”, meaning her baby was totally addicted and instantly gratified.  Aria too chills out when her tunes get on (not to mention now she asks for “Muffin Man” the second she gets in the car). My mom gave me CD of baby songs early on and I was like, “hells no, we’re not listening to that all trip,” but that quickly changed when I realized Hickory, Dickory, Dock is much better than a screaming baby.

5) Entertainment: Small books, stuffed animals and even soft little dangling toys for infants do make a difference. Now that Aria’s a toddler (and obsessed with Barney) I’ve also been guilty of passing back the iPhone when super desperate for a peaceful ride.

6) Snacks:  Again, some people would say this was a big no no (choking hazards), but, if you choose the right snacks (bottles, pureed fruit pouches, puffs that dissolve in their mouth, etc), I can attest that it makes for a much easier time.

7) Pacifier:  Again, a “love em or hate em” for many parents.  For us they’re  a lifesaver quite often (and I’ve cursed myself the times I’ve realized I’ve left the house without one). Aria def prefers Avent.

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5 Must-Have Baby Products For NYC Living

Ok, I love NYC but there are some drawbacks and limited space tops the list. All of a sudden our small 2 bedroom seemed WAY too small for the two of us and one little baby (incredibly these little beings need a LOT of stuff), so I had to get going and find the smartest and most space saving products out there.  Here are my picks:

Rock and play fisher priceFisher Price Rock N Play: This has to be one of my all time favorite products for baby’s first year. As a newborn Aria spent most of her time in it. It’s the perfect seat/lounge for baby during the day, and Aria even slept in it her first few weeks (it’s the perfect height to fit right next to your bed). Babies seem to LOVE it (I always recommend to it to my new mom friends) as they can get a gentle rock by moving a bit, and it fold super slim for easy storage when not in use (but seriously, you will use it all the time). If I were to buy it again, I would but this one because it also has the infant insert for their first few weeks.

infantino matInfantino Twist & Fold Activity Mat:   An activity mat and tummy time are essential those first few months and this one provides plenty for the little one’s senses and also easily folds down for storing. We got two mats when Aria was born (this simple Infantino and one with tons of bells and whistles including walls that could be inserted– we never used them). I would choose this compact mat one any day.

joovy high chairJoovey High chair: It’s stylish, durable, has a nice big tray and is super compact when stored. In reviews you’ll read about the gap that may exist between baby and tray hence making for a messier meal (and there was one when Aria first started using it but no big deal), but the super compact slim fold of this seat makes it totally worth a dropped spoonful here and there. Also, the leatherette seat is super easy to wipe down and stylish. No gingham or monkey prints in my living room.

graco door jumperGraco Door Jumper: At the county house we have this massive Fisher Price Farm jumperoo, but there was no way I was having one of these take over my already crowded city living room.  A great alternative is the door jumper, and the Graco is sturdy and safe with the bumper (I tried the a different brand and it was terrible– flimsy and no bounce!). You also can hang fun little toys on the Graco for added stimulation and, of course, it stores super easy!

baby bjornBaby Bjorn Active: Sometimes it’s just easier to strap baby on then have to maneuver a stroller around (subway, walk up or double doors anyone?) I had a couple different carriers but loved this one because it was provides a ton of back support (this will really matter as they get bigger). Plus, it lets baby face in or out. Bjorn also makes a custom cover for cold winter days.