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Shelly Rivoli

Professional Travel Expert

Best Baby Travel Gear & Best Baby Gear for Road Trips

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Road-tripping with a baby can be a great way to spend some quality time together, so long as you don’t spend the bulk of your vacation sitting in the car. For the hours that you will be on the road, consider these tips:

1. Have one parent ride in the back seat with the baby to help keep her entertained and comforted, while allowing the driver to focus on the task at hand. Since she’ll be riding rear-facing, she’ll especially appreciate the face-time with you during drive times.

2. Whenever you need to stop and stretch your legs, make sure that your baby gets some physical activity, too, whether that means stretching and rolling on a blanket, crawling on a park lawn, or practicing walking laps around a restaurant. Her sleep schedule, digestion, and disposition will be better as a result.

3. Avoid the temptation to plan an overnight drive “while the baby sleeps.” Few people start a road trip as tired as parents with a baby, and you’ll likely have a hard time making up the sleep lost during your vacation. What’s more, your baby might end up surprising you by NOT sleeping as much as you expected in the car at night — those bright headlights behind you can be pretty distracting to a rear-facing baby over 4 months old.

Whether you’ll be crossing the county or crossing the country in your family car, here are the five top products you’ll find to help make the most of your adventures.

Best Road-trip Gear for Baby by Shelly Rivoli

The Best You Can Get

  • First Years Fast Heating Travel Warmer

    Shelly says: Use it again and again on your journey, without need of boiling or recharging. It wraps to fit any size of reusable baby bottle (not for those with drop-in liners). Like most portable warmers, this will take a little bit longer than those you might use at home, so you’ll want to get it started before the hunger strike when possible. No worries of overheating since it shuts off as soon as the warming cycle is complete. Use with bottles of breastmilk or formula.

    • Auto-shutoff prevents over heating
    • Works with all sizes of non-disposable (liner) bottles
    • Uses car adapter outlet
  • PiddlePad

    Shelly says: It only takes one blowout in the car seat for you to appreciate the PiddlePad. And when you’re on the road, stopping to launder your child’s car seat cover is not always an option, and purchasing extra car seat covers for your model and make can be pricey, not to mention changing the entire cover and rethreading the straps takes time. In case of an on-the-go uh-oh, just lift the PiddlePad out of your child’s car seat and place it in a plastic bag until you can wash it at a later time (be sure to bring a couple of spare gallon size zip-top plastic bags for any number of surprises on the road). For best results, get two to use in rotation when needed. You can also use your PiddlePad in the stroller while out sightseeing and in the baby backpack on long hikes. Later on, you may find it just as helpful when you travel with your potty-trainee.

    • Waterproof and washable
    • Quick and easy to place and remove
    • Soft quilted terry cushions and wicks moisture away
    • Works in car seats, boosters, strollers, and baby backpacks
    • Use from infancy through potty-training
  • High Road Easy Dispensing Car Cooler

    Shelly says: Whether you’re riding in the front seat on bottle-warming duty, or in the back seat on entertainment patrol, you can easily reach into this cooler one-handed to get that bottle or a snack for yourself. It attaches to the headrest posts and can be hung over either front or back of a seat, while infringing very little upon the space for back seat passengers (with no seat or floor space required). The top also opens wide for loading or reorganizing contents. Heading out to a picnic or potluck? Place your pre-warmed bottle, baby food, and baked appetizers in this to keep them warm. What’s more, this cooler will fit in most stroller storage baskets and can even be attached to some stroller handles or framed backpack carriers. Measures 17.5”W x 5.5”D x 9.5”H.

    • Snaps to headrest posts
    • Side mesh pockets for drinks or wipe dispensers
    • Side flaps give easy one-handed access to bottles and contents inside
    • Leak-proof, wipes clean
    • May also be used to keep items warm
  • Phil and Ted’s Traveller Full-Size Crib

    Shelly says: Say goodbye to unwieldy portacribs and bulky Pack ‘n Plays. Phil and Ted’s Full-Size Traveller weighs less than many babies! It will also take up much less space in your trunk. More than a comfortable travel bed for your baby, this will also keep your baby, and later toddler, from rolling, crawling, and otherwise exploring your temporary digs unsupervised. In the tropics and while camping, zip the screen cover closed to help protect against insects. Outdoors, zip on the optional UPF-80 sun cover to protect your child from sun (sold separately). The “self-inflating” closed cell mattress slides into a zipped compartment underneath and works much like a Therm-a-Rest, providing comfort as well as good insulation from the cold ground while camping. On the beach, unzip the crib’s side panel to create a play tent. When your child is old enough, just leave the side panel unzipped to let her come and go from her “travel bed” as desired. Rugged, waterproof fabrics stand up to outdoor use, rubber feet go easy on wood and tile floors. Measures 51” x 24.8” x 31” when in use, and is 24.8” x 8.6” x 8.6” when packed in its carrying case (also fits inside larger suitcases).

    • Weighs only 8 lbs.
    • Use up to 3 years, with no weight limit
    • Mesh sides and cover
    • Use top or side zip access
    • Great for indoor & outdoor use
  • One Step Ahead Rock ‘N Dine Convertible Booster

    Shelly says: Most restaurants high chairs are too big for babies to sit in comfortably or even safely. That’s when the restaurant you stop in happens to actually have high chairs. Take along this dining booster to keep baby happily at the table with you, with a comfy high back, thick padding, and the safety of a five-point harness. Any spills or sticky zones simply wipe clean with a hand wipe, baby wipe, or hotel wash cloth (and of course, a sponge when you’ve got one). In your hotel room or camp site, flip the rockers down and strap baby in with a couple of link toys while you settle in and do any on-the-spot babyproofing. On the road, it folds to 19”L x 13.5”W x 3”H in its carrying case. For babies who can sit up and weigh up to 37 lbs.

    • Folds compactly
    • Comfy high back and cushy padding
    • 5-point harness
    • Clamps securely to most tables
    • Rugged, wipe-clean fabrics

You will be happy with any of these

  • Wonder Wheeler Deluxe

    Shelly says: You may laugh at the looks of it… until that late night when your partner makes his seventh trip down to the hotel parking lot to carry in your suitcases, diaper bag, portacrib, laptop or portable DVD player, ice chest, and other odds and ends for your one-night stay, while you tend to the baby. With a load capacity of 100 lbs., you’ll marvel at the time and energy you can save checking into your room. The 10” rear wheels even roll across most camp sites with grace (pull the cart behind you over sand and very rugged terrain), and make it easy to tote the beach chairs, towels, ice chest, and sun umbrella down to the lake in one trip. The removable tote bag that attaches to the handle is perfect for catching all the odds and ends you’ll need along the way, like water bottles, sippy cups, snacks, sun glasses, sun hats, sun block, toys, spare diapers, and wipes. Lower platform measures 21”L x 14.5”W. Folds to 35.75”L x 24”W X 42”H and weighs eleven pounds.

    • Carries up to 100 lbs. of gear
    • 10” rear wheels, pivoting front wheels
    • Rolls over pavement, grass, or sand
    • Multiple uses and years of use
  • Peapod Travel Bed

    Shelly says: The Peapod sets up instantly upon pulling it out of the case. Use the air pump (included) to inflate the air mattress that slips into a pocket below. You may opt to just keep the fuzzy, flocked air mattress inflated as you travel, since it can also be helpful as you stop for your child’s diaper and clothing changes along the way or a little “tummy time” play. In picnicking areas and in camp, take advantage of the insect and sun protection provided by the mesh screens. The Peapod also makes it easy to create a safe “tent within your tent” to help keep your baby warmer at night. During playtime, unzip the side panel and roll up out of the way to create a play tent your baby can crawl in and out of on the beach or in the hotel. At night, zip the panel closed to ensure she stays safely inside. Measures 48”L x 30”W x 19”H. For toddlers, consider the larger version called the Peapod Plus.

    • Use indoors and out
    • Provides UV and insect protection
    • Tent pops up instantly
    • Folds to 14”W x 5”D in carrying case
  • Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light

    Shelly says: What parents love best about this travel crib is the fool-proof, one-minute set up. Just pull it out of the carrying case and it literally sets itself up, then you simply set the mattress in the bottom, and it’s ready for baby. Those who feel its “good to be green” also appreciate that all of the fabrics that come in contact with the child have met the Oeko-Tex Standard 100, class 1, eco-certification. Another advantage of the Baby Bjorn travel crib is that its foam mattress is placed on the bottom of the crib with a soft, washable mattress cover. All fabrics are also removable and machine washable. Measures 33” x 45” x 24” when in use, and is 24” x 19.5” x 3” when packed in its travel case.

    • Gives baby a good view of the room from bed
    • Foolproof, 1-minute set-up
    • Packs to 24” x 19.5” x 3”
    • Weighs 11 lbs.
  • Eddie Bauer XL Rear Window Shade

    Shelly says: In sedans, rear windows can let in a whole ‘lotta sun and heat during summer road trips, and rear-facing babies in the back seat are generally the first to feel it. This generously-sized shade sticks to large rear windows with four suction cups, helping to shade baby and keep the car’s internal temperature down. While rear windows in minivans, station wagons, and SUVs don’t generally slope or let in quite so much sun, this shade can also help keep your cargo space cool on the road — a great perk when you’re toting a packed cooler. For smaller windows, there is also a 13”H x 33”W shade available. When you no longer need the shade, release the bottom and let it roll up, or simply remove it by all four suction cups and roll it up to store for next time.

    • 16”H x 36”L for generous coverage
    • Mounts to glass with 4 suction cups
    • Rolls up when not needed
  • Lamaze Ride and Play Fun Car Shade

    Shelly says: Your baby may not be so interested in the passing scenery just yet, but these jiggling, suspended toys may catch her attention at every turn. The sun shade clips to the top of your car’s window, while the sides attach with suction cups. If your baby is seated in the side position, she may be able to grab at the toys where they dangle. If she’s seated in the center, you may opt to place the toy bar on her lap to help keep her entertained (use a simple Velcro loop or toy link to attach it to her car seat strap, not included). Toys rattle, crinkle, and squeak. Shade measures 12”L x 12.5”W.

    • Dual-purpose toy/sun shade
    • Toy bar removes to use separately
    • Toys make 3 different sounds

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