Around the holidays I get to experience a unique phenomenon. My usual childless days are blessed with the pitter patter of nieces and nephews. Watching my brother load up his car with the essentials for his daughter is not only an enlightening experience, but an entertaining one. “Oh are you leaving already?” I say as he shoves armloads of toys, a car seat, and a diaper bag into his rear seat. “Oh no, we are just heading down to the grocery store.” I marvel at the plethora of supplies needed for a quick pit-stop to do some holiday shopping, and think there has to be a better way. Thankfully I’ve done some research, and figured out 6 essential items you will need for taking your young one in the car.
- Sun Shade ($9.99 and up)
Any parent knows a happy baby is a sleeping baby, and a sleeping baby is a quiet baby. The last thing you want is an upset toddler on your 4 hour drive to grandma’s house. One easy way to keep your baby cool, and to keep light out of their eyes for nap time, is a sunshade. Prices range from $9.99 and up and various models have or do not have suction cups, and several other modifications depending on what you want to spend. A must have for any car ride.
- Diaper Bag w/extra clothes ($50 and up)
Sooner or later duty will call (no pun intended). Make sure to have a diaper bag both for the car, and for when you get out of the car. Any bag will do, but specially designed bags just for diapers can start at around $50. Just be sure to throw it in the car with some spare diapers, extra clothes, etc. Even if you don’t need the extra clothes for diaper reasons, babies are accident and spill prone and it is always nice to have extras.
- Stroller and Cargo Liner ($45 and up and $30 and up)
Unless you plan on carrying your baby around for (potentially) hours while you stroll around the mall, you will need to bring a stroller. A convenient fold up model is recommended for car travel. One of the bad things about that stroller is throwing it in and out (not to mention the other items you will be bringing) can easily scratch and ding your car’s interior. Be sure to pick up a cargo mat to protect your car’s interior when you pick up that stroller.
- Music/Noise Generator ($4.99 and up and $25.99 and up)
Remember what I said about a happy baby being a quiet and or sleepy baby? That goes for noise too. Nothing will wake that baby quicker than the constant drone of rubber on pavement. The quickest and most cost effective solution to this is a CD of baby music. If your sanity cannot take the constant strain of Disney songs, then consider a white noise generating sleep aid. These start at $25.99 and can help drown out that ambient car noise.
- Car Seat ($36 and up)
Probably one of the most important things you need for your child, and one not to scrounge on, is the car seat. Models can start at around $30 but go all the way up into the hundreds. It is important to check how the seat will fit with your vehicle, and how comfortable it will be for your baby and if the size can adjust for your growing child. Remember the key rule that comfortable baby = happy baby = quiet baby? If your kid is sitting on a seat that has all the comfort of a brick, you will have problems. Make sure you find the right mix of safety, comfort, and cost. You can go to NHTSA’s website to get an “ease of use rating” for the car seat you are looking at as well. Also check out safecar.gov to help you find the perfect car seat for your child using their free selection tool.
- Toys ($1 and up)
Entertainment is key. Be sure to have some toys either exclusively for the car, or something that can easily be transported. Good advice would be to avoid toys that can easily break apart and get lost in your car seat, or ones that will require a lot of room to use. Some old favorites are things like the classic etch-a-sketch or today’s modern handheld video game systems like the Mobigo or Leap Frog.
There are other important things to remember when it comes to deciding what to bring in the car.
Recalls: Just like your vehicle, toys, car seats, and just about anything else can have a recall. Be sure to do your research to be sure your child is as safe as can be. Check out the consumer product safety commission’s website for potential recalls on toys, and the NHTSA’s website for car seat recalls.
Don’t forget your child: I know it seems self explanatory, but in the hustle and bustle of hauling toys, car seats, and strollers don’t forget to bring your child. It seems like a stretch but every parent probably has a story where they almost forgot their child. Just be sure they are strapped in to that car seat you just spent 10 minutes fixing up before you head out.
How did our list do? Anything you’d like to add or take away? Let us know in the comments!
Court Street Ford, located at 558 William Latham Drive, is a multi-year president’s award winning dealership. We have been serving the Kankakee, Bradley, Bourbonnais area for 30 years and counting! We are committed to exceptional customer service. Stop by or give us a call at (815) 939-9600, our knowledgeable sales team and service department will be happy to help and are dedicated to providing the best experience!