How can you do a rest stop with toddlers and babies quickly and efficiently? Are you heading on a road trip? Do you want tips for stops with toddlers and babies to be as fast as possible?
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Maybe you’re like me and can do a twelve hour road trip with just a stop or two. But now there’s kids involved, and you actually have to stop more frequently. For the sake of everyone’s hungry bellies, full bladders and diapers, and sanity.
It’s recommended that people of all ages should stop every two hours, and get out and stretch legs, etc. I’m happy to avoid that advice sans kids.
But they have needs that definitely have to be met. Even if I want to get to our destination ASAP.
So here are some things I do to make the stops as quick as can be, while meeting everyone’s needs.
Pack a rest stop refreshment basket.
Pack a basket of all the toddler drinks and food you will need. Throw in a few snacks for yourself. Make it very accessible.
My basket includes Camelbak water bottles for the toddlers and individually packed snacks.
I’ll sometimes keep PB&J, cheese sticks and yogurt pouches at the very top of the cooler, too.
We don’t allow the kids to eat in the car (because of the choking risk- not to mention the mess), so snacks and meals at rest stops are a must.
Rest stop with toddlers 101: Have a seat for all the kids.
This could be the most crucial part of the rest stop with toddlers. If you’re able to have your kids in secure seats, then this is kind of everything.
I should preface this by saying I firmly believe a pick-up truck is the ideal family vehicle. I could go on about it, but it’s actually perfect for our cluster babies and dog.
The tailgate serves as a bench and a table. The toddlers sit back on the tailgate.
We use a stroller or this sit-me-up chair for the baby.
If you’re at a rest stop with picnic tables, that could be great, too.
Other alternatives could be collapsible bag chairs, or pulling out the double stroller.
Basically, you don’t want your toddler wandering away in the middle of nowhere while you’re changing his baby sister’s diaper.
If they have a place to sit, this greatly helps!
Keep the toddler potty accessible.
If you have a child that is potty trained, bring along the potty! This is such a game changer.
You can avoid taking your child into the potentially gross restrooms you might come across.
Also, it’s a timesaver, because they probably don’t need to walk anywhere to use it. They can use the potty while you’re juggling the other kids.
Just be sure to pack some toilet paper and Lysol wipes!
Keep a diaper pouch accessible.
Have plenty of diapers and wipes in your pouch. Throw in a changing pad, if you prefer.
Hot tip: Go up a size or use overnight diapers, if your child’s diaper seems to get oversaturated quickly on car trips.
Definitely remember to change all diapers before getting back in the car!
Plan how you will feed the baby.
Feeding the baby is the part that takes us the longest on rest stops. It’s good to have a plan for this ahead of time.
My baby is currently formula-fed.
I have a bag of bottles with pre-measured water, pre-measured formula, and all the lids and nipples a gal could want.
Before we stop, I have the next bottle ready to go with a fresh bib. This eliminates at least a couple minutes during our stop.
I typically begin feeding the baby first thing, because this does take the longest.
Have a game plan for your rest stop with toddlers & babies.
There’s a lot of mini tasks that need to be done as quickly as you can. While being safe in an unfamiliar place. With probably a lot of cars around. Oh- and with tiny kids who could be quite fussy, too.
Have a plan in place. If you’re with another adult, go over the plan and delegate tasks before you even stop.
Our stops usually go something like this:
Go through a drive-thru to order food (mostly for my husband and I, with fries for the kids. #vacationeating), then find an empty corner of a parking lot that preferably has a good grassy area, away from the road.
Put toddlers on the tailgate and secure the baby into the stroller.
Husband takes the dog out of the kennel so she can use the facilities.
I dish out the fries, PB&J, water bottles and maybe another snack to the toddlers.
I start feeding the baby his bottle.
Husband starts eating, then takes the kids for a mini walk while I finish feeding the baby.
We diaper the kids and let the oldest use the little potty.
I try to always take a couple minutes and let the baby do a little tummy time to stretch out.
We begin loading the kids and dog back up and my husband and I take turns running into the fast food restaurant to use the restrooms.
I eat once we’re driving, if I didn’t get a chance to while stopped.
This whole production takes about 30-45minutes. Again, feeding the baby is definitely what takes the longest. Once he’s able to do a PB&J, we can definitely cut down that time.
But really, while I’m in a rush, it’s good and important for all of their little bodies to have quality time outside of their car seats during long road trips.
You can use your time efficiently on a rest stop with toddlers and babies if you plan ahead of time. Have food and other necessities packed in places you can easily get to. Have a plan of action before you arrive at your stop. And don’t forget to take some pictures!