The simple things that will entertain a baby for hours...

A Leftover Box (or any other safe leftover you have in the car)

Don't be afraid to be silly!  Babies love silliness - I first had this on my head - she was giggling.  When it moved to her head, she exploded in smiles.

A Starbucks Band

Look at the problem solving!  She is determined to get the band off her leg.  It then magically jumped to her arm.  And then magically jumped to my arm --- and unfortunately I wasn't strong enough to get it off so she had to help me.  You should have seen me pulling it as hard as I could but it just wouldn't budge --- if anything it was moving higher up my arm... good thing Eliana was able to help.

Singing Songs

Once "Box On Head" game was over (or boring), we played "Box Sings Silly Songs".  In this game the box top opens and closes while it "sings" Wheels on the Bus and other family friendly songs in very deep or high pitched voices.  Again...hilarious (at least to an almost 1 year old).  Check out these fingerplays (rhymes and songs with hand movements): FINGERPLAYS

 Learning Body Parts

What better time to practice "Where is Your Nose?" than in the car?  If your child already knows where their nose is (we are still working on that one) than I suggest you start stealing their nose - no better time than the present in the car ;-)  

This Little Piggy

"This little piggy went to market.  This little piggy stayed home.  This little piggy ate roast beef.  This little piggy had none.  And this little piggy went waaaa waaaaa waaaa all the way home."  


Lets admit it to ourselves.  Even we like to snack when in the car.  It is one of the only times I get the real munchies.  I eat all kids of junk food while on road trips.  For Eliana - I kept some healthier snack options in the car, like applesauce, blueberries and some goldfish (or Annie's bunny's - see the box above on Eliana's head).

Rest Stops

Every 3-4 hours stop at a rest stop.  Adding a half hour to a 7-8 hour trip is totally worth it if you have a happier baby/child in the backseat.  If it is nice outside than sit on the grass (or a blanket on the grass).  Encourage movement.  Do some wheelbarrow walks (when you hold a child by their ankles or hips and they "walk" on their hands).  If they are older have a jumping competition - who can jump the highest?  Jump on one leg the longest?  Make limitations to the game so they don't go too far (for example, make a border with the blanket and a jacket and tell them "jump only in this space or it doesn't count".  


If possible, pack your meals.  Have you noticed that you sometimes get constipated when traveling?  Think about how many vegetables you eat while in the car or on vacation.  Almost none.  Last time we  drove to Chicago I packed an Arugula Brussel Sprout Salad, Tomato Mozzarella Salad, Applesauce and Peas.  I bought the arugula in the plastic container. I made the dressing with the cheese salt and pepper and put it in a separate container, roasted the brussel sprouts and had them in a baggy.  When we sat down to eat, I threw the dressing and brussel sprouts into the plastic container I bought the arugula in, closed the lid, shook the container and walla - Arugula Brussel Sprout Salad on the go.

If you can't pack a meal (for example for our return trip back to Pittsburgh I didn't the luxury of making food ahead of time because we weren't at home)  than of course we bought food.  At Sbaro's they have rice with some veggies in it and other baby friendly/kid friendly options.  Check out my post "Eating Out" for examples of what we have bought in restaurants and at Sbaro at rest stops.


Of course the iPad is a great travel companion.  We have our Signing Time DVDs on the ipad for Eliana to watch in the backseat.  Once she gets older I am sure we will have educational and coloring apps for her to enjoy as well.  I have seen apps where the child touches the screen and a book is read.  When the child swipes the screen the page turns and another page is read to them.  This is a great way to keep books in the car without the heft of carrying multiple books on a road trip.  There are also mazes, puzzles etc in the app store - it really is endless.  I think we will attempt to play as many educational games as possible and not just Angry Birds all the time, but that is a battle for down the road - for now Eliana is happy watching her sign language DVDs.  

So next time you are traveling in the car, don't be afraid to be silly to turn this:

into this: