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On The Go With Toddlers

My children do not like the car. Both screamed in the car as infants, and Emma threw up on every car ride until we switched her to a forward-facing car seat. As toddlers they tolerate the car as a necessary part of life, but they definitely don’t enjoy the ride. Luckily I’ve learned a few tricks to help us survive car trips, doctor’s office waiting rooms, and airplane rides:

  • Music: For toddlers, songs that have actions to do with their hands seem to work the best. We spend a lot of time listening to Wee Sing Children’s Songs and Fingerplays and the Signing Time CDs for this reason.
  • Draw attention to their surroundings: Emma likes to count trees – very easy to do in Massachusetts! She also likes to look for certain stores whose logos she recognizes. Johnny likes to look for various construction vehicles, and both kids love looking for animals.
  • Bring car-safe food: I like the (expensive) freeze-dried yogurt melts, because I feel like they are virtually choke-proof. My kids love them, and it’s a treat they only get in the car.
  • Coloring books: I always keep crayons and a coloring book in my bag. Sometimes they color, sometimes they tell me what to color.
  • Surprises: I’ve wrapped small toys for kids to open on long plane and car rides. They enjoy unwrapping toys they already own, so you don’t even have to buy something new.

What are your best car/waiting room/airplane tips?

MaryAnne lives is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

14 thoughts on “On The Go With Toddlers”

  1. Oh I really like the idea of taking wrapped up surprises to open during the journey! Thanks for sharing that :)

  2. Great tips. I don't think I'd be able to pack crayons and a coloring book on a car ride because my kids scribble all over everything. But they are usually pretty good travelers anyway. Have a great weekend!

  3. Infant Bibliophile

    We don't have a car, so I do more stroller entertaining on the bus and subway, but a few things that keep us happy:
    1) hotwheels cars. I always have a few floating in my purse.
    2) I don't know if my son is going to ace standardized tests or if all kids are like this, but he LOVES to be quizzed: "What sound does B make?" "Can you find a yellow car?" "What color is that sign?" "Who is a smartypants?"
    3) peekaboo still entertains at 18 months (but hard to do when you're driving!)
    4) books (of course – I had to say that)
    5) And when all else fails: here, play with my wallet.

  4. Wrapping up something we already own, good idea, I will use that on our upcoming road trip.

  5. Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog

    You have some great tips! We like to listen to any of the Putumayo CD's (there are several for kids), and it's something that is kid-friendly and doesn't make me want to poke my eyes out. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who wraps toys the kids already have for the car rides! LOL

  6. I understand. My daughter had a rough first year too. We would have to bring extra clothes everywhere because she would throw up or sweat through what she was wearing! :( Glad to hear your kids are doing better in the car now.

  7. My daughter didn't do very well in the car as an infant either. Her acid reflux was so bad, we couldn't even drive the 5 minutes to my Mom's house without us both ending up in tears!

    Luckily, she's gotten much better and enjoys trips now.

  8. teachingyoungchildren

    Wow, I feel sorry for you – cleaning vomit from carseat is not fun! Anna is good for any ride that is under an hour. Music CDs, looking at the scenery and playing word games are enough to keep her happily entertained. She also has to have her sippy cup of water. After an hour a break is a must, otherwise she gets restless, and so am I

  9. Katie, Kevin and kids

    Lots of good ideas here. I can't imagine what I would do if my rear facing babes had such difficulty with traveling. That sure makes everything seem more difficult I'm sure!

  10. Polly and Ollie

    We wrapped little prezzies on our long plane ride ut to CT when we moved from the West Coast. It worked like a charm. Right now for long car rides we are going thrugh the alphabet letter by letter and saying "A makes an aaaa sound. What starts with A?" It takes a while to get to z!

  11. I like the idea of wrapping surprises for long trips. My boys would love that. I hope your kiddos are better travelers now. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I am hoping you are on the road to better car riders now!! And I thought I'd had it rough with my last one:-)! Thanks for sharing!

  13. The Harris Family

    Oh that sounds tough. I really like your suprise idea. That would really keep my kids entertained.

  14. Oh, boy, what a rough first year!…twice!

    The yogurt melts are a good idea. We also point out things like trains and cows, but Meghan's always wants more…so we keep looking!

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