So, you have just had your baby. How exciting! One of the first things you may want to do is to show your friends and family your child, or maybe you’re just craving normal social interactions after having been in a hospital or birthing environment.
Yet, we should err on the side of caution when doing anything with newborn babies as they are fragile, as you likely are, after the event of labor.
During what pediatricians call the “fourth trimester” which describes the first 12-week period after giving birth, we should be especially careful with the baby as they are getting used to their own body as well as the world.
As a result, many mothers will worry about taking their baby on a long car journey during this period, which may be necessary if you want to see family.
So, what are the facts concerning the appropriate time to take a baby on a long car journey?
In this guide, we have provided simple answers and solutions to make both babies and mothers feel more comfortable with the decision of whether or not to take that trip.
What To Consider
There are two main things that we should be concerned about when taking a baby on a long-distance journey when they are still in that newborn stage.
Firstly, your baby will not gain proper control of their head, let alone their body, until around the fifth month after birth, which is well outside the fourth trimester.
While infant car seats are designed to minimize a baby’s movement while in a moving car, there is inevitably some amount of jostling and bumping around that can pose a risk to a newborn.
Not to mention the normal hazards of driving, including reckless drivers and potential road hazards. It’s hard to face the possibility of putting your newborn in harm’s way!
Compromising Their Immune System
Another big issue is your child’s immune system. Let’s not forget that during the early stages of the fourth trimester your baby has barely just left the inside of your body, and a large part of the fourth trimester is their ability to gain an immune system that can deal with life outside the womb.
For example when babies are kept in the hospital after birth for an extended period, or with prematurely born babies, their immune system might not yet be strong enough to deal with the outside world.
This is one of the main issues around taking your baby on a long-distance car journey. Their immune system has not yet developed into something capable of dealing with multiple environments.
Put simply, taking your baby on a long car journey means introducing your child to many different bacteria, viruses, etc, which they aren’t yet equipped to deal with.
In other words, you don’t want to make your infant ill early on in their life as their immune system won’t handle it well.
How To Safely Take An Infant On A Long Car Journey
First things first, most pediatricians suggest waiting until at least the fifth week of their fourth trimester to take a baby on this sort of road trip.
The main reason to wait until this point is that most pediatricians will suggest that at around the fifth week your baby will have developed an immune system strong enough in order to deal with most new environments.
Like we said before, they have barely gotten used to living outside of your womb. One great product to buy for this reason, or to at least make sure that you have on your car seat is a cover. This means you can make sure that your car seat cover is always really clean, as well as your car.
To be extra cautious, simply make sure that you aren’t taking them somewhere “dirty”. We’re mainly talking about public places where people have made contact with lots of surfaces.
Obviously, your parent’s house will be fine, but maybe consider some hand sanitizer, or asking family members to wash their hands before anyone touches your baby.
Have a Good Infant Seat
As we mentioned, your infant will likely lack any control of their head or body, so we need to make sure they are well protected while in transit.
This means an appropriate car seat is required in order for the baby to remain safe when in transit. This highly rated car seat enables your baby to be super safe when in transit, with extra padding to prevent any bumps, as well as a 5-point harness system.
Take Regular Breaks
Another important tip for safe driving is to take regular breaks. A newborn needs frequent feeding and changing, and the humming sound and continuous motion of the car could lull them into sleep much longer than they normally would at home.
A newborn typically needs to be fed every 2-4 hours, so don’t push your driving stretches longer than that, but make sure to stop to attend to the baby’s needs.
Especially for a newborn, it’s not a good idea to try to bottle feed them while the car is in motion as they could easily choke. Also, they won’t get the opportunity to burp up those air bubbles while strapped in the car seat, and you’ll end up with an extra fussy baby.
Make sure that when you stop, you pull over in a safe area.
Be extra cautious in these areas, in particular, to make sure your baby is in a healthy and sanitized environment as well as making sure that in transit they are not going to be hurt by their inability to control their weight.
With the right baby gear and the right mindset, you can easily take your baby on a long car journey. It’s likely the vibrations and feeling of motion will remind them of their beloved womb, and they will probably sleep the whole way.
Getting them used to sleeping in a car and just being in a car generally can be worth doing early in their life so that future meltdowns and discomfort are avoided when in the car.
Conclusively, the main advice we would give is to make sure you wait until at least the fifth week of the fourth trimester before taking them into public or new environments.
This involves protecting their immune system as well as their physical bodies. If you are worried about your baby’s immune system or do not know how to judge if their immune system is in good shape, which is totally fine, you should consult your pediatrician or doctor when your baby attends a regular check-up.
A doctor or pediatrician can provide you with the right information about your specific child and their specific health requirements and needs.
We hope this information can help you be calm and collected about taking your baby in the car, rather than breeding any unnecessary fear. If you are worried, let your pediatrician and doctor ease your fears with their expertise. You deserve to relax just as much as your baby does!