How Soon Can a Newborn Travel Long Distances by Car?

Your baby can safely travel by car when they are first born, but the recommendation is to wait until they are four weeks old. While traveling, there are concerns about the baby’s oxygen level in a car seat, so you may need to buy a supportive device until your baby can support their neck correctly.

Parents’ number one goal is to keep their babies safe. There are ways to hit the road and explore while keeping your baby safe.

When your baby is firstborn, you might want to go on a road trip to introduce your baby to relatives. Or maybe it’s the holiday season, and you need to travel long distances to celebrate.

No matter what, you can’t avoid traveling by car with newborn babies. Aside from car seats, there are other things you will need to do to keep your baby safe while on the road.

How Do I Keep My Baby Safe During Long Car Rides?

study revealed that babies’ blood oxygen levels drop while in the car seat for an extended amount of time. Because of this, you might be wondering if using a car seat in the car is still a good idea.

It would be best if you always used a car seat for your infant. 

You should take a few precautions to monitor your baby’s oxygen levels if you travel with a newborn in a car seat.

1. Transfer Your Baby Out of the Carseat for Sleep

First, a car seat shouldn’t be the only place that your baby sleeps, whether or not you’re traveling. When you stay at a hotel or vacation home, bring a portable crib to make bedtime a bit easier.

A car seat is not a safe place for your baby to sleep all of the time. In some cases, your baby might fall asleep in the car seat, so it’s essential to transfer them to their crib when you get home.

2. Try To Delay Long Trips Until 4 Weeks

Next, try to delay traveling until your baby is at least four weeks old, if possible. The longer you wait to travel, the more time your baby has to develop their neck strength.

Head and neck strength are essential for maintaining their oxygen levels.

You can also consider sitting in the backseat with your baby while someone else drives. Then, you can monitor your baby for safety. You can regularly check on your baby to make sure they are breathing properly.

3. Use a Head and Neck Support Travel Pillow

Next, you should buy a head support travel pillow for your baby. This will help to keep the baby’s head propped up, which keeps their airways open.

Your baby’s airway is very narrow, which means that they need this extra protection to help them breathe properly.

4. Take Rest Breaks

Finally, make sure you are taking plenty of breaks while on the road. You should stop every one to two hours or so to feed your baby, as well as change their diaper and give them a break from the car seat.

It might take you longer to get to your destination, but it’s important.

It’s recommended that you don’t leave your baby in the car seat for more than two hours at a time. Two hours should be the longest you go between stops.

How Do I Keep A Newborn Happy in the Car?

Traveling by car isn’t always fun, especially with a newborn in tow. There are ways to make the trip easier, though.

Keep them Comfortable

First, you should make sure your baby is comfortable. Your baby should have regular diaper changes and mealtimes while on the road. You might need to stop frequently.

Provide Entertainment When Awake

Next, keep your baby entertained. Fortunately, young babies will typically sleep in the car seat without a problem.

Some will not. In this case, you can play music, offer your baby a pacifier, or pull out some toys.

Sunshade’s to Avoid Direct Light

Another thing to bring along is a sunshade for your baby’s window. Sunshades will keep the sun out of your baby’s eyes, and it will also allow them to sleep better, even during the day.

Should You Take Practice Trips?

If you have a long-distance road trip coming up, consider preparing for the big day. You might take day trips or a weekend trip to prepare for a longer trip.

This will help your baby get used to being in the car for a longer time than just going short distances to the pediatrician or the grocery store.

Should Premature Babies Travel by Car at Four Weeks?

Babies who were born prematurely typically don’t develop at the same rate as other babies their age. For this reason, you should talk to your baby’s pediatrician about recommendations for traveling with a preemie.

As mentioned, it’s important to ensure your baby can support their head and neck. If your baby was born prematurely, they likely will not have the ability to support their head and neck at four weeks.

You may need to wait longer, if possible. I would suggest talking with your pediatrician before traveling long distances with your baby that was born a little early.

What is the 2 Hour Rule?

Many car seat companies recommend that babies are only in car seats for two hours within 24 hours. The main concern is the oxygen level in the car seat.

On most days, parents can typically adhere to the 2-hour rule. Most parents don’t travel two hours round trip with their newborns daily.

When you do need to travel, this may not be avoidable. As mentioned, it’s safest to travel with your baby in a car seat, so you should not travel any other way.

It is a good idea to keep the 2-hour rule in mind and avoid keeping your baby in the car seat for any longer than that in one day. If you are traveling, use the tips previously mentioned to help maintain your baby’s oxygen levels.

Tips for Successfully Traveling with a Newborn

If you’re traveling with a newborn, you will likely hit a few bumps in the road. It’s essential to take some precautions to ensure the trip goes as smoothly as possible.

Pack up the Essentials

First, make sure you pack all of the essentials. The most important things your baby needs are a few extra outfits, formula and bottles if needed, diapers, and wipes. Parents should consider all of the extras carefully. When you’re traveling, it’s good to have everything you need, but you don’t want to bring more bags than you can carry.

You will likely need extra clothes for your baby, so be sure to pack plenty of additional outfits if you won’t have access to a washer and dryer.

Consider Plans and Keep Things Simple

Second, consider your destination and plans. If you’re planning on going to a big city and seeing all of the sights on a tight schedule, this may not be the best trip for your baby.

A slower-paced vacation is likely a better idea. This way, you can keep your baby on their schedule and avoid chaos. Of course, you can try whichever holiday you’d like to. Just be prepared for whatever may come your way.

Try to Remain Flexible With Your Schedule

It can be helpful if you can be flexible so that your baby can still nap and eat when needed. Throwing your baby off their schedule can be stressful for everyone involved.

When is it Safe to Fly with a Newborn Baby?

You might be considering flying as an alternative to driving. Unfortunately, there are different risks when it comes to flying.

One primary concern with flying with a newborn is the baby’s immune system. Newborn babies don’t have developed immune systems, so they are more likely to get sick.

When you take your baby through an airport, on a plane, and to a new city, they become exposed to many types of germs.

While older children and adults have strong immune systems that can fight off illness, young babies do not.

Doctors recommend waiting to fly until your baby is three to six months old. Different airlines have different rules for traveling with a baby. If your baby needs to travel for a health reason, those guidelines will be different.

When it’s time to fly, be sure to bring wipes to wipe down any surfaces that your baby might touch in the airport or aboard the plane.

Bottom Line: Wait To Travel Long Distances Until Your Baby is At Least 4 Weeks Old

If you are traveling with a newborn baby, it’s essential to take all of the necessary precautions to make sure you arrive at your destination safely.

Be sure to follow the mentioned guidelines to make the trip go as smoothly as possible. If possible, try to wait until your baby is four weeks old to travel long distances so they can better support their neck and head.

If you have additional concerns about an upcoming trip, be sure to talk to your baby’s pediatrician about any recommendations they may have.