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Baby on Board: Car Trip Survival

Here are things every parent needs in the vehicle to keep baby happy

When my first child was an infant, I never seemed to be able to stock my car with everything I needed to run errands. No extra clothes were available when accidents happened, and the diaper bag always ran out of diapers or wipes at the worst possible time.

Finally, after weeks of trial and error – and listening to some experienced moms – my car is now organized, and my little ones enjoy their quick road trips. The key is making sure the following four items are always in the car when baby is on board.

Keep it clean

The first must-have item is a box of baby wipes or cleaning towels.

"Keep wipes everywhere. You can never have too many," says Stephanie Williams, a mother of two. Perhaps the biggest challenge in transporting little ones is the constant threat of spills and messes that can occur in the middle of a trip.

Williams has used wipes for everything from potty accidents to cleaning sticky fingers and faces. She says she'll continue using them even when her children are old enough to drive her around!

In the bag

The next essential accessory is a "just-in-case" diaper bag tucked away in the vehicle. Road trips leave parents at a disadvantage for diaper changes, especially if they forgot to fill the diaper bag the night before or didn't pack enough. Eliminate the problem by simply putting extra clothes and diaper items in a small bag, and then place the bag in the pocket behind the front seat or underneath the seat. There's no need to worry about packing this sack every day, as if it were a diaper bag. It will simply be ready for occasional accidents.

Snacks and such

The third item to never leave home without is a snack to keep growling stomachs at bay. Keeping the car stocked with nutritious food helps eliminate baby fussiness and can make car rides more pleasant. Choose low-sugar foods, such as a bag of Cheerios, so you don't get your little tyke wired on the road where there is no outlet to blow off steam.

Also, consider buying an extra version of one of your child's favorite toys and keep it in the car – always. That should keep him or her entertained and prevent tears.

Seat of approval

The most important product for every car is a properly-installed car seat. Everyone knows that babies need safety seats, but a large percentage of child restraints are used incorrectly. Always read both your car seat manual and your vehicle owner manual before installing any child safety seat.

A few minutes to stock up the car with these items can mean the difference between a fun outing with the family or a stressful road trip. Now, the next step is figuring out how to get someone else to take care of the actual driving!

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