Friday, December 28, 2012

Road Trip Advice And Car Games

Car trips used to be so fun when I was little. We would take a row of seats out of the van; put a bunch of blankets down and turn the whole area into a little fort for my sister and I to play and sleep in. Obviously, car seat guidelines do not allow for anything even remotely like that these days.

Cora isn't into being confined to a car seat so she is not a happy camper when we go on long road trips. I know a lot of babies sleep in the car but that just isn't Cora's style. I usually sit in the back with her and try to keep her entertained. That works for about the first 45 minutes and then she says, "SERIOUSLY, get me out of this thing." I've tried sitting in the front and passing her back a new book or toy when she gets sick of what she has. I've tried music, dancing.... but Cora just doesn't love the car.

Here she is sleeping in the car! Miraculous! Whenever she falls asleep in the car I basically just stare at her in amazement until she wakes up.

So, I went to my trusty pal, Google, to see if there was anything else I could try. One suggestion was a portable DVD player- an idea that I had also heard from a few friends and family members. We had been trying not to let Cora watch any TV until she was two (as suggested by Cora's pediatrician and a few parenting books I read). So, we had always thrown that idea out the window. But the impending six hour drive to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family made Scott and I reconsider our policy. Decision made... we bought a portable DVD player and I rented a few DVDs from the library.

The outcome... Very helpful! I didn't turn it on until I sensed a meltdown on the horizon. She went into a major TV zone. She loved the DVDs Baby Babble and Baby Babble II. She even interacted a good bit with it. She did not like any of the Baby Einstein videos. I bought a used Dora DVD and I think it freaked her out a bit especially since I walked Dora behind the DVD player and then turned on the movie like Dora magically went into the TV. I don't think we will try Dora on TV or DVD again for a long time. Cora seems to like to be in charge of whatever weird things she thinks Dora should do- like sleep in a shoe or hide under her high chair.

Here she is loving her Baby Babble.

I hope we didn't shoot ourselves in the foot by giving in on the DVD player. I hope to one day be able to do all the fun car activities like my parents used to do for me growing up.

Here are some examples of the car games we used to play growing up:

  • Alphabet games. You can compete to see who  is the first to find every letter of the alphabet in order. Or you can have a theme like "animals" and take turns naming animals in alphabetical order.
  • We had Bingo boards and our parents would call out number-letters combos to see who would win.
  • Lots of books to keep us occupied
  • When we were a bit older we played a game that I have just entitled "what do you get." It is a little tricky to explain. But the idea is that each person in the car picks a number 1-10. Let's say you picked the number 3. As you're driving along, you get 3rd house you pass. It is now yours. Then everyone talks about how you'll like living there. Then the laughter ensues! I'm telling you... it is a fun game! You can vary it by making it the 3rd car you pass. you can even say the 3rd person you see is now your new best friend.
  • A surprise bag of books and toys that the child can pull out.
  • Trivia questions. A lot of times we will bring a trivia book with us or print some facts out about wherever we are going for the car ride.
  • 20 Questions
  • I Spy
  • My nerdy dad and sister used to compete to see who could answer math equations the fastest. I would put the math problem into a calculator and tell them who won. Then, I would enter the number 1 and press +1 and equals over and over and over until I got sick of that game. Spoiler alert: sometimes I wouldn't ever get sick of that game and the only thing that stopped me was reaching our destination.
  • License plate game where you try to find a license plate from every state.
  • Mile candy. This is one game that I don't hope to carry on. My parents used to give us a piece of candy every mile that we were good. My dad's mile candy of choice: Necco Wafers.

Well, there you go, folks! 
Does anyone have any other tips for how to get your babytoddler to enjoy life on the open road?
Any other car games for slightly older babytoddlers?


  1. We just did the alphabet game for the trip to Canberra and back for Christmas. Food, animals, Harry potter. Most educational (google did have to help, the old sport that it is)

  2. It worked out much better when I did the driving and your Dad was in charge of navigating and entertaining you & Kelly.

    1. We were entertaining ourselves back there (as far as I can remember). Do I have it all wrong in my mind?

  3. Your calculator game is hilarious.