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Planning a road trip with baby? Prepare for the worst

November 13, 2009|By LEIGH HAMRICK / Special to The Herald-Mail

This might sound like a no-brainer, but the truth is common sense is usually the hardest stuff to come by. How many times have you started out on a trip only to hear, five minutes later, a plaintive little voice from the back say, "I've got to go to the bathroom?" I know I know I've done it as a mom, and so have you, so stop pretending.

When my kids were small, the biggest challenge proved to be getting them to sit still for a length of time. Trying to keep toddlers entertained and content is pretty close to agony.

(These days, the big challenge is getting Sadie's rump out of the shower. She takes forever!)

Then there are the routine mishaps that occur at the worst possible times: explosive diapers; food spillage; projectile vomit. I can recall my daughter throwing up down my back when while we were car shopping, and was I prepared? Nope. She rode the rest of the way home naked but for her diaper, and I got the pleasure of smelling acidic baby puke drying on my shirt for three hours.

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A little preparation can save you an awful lot of stress in moments like these, and I have some suggestions for you.

There are a few things you should always have at the ready, packed up and kept in the car in case of emergencies. Buy yourself an inexpensive tote bag and put these things in it:

o Extra diapers and baby wipes

o Hand sanitizer

o Extra clothes for your baby or child (two sets would be a good idea, one for warm weather, one for chilly)

o A few toiletries (hairbrush, nail clippers, nail file, tissues, hair detangler)

o A first-aid kit, which technically everyone should keep nearby, whether they have children or not

o A few baby blankets; sun block

o If you have a girl, extra hair things. (You know if you're heading out for a drive that lasts an hour or more, your daughter's hair is going to get a monstrous snarl in the back, right where she's been rubbing up against her car seat, and sometimes you need to improvise a quick hairdo, like a bun.)

Now, this isn't your diaper bag, remember. This is your emergency bag. Keep it well-stocked and leave it in your car. I promise it will serve you well.

Another good idea is keeping a "fun bag." If you know you're going to be doing something quiet and possibly lengthy, like sitting in a doctor's office, for instance, or going to church, this stash is going to be a life-saver.

Put in the fun bag things you know your child likes:

o A notebook to draw in and a box of crayons (not markers; why ask for trouble?)

o A puzzle

o A teething ring or two, if you have a baby.

o Don't be tempted to put in something that makes noise - you'll regret it like nothing else. Something that lights up would be fine, or a toy that vibrates.

Keep this little collection special, something your child or baby only gets to enjoy when you're out. Let them know that by being quiet they're earning this reward. Then these times will be something they look forward to.

One last thought: When you have an appointment, it's a good idea to get ready an hour earlier than you think you need to. Give yourself room for unexpected disasters. And above all else, make sure a bathroom run or diaper change is taken care of before you leave the house, else you'll be sure to hear "Mommy " a lot sooner than you want to.

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