Keeping Toddlers Happy in the Car

Keeping toddlers happy in the carDistracted driving is everywhere. You see people texting, eating, putting on makeup, and doing other crazy things while operating cars. But what about distracted driving with kids? That’s my life. My kids can be demanding while riding in the car, especially for long periods of time. I know it’s hard sitting still when you’re a little one, and I know it can get boring riding in a car. Here are some great ways to keep toddlers happy in the car.

Books

My kids love looking at books! I try to change out which books are in the car periodically. If you have a library card, utilize the books there and get some new titles they aren’t used to seeing. Lift-the-flap books or touch-and-feel books are perfect for my little Levi who is 1. Johanna prefers the books that play sound or have princesses in them.

Snacks

I shudder at this, because I am a neat freak. However, when you have a cranky child in your car, sometimes it’s okay to get crumbs everywhere. I tend to put snacks in baggies and let my kids choose their snack. I use sippy cups that won’t spill with only water for drinks. These RePlay cups are great for traveling! If you have older kids, try the individual cereal boxes, granola bars, cheese, fruit, or whatever snack you can think of. Try to not give your little ones too much sugar so you can keep your sanity.

Music and Movies

It’s hard to find music everyone agrees upon, but my kids love Mickey Mouse cds. Find something that you can stand that will also help your kids be cheerful. Pick-up some cds at your local library or borrow a cd from a friend. Pick a movie or two if you get desperate. I try to pick movies that don’t get too loud or have some kind of educational spin. The worst thing is a rowdy toddler waking up a sleeping baby on a road trip with their singing to a movie. Try to avoid that.

Coloring and Creativity

If you have older toddlers, try putting coloring pages on a clipboard with stickers, crayons, (try colored pencils if you live where crayons will melt easily in the car) and other supplies. This will keep them busy while keeping their creative juices flowing. Stick to items from the Dollar Tree so you don’t break the bank.

Rewards and Visual Ideas

I love the idea of having some kind of a reward for the trip. For us, our trips home are 6 hours. Try wrapping a couple dollar surprises for your kids. Let them open them up when you make a stop. That way they have something to look forward to and you have a treat for them. Make a little car like this one to show your progress on your trip. How cute is that!

So there are ways to keep toddlers happy in the car. I think we as moms just have to get creative and take the time to invest in our sanity.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two in Northeast Indiana where she lives, writes, and goes on many, many car rides with toddlers.

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