Sure, getting from point A to point B with baby is a little more complicated than it was in your more freewheeling days of impromptu road trips. But just because you’ve added a new member to your family doesn’t mean you automatically need a brand-new vehicle right this second. Follow these smart tips to give your current car a family-friendly upgrade.
Consider keyless ignition. If your car doesn’t already have this feature and you’re planning to keep it for a while, it’s worth looking into a retrofit. Just think: No more frantic searches for your keys at the bottom of your purse while baby is squealing in the backseat. All you have to do is hit a button to start the ignition—as long as the keys are somewhere on you. And since staying calm is the first step to driving safely, it can be a literal lifesaver. Now if you can just remember to take your coffee off the roof before driving away.
Stay organized. Kids travel with a lot of stuff, no matter how old they are. While there isn’t an upgrade for a built-in toy box (but we can dream right?), there are genius ways to keep those Legos from constantly disappearing into the black hole beneath your seats. Look for products designed to attach to the back of the seat and securely hold a ton of supplies. Or try one of our favorite hacks and just repurpose a hanging shoe organizer to keep bottles, pacifiers, baby wipes, small toys and other travel essentials within reach.
Block rays. You wouldn’t take baby out in the sun without sunblock—so he or she also needs UV protection while riding in the car. Though windshields are treated to block UVA rays, side and back windows aren’t, making hats and sunscreen essential for everyday drives (that goes for adults too). And even if your car doesn’t have fancy tinted windows, you can add simple stick-on sunshades to help block exposure.
Ride safer. Once baby arrives, it’s a good time to take another look at your auto insurance coverage. Your agent can help you determine if it makes sense to change the deductible and liability limits on your policy now that you’re carting a new passenger. And don't forget to look into roadside assistance options—truly worth it for the peace of mind.
Get smart with your gadgets. Thanks to tablets, a built-in DVD player isn’t the must-have it once was for long road trips with the preschool set. A tablet case that attaches to the headrest keeps the screen out of their hands but still in their sightline, keeping everybody happy—until said tablet runs out of juice. To make sure you never have to deal with that modern-day nightmare, always keep a tech travel kit equipped with a backup battery, USB cable and car charger on hand.
Keep it clean. Sure, we all eat in the car from time to time, but you can’t imagine the amount of crumbs you’ll be dealing with until you have kids. To make cleanup so much easier (and protect the carpet from countless milk and juice spills), put down an inexpensive plastic liner on the floor that can easily be pulled up and shaken out. And kick mats or front seat covers are the first line of defense for preventing those inevitable dirty shoe prints. But getting your toddler to stop kicking the back of your seat? That’s another story.