Summertime Car Must-Haves


straw bag with sunglasses, phone, orange, sunscreen. car must-haves. Des Moines MomSummer is a great time for a family road trip (or day trip). Maybe you’re taking the family cross country. Maybe you’re just heading to the mall. Either way, here are some must-haves to keep in the car.

Summertime Car Must-Haves for Moms

You’ll notice some of these things overlap for all ages—a good idea is a good idea.

Must-Haves for Babies

Most of the items I’m listing may already be a part of the daily diaper bag you tote around with your little one. I used the free formula branded diaper bag I got in the hospital for travel baby needs so it was always in my car.

Extra clothes. You never know when an epic spit-up or blowout is on the way. I usually kept two outfits for my little one. Hand-me-downs are great for this purpose. Just remember to reload when you need to use one and change them out for new seasons. 

Baby wipes. To deal with the aforementioned blowouts and spit-ups I always had baby wipes to clean up the baby and the mess. Scented diaper bags are a must and they take up hardly any room. Don’t forget about things to clean yourself off with! Disinfectant wipes were a staple for me. I usually grab these from the dollar store since they have smaller packs.

Board books and sensory toys. Anything to distract baby on a long ride.

Sleep help. My daughter could nap like a champ in the car, but if your little one struggles to get their Zzzs you could try this battery-operated or USB-powered white noise machine. A USB or battery-powered fan could keep your baby cool while also adding a soothing noise to their ride.

Toddler Travel Must-Haves

Snacks. Think easy to eat and mess-free. Cereal and yogurt puffs. Apple sauce pouches and snack crackers. When it comes to car snacks convenience is key. Look for individual-sized bags whenever possible. Spill-proof snack containers and small bottles of water are also good. 

Toys. Avoid things with small parts or toys that come apart as they can be choking hazards. My daughter loved a doll that was a lot like the one I found online. The buttons, snaps, and zippers not only occupy her time but let her practice fine motor skills. My daughter had a small cloth bag to keep her car toys in which also helps keep your car organized.

Extra clothes. Toddlers can get messy in the most unexpected places. Baby wipes, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer are also just good ideas. Sunglasses were also a must-have for my toddler. Every summer I would stock up on these at the dollar store as they would inevitably break.

Pro tip: In my experience sunglasses can help toddlers nap better in the car. 

Must-Have for Older kids

Much of what I have already mentioned apply to older kids as well. Extra clothes, baby wipes, and hand sanitizer are always good to have on hand. Age-appropriate toys like frisbees and balls can come in handy for impromptu play stops. Hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and umbrellas will help in any weather situation you encounter. 

Small blanket. It can be used for last-minute outdoor events, or even as a towel in a pinch.

Must-Haves for Carsick Kids

When my daughter was about four, she started getting car sick frequently. Here are the things I always have in my car: 

Children’s Dramamine. This really needs to be taken before you start your drive

Motion sickness bracelets or stickers. These really did seem to help my daughter.

Motion sickness bags. Don’t pass on these if anyone in your family gets motion sick. There is a cardboard insert you put on the top of the bag to keep it open (genius) along with a magic pad that helps absorb, well, let’s just say liquid.

Small scented garbage bags. Great if you’re in the middle of a long road trip and are not near a place to stop

Peppermints. These can help with an upset stomach and can freshen breath

I would love to hear about your car must-haves! Drop a comment about what you, and your little one, never leave home without below.


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