Melrosekids Blog

How To Travel With the Family and STAY SANE!!!

Posted on: June 10, 2010

"Family Travel

Courtesy of The Parenting Magazine.com

When it comes to family travel, if you’re anything like me, you romanticize what that upcoming vacation is going to look like.

But the truth of the matter is those vacations can often be full of stress, grumpy kids and sheer disappointment.

But don’t unpack those suitcases and cancel the camping spot just yet.

We’ve got some great travel tips for you to not only make that trip just a little bit more enjoyable but safer as well.

BEFORE THE TRIP

1)      Travel SAFE!!

The most important thing you can do for your pre-trip preparations is to make sure you have taken all the steps necessary to ensure your child is safely secured in the right seat for their height and weight and that their seat is properly installed.

Every year in Alberta, many children are injured or killed in motor vehicle collisions. According to Transport Canada, a correctly used car seat will reduce the likelihood of your child being injured by 75%. In 2007, 11 737 children under 15 years of age were injured and 99 of those were killed.

LaVonne Ries of Keepin’ Baby Safe is a certified Children’s Restraint Safety Technician (CRST) and has inspected over 6000 children’s restraint systems.

“Installing a car seat can be a challenging task,” says Ries, “and not all car seats fit all vehicles.”

Here is a list of the most common mistakes parents can make when installing their child’s seat. (Refer to your owner’s manual for references to each of these issues)

  • A child is in a seat that is inappropriate for his/her height or weight.
  • The seat-belt or Universal Anchorage System is not properly used or is too loose
  • The harness is not snug enough on the child and chest clip is not up at armpit level.
  • The tether strap is loose or not used at all
  • The car seat is too old and has past the expiry date that is stamped on the back side of the seat. (This is illegal and can lead to a fine).

“When in doubt,” she suggests, “consult with a (CRST).”

Some of Ries’ safety tips when traveling with children:

  • Always refer to the vehicle owner’s manual and car seat instruction booklet before any installation.
  • The safest place for a child’s car seat is in the back seat.
  • Never place a car seat in front of an active air bag.
  • Refrain from using any after market products that affix to or interfere with the restraints of the car seat, or go between the child and their restraints or the child and their car seat as Transport Canada warns agains. These can affect the safety of the seat and can cause injury in the event of a collision.
  • In the winter place blankets on top of child opposed to using bulky clothing that compresses and can lead to slackness in the restraints.
  • Fill out the registration card that comes with your child’s car seat. The information for registering a car seat is on a date of manufacturing sticker affixed on your child’s car seat. This way, the manufacture can contact you if there is a recall of your specific seat.
  • Check with Transport Canadawww.tc.gc.ca or 1800.333.0371 to check up on any recalls.
  • Vehicles manufactured before 2001 need a tether anchor point installed.

2)      Plan the trip.

Map your trip so you time out strategic stops for bathroom and sanity breaks. Kids have short attention spans and according to registered psychologist Dr. Kimberly Eckert, M.Sc., the length of their attention span depends on their age. Anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes for toddlers and up to 30 to 40 minutes for a 7 year old.

“Toddlers often struggle the most with traveling,” Eckert warns, adding that they are less distractible yet only have the capacity of 3 to 8 minutes of focused attention.

She suggests having plenty of age appropriate activities on hand for your children and to plan for frequent out of car breaks.

“Parents can expect to need to stop every hour to hour and a half,” that being for toddlers. She suggests you may be able to make the stops less frequent (every 2 to 3 hours) for school aged children. GPS systems are great for checking out upcoming stops. Or map it out before hand marking off stops on the map that are about 200 to 250 kilometers apart.

If you plan to make most of your trek at night, be sure your kids will be comfortable and have all their favourite night time comforts like blankies, pillows, stuffies, etc.

While resting, a proper head support is also important for your children to not only prevent neck strain but to prevent air way restriction which leads to oxygen deprivation.

When our bodies go without enough oxygen for too long our oxygen saturation levels drop in our blood. Thankfully though our bodies are programmed to prompt us to consciousness so we don’t actually suffocate.  This is a great self defense mechanism, however, it’s not the best situation when you are wanting your child to get a good sleep. If they are slumped in their seat, their airway will be restricted, thus they will not be able to get the full rest they need.

We suggest trying our Head Snuggler. It’s a new take on a head support, this one providing the support from above, rather than trying to address if from below.

“When I started using the Head Snuggler,” says Dr. Kyla Brulotte, a chiropractor and mother of 3, “I was very excited to see my children sleeping comfortable with properly aligned spines.”

The Head Snuggler is backed by a pediatrician, chiropractor and CRST and it works to hold a child’s head in a neutral position while they rest so there is no uncomfortable neck strain and no airway restriction.

“Properly supporting a child’s head in a car seat has been an issue for parents for many years.” says pediatrician Dr. Nieman FRCP (C), “I believe [the Head Snuggler] effectively addresses parent’s concerns and provides children with a more comfortable experience while resting in their car seats.”

The best part is that it allows your child to go into a deeper, longer sleep while you enjoy the peace. Check them out at melrosekids.com.

3)      Stock up for the trip.

Because of the fact that children can get quite restless cooped up in a car seat, we recommend loading up on games, books and activities so the kids have ample to do and don’t end up distracting you with the nagging question, “are we there yet?” every half hour. If you have a DVD player in the car, bring some of your kid’s favorites, but don’t make the entire trip about staring at a screen for your children. They need breaks from the boob tube as well. Point out the scenery, play I Spy with them, have them change their focus from time to time to experience their surroundings.

*Note, one of those organizers that affixes to the back of the driver and passenger seats is a great way to organize all of your kids travel stuff in a handy, easy to reach place.

It’s also important to have healthy snacks on hand, so kids don’t end up jumping on the “blood sugar” rollercoaster ride.

Nutrition Educator and Author Karla Heintz, BSc Nutrition, has some great fresh ideas for what to stock the cooler with:

  • grape tomatoes
  • edamame (green soybeans)
  • grapes
  • baby carrots
  • snap peas
  • celery sticks
  • red pepper slices
  • air popped popcorn (pop in advance)

These next ideas are still healthy but can weigh in a bit more heavily on the calorie side, so don’t overdo it:

  • trail mix
  • dried fruit (unsulfered of course)
  • nuts/seeds (almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios,etc.)

And for those who like to convenience of a bar, some of Karla’s healthy picks include Kashi, the Cliff Bar and Lara Bar.

Things to avoid include anything high in sugar, salt or caffeine.

DURING THE TRIP

1)      Arrange the car so that the things your children will want and need are easy to access.

2)      Be sure to pack the car so your children have room to move and be comfortable with any cargo safely secured in case of an accident.

3)      Parents, be sure you are taking adequate breaks as well. If you are feeling tired or irritable, take a break, pull over, have a rest if it’s possible or just take a breather and get some fresh air.

Family travel isn’t going to be that lovely picture you see in a magazine or commercial, but it doesn’t have to be awful either. With some good planning it can be a wonderful adventure for all.

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