Why is it that when you have kids, you need so much more stuff? It’s like a simple trip to the grocery store needs it’s own carry on suitcase! And of course when you really need something, that’s the one thing you forgot to pack. Whenever I leave my house with my little I like to ask- okay if I have to be away from the house for longer than expected do I have everything I might need for Eating/Drinking, Playing, Diaper/Bathroom Visits, Messes, Sleeping, or Weather Changes?
These are the essential things I like to keep in my car as a mom. Make life a little easier with little ones and give yourself peace of mind while driving. These things all relate directly to kids, but check out my other posts for Car Safety & Emergency Essentials, Amazon Storage & Organization Gadgets, Dog Car Must Haves, and Things I Always Keep in My Car for more ideas on what you need in your car!
Here is what I keep in my Mom car:
First Aid Kit– I usually keep a pre-made First Aid kit that has all the scary things like gauze, sterilizing wipes, band-aids, thermal blanket etc. I also like to add bug spray, sunscreen, instant ice packs, polysporin spray, anti itch cream, baby advil, gravol or ginger chews (and throw up bags), cough drops, and tums (for Dad).
Keep in mind medications that are exposed to extreme heat or cold (like a car in summer or winter) will lose their effectiveness. So things like allergy meds, Epi-Pens, or Insulin should be packed in the diaper bag or cooler bag and not left in the car!
Change of Clothes for everyone including socks, a hat, and flip flops for older kids, and don’t forget an extra shirt for Mom & Dad!
Diaper changing station with diapers, wipes, bum cream, poop bags, and changing pad
Or if your little one is out of diapers, a portable toilet with a garbage bag for emergencies
The Claw – because inevitably kids will drop things in the backseat. Instead of contorting your body, use this foldable claw to help grab things!
Non-Perishable Snacks or Feeding Essentials– Think granola bars, puffy snacks, gummy fruit snacks, fruit leather, etc when in doubt pack more snacks! I like to keep a few within easy reach (think glovebox), but most in the trunk. If you are still breastfeeding, make sure you have anything you need (cover, travel pump, etc) and if you are still formula feeding, keep an extra empty bottle with the formula pre-measured and an empty YETI thermal water bottle that the bottle will fit inside. That way you just need to add water to the formula, shake, and add hot water to the YETI to warm the bottle. Also consider if your little one needs a bib, a special bowl, or baby cutlery to eat.
Bottle & Toy Clips– tether a favorite toy, or water bottle to the car handle, seatbelt, or car seat. Just make sure not to clip these tethers to the child harness because you don’t want anything to impair the effectiveness of the car seat harness!
Shower Suction Cup Caddies– Keep toys, markers, electronics, books, snacks, and boredom busters within reach, but out of the way. Suction cup them right onto the window. Just make sure to remove them if you want to open the windows!
Seat Protectors– This one is a must if you want even a hope of a clean-ish car. You will want something for under the car seats to protect against scratches and crumbs, plus a kick guard for when they are forward facing and have those long legs! I also love finding ones with storage and pockets
Mini Spray Bottle with Water– When the seat buckles get too hot in summer, simply spray with water (doesn’t matter if the water is warm) and the evaporation from the mist will instantly cool the hot metal
Car Seat Accessories: Car Seat Magnet Strap Holders to keep the straps out of the way while you load the little. Car Seat Buckle Clip– a lifesaver for nails or those with arthritis Seat Buckle Guard– prevent older kids from unbuckling their seatbelt while you drive Car Seat Cover
Wet Wipes– you can never have too many wet wipes, I also pack Lysol wipes, stain remover, hand sanitizer and paper towels too. Because messes happen and you don’t want to be driving around with a poop explosion, vomit, or milk/juice box spill in your car especially on a hot day!
Towel/Blanket– If you’ve ever read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you know the one thing you need when you travel (the galaxy) is a towel. I like this one because it also doubles as a blanket if needed, it folds up very small, plus it’s beautiful.
Impromptu picnic, or need to sit on the ground? Blanket. Kids or dog get wet/muddy? Towel. It’s getting chilly at the soccer game? Blanket. Kids (or mom) spills their drink EVERYWHERE and paper towels just won’t cut it? Towel. Kid is in desperate need of a nap or some quiet time? Blanket. Seriously it will come in handy.
Clip on Fan– I like this one because it’s USB rechargeable so you can charge it as you drive. Then use the bendy legs to attach it anywhere and adjust it to the perfect angle. Have it on in the backseat if the AC won’t reach the kids, attach it to the stroller or car seat as needed while you’re out and about.
Carabiners-I have so many of these because they come in so handy! Clip up a jacket or bag to the back of the seat, Hang up a wet towel to dry in the trunk, Hook up multiple grocery bags to carry everything at once without hurting your hands. Clip it onto the stroller and have your toddler hang onto it while you walk through parking lots for ease of mind.
Travel Tray – For longer drives, road trips, and times when you need to keep your toddler entertained (think waiting for another kid at a lesson) this travel tray gives them a play to color, play, and it has pockets for easy access. It folds up basically flat and even works in the stroller on the snack tray!
Travel Stool– Listen I love a good comfy camping chair, but they can be super bulky and take up precious trunk space. These tiny travel stools are easy to throw in your diaper bag, your stroller basket, or the trunk of your car and come in super handy. Your little one might get to sit in a stroller, but you or an older child may have to stand and get tired. Instead of sitting on the ground, use these handy stools.
Portable High Chair– I like to just keep it in the car, because you really only use it if you’re out of the house. These are my top favorites, but choose what works best for your lifestyle and budget.
Insulated Tote Bag– Because sometimes you need to visit the grocery store, the gas station, pick up the kids, drop off the kids, and 5 million other things before you can get that milk into the fridge at home. This way you can help keep your cold things cold and not worry about food poisoning. Bonus- if you pick up take out and want to keep it warm on the drive home this works great for that too!
Back Seat Mirror-For those in rear facing car seats this little mirror can come in handy to check on them throughout the drive and give you peace of mind. Or if you want a high tech version, try this car baby monitor!
Boredom Busters – These are just a few ideas for kids to do during long car rides. Obviously you know what your kids like best, consider their favorite toy or book (just keep in mind it’s a lot easier to lose a favorite toy in the car or on the road!). Maybe an ipad for games/movies, don’t forget headphones for the ipad! Coloring (the mess free kind!) or quietbooks- for older kids, word searches or activity books. Fidget toys, musical toys or magnetic toys (so it’s harder to lose the pieces), also work too! You want to keep in mind things that are hard to drop/lose, things that are quiet (or will at least keep your kids entertained and quiet), things that aren’t dangerous if you hit a bump or come to a sudden stop, things that are choking hazards for littles, and things that might make a mess of your car. You don’t necessarily need to spend money either there are so many DIYs or free car games you can play (I spy anyone?).
BONUS: If you’ve got another little one on the way, I love this Pregnancy Seat Belt which takes the weight off of your baby bump in case of quick stops or crashes. Plus if you have a sore C section scar, continue to use it until you heal!
Moms, did I miss anything? Is there anything else you always have in your car? Comment Below!
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