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Dr. Fran Answers Your Questions—On Taking A Road Trip With Your Baby, And Lots More…

Posted: Tuesday, June 30, 2015 – 3:29 PM

Q. Dear Dr. Fran: We are planning a long six-day road trip across the country with our 14-month-old baby. Can you offer us some tips for how to make the car ride as smooth as possible? Thanks, Jack C.

A. Dear Jack, this is a question I am often asked by parents. Here you go and safe travels.

Top Tips for Taking Road Trips with Your Baby:

• The key to a successful road trip is for parents to remain calm. Any tension in Mom, Dad, or inside the car generalizes into baby stress. Remember the rule in the event of an airline disaster, always put your oxygen mask on first and then your baby’s.Take care of yourself first and then your baby.

• Pack all the food you might possibly need, an assortment of toys, books, and any other items your baby is attached to, along with baby’s favor music and a CD of nursery rhymes.

• Bring multiples of Transitional Objects (pacifiers, soft blankies, and stuffed animals baby is especially attached to).

You don’t want to find yourself far away from home with baby unable to self-soothe.

• Make sure you have a comfortable, well-fitting car seat for children of all ages under 1 year-5 years old.

• Drive when it’s most likely baby will sleep for a duration of of the trip, if possible. You can engage and play with baby during restaurant stops.

• Only give your child soft toys to hold and play with while driving in the car. In the event of sudden stops or an accident hard toys can pose dangerous risk to your child’s safety. Also, if you child is between the ages of 2-5 years old when he becomes angry or enraged he may use the heavy toy to expel his aggression by hitting himself or throwing it forward at you.

• Pack a well stocked first-aid kit customized for baby’s needs, as well as your other children based on their ages.

• Be sure to bring along important phone numbers including your pediatrician’s contact info, the US Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) medical insurance cards, and baby’s medical records including names of medications he’s takings and allergies.

• Road accidents are the #1 cause of deaths on vacation, both at home and abroad. Do not turn around to tend to crying upset baby while driving. Pull off the shoulder of the road safely before distracting your vision from oncoming traffic. And, certainly never drive when drinking alcohol, taking medications that cause drowsiness, or when you are exhausted and jet-lagged.


Q. Dear Dr. Fran: How can I teach my child to like vegetables? Shirley Z.

A. Dear Shirley: I treat many finicky, picky-eater children who loathe and gag at the sight of vegetables (and fruits).

Truthfully, readers need to know that from the voice of the expert you can’t teach people to like vegetables or any specific foods. All you can do is introduce foods and then leave it up to the individual to accept or reject. Once you press or force, you risk a power-struggle that can trigger eating disorders.

Most of the kids I have treated grow out of extreme discrimination of food groups by adolescence. Kids who hated vegetables are now stir-frying, steaming, baking, and cooking their own vegetable recipes. No kidding. I see this over and over. I have a close collaborative association with a senior pediatrician who informs me of the same.

You can’t force it. Kids grow out of food exclusions and expand their repertoire by adolescence. Whether it’s the kickstart of hormonal surges or peer pressure something in the teen changes and they emerge more open to other foods. 

Q. Dear Dr. Fran: Can you give me a few suggestions for how a chronic worrier can get a good night’s sleep? Thanks, Dan S.

A. Dear Dan: Sleep disruption is rooted in Separation Anxiety. When we are stressed, going through major changes or life transitions the first place we see symptoms is in sleep disruption.

The chronic worrier needs to learn that all the worrying in the world will not change the outcome. It becomes an issue of control. One must ultimately relinquish control to a higher being, whether it be God, destiny, karma, or whatever is in harmony with the individual’s belief system.

Try my “Dr. Fran’s Top Sleep Tips” and sweet dreams.

• Always go to bed at the same time and set your alarm for wake up at the same time. This gets your body rhythms used to a regular routine.

• Create a routine that winds you down in the evening and sets the mood for sleep. After dinner, dim the lights turn on calming music, and take a soothing warm bath.

• Limit water intake after 7 p.m. to avoid middle of the night bathroom visits.

• Do light reading. No TV or computer before bed. These activities tend to rev up anxiety and excitatory threshold versus relax and calm you down.

• Drink milk, eat cheese, yogurt, or ice-cream before bed. Yes, there is truth to the old saying about hot milk. The ingredient tryptophan has a natural calming agent that actually relaxes you without medication.

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