Welcome, Fellow Parents Looking To Feed Their Babies in a Car Seat!
After trying (and mostly failing) to get my kids to eat before heading out, I’ve decided to look into how to have safe snack time on the road.
There’s no way around it; you can’t feed your baby in a moving car.
However, a long trip can still go smoothly. You just have to time your rest stops right and figure out the logistics, from the reclining angle to the type of sippy cup.
In this post, I’ll go over the top safety recommendations to keep in mind. Then, I want to share with you how to tackle the mess—and make no mistake about it, there will always be a mess—like a pro.
Show me those tips already!
Feeding a Baby in a Car Seat: 7 Safety Tips
The whole point of using car seats is to keep our kids safe, and you don’t want a choking hazard or a loosened, wet strap to ruin that.
Let’s see how you can set feed your child without compromising on protection.
#1 Never Feed in a Moving Car
I get that making stops every time your baby wants to eat can make a long trip even more frustrating. However, the last thing you want is to feed your kid in a moving car.
- Motion sickness, a milk bottle, and upholstered seats can be a recipe for disaster.
- Bottles, sippy cups, spoons, and all the common feeding tools can be extremely dangerous in a crash. (Think projectiles splattering everywhere!)
- There’s also the legal angle to consider since you might have to break the belt and restraint rules.
So, I’d recommend finding a safe parking spot, feeding the kid, and staying there for around 30 minutes (some fussy babies need more time) after the meal is over.
Ultimately, the 2-hour car seat rule will force you to stop for a break. Might as well time the feedings around this rule and make the most of your rest stops.
#2 Check the Seating Position
Some car seats come with a reclining range to help your baby catch a snooze on the way. However, the lowest setting might not work for what you’re trying to accomplish here.
Aim for a semi-reclining position when you’re feeding or giving your kid solid foods.
If your little one gets reflux often, consider an upright position. It’s also a smart idea to keep him upright for 60 minutes after feeding to keep the milk down. This can set you back on your road trip, but it beats driving with your baby screaming in pain.
#3 Steer Away from Choking Hazards
Even though the car won’t be moving, there’s still a choking hazard with certain foods.
Here are some items to avoid at all costs when you’re feeding a baby in a car seat:
- Large fruit pieces
Instead, you can opt for softer meals, like yogurt, baby food, purees, and milk. Those should go down your baby’s throat without a struggle!
If you’re running low on ideas, ask your pediatrician to recommend malleable foods that work well for your kid’s age. Then, you can prepare meal pouches in advance to take with you on the car ride.
#4 Don’t Prop the Bottle Against the Car Seat
Okay, so you’ve stopped the car, checked the reclining position, and picked a safe option (pumped milk for formula) over choking hazards.
Now, you might be tempted to “prop” the bottle against the car seat’s cushions. Maybe because you want to grab something to eat during the rest stop or because you have some catching up to do on your phone.
However, the risks outweigh the benefits. Don’t just take my word for it; experts have spoken about the dangers of bottle propping, including choking, tooth decay, and ear infections.
In fact, it would be safer to keep an eye on older kids who aren’t being bottle-fed, too. Grab the solid food, yogurt, or whatever their snack is. Then, get in the backseat with them and stay there until they’re done.
#5 Know How to Burp Bottle-Fed Babies on the Road
When your baby is done feeding, try to burp him before getting back on the road.
There are three accepted ways to do that:
- Upright with the baby’s head leaning on your shoulder
- Seated on your lap with enough chin support
- Face down on your lap
Of course, all of these burping positions require taking the kid out of the car seat. So, you should never do it while the vehicle is on the move.
Unfortunately, sometimes kids refuse to burp. Others burp but still show signs of gas later. In this case, you’ll need another rest stop.
This time around, massage the baby’s tummy while he’s lying down. You can do this with the kid stretched on the backseat (without the car seat) or on your lap.
#6 Rehydrate Your Baby Safely
If your baby is already snacking on solid foods, odds are, he’ll need rehydration pretty soon after the meal.
Once again, remember that bottles turning into projectile bits during a crash is a thing, and it can cause some serious injuries.
That’s why it’s always safer to stop the car for a drink. You can also opt for lightweight squeeze/collapsible sippy cups that are labeled as “car-safe.” These won’t be as dangerous as hard plastic models.
Then, when your kid is done drinking, make sure to buckle the bottle in place before getting back on the road.
#7 Avoid Breastfeeding a Baby in Car Seat
Some mothers might be able to nurse out of a car seat—yes, with the baby buckled in and everything!
However, I believe this would be a tricky feat for the majority. Since breastfeeding in a moving vehicle is a major no-no, I also don’t see the point in doing so.
It would be safer to park the vehicle, take the baby out of the car seat, and nurse with the kid on your lap.
Feeding a Baby in a Car Seat: 5 Clean-Up Tips
You probably know how much a milk spill can stink. Plus, it attracts bacteria to the car seat. So, you’ll need to tackle the dribble as soon as possible.
Here are some clean-up tips to help you minimize the mess:
- Pick the longest bib you can find (go big or go home, right?).
- Choose car seats with removable and machine-washable covers.
- Don’t hose down car seats; this wears the materials down.
- Understand that not all soiled straps are worth cleaning—some need replacing.
- Don’t just use any waterproof mat.
Let me expand on that last clean-up tip a bit.
It’s tempting to lay down one of those waterproof mats under the car seat to protect your precious upholstery. However, inserting a buffering layer between the car seat and the backseat cushions can compromise the kid’s safety.
So, unless the manufacturer makes compatible mats that were safety-tested for a particular car seat model, it’s better to go bare on the upholstery.
So, Can You Feed a Baby in a Car Seat? (Key Takeaways)
Yes, it’s entirely possible to feed a baby in a car seat, provided that the car isn’t moving.
For the most part, the same safety feeding/nursing tips that apply at home will apply in this case, too. That’s to say that you shouldn’t prop the bottle or use choking hazards like uncut grapes.
Let me know if you have any questions about feeding your family on the road!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is it safe to feed a baby in a car seat?
It’s only safe to feed a baby in a car seat if the car is stopped. Otherwise, there will be choking and crash-related risks.
Can you bottle feed a baby in a car seat?/Can I feed my baby milk in the car seat?
Yes, it’s possible to bottle feed a baby in a car seat as long as the car isn’t moving and you don’t prop the bottle.
How to burp a baby in a car seat?
It would be hard to perform any of the common burping positions on a baby buckled in a car seat. Park the car and take a break for burping and diaper changes instead.
When does the 2-hour car seat rule end?
There’s no specific age limit for the 2-hour car seat rule. You’ll have to follow it until your babies have better head control, which could take more than six months from birth.
Can I breastfeed my baby in the car?
You can’t nurse your baby in a moving vehicle. That’s because your body might slam into the child’s face in the case of a crash, causing potentially fatal injuries.
Can you feed a baby in a stroller?
Don’t attempt to bottle-feed a baby in a stroller on the move. Propping the bottle can be dangerous, and the position might not be comfortable for the child.
Can you feed a baby lying down?
You can breastfeed a baby while lying down as long as you do it correctly and follow safety guidelines. However, this position is dangerous during bottle feeding, and you’ll want to sit your baby upright.
Last Updated on April 26, 2023 by Danny Reid