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Everything New Parents Need in the Car

Parents often juggle an assortment of gear to accommodate youngsters, and those still expecting children might wonder what is necessary when they’re out-and-about in their vehicle. Our guide lists out everything new parents need in the car for daily errands and longer road trips with their children.

Whether you’re riding with newborns, toddlers, or older children, anticipate what supplies will be handy when traveling with kids to avoid extra cleanup and frustration. Parents, grandparents, and other caregivers can benefit from tips that make chauffeur duty easier. Many of the things listed here can be helpful to most drivers. Be sure to also look at our tips for items everyone needs in the car.

For Child Safety and Car Protection

  • Car seat – You must have a car seat appropriate for the child’s current size and age. Follow the car seat recommendations for children from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The seat’s effectiveness depends on proper installation. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to secure it into position using LATCH anchors and buckling your child into the seat.
  • Car seat mat – Car seats are heavy. A flexible rubber mat placed underneath the child safety seat will help protect the upholstery and minimize indentations in your vehicle’s seat.
  • Seatback protector/organizer – A removable seatback protector or kick mat helps prevent stains from muddy shoes and scuff marks from getting in and out of the car. Most types have pockets to help keep your car’s interior clutter-free by providing a place for snacks, toys, and other supplies.
  • Rubber floor mats – All-weather floor mats protect your vehicle from everyday wear and tear. Molded varieties defend against spilled bottles, sippy cups, spit-up, and any fluid that shouldn’t be on your car’s carpet.
  • First aid kit – You can purchase a pre-made kit to keep in the family car. Be sure the first aid kit contains bandages that aren’t too large for your child.

For Comfort, Cleanliness, and Convenience

  • Plastic sacks – Keep a small stash of disposable grocery sacks inside your car. Use them for dirty diapers, food scraps, used tissues, and other messes to throw away later. They also make decent barf bags.
  • Blanket – Have a small blanket on hand to cover legs and feet when the air conditioning is too cool for your little one. Larger blankets can be used for picnics or a clean area for crawling during a road trip break.
  • Shower caddy – Keeping things in order with children can be challenging, but you should always strive for organization. Eliminate clutter in your vehicle by utilizing a portable plastic shower caddy or cleaning supplies tote to store smaller essential items every parent needs in the car.
  • Towel – Tuck away a versatile towel in your vehicle. Use it to dry off playground equipment at the park or clean wet toys before putting them in the trunk. It can provide a clean surface for changing a diaper in a public restroom. Hang a towel from a closed window or car door to block the sun from shining on a child’s face.
  • Baby wipes – In addition to cleaning any body part, you can use these to clean up splatters on the dashboard or windows.
  • Hand sanitizer – Parents need to use it before and after changing diapers. Everyone needs to use sanitizer before digging into the non-perishable snacks you’ve packed.
  • Tissues – Sure, you have a package of wet wipes, towels, and a bunch of other stuff available in your vehicle, but sometimes you just need a tissue to wipe a runny nose or clear condensation from the windows.
  • Compact car vacuum – Crumbs, dirt, and pet hair accumulate quickly. Get a small vacuum that plugs into the 12V vehicle outlet for quick and easy cleanups. Some minivans, such as the Chrysler Pacifica Limited trim level, have built-in vacuum systems for quick and easy cleanup.

Related Stories and Car Tips


What are the Essentials Every Parent Should Keep in the Car?

Most new parents attempt to prepare for any situation, but the family car has limited space. Prioritize supplies and accessories for safety, cleanliness, and convenience.

How Should I Store Everything I Need to Keep in the Car?

Try to keep your car clutter-free by keeping essential items in seatback organizer pockets or contained in a plastic tote for easy access. Some items, such as a first aid kit, are best kept out of direct sunlight to prevent rapid deterioration.

How Can I Keep My Car Clean When I Have Children?

Kids can be messy passengers. Clean up spills promptly and remove trash every time you get out of the car. Refer to our tips on having a clean car interior.

Chris Hardesty
Chris Hardesty
Chris Hardesty is an author specializing in general car tips and electric vehicles. He spent more than 25 years in newspapers, including leading editorial research efforts at The News & Observer in North Carolina, The Mercury News in California, and Newsday in New York. After that, he was an online news editor at The Wall Street Journal before moving to the Atlanta area. He didn’t have a... Read More about Chris Hardesty

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